Over a chilly Easter weekend, about 500 aspiring designers from New York and beyond lined up with samples of their work outside a Times Square hotel in an open audition for Project Runway. Tim Gunn and past contestants Daniel Vosovic and Laura Bennett appraised the candidates—often harshly. “There was so much bad stuff,” says judge Lee Trimble, who heads Gen Art’s fashion department. “Hideous.” Only about 25 entrants made it into the national auditions, where about 150 designers from New York and similar calls in Chicago, L.A., and Miami will be whittled down by Gunn & Co. to the new season’s twelve contenders. We spoke to some of the hopefuls—none of whom, sorry to say, made it to the nationals.
Cleveland, 46, knitwear designer (wearing her work)
Describe your knitwear. Handmade and definitely couture. Glamour knitwear, including evening gowns.
Role model: Kimora Lee Simmons. I do things for the full-figured woman, too.
Why didn’t you make it? Tim said my work was nice but not what they were looking for.
Bed-Stuy (via Myanmar), 25, visual merchandiser for DKNY and F.I.T. student
Describe your line as if it’s a woman: She’d be a queen.
Describe this dress. It’s one size fits all and will look great on anybody.
Role model: Valentino.
Who’s the Valentino of Myanmar? I’d like to be the first.
Why didn’t you make it? They said to finish school first.
Financial district, 27, designer for Tocca (wearing her work)
Is Ladie your real name? Yes. It’s also my mother’s name.
Can you drape and sew? I went to Parsons, so I can do all that fun stuff.
Was Tim Gunn one of your teachers? No.
Can you hack the show’s pressure? I’m used to deadlines. But I’d miss my dog.
Why didn’t you make it? Tim told another girl, “I see clothes, but not fashion.”
Westhampton Beach, “50,” artist and caterer
You call this “participatory clothing.” You can change it by substituting panels and creating whole new outfits.
You’re planning to play harmonica, but the judges say they’re only looking at clothes. Oh, come on. I wasn’t born yesterday.
Why didn’t you make it? They loved my theory but said I didn’t do intricate-enough stuff.