Recap: ‘Project Runway’ – ‘Return to the Runway’

01.06.12 6 years ago 9 Comments

Lifetime Television

Aren’t you excited that “Project Runway” is back? And not only is it back, but a cast of all stars (which means talented designers AND total lunatics!) will be returning for another shot at victory. Although there are some cast members I never really needed to see again (cough, Mila, cough), I’m not only interested to see if some of these people have grown as designers, but also to find out if the more annoying contenders have seen the error of their ways and might try playing nice this time around. I doubt it, but I’m interested just the same. 

Thankfully, we kick things off with one of the designers I not only liked the most as a person, but who truly deserved to win his season — Mondo. He admits his heart was broken when Gwetchen walked away with first place, to which I say, you and me both, brother. He’s thrilled to see Michael again, but I can’t say I’m quite as thrilled. Admittedly, I had a lot of sympathy for the guy, as he became the punching bag of season 8, but I suspect he might have had an annoying side that inspired evil Ivy to want to stuff him into a dumpster. 

Oh, look! It’s Mila! She of the color block! Mila thinks she has what it takes to win. Her designs are current and contemporary! Yes, ripping of a Mondrian is SO modern! And it’s not like you can’t buy color blocking at Macy’s right this minute or ANYTHING! Anthony is also in the house, and the lesson he learned from his season is that he will never second guess himself again, but if I recall correctly, he really should. Jerell is getting his sash and tiara this time. Psst, I think that’s “Toddlers & Tiaras,” Jerell. Elisa wants to win. She didn’t, like, care last time, but this time she cares. All I care about is finding out if Elisa is just as nutty as she was when she was last on the show. Don’t let me down, Spit Queen! Austin has always been a star, so it makes perfect sense he’s back for the all star season. I won’t argue with that, actually, although I’m a little sorry his show with Santino didn’t work out. Kenley knows she can come across as snobby and rude. But she’s totally fine with it! Oh, Kenley. I now have my answer to whether or not she learned anything from her season (short answer: no). 

Angela Lindvall is our surprisingly awkward but sort of charming host.  As much as I love Heidi, I can appreciate that the show has gone in a completely different direction this time around (Molly Sims learned the hard way on ‘Project Accessory’ that she’s no Heidi). I get the impression Angela will be a little more sympathetic and a little less gleeful about tearing the designers to shreds — but it’s only an impression. 

Angela explains the rules. No immunity. EVER.  The grand prize is an exclusive boutique in select Neiman Marcus stores and online. And a year-long guest editor gig for Marie Claire. And there’s more! Sewing machines, sergers, office space, it’s crazy! Oh, and a hundred grand cash. Mila says all of the prizes were on her wish list to Santa! I think Mila needs a sugar daddy if she doesn’t have one already, because Santa is only going to bring her a lump of coal, I bet. 

Georgina Chapman, cofounder of Marchesa, and Isaac Mizrahi are our esteemed judges. I have high hopes that Isaac will be our Michael Kors this time, but zanier. Mizrahi is nothing if not zany. 

Before we get to an actual challenge, the designers get to show off one of their designs for the judges. Oh, goody!

As we see them dress their models, we get to watch them check out their competition. Sweet P thinks Kara Janx is her main competition. Michael thinks Rami is his biggest competition, because they both like to drape things. Sorry, Michael, but I’d put my money on Rami in that horse race. Rami is… well, I don’t think he’s worried about anyone. And he shouldn’t be, as he actually has a line to go home to.

Jerell sends down a fairly busy but interesting maxidress with a tribal sensibility. Mila does, shocker, COLOR BLOCKING on her sheath! Kenley’s selection is a ghastly blue and white prom dress. Seriously ugly. Austin’s dress is interesting, but it makes the model look fat. Elisa’s printed dress has ew, a cape and ew ew, a horrible oversized print. It looks like bedsheets from Target. Rami sends down a monochrome dress I kind of love. Gordana’s mullet dress is interesting from a distance — until you see the big-ass applique slapped on the front. April goes for subtlety, which I appreciate. I don’t love the green of Anthony’s dress, but I like the design. Michael has created a big maxidress that’s pretty okay. Oooh, I love the Victorian steampunk thing Mondo ha going. 

The designers get a breather before the contest really begins in earnest, and that includes luxuriating in their Flatotel suite. Elisa marks her bed with lipstick. Well, that’s one approach. You could also put your purse on it, Crazypants.

Now that they’ve, um, marked their territory (literally, in Elisa’s case), it’s time to watch a video. We see Giancarlo Giammetti, Valentino’s partner. Is he in a mausoleum? Anyway, he’s talking about Valentinow, and then who should appear on the tape? Valentino! Austin and Michael are crapping themselves. Jerell is crying. Okay, I get it, it is Valentino, but he’s not giving you jobs. Anyway, Valentino encourages them not to suck and they all have some champagne. 

Time for their first challenge! It’s the unconventional challenge. Sigh. Sometimes this is fun, but I’m not always convinced that forcing someone to use garbage bags, twine and lint rollers as materials is the best way to find a good designer. Luckily, it’s early on, so it should be effective at weeding out someone who’s truly horrible. As usual, the designers have to make dresses out of crap from a 99 cent store. Austin won the first unconventional challenge ever, so he is feeling the pressure. But wait, there’s a twist! Their designs must be inspired by the look they brought to that preview fashion show. 

