It’s too soon to judge the new ‘Project Runway’ contestants, but…

07.13.11 6 years ago


The big premiere of “Project Runway” (Thurs. July 28 at 9 p.m. on Lifetime) seems so far away, but rest assured, it will be on us faster than a Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress. Now, thanks to a new article in Us Weekly, we’ve gotten a peek at the new designers who’ll be competing on the show. While we don’t have much to go on beyond name, age and the assorted fun fact, that isn’t going to stop us from weighing in on our very, very early favorites (and a few wild guesses at who’s going home). So let’s begin this thoroughly unscientific, just-for-fun stab at who’s getting auf’ed and who’s not.

The contestants/designers of PROJECT RUNWAY SEASON 9 - Danielle Everine, Rafael Cox, David Chum, Serena da Conceicao, Gunnar Deatherage, Anya Ayoung-Chee, Bryce Black, Fallene Wells, Julie Tierney, Laura Kathleen, Olivier Green, Becky Ross, Cecilia Motwani, Kimberly Goldson (Bottom Row) Bert Keeter, Amanda Perna, Joshua Christensen, Joshua Mckinley, Viktor Luna, Anthony Ryan Auld

[From L to R: Danielle Everine, Rafael Cox, David Chum, Serena da Conceicao, Gunnar Deatherage, Anya Ayoung-Chee, Bryce Black, Fallene Wells, Julie Tierney, Laura Kathleen, Olivier Green, Becky Ross, Cecilia Motwani, Kimberly Goldson (Bottom Row) Bert Keeter, Amanda Perna, Joshua Christensen, Joshua Mckinley, Viktor Luna, Anthony Ryan Auld]
Bert Keeter, 57, Los Angeles
Pros: He’s a graduate of New York’s Parsons design school
Cons: Did you see his age? Sad to say, but his grueling competition seems to run on young and hungry.
Fun Fact: His nephews call him Uncle Tightass. Because he can be difficult. At least we’re hoping that’s the reason they call him Uncle Tightass. I mean, this is a family show.
Verdict: Top six. We love that he’s from Parsons, but his self-admitted rigidity (which, when it also defines design, gives us stuck-in-a-rut work a la Peach Carr). But we’re hoping with age comes insight and, maybe, experience.
Danielle Everine, 26, Minneapolis
Pros: She’s an intimates designer for Target
Cons: Have you seen the underwear department at Target?
Fun Fact: She hates it when people wear sweatpants out of the house. We agree, but on behalf of beleaguered new moms and tired people everywhere we hate her already.
Verdict: Final four. Usually the more we hate a contestant, the longer they last.
Rafael Cox, 27, Atlanta
Pros: His celebrity style icons are Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
Cons: Yes, we know they’re fashion designers now, but they still tend to dress like homeless people.
Verdict: Middle of the pack. While the Olsen twins are perfectly valid choices for fashion muses (Vogue and Louis Vuitton certainly love them), they’ve made too many frumpy choices for public appearances to really qualify as icons.
David Chum, 29, Boston
Pros: He runs his own fashion line, Selahdor
Cons: If he’s not designing, he’s at the beach tanning or swimming. We’re having flashbacks to tanning addict Blane. This is not a good thing.
Verdict: Top two. The fact he has his own fashion line bodes well for him, and of course we had to look. While he seems to live in mortal fear of prints, his dresses feature strong lines, subtle detailing and are very wearable. We hope what he brings to “PR” has a little more punch, but he has a strong base to work from.
Serena Da Conceicao, 31, New York City
Pros: She’d love to dress Marion Cotillard for the Cannes Film Festival.
Cons: Her big plan for the red carpet? A draped dress. Maybe she’s not spilling secrets, but boring much?
Verdict: Middle of the pack. I appreciate the Marion Cotillard reference (we’re thinking she might know foreign film, which can be a great resource for a designer) but that blah draped dress suggestion has me worried.
Amanda Perna, 24, New York City
Pros: Ummmm…
Cons: Her style icon is Carrie Bradshaw (sigh). Her greatest fear is having to make a tailored shirt on the show. We’re guessing there’s an early exit in her future.
Verdict: Third auf’ed. Maybe she just hates tailored dress shirts – or maybe she’s lousy at putting them together (it is an art). The fact that she still thinks of Carrie Bradshaw (and not Sarah Jessica Parker) as an icon screams designer slave.
Gunnar Deatherage, 21, Louisville, Ky.
Pros: He’d kill to dress Nicole Kidman. It’s not a big pro, but we’re reaching here.
Cons: He’s a hair stylist for Aveda and, as a designer, he’s entirely self taught. Though some self-taught designers have done well (Christopher Staub comes to mind), most tend to get tripped up by the intricacies of evening gown construction.
Verdict: Second auf’ed. He might be too young to have created a truly unique identity as a designer, and it seems that very young contestants tend to find one design element that work, then beat it do death.
Joshua Christensen, 29, Los Angeles
Pros: He says he has years of pent up creativity waiting to be unleashed.
Cons: He also says ‘Runway’ is not about being on TV, it’s about being a designer.
Verdict: Final four. While we appreciate his focus, he should keep in mind that producers play a hand in the decision making process. Designers who make good TV often survive those off weeks when their design just doesn’t sing. C’mon, Joshua, have some fun!
Fallene Wells, 29, Denver
Pros: She can get along with anyone.
Cons: She’s all about keeping things drama free. While we agree not stressing out is important, we’re wondering if this is a sign that she lacks passion.
