Project Runway Season Premiere Recap: 'So She's a Snuggie Designer?'

It’s good to know that after 10 seasons of Project Runway, Michael Kors’ patented brand of bitchery remains completely undiluted, that Nina Garcia’s disdain continues to burn as hot as an electric kettle, and that there’s still plenty of suspense to be wrung from watching a bunch of eccentric strangers sitting behind sewing machines.

The only major change I spotted in the Season 10 premiere, in fact, was Tim Gunn’s subdued unveiling of the Lord & Taylor Accessory Wall. (Piperlime, we hardly knew ye!) Well, also, there was the kicky flash-forward start of the episode that placed us directly backstage at the contestants’ Times Square runway show before the “one day earlier” chyron popped up and brought us back to the very beginning.

The opening challenge of Season 10 was a pretty good one in terms of getting to know the 16 designers: Create one garment before the start of the competition that best represents your aesthetic, and then — using $100 and one day in the workroom — put together a companion piece that complements it.

The crowded workroom still managed to deliver a few amusing tidbits of intel. Fabio revealed he’s a “freegan” who gets his food out of dumpsters (and Andrea would be dubious about having dinner at his house). Tim, as always, served Queer Eye for the English Language realness: “It’s not a bit not too much,” he told Buffi, eyeing her explosion of pink taffeta. And Gunnar and Christopher both gunned for the title of Alpha Gay (though Gunnar was immediately disqualified for trying too hard). Also, Christopher won bonus points for suggesting he could’ve kissed Tim after a positive mentoring session. Who wouldn’t?

[Side note: Was anyone else completely taken aback when midway through the episode, a designer named Nathan seemed to materialize out of a dusty corner of the Brother Sewing Room? Seriously, it was like one minute he was wearing an invisibility cloak, then next minute he was “hey, I’m one of the 16 contestants!” Okay, then.]

Anyhow, let’s review how Nathan and his fellow comrades fared at the Times Square fashion show:

Judges’ Top 3
Christopher: Holy red-carpet readiness, this kid’s gown — made with strips of manipulated fabric — was completely ready for primetime (if not the Oscars or Emmys, at least the People’s Choice or the American Music Awards). That train moved more seductively than Jessica Rabbit, and the attention to detail was sublime. I practically squealed when Heidi revealed he was the challenge champ.

Ven: His rose-structured blouse was an incredible bit of tailoring, but I have to say I admired the craftsmanship of the finish product more than I actually found it to be a cutting-edge design. His pink dress, too, was a little “ladies who lunch” for the next great American designer, no?

Melissa: Chic black clothes with interesting collars, but I’m not sure she really belonged in the Top 3. Also: Nina, why do you persist with this myth that “styling” is nearly equal in importance to the garments coming down the runway? A model can always be sent back to the Garnier Hair Studio for a quick toussle, for heaven’s sake.

Judges’ Bottom 3
Kooan: I agreed with Nina that Kooan’s giggly demeanor on the runway might be a hint that he’s more of a prankster than a serious designer. His bib-front garment over an exploding rainbow blouse looked like something you might have seen on Romper Room back in the late ’70s. In other words, it was hideouse!

Lantie: Lantie’s first dress — a reworked vintage piece that looked like it was made of mothballs and lace — was a little Peggy Sue Got Scary, but the companion piece was far worse. “Oh my God, it’s horrifying,” noted Nina, as Michael gasped over the “muddy mosquito netting” that was heaped over the top and the puckered snakeshin breastplate that looked like it had been sloppily velcroed to the front. At least the latter detail was good for something, though, as Michael weighed in on Lantie’s defense of her work with the night’s funniest zinger: “I believe in python bibs!” (Someone, please make a t-shirt with that phrase, okay?)

Beatrice: Is it wrong that I kind of dug what Michael called an “ugly Aztec cape”? Okay, maybe it wasn’t fashion, but I wouldn’t mind wrapping up in one while watching bad Lifetime movies and drinking hot toddies at the ski lodge. When the judges tried to at least give Beatrice credit for making things that looked comfortable, Michael couldn’t hold back his vitriol: “So she’s a snuggie designer?” And guest judge Lauren Graham, offering the damning praise that some designers specialize in t-shirts, activated Heidi’s sarcasm button with this retort: “But they won’t win on Project Runway.” Touche. And with that, you knew Beatrice was the one who was getting auf’d.

Should’ve Been in the Top
Nathan: We didn’t see much of his dramatic, structured gowns in green and bright pink, but to my eye, they were bolder and more romantic than anything that came down the runway (aside from Christopher’s gown, of course).

Should’ve Been in the Bottom
Fabio: Oh man, I know he’s a freegan, but that brown/gray scrap of fabric he draped around his model’s caboose looked like it had come from the bottom of a dumpster, too. How the hell was he not in the Bottom 3 or even sent home is beyond my comprehension.

Whay did you think of the Project Runway Season 10 premiere? Use the comments section thoughtfully to express yourself!