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Project Runway Season 8 Premiere Recap: Sew It Begins

July 29, 2010

Did you just hear that big sigh across the land? That was the sigh of happiness as the country snuggled in for a new season of Project Runway. Well, snuggled is not quite the right word. Project Runway is like your favorite pair of jeans, the ones that make your legs and butt look great, but only if you stand up extra straight and suck in a little.

Season 8 comes at us in a rush, after the obligatory fake montages of contestants arriving in New York and greeting each other. It’s mostly a blur but there’s Ivy, the overconfident Asian cutie, Peach Carr, the 50 year old suburban mom in hideous black-and-white mocs, Kristen, the 38-year-old graphic designer-turned-designer who urges us to “embrace the crooked zipper,” McKell, the petite mother of an infant daughter from Utah with a huge pile of dreads on her head, Jason the 100% Italian wearing a black hamburg, Gretchen, the rural organic hippie from Portland, and Casanova, the Puerto Rican designer who is excited to be in “New Jork!”

Then it’s no time wasted, as the contestants all meet Tim and Heidi in Lincoln Park, future home of Fashion Week. And guess what, there are seventeen contestants, not the usual sixteen, which means there will be a challenge on the very first day! In only five hours there will be a fashion show and someone will go home. None of them knows for sure that they are yet a contestant. Reaction shots of shock all down the line. I am a bad person because my main reaction is glee. Yippee! Action right from the get-go.

And here’s the challenge: they are all to open their suitcases and take out one garment to work with. Then, twisty-twist: pass that garment to the person on the right! Da-dum! I don’t know why Peach would take out a hideous pair of black and white pants, but they are now being passed to poor Ivy. Meanwhile, Michael Drummond, a knitwear designer, passes a big red tube scarf to Peach. Organic Gretchen gets some shiny black synthetic thing and Hamburg-wearing Jason gets a beautiful kimono from Hawaiian Andy South. Casanova looks like someone just punched him in the gut. His item was a pair of brand new Dolce Gabbana pants that cost “$1,070.” I love how that  $70 is included in the price. “$1,070!!!” They are now Sarah’s, and as she takes a seam ripper to them you can see the light die in Casanova’s eyes.

Five hours is PR’s shortest challenge ever, so when Tim Gunn makes his workroom rounds, some of the contestants have not made much progress. Tim admires McKell’s fluffy little dress, made with a blue man’s shirt top and a poufy flowered skirt, and successfully talks her out of incorporating some ugly metal trim. Casanova is making something that looks like what a stripper might wear right before she takes it all off. Tim wants to know if it’s sexy or vulgar. Casanova looks puzzled. What means this “vulgar?”

Jason shows us that he is indeed a 100% Italian Stallion by being distracted by his model’s unmodely bosoms. Peach has no styling ideas for her makeup and hair guys. At least she’s doing better than Kristen, who forgot to take her girl up to makeup at all until the last second.

When Tim calls time, Casanova’s model is completely undressed—he is holding the dress, or what looks like a big flowered scarf, in his hand. I’ve seen designers sewing models into dresses in the hallway but I’ve never seen this before. Casanova makes quite the understatement when he says, all kind of adorable, “that’s when I realized I was behind schedule.” Tim lets him stick the dress onto the model and it really makes little difference… that’s a pretty revealing dress.

The designers are seated in the runway room and our old friends Michael Kors and Nina Garcia introduced. The celebrity judge is Selma Blair, and she is obviously not taking the same anti-aging vitamins as Michael and Nina because she looks all to heck. Isn’t she like decades younger? Shouldn’t she look a little fresher? Plus for an appearance on PR she’s dressed pretty dowdy. A tweedy Chanel-looking jacket and a black and white dimity flowered blouse that I don’t even think goes. Yawwwwwwnnn. Didn’t she used to be really cute and styling?

Okay, runway show: Wow, no wonder Peach pulled out those ugly black and white toile-ish printed pants out of her suitcase. She really likes that crap. Not to be daunted, she somehow got similar fabric in the “Mood Annex” and has made a fugly dress with weird white tulle trim. Looks like something they’d sell in a boutique in Nashville, and I don’t mean that nicely.

McKell’s dress makes her model look weird on top and potbellied in the front, plus it has a weird fluffy tail in the back. It looks like a dress for a two year old. Sarah made a very cute romper out of those “$1,070” Dolce Gabbana pants. Ivy’s outfit is completely insane, those hideous black and white toilish print pants have now been shortened into capris (which Nina pronounces with a distinct accent on the first syllable… CAH-preez. I think I’m going to say it like that from now on too). And then some Ann Taylor career charmeuse blouse on top in a pale dove grey. It looks like someone reached into her closet and pulled out the first two pieces to run out of her house in a fire, not caring whether they matched or not. It’s just really really weird.

Michael Costello’s idea of “classy, elegant, sophisticated” is a tight, short black skirt. Christopher’s tapestry print dress looks like a 1980s loveseat. April’s inside-out tuxedo jacket looks like she did nothing but whack off the sleeves. Gretchen’s chic black cocktail dress with the glittery fabric as shoulder caps is airy and very fetching, especially with the sheer capelet panel in the back. I love Michael Drummond’s silk print wrap dress. Wish I could see more of that beaded looking detail. AJ made a prom mini dress. And Casanova’s hooker formal? Ivy’s eyes get big and Nina makes a classic OMG face. Casanova’s voiceover says he loves how it’s “sexy but not vulgar.” I’d pay money to see what his idea of vulgar is. I imagine it starts at crotchlessness.

Ten designers are called safe and seven are left onstage. Gretchen wins the challenge and then it’s the big surprise: the remaining six are ALL in the bottom. They are really keeping the action tight tonight!

Ivy stubbornly stands by her design even though it is pointed out that she made pants… out of pants!

Heidi says McKell’s dress is “butt ugly” and unflattering. Michael points out the hideous pink flower purse she accessorized with and the bad hairstyle. Her styling is just plain bad, but honestly, what in the world did they expect from a girl who wears fifteen pounds of dreads piled on her head? Nicholas, April and Jason beg for mercy, claiming they could do better, given more time.

Michael has the best line in a night of good lines, calling Casanova’s dress a “pole dancer in Dubai.” Casanova looks puzzled and Heidi asks Nina to translate for him. I know he’s okay; he’s just too good material to be let go.

In the end it’s McKell who’s out. I think that ugly pink flowered bag did it for her. Hamburg hatted Italian Stallion Jason stays. Ivy and Casanova stay. There are sixteen designers at last, and Project Runway has begun!


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