Big skyscrapers. Check. Uber-sharp contestants. Check. Drama queens aplenty. Check, check, and check. Project Runway went back to its NYC roots last night, finally rewarding us after what had to be be the worst season ever. We were giddy to see Tim and Heidi back in Big Apple, but even more gleeful when we caught a glimpse of this season’s group of designers.
Standouts: Seth Aron Anderson, the 38-year-old L.A. fashion designer with rockabilly/lounge lizard leanings, Anthony Williams, the southern belle with comedic zing (has the ghost of Chris March resurfaced in the body of gay black man?), and Jesse LeNoir, the former Disney actor/Captain Jack Sparrow impersonator (that tidbit alone was enough reason to mention him). Nothing about the female designers managed to stand out, beyond the fact that short bangs are sure to be a staple this season.
The first challenge the desingers faced felt like an obvious no-brainer: Go to Central Park and rush around gathering fabric to be used to create an outfit that best displays your personal aesthetic. Everybody seemed to manage this just fine with the exception of Ping Wu, the weird physical therapist/fashion designer from China. (What part of edit your selections did not compute, sweetie? Oh, and why can’t you grasp the oh-so-technical basics of rolling up a bolt of fabric?) Once everyone was settled back at the workroom, Tim stopped by to check out their progress.
Nobody was winning any rave reviews from the Gunn-a-nator this early in the game. Jesus Estrada (the hot Mexican designer with Elvis-like good looks) got himself into a pickle when he started out with a rad leather evening dress, but later had to add more material when his model showed up and he realized it was too short (how “unseamley”). Speaking of seams, 28-year-old L.A. designer Jeneane Marie Ceccanti got scolded for hers, while 43-year-old costume designer Emilio Sosa (this season’s oldest male contestant) was warned that he might be the first designer in PR history NOT to finish an outfit in time for the runway.
But as we know, the runway is the best part, and judges Heidi Klum, Michael Kors, and Nina Garcia did not disappoint (even with guest judge Nicole Richie thrown into the mix). “It looks like a huge crocodile trunk exploded on an evening gown,” Kors quipped when he caught sight of Jesus’ dress. Anthony loudly praised God and the judges when he got off with a “butt bubble” reference in regard to his design aesthetic, while we nearly choked on our Diet Coke and fat-free popcorn when Klum and crew PRAISED Ping Wu’s homeless chic creation and elevated her to the top three. (Program note: Draping a bunch of cheap-looking fabric over a model isn’t cutting-edge – it’s lazy.)
In the end, Emilio’s hard work paid off with a win, Seth got major props for his Harajuku-girl inspired frock, and poor Christiane (the pretty designer who hailed from the Ivory Coast and believed bright colors would save her), got the shaft. Honestly, this is one of those times when where we wanted to beat the judges with our favorite Gucci pumps. Ok, sure the hem wasn’t finished, but how do you consider that the worst offense of any designer when you let 47-year-old design instructor (yeah, right) Pamela Ptak slide by with an ugly, unispired pink dress that didn’t even fit her model right?
In the end, we gave the first episode of season seven a solid B. With gays aplenty, cool personal style at a premiumn, and Tim Gunn comfortably settled back into his NYC workroom, we can’t help but look forward to the next round of nervous breakdowns and catty comments.