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!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. DL says:

    Totally agree about Fabio. I would have sent him packing.

  2. Chris says:

    Oh Project Runway, how nice it is to have you back…and your recaps too, Slezak! Thank you for pointing out Gunnar’s over the top attempts to be the villain. What was with his attack on Christopher in the workroom? And did anyone else do a double take and think Christopher was Micheal C. from All Stars! Boy so we have a lot of designers in love with asymmetric black! Here’s hoping that isn’t a all we see this season. In addition to the python T-shirt, I would like a picture of Heidi in her snuggie. I am not sure what to make of Kooann, but I do agree with Lauren Graham that it will be interesting to see if that guy can do subdue and restraint in the future.

    • To be honest, I think that every year after Christian Siriano the gay guys that come on the show have been trying to imitate him. Christian has had huge commercial success since leaving the show and he designs whatever he wants and it sells. A big part of his appeal is his flamboyant attitude and blunt expressions. If you go back and watch his season he was always carving up the designers in the confessional with hilariously catty commentary (after he threw yards of fabric at the sewing machine and somehow made it spit out a perfect gown in half the time of the other designers). The problem is, Christian was right. Almost everything he said in the confessional about the other designers work is what was said to them by the judges on the runway. He also made a point to talk about their work and not them (usually). The other guys in succeeding seasons think that they have the same eye that he did and that if they act like him maybe they’ll get his success and because cattiness makes conflict which is considered “good” reality TV the producers like them and let them make idiots out of themselves. They also have enough ego to think they are as good as Christian is which is just plain crazy in most of their cases. Christian turned out impeccably crafted clothes pretty much every challenge and he was always sitting around commenting on other people’s work while casually pressing his clothes to perfection while all these other designers are crying and blaming their sewing machines, the challenge or the fabric for why they are darting out of the work room at the last second with a needle in their hands. Whether you liked Christian’s work or not it’s hard to argue with his success and craftsmanship. It’s just my personal theory that these other guys are trying to piggy back off of Christian’s method of success.

  3. Caroline Wittland says:

    I felt so bad for Nathan. He spent most of the show in the background, and he spoke maybe twice. My theory is that the producers realized that he’s a normal human being and therefore not interesting for reality television. I liked his designs though.

    • zaza says:

      For the life of me, I could not put a face to the name of Nathan. I had to go to the Project Runway website to see which one he was…that’s how little they featured him. And that’s a shame, because I thought his pink, short-sleeved, backless evening gown was the best of the runway. It flowed so beautifully.

  4. Laurel says:

    I think that they should of Auf’d Lantie or Kooan. Probably Lantie 1st give Kooan another week to see if he works it out. I’m doubtful…
    Beatrice seemed adamant about working exclusively with knits.So I’m not so sure how long she would of lasted but I don’t feel like she was the worst of the worst this week.
    Christopher’s dress was fabulous.
    Who was the tool / guy with the blonde streak in his hair constantly b*tching about Christopher?
    He had to be loving Chrisophers

  5. Reena says:

    I thought Ven should have won based on both pieces while I liked christopers first dress the 2nd black dress was horrible in my opinion thr back was just awful and it was too short did not like gunner at all his attitude reminds me of joshua last season

    • nodak says:

      My thoughts exactly!!!! Do they have a list of roles they need to fill each season? Gay, bitchy guy- 2011 Joshua, 2012 Gunnar. Weepy guy- 2011 Michael, 2012 Christopher, and they always throw in a crazy person!!! I thought both of Ven’s pieces were lovely while Christopher had one strong and one weaker one.

      • Lana says:

        I didn’t realize that until I read this but you are right and I definately agreed about Ven, both his pieces were great and Christopher should have been called out on that zipper on the little black dress, horrible.

  6. amy warrington says:

    whose dress is nina wearing?

  7. Melissa says:

    So glad I’m not the only one who thought Gunnar was acting like a complete tool. I really like Christopher, and have no idea why Gunnar singled him out. I though his dress was gourgeous and am glad he won. I don’t think Beatrice should have gone home, I would have liked to see more from her, I would have sent Lantie home.

  8. Lisa says:

    Yes, I too thought of Michael C. when I saw Christopher!!! They even have a similar aesthetic. Gunnar…he has attitude issues. Then there is Scary Spice I mean Buffi, I’m reserving opinion till next week. I wasn’t impressed this week. Kooan will be gone next week or the week after. His “clothing” will not fly on PR.

  9. Moryssa says:

    I liked the ugly Aztec cape, too. :) The one I was all WTF?! about was the structured hoop thing by the girl who does black-and-white stuff (don’t know the names yet)… it looked like she was trying out for the part of Mrs. Potts in Beauty And The Beast on Broadway. :p

  10. Michelle says:

    If Michael Costello and Christopher are ever in the same room together I would be shocked – still convinced they are they same person, he just lost some weight.

    Regardless, I thought it was a great premiere and looks like it’s going to be a strong season!

  11. Dave in Alamitos Beach says:

    I was a little confused by the judging – were they judging just the new piece? If so, Christopher did not deserve to win becuase his black dress was awful. Lauren kept on trying to subtly say that she wished it wasn’t all in black so we could see the details. What she really meant was this dress is a mess and i wish everyone else could see it too. Based on the new outfit, Ven should have won.

    I had no problem with Beatrice going home for all that uninspired fug. I’m hoping that they learned their lesson with non-sewers after the Anya mess from last season.

