Hey everyone! Lovely Leslie and I are BACK and ready for the sixteenth season of Project Runway! Hope you are all having a wonderful summer. Today I am recapping the preview show which introduces us to all of the chosen designers. Now I know that I bitch A LOT about producer driven themes and decisions on this show. I know they are trying to keep it interesting, but this crop of new designers has me intrigued and worried at the same time. I’m seriously thinking this might be the weirdest season ever. Les and I agree that we think there is some gimmicky casting going on. You can let us know after the first episode if you agree….let’s get to it. Giving a NG for NON-gimmick choice and a G for gimmicky choice.
Our Beloved TIm Gunn comes out and tells us we are going to look behind the scenes how these seasons contestants were cast. Tim, I missed u terribly. You are forever a calm eye in a stormy world.
Batani Khalfani is first up. Whether she can design or not, she definitely has charisma and looks fabulous. Les loves how they use past contestants for picking the final group. These people have lived through it and know what it takes to get there. Batani is from East LA. She loves working with prints, specifically African prints and while I am not a print person I think she definitely pulls off mixing and matching and making it work with cool shapes. Mila loves everything she is wearing and thinks it is styled perfectly. Anthony Ryan says yes right away and Alison Edmonds points out that even though the clothes are bold, she can wear the work, it’s not wearing her. Les and I agree definite NG choice. Shades of SUNO and Duro Olowu. We approve of this choice.
Amy Bond comes in and my first thought is, Oh Jeez, it’s the token older person, this is going to be a gimmick. She is a design professor. Then she pulls out a pair of pants and I scream. I LOVE them. My youngest son comes downstairs, looks at the TV, rolls his eyes, and goes back up. Sorry kiddo, it’s that time of year. Anthony tells her she’s going to be in a room with children. She is up to the task. They really want to see what she can do with a red carpet look. She tells them to give her an hour. Ok, I love Amy. Technically she’s amazing, she is also cool and very funny. Definite NG rating. Easy yes from all the judges.
Ayana Ife is next up. She is Muslim and creates “cool modest fashion”. Covered streetwear, if you will. While I like this concept and I’m ok with her designs, Anthony voices what I’m thinking which is that her fabric choices aren’t great. She tells us she has been through a lot and used to be meek and quiet, but then got divorced and found her inner tough chick. I’m not sure how to grade this one, as again, I like the idea of what’s she’s trying to do, but not sure if she’s there yet. The judges give her a maybe. I’m between a G and a NG. They call to let her know she is in and she joyfully freaks out.
Leslie loves Margarita Alvarez. Margarita had a business in Puerto Rico she had to shutter because the economy is so bad. Her parents urged her to come to the US to follow her dreams and she landed in LA. She has some very pretty pieces and she does reference Dior’s new look…..but Mila utters the dreaded M word. SHe is worried it’s not new shapes and veering towards MATRONLY. Even though Margarita says she loves all things shiny and sparkly, I don’t see that in what she brought. She becomes teary as she explains she had to work with what she had because she is essentially broke. A true make it work moment. She is given a maybe. I give her a NG. When she is informed she made it, she cries.
Samantha Rei has auditioned for this show six or seven times. She can’t remember. She decided to submit a collection based on her own experience to make it more meaningful. She has several beautiful black and white pieces that represent, “dread”, “social anxiety”, “the voice on your shoulder telling you that you are making a mistake” and “hope in the darkness”. Well DAMN Sam, you just summed up the entire Project Runway experience. She says she is Kate Spade meets Vivienne Westwood and Les and I agree. Caroline Plese says her worth is ethereal. They mention size and she says no one should ever have to apologize for the body they have. Mondo feels like she is his friend. Yesses all around and a NG from me and Les.
Deyante Weather grew up in a tough area in Chicago and was the first in his family to finish high school and college. He moved to Seattle because he felt there was nothing for him in Chicago but a dead end, perhaps literally. He doesn’t understand why there can’t be a famous black straight designer. He thinks that young black be should aspire to be whatever they want, not just sports stars and musicians. His work is influenced by his love of architecture. Some of it is very literal. Mila does point out that is work with faux fur looks very expensive. He is given a maybe. I give him a NG. He freaks out when he gets the yes.
Kenya Freeman is our girl from Atlanta! Her imaginary client is Toni and Toni loves herself a peplum. She did a knit jumpsuit which is one of those things you have to see on an actual body to see if it works. Her stuff is cute and she is cute, but we are not bowled over. Our favorite part of the interview is when she is asked what she would do if she had access to Mood. Kenya REALLY wants to hit Mood. She cries and everyone hugs her. She gets a maybe and a NG from me and Les. Her reaction to getting on the show is pure joy.
Ok. The twins. Shawn and Claire Buitendrop. I will just say it straight up. This is GIMMICK casting. They own a company called “Shock and Awe.” It was awful. I will say that. Shawn is the “edgy” twin. We know this because she is bald. She likes leather jackets. Specifically ugly leather jackets. If you are going to try and do Jeremy Scott, you better do it right. When Claire shows us a princess dress and a leather jacket that says “seduce and destroy” I put my head in my hands. This is like Erin on steroids. I’m annoyed by them both. The hardest thing they have ever been through in life is when the other sister had a boyfriend. Then there was a joke about incest. I can’t. Leslie texts to ask me if I’m ok. She thinks the target audience is Victoria Secret fans. Or Hot Topic.
Tim comes out and talks about gender fluidity and playing with masculine and feminine identities in design. I’m intrigued, but worried that things are about to get weird and not in a good way.
Aaron Meyers. Where do I start. Aaron is asexual. Wears a dress. Is a virgin. I’m cool with all of this. Les then reminds me Tim once said he’s a virgin. Forgot about that. When he says that the school boy outfit he’s designed has a hole so you can “feel yourself” the look on Dmitri’s face was priceless. Brandon McDonald likes his knits, I do too, but if you are going to make a penis reference with a long piece of fabric hanging down, you are being too obvious. Just my opinion. Dmitri is worried about his fabrications but gives him a yes. I give him a big old G. He makes Les nervous.
Brandon Kee walks in just exuding coolness. To me, this is an interesting take on how these clothes should be done. There is a feminine aspect to the fabric he’s created and manipulated, but somehow it compliments the masculine instead of making it look like a costume. He says he is influenced by hip hop and you can see it in his work. He only has three looks and Anthony Ryan says he is worried about how he would deal with timing. Doubts aside, they all adore him and it’s a yes. He flashes a lovely smile, so maybe he’s not too cool for school, just shy. WE give him a NG.
Our next designer is Aaron’s evil twin. Michael Brambila is a self-proclaimed slut who is trying to normalize sexuality by making “normal” clothing with fetish undertones inspired by that gay scene. Leslie texts me to ask what a San Francisco cock ring is and I tell her I will have to explain that in person over a glass or three of wine. I don’t know if middle America is ready for this dude. There is one kimono top that I love and Mila points out that even if she didn’t know his wackadoodle backstory she still likes the clothes. They say yes and Anthony wonders what does on in this guys head. “50 shades of Michael.” I’m on the fence on this one.
Sentell McDonald is a former dancer who likes to take topless selfies. When he walks in Adrienne thought he would be shirtless and we are, to be honest, a little disappointed. A small town boy from northern Florida who fled as soon as he could. His first outfit is a jumpsuit “inspired by global warming”. Sigh. He is very pretty, but no. And what’s with all the menswear? Are we doing a co-ed runway this year????????? They give him a maybe. I give him a G. He is in and joyfully hops around.
Kentaro Kameyama is from Japan and 38. He doesn’t want you to know he’s 38. Oops. He was trained as a classical pianist, but had to quit because of tendonitis. His collection is inspired by Schubert’s Death and the Maiden, a sorrowful piece created when Schubert became aware of his own impending death. Mila says it is runway ready. The dress he designed in honor of a friend who passed away is ethereal. I want his orange dress. LOVE THIS WORK. He’s in. Big old NG from me and Les.
Ok people. This is how you do a go-see. Kudzanai Karidza is my man from ATLANTA! He walks in with all his all his looks styled and on models. Whether on not this is your cup of tea, it is amazingly put together and interesting. It’s deconstructed in an awesome way and most importantly I have never seen anything like it. He wants to do this for his family. I LOVE this guy. Mondo calls him an artist and that is a serious compliment coming from Mondo. He’s in and gets a big NG from me and Les.
Cha Cha. From Taiwan. I thought the twins pushed me over the edge. Nope. Chacha loves the US. He is wearing a shirt with a butter patch on it because he loves butter….and burgers….and FREE REFILLS. There is a Care Bear coat. Tweety bird is there. Jeremy Scott and Erin are somewhere going….dude, TOO much. This is the note we are going to end on? The ULTIMATE gimmick cast. Please let this fruit loop be out first. I can’t handle all unconventional all the time. We had enough of that last season. Leslie is also disturbed,
So those are the contestants. Some strong, some not so strong and some so far out there, I’m not sure what is going to happen. It is then shown that this year the regular models will be all shapes and sizes and the designers will work will ALL of them throughout the season. THIS is a twist we are down with. What do you guys think??
PROJECT RUNWAY STARTS TONIGHT AT 8 PM! On Lifetime!