There’s a mad dash into the junk store, and there’s an immediate conflict — April (who is sporting bluish-gray hair — so Tavi Gevinson two, three years ago, April) and Michael are both making dresses out of mop heads. April knows their designs won’t be similar, so she’s not worried. But Michael suspects she’ll kick his ass. Michael seems to be leaking insecurity at every turn, and he really needs to calm down.

Joanna Coles of Marie Claire wil be the mentor for this challenge. But before she can come in to visit, we see Elisa pull her work mat UNDERNEATH her table so she can work on the floor. Anthony points out he has some family crazy, so this doesn’t phase him, but still, it’s pretty clear Elisa is off her damn nut.

As the designers hustle to put their looks together, Jerell informs Michael his dress looks exactly like April’s and suggests they have a talk. If there is a talk, we don’t see it, but I suspect Michael will just change his design. Oh, MIchael — just do what you want to do! 

Finally, it’s time for mentoring. Why don’t they just call Joanna our Tim Gunn of the evening? Joanna asks Sweet P if she has anything that will surprise the judges. Sweet P has no answer, which means no. Joanna seems to like Gordana’s dress, and thinks it will come to life. Mondo thinks it’s a pinata. He hopes her model is full of candy. Mondo is not feeling competitive, but Joanna can’t wait to see his design. She’s worried Elisa will spit on her. Elisa explains that it’s a blessing mark! Joanna clearly thinks she’s nuts, but she doesn’t have time for this garbage so she just goes with it. Elisa has nothing much to show, but she is trying to surprise herself. Oh my Lord of the Rings, she’s batcrap crazy. 

More drama! Austin’s glue gun melts his dress. Michael thinks he’s going home for it. Austin seems to think so, too. 

Runway time! Our judges wil be Georgina, Isaac and Neiman Marcus fashion director Ken Downing. 


I like the plastic, I like the color, but I’m not really digging his current passion for high waistlines with busy stuff plopped at the midsection. The top is a little bra-like. But the red shoes, nice contrast.


Whoa, what did she make this out of? She wanted it to look like something a woman could actually wear, and it does. Nice.


I may actually like this better than the inspiration dress. 


I get the connection to the inspiration dress, but I still don’t like this. It looks like a roller disco outfit.


This looks expensive and couture. Love it. Love. It. 

Sweet P

I like the belts around the bodice, but the tiered skirt? Horrible. What happened, Sweet P?


I love the dress. Love. But the hair doodad? Not as successful this time around.


The woman has a bath scrubby on her head. It looks like she fell off a cake.


This is too busy. The crap around the shoulders, not working.  And why did she paint every square with silver? This looked a lot better when Joanna saw it. Step away from the work table, Gordana! Go get a damn snack or something. 


Love the color, but it looks kinda napkin-y.


I wish we could have gotten a better shot of the outfit from the waist down. Were those leggings? I was actually interested. Maybe Mila had an idea. Go figure.


Actually, this mophead dress isn’t bad…


… but I like April’s dress a little better. 

 Austin, Mila, April, Anthony, Kara, Kenley and Michael are safe. That leaves Rami, Sweet P, Jarell, Gordana, Elisa and Mondo. 

Rami is first. He made his dress out of laundry bags, tinsel and an umbrella lining. Isaac thinks he has an edge over the other designers in terms of execution. Ken thinks it could go into a magazine. I totally agree. I love that Rami did something I didn’t expect from him — but having seen his 2010/11 spring collection, I knew he’s been going in a more architectural direction lately. Good, good, good. 

Sweet P is next. Isaac thinks it looks ragged. He doesn’t like the cutout back. He thinks it looks more chewed out. Ken says most women don’t like to look bigger, which is absolutely true. It’s so hippy blah. 

Georgina could see someone wearing Jerell’s dress. Ken thinks he exploited something that’s happening now.

Elisa talks about her ugly dress. Isaac loves the spirit of the dress. What? I hope they’re humoring Crazypants because they’re worried she’ll spit on them. 

Mondo is next. Angela thinks it’s fun. Ken would love to see the dress in a real fabric. Isaac loves his sense of proportion.

Gordana is our last designer on the block Isaac likes the steel roll. Georgina thinks there are too many ideas. Gordana agrees. 

The judges talk it out. They loved Rami’s dress. Isaac worries he refabricated yesterday’s dress. Angela thinks it just looks like it came from the same collection. They liked Mondo’s modern edge. The tribal element of Jerell’s dress was also a hit. But I think this is Rami’s game.

Moving on! Sweet P is in trouble. Ken thinks it wasn’t purposely irregular. Angela would never be seen dead in it. They think Gordana has to learn when to stop. Isaac was entertained by Elisa, but Georgina is not laughing.

Jerell is… safe. It’s down to Mondo and Rami. The winner is… Rami. Rami really did an exceptional job. He can do construction as well as draping. 

Gordana is… safe. Sweet P and Elisa are our problem children. Sweet P is… safe. Elisa is going home. Guess she shouldn’t have marked her bedspread with lipstick! 

She likes her design, but can respect the fact she was eliminated. She is going to continue to be true to herself. Well, okay. There are mental patients who need clothes. 

Okay, Miss Piggy and Diane Von Furstenberg will be on upcoming shows! I could not be more excited, seriously. So far, so good on our new season of “Project Runway.” I think Isaac will be a less quip-y but equally insightful Michael Kors, Angela has a certain charm, and Georgina has an iciness that recalls Nina quite well. I am sorely missing Tim Gunn, however. Still, the level of design is promising and hey, Mondo is back. It’s all good!

What did you think of the season debut? Did you think it was Elisa’s time to go? Which guest are you excited about this season? 

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