Verdict: Middle of the pack. Being nutty-granola laid back often means you get run over by more aggressive, hysterical types on this show, though we suspect we’d much prefer hanging out with Wells than some of the screamers.
Viktor Luna, 30, New York City
Pros: He’d like to design a futuristic, voluminous gown for Bjork. Plus, he’s the youngest of seven kids. He probably knows how to deal with lots of personalities.
Cons: He’s also the baby of the family, and sometimes (we’re just going on those birth order studies, don’t take it personally) babies can be laid back dreamers instead of go-getters who will fight to the death for the last roll of cherry-colored gauze at Mood.
Verdict: Top two. Who thinks about Bjork anymore? We love that he wants to make something crazy for her (really, the only option) and isn’t scared off by the fact she once wore a swan dress. With an egg purse.
Oliver Green, 22, New York City
Pros: He designed a men’s suit jacket that was featured on Italian Vogue’s Web site.
Cons: It was a men’s suit jacket.
Verdict: Top six. While he might primarily be a menswear designer, he’s apparently a very chic one. While this challenge is (almost never) about designing for guys, he clearly knows color, cut and how to sew well if he got the nod from Vogue.
Becky Ross, 38, based in Portland, Ore.
Pros: She’s a designer. She has a pulse.
Cons: She’s from Portland (we haven’t gotten over the nightmare that was Gwetchen). Her first clothing designs were for her Barbie at age 8.
Verdict: Fifth auf’ed. At 38, she still goes by Becky instead of Rebecca, which makes me think that she might be just too cutesy cut-and-sew to have real vision.
Cecilia Motwani, 34, New York City
Pros: Hmmm…
Cons: She’s self taught. And who would she like to create an outfit for? Ellen DeGeneres. Yes, she’d make her silk jeans, but come on. That’s not even trying.
Verdict: Seventh auf’ed. I’m getting flashbacks to Stella and the leather pants she made week after week after week after week…
Kimberly Goldson, 36, White Plains, Md.
Pros: She’d like to put actress-singer Jennifer Hudson in a long sleeved, backless minidress. Not too original, but I kinda like that she wants to dress Hudson.
Cons: The first thing she ever made that was “wearable” was a dress for her sister’s wedding rehearsal. That was just four years ago, people!
Verdict: Fourth auf’ed. Unless she somehow ended up interning for Marc Jacobs shortly after that wedding, she lacks any kind of real world experience. And as much as I like Hudson, she’s not exactly a cutting edge style icon.
Anya Ayoung-Chee, 29, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
Pros: She wore a slouchy gray jumpsuit she designed when she competed in the 2008 Miss Universe Pageant. Plus, she’s clearly a woman of the world.
Cons: Pageant queens are tough as nails, but does she have the design experience?
Verdict: Top six. I’m just going to take a chance on Ayoung-Chee being as interesting a designer as her background would suggest.
Bryce Black, 26, Portland, Ore.
Pros: His style icon is Lady Gaga. Good answer, but also an easy one.
Cons: He also seems to be obsessed with her (Internet stalking was mentioned). We’re also leery of his Portland roots. If he’s not the Northwestern Alexander McQueen, we’re worried.
Verdict: Final four. While his Lady Gaga obsession could be good or bad (hoof shoes are only cute once or twice), he has a great name for a label. We’ll try to overlook the Portland problem… this time.
Joshua McKinley, 25, New York City
Pros: In his spare time, he’s a thrifter and a runner. While athletic pursuits rarely pay off on this show, at least this indicates he has stamina.
Cons: He doesn’t own a TV set. Does he have any idea what he’s getting into?
Verdict: Middle of the pack. While I dig that he scours thrift stores (a good source for ideas and it suggests he has a deep understanding of retro fashion trends), if he doesn’t know the show he’s not going to be prepared for some of the weirder challenges and twists. Let’s hope he watches TV on the Internet.
Julie Tierney, 35, Grand Junction, Colo.
Pros: Welllll…
Cons: She used to be a pastry chef at a restaurant owned by Heidi Montag’s parents. This is not something I’d tell people about.
Verdict: Sixth auf’ed. While big kudos to her for changing career paths after age 30 (and God knows chefs can handle screaming, drama and tight deadlines), she sounds like she’s more committed to outdoorsy pursuits (she’s a devoted skier) than the drudgery that can sometimes be design.
Laura Kathleen, 26, St. Louis
Pros: She’s a fashion design teacher who’s been auditioning since season five. That’s determination.
Cons: Her one true love is her toy poodle, Oliver. We love dogs, but a toy poodle? Isn’t she seventy years too young for one of those?
Verdict: Final four. The fact that she’s been so determined to get on the show suggests she’ll fight to stay, but I also wonder if her designs didn’t pop enough prior to season nine to get any of the “PR” staff’s attention.
Anthony Ryan Auld, 28, Baton Rouge, La.
Pros: Yeah….
Cons: He’s COLOR BLIND (red-green and blue-yellow color blind, a double whammy). This isn’t usually a big deal if you’re, say, an accountant or a garbage collector. But if you’re an airline pilot or a fashion designer? Big, big problem.
Verdict: First auf’ed. Sorry, but I simply cannot get past color blindness. Call me crazy, but I see some very, very confusing visits for him at Mood.

Who are your very, very unscientific favorites to win? And get ready for “Project Runway” fantasy league, whoot!  Sign ups begin this week!

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