Project RunwayCome As You Are Season 9 • Episode 1
sew go again. “Are we really back here?” asks Heidi, with a smize and a grin, to open Project Runway’s ninth season. And as we wish our Thursday nights goodbye for the foreseeable future, we must say we were wondering the same thing.
Things kick off with the obligatory, comforting montage of supposedly confused contestants wheeling their suitcases through New York, which is just silly because: CABS. This is New York, there are cabs. Lots of cabs. As a further means of introduction, all twenty designers have to tout their bestest wares on a rack for Heidi, Nina, Michael, and Tim. And based on this selection of their pre-show work, four are out just like that. It’s a dizzying affair, and as a primer on this season’s players, more than a little confusing. After a brief back-and-forth amongst the judges — Nina is already questioning someone’s taste levels, yay! — the four almost-rans get their ticket home: table-waiting David , romper-hating Amanda, brilliantly named Gunnar Deatherage, and poor Serena who’d postponed her whole wedding (in Iceland, no less) for the show. We feel bad, because this whole ordeal was so unnecessary. Just narrow down your cast before starting the season, Project Runway, it’s not that hard. (And then we wouldn’t have needed a ninety minute long episode either.)
The sixteen survivors have their little toast and woo-hoo moment with Tim and a possibly tipsy, word-slurring Heidi, then it’s off to their apartments where, in a clear sign that none of them are meant to be real fashion folk, they seem to go straight to bed. Smart move on their part though, as Tim sneaks into all their rooms at 5 a.m. and
starts a mass spooning session wakes everyone up. But this isn’t just for a slumber party or whisper-fest about cute boys, it’s a CHALLENGE. Yep, the contestants must transform their sleepwear into runway-worthy fashions (a single white bed sheet to use as extra fabric is optional). Something to note at this point: Considering that by the latter stages of every season the contestants are always visibly sleep-deprived and drained, the fact that the producers are messing with their sleep cycles on night one is an encouraging sign, at least from a ensuring-there’s-mindless-drama-and-crying point of view.
Still clad in their PJs, the designers take an early morning stroll through Midtown to get started at Parsons. We quickly learn this week’s primary workroom-related storyline is that Miss Trinidad & Tobago, who only learned to sew four months before auditioning for the show, has no clue what she is doing. There is literally next to nothing fashion-related that she seems to have any experience in — from draping to dyeing to sewing to even threading a sewing machine. Other plot points of note (because with so many folks fighting for screen-time, the editing is never going to be subtle): Mormon baldie Joshua has not allowed any room for adjustments in his garments — of course this means he’ll get the model who lied about her measurements; and Rafael will not share his bedhead with the cameras, flat-out refusing to remove his leopard-print headscarf to incorporate it into his design until the last minute. (Even after some serious Tim Gunn tough love.) Also, oldie Bert proceeds to use his boxer shorts in his design, despite the potential for “nut juice,” a phrase we wish we’d never heard, and Olivier — the one with the hard-to-place accent — is beautiful.
In a sly-but-not-unexpected promo move — because she’s headlining a new TV show this fall — Christina Ricci is this week’s guest judge. She, along with stalwarts Michael, Nina, and Heidi, watch the runway show with well-practiced blasé bemusement, and the occasional wry half-smile, which, as always, the designers over-analyze to death as a sign of their impending victory — or doom.
From the top- and bottom-scoring designers who get their crit from the judges on the runway, oldie Bert is awarded the first win for an asymmetric wrap dress (and more importantly, for having listened to the judges’ feedback from his first meeting with them), and Rafael, who’d taken off his headscarf but evidently too late, got the boot. Clearly, the eye-sex he thought he’d been having with Nina back at the final casting round counted for nothing.
Click through our slideshow to see all sixteen outfits, and mourn the many comfy sweatpants that are no more.
Baseless Week #01 Prediction, Fashion Week Finalists: Anthony, Danielle, Olivier.