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Welcome to the premiere of the tenth season of Project Runway. To give us some perspective on what an accomplishment it is for a show to last this long, Michael Kors shares, "We've had more seasons than I Love Lucy!" (He doesn't mention that they've also had less seasons than Jerry Springer.)
Anyway, in celebration of this landmark, our designers will be showing their creations in the biggest "venue" in Project Runway history, Times Square. Heidi Klum and the designers are all thrilled about this, and we suspect that if the Square could talk, it too would be excited to have visitors who aren't wearing Elmo costumes, sandwich boards, or Fanny packs. Each contestant will show two designs: one that they made at home to demonstrate who they are as a designer, and a companion piece which they have to create on their first day. And so the insanity begins...
The new cast has a lot of potential. There are sixteen designers, including many talented ones who are there to win Project Runway. There are also a few uber bitchy contestants who seem more interested in winning Queen for a Day. Other cast members include a 58-year-old feminist, an afro'd Japanese cartoon character, a former professional ballroom dancer, and a "freegan" who gets all his food from supermarket dumpsters. We fear for the fate of the freegan's garment in this year's unconventional materials challenge.
Our judges this week include a somewhat less orange Michael Kors and JCPenney's new "It Girl," Nina Garcia. We've also got two guest judges, actress Lauren Graham and costume designer, stylist, and the first Project Runway guest judge ever, Patricia Field. Pat knows her stuff, and the fact that her voice sounds like she eats rocks and cigarettes for breakfast just strengthens the impact of her opinions. We're torn about Lauren. Historically, we've almost always found Project Runway's actress judges to be a waste of space, so when our favorite Girl de Gilmore starts stammering her opinions, we're wishing she'd brought along Lorelai's writers. But Lauren ends up sharing some very insightful comments, and when she fesses up about being a huge Project Runway fan girl, she totally wins us over.
Our winning designer this week is Christopher, who reminds us A LOT of Michael Costello. The two are so much alike that we keep expecting to see his model dressed in a toga. Faux Michael wins with a show stopper of a red carpet gown, about which Nina says, "You took a fabric which is tacky and made it look remarkable." Heidi liked the gown so much that she enthuses, "We would all wear that." At first Michael demurs, but then hedges with, "Well maybe."
Christopher's second design is a cute-from-a-distance black mini dress. But up close, its execution is so rough that it looks like it was created by a blind contestant—with no hands. When Christopher is not on the runway, he spends much of his time deflecting bitchy barbs from his fellow designer, Gunnar, who would be better cast on Toddlers and Tiaras.
Our first runner up, who is obviously this season's designer to beat, is the Guyana-born Ven. According to Lifetime, Ven won almost every student design prize there was when he graduated from FIT. The judges love his work and so do his fellow designers. As for his personality, well...if being unlikeable was a hurdle to winning Project Runway, Season Eight would have been very different.
Two of our bottom three designers for the week get placed there because their garments are heinous. The third, Japanese designer Kooan, lands there because his designs are too whimsical. Michael warns him, "Even if cartoon is your thing, you don't want to be a joke. The romper is borderline Teletubby." Unlike All Stars judge Isaac Mizrahi, Kors considers Teletubby comparisons a bad thing.
The designer who should have lost, but for some reason didn't, is Lantie, this season's self proclaimed "pretty girl." Judge Nina digs Lantie a grave by saying, "I don't think this [Lantie's first dress] is a disaster. You were trying too hard and I thought it was pretty—and then I saw the second one, and then I was like 'Oh my God it's horrifying!'" Then Pat Field covers Lantie's coffin with dirt adding, "You've reworked vintage clothing—it's somewhere between stylist and designer. It's one step below design." Ouch.
Our losing designer this week is Californian knitwear specialist Beatrice. We presume she was aufed because Heidi described her poncho and dress ensemble as, "Too sad," the ultimate Heidi criticism. At one point during the episode, when Beatrice improperly cuts one of her garments, she fears, "If I can't close this up it's quite possible that my model will be walking down the runway topless." If only.
We're excited about this new season. It looks like it's going to be fun. Be sure to check out our interview with Heidi for some juicy spoilers about to expect...