Project Runway Season 8 Episode 1 Recap

Here we are, another season of Project Runway to infuriate and fascinate us! Within minutes of the episode starting I am already questioning the editors decisions –You don’t have a single take of Heidi saying “Welcome to Season 8” with out having to chop two sentences together? These things irk me because I am a filmmaker, and because you feel the heavy hand of editor. To maintain the façade that reality TV really is just capturing ‘real’ moments between people in a particular context, you can’t be chopping up people’s sentences so obviously. Sigh. I digress.

The next thing that perplexes me is the decision to have the designers ‘meet’ in various locations around NYC. It just seems overly contrived and unnecessary. If this is how they plan to fill the new 90 minutes time slot – shoot me now. The conversations seem so staged although the A.J., Sarah, Michael C meeting seems to have some genuine moments in it. What the hell is up with Jason? The first person you meet you ask what nationality they are? Weird…

As the designers are introduced I always find the glimpses of their portfolios really interesting, especially those who are eliminated in the first couple of episodes because you don’t get to see much of what they do. At first glance, I am digging McKell, Michael Drummond, Mondo and Valerie… all seem very modern and interesting, but still wearable. The ‘token senior’ Peach seems so ill-fitted for this competition already – designing for the ‘ladies who lunch’? Really? I can see Michael Kors cringing now…

After the usual introduction of “this fabulous man standing next to me” and the new location of Fashion Week, the designers are presented with a surprise. They are not on the show. Um. Ok. But I am watching the show… so aren’t they on it? What does ‘on the show’ mean? I may be being a little facetious (to use a very Tim-like word) but couldn’t they have just called it the semi-finals or something? There was something kind of weird about saying it was still an audition when they are on the show. Does ‘on the show’ mean they get to move into Atlas? Does ‘on the show’ mean they are part of the opening credits? It’s splitting hairs in my opinion. Or maybe I’m the one splitting hairs…

For the ‘audition’ challenge, they are instructed to take one item out of their luggage to incorporate into their design. The twist