    There are more than the usual hippie-granola types in this group. Let’s hope they quickly let them all go and spare us the new version of Miss Granny Panties Gretchen.

    But all that being said, the show seemed to be back to its regular, almost pre-Lifetime form.

    • gdv says:

      I think the problem with Christopher’s second look was that it just didn’t fit his model at all. It probably would’ve looked better on a curvier model. His model had NO boobs or hips to really fill out the form of the dress. (The top of the dress was poofing out where the model’s boobs should have been).

  12. Meg says:

    If I have to go all season with bitchy Gunnar I’ll be pissed. Can’t stand him.

  13. Terri says:

    Ven > Christopher. Did you SEE the “bustle” zipper non-craftmanship? He should not have won.

  14. Toia says:

    Me and my gay bestie where talking about the “diva” syndrome that the younger gay males on this show have it is insane Joshua last year what-her-name last night with Christopher. It’s too silly play nice ladies. As far as the bottom three all of them could have gone and I wouldn’t have batted an eye. I don’t understand the need to cast these “character” designers who we can’t possibly be taken seriously. They stay for 2 maybe 3 weeks and irritate me to death. I cant agree more about Nathan his gown was amazing on the runway. I will admit that I thought Vin should have won. His two garments where finished well and went together. Where as the winning designer has a cohesive vision but only one well finished garment.

  15. arial2 says:

    I’m glad Kooan stayed. I think we need to see more of his work before immediately saying “no talent!” It kind of fit in with the Japanese “schoolgirl” fashion we’ve seen in recent years. Perhaps his problem is a cultural difference rather than being a poor designer. Although I didn’t like Beatrice’s work, Lantie’s second outfit looked like something made by a first-grader. She should have had more confidence, perhaps not taken Tim’s workroom criticism so literally. She should have been the one to go.

  16. silkrose says:

    Andrea’s hoops are just a little too weird. Who wants to wear something that makes people wonder if you’re pregnant?? I hope we’ve seen the last of them (but probably not)

    • zaza says:

      You can add volume to the bottom of a garment without putting a stiff, uncomfortable hoop in. Then again, why any woman want a garment that adds volume to the bottom? I guess she was going for artistic/couture, but really it was just silly.

  17. Love the Japan high street fashion designer.

  18. LGFan2000 says:

    I thought Lauren Graham did an awesome job! I think Ven should have won also. That black dress was horrible.

  19. Ashly says:

    So glad Project Runway and these recaps are back! I think this is going to be a good season. It has just the right amount of bitchiness and interesting talent. I already love Christopher. His comment about Gunnar, “This isn’t Project Obnoxious.” So true. I have a fierce desire to dye his hair all one color and get rid of that Pepe Le Pew stripe.
    Lauren Graham (huge fan of hers from Gilmore Girls and Parenthood) made a good point when she said that Lantie defended her work and didn’t notice the problems in her own design. I think they chose the wrong person to go home. I would love to have worn that jersey dress.
    I am a huge fan of Asian culture and style, but Kookie (or whatever his name is) gets on my nerves. The sooner he leaves the better.
    Back to Lauren Graham, Heidi was quite rude to her. I think Nina and Michael are a bad influence on her or maybe it’s her divorce.

  20. Renata says:

    Finally a Brazilian in Project Runway!!!!!!! \o/ I know Fabio is not the most talented designer there and that soon he’ll be auf’d, but it’s good to see a Brazilian in America’s TV

  21. topsyturvy says:

    I get a Kristen Wiig as Bjork vibe from Kooan
    I thought Ven’s suit looked HUGE on the model (in a David Byrne Stop Making Sense kind of way).
    Bib Woman should have gone home.
    And yes Chris reminds me a lot of of Michael C. (a younger, less chunky Michael C.)

  22. Mara says:

    Glad to see PR recaps! :D
    Honestly, Dmitry’s designs stood out to me. Very classic/interesting. I also really liked Nathan’s dresses too (more better than Christopher’s).
    Unfortunately, about 90% of the designs were god awful that came down that runway. I hope they really step up the fashion next time :/

  23. Pearl says:

    Actually, i’m starting to see a lot of brazilians in reality shows, and altough I’m a brazilian myself, i have to admit that they never get too far. I don’t know if they hand-select the worst brazilian nearby or if I should start ulteering myself. C’mon! These Fabio is SO NOT brazilian fashion (and i’m not talking about greens, yellows and bikinis ¬¬)

  24. I didn’t find this site until two weeks ago, so I am trying to catch up on the episodes I haven’t commented on!

    I really, really disliked Lantie, with her plop-something-weird-on-the-bodice couture. And the piece she got to make at home, at her leisure, wasn’t even a real design, it was a re-working of something vintage, which was not the challenge! The netting thing with the snake skin (of all things) down the front was absolutely hideous.

    I don’t think Beatrice deserved to go home. Yes, the gray dress was kind of boring, and the cape was more functional than fashionable, but the look wasn’t AWFUL, like Lantie’s, and I thought the rust top and gray skirt was very cute!

    I agree with you about Nathan, and I think the subsequent weeks have proven it! I know that they tend to get rid of people they think are too nice and non-confrontational, and keep people they know will make waves (like Vincent Libretti of Season 3, whose hideous first challenge tablecloth tied on with a string and wicker lampshade “hat” should have had him packing the first day). Actually, I suspect that the decision to send Beatrice home first may have been because she was too nice and normal, too.