Welcome to (un?)lucky season 13 of Project Runway. After meeting our initial set of 18 designers, I was pretty psyched to see the diversity and cultural breadth featured – but after a few swift cuts and some even more baffling decisions by the judges, I’m already feeling disappointed by this season. Hopefully, the premiere episode is more of a fluke than an indicator of what’s to come. I long ago reached my limit with Ms. Nina “fashion is not art” Garcia, but Zac Posen and Heidi Klum still have my support…for now.
Before the first challenge was off the ground, our judges were on hand to make some initial eliminations. Eighteen designers made the first cut, but only 15 will actually compete on the show. I agree with many of the judges’ assessments, including their decision to send home the unsophisticated Emmanuel Tobias and hackneyed Tim Navarro. I was sorely disappointed, however, when they sent Nzinga Knight home. What a lame, small-minded decision. Sure, I guess you could call her clothes “one note,” or you could recognize that a massively large population of the world chooses to dress in this way. Why can’t Muslim women who choose to stay covered up also be fashionable? Skin is not the only answer to style, people. I really wish they’d given Nzinga a chance. Oh well. After those three designers were sent home, we found out the winner of the “Runway Redemption” vote. It’s season 11 star Amanda Valentine, who returns for her second chance. I’m just glad it wasn’t Ken Laurence.
The first Project Runway challenge of the season is pretty tame: the designers are given some fabric (which they can trade amongst themselves) and they must create one look, which would be included in a (fictitious) spring collection. I think this is a good starting point for them – I like when the first challenge doesn’t stifle a designer too much, so we can get a feel for their personal aesthetic. How are you supposed to define yourself with scrap metal or lettuce? An open challenge like this is a better way to begin.
That being said, what is up with the sponsors this year? The Mary Kay makeup room, the Philip B. salon and the Aldo accessory wall? What’s coming next year, Bonne Bell Lip Smackers and Claire’s? Yikes.
Because the designers are all still getting to know one another, there’s not a ton of drama in this first episode. However, that doesn’t stop some catty b*tches from getting their jabs in. The main culprits are Korina and Mitchell – whom I refuse to call The Mitchell, thank you very much. Korina shows a lot of promise, but Mitchell’s first piece is nothing to write home about, unless you want to write home about an ugly t-shirt with weird shoulder pieces. I don’t know, maybe you do. I’m not here to judge. The two of them stand in the corner and give their candid opinions of everyone. Spoiler alert: they’re not impressed by much.
They’re especially critical of Sandhya and…okay, let’s talk about Sandhya. I love her concepts. I love her perspective. She’s like this young, interesting feminist Indian woman who has a lot to say and is using fashion to say it. That’s awesome. But her clothes? They’re sort of…junior? Junior is not the right word. Young, maybe, but not in a fresh way? Like, in a “something a teenager would make” way? I was not a fan of her final piece at all. Not even a little bit. This will likely stir up some more drama in the future, if they judges continue to favor her.
Other drama? Angela. Oh Angela, this poor girl. She’s a computer engineer-cum-designer who spends the entire episode on the verge of a complete meltdown. Her overly apologetic, shy and nervous demeanor will probably start to get on my nerves soon, but at this point, I just feel bad for her. I don’t see her becoming too popular amongst her fellow designers.
The best looks
According to the judges, the top looks came from Char, Amanda and Sandhya. Char’s look was definitely my favorite out of those three – it was bright and stylish, plus wearable without being too off-the-rack. Nina says it looks more expensive than plain jersey fabric and I agree. Plus: pockets! Char admits that she’s “obsessed” with pockets and honestly, I don’t know any girl who doesn’t love a good set of pockets in her skirt or dress. Char’s got a lot of style and I like her a lot.
I felt like Amanda’s appearance in the top three was a little “token” of them – there were more interesting designs, in my opinion, such as Korina’s or Alexander’s. Amanda’s was good, but it didn’t stand out to me. Nina likes that it’s very commercial, which is kind of what I don’t like about it. And Sandhya? Well, like I said, I did not like it at all. The judges were on the opposite side of the fence. I don’t really get it – are they trying to be edgy? They say it’s like nothing they’ve ever seen before, which…well, maybe there’s a reason for that?
The worst looks
The bottom looks are more understandable. Angela’s outfit is called out for its sloppy construction and lack of sophistication. Her attempt to be less subtle in her design resulted in showing her model’s butt crack and bikini line with weirdly placed cut-outs. Nina tries to be funny and says, “instead of calling them slits, I’m going to call them sluts,” which is neither clever nor critical and I cannot stand Nina Garcia, please shut up forever. Mitchell’s shorts are well constructed, but when guest judge Julie Bowen calls the top out for looking “a little DIY,” she nails it.
The worst, by far, is Jefferson. His outfit makes Nina cry out, “Double-you-tee-eff,” and I’m glad she’s caught up to 2012’s lingo. The clothes are pretty WTF, though. His shorts and top are both out of proportion and oh, it’s just weird. It’s just weird, Jefferson. What happened?
Needless to say, Jefferson is the first designer to go home. I think this was the right call, though I would’ve been alright with sending Mitchell home as well. Angela gets another chance, but not without almost emotionally collapsing. Mitchell will probably go home next week if she doesn’t, let’s be honest.
The winner is Sandhya, which of course it is. The judges are smoking crack. Thank God we have the Tim Gunn Save on hand, for when the judges go completely off the rails…which may or may not already be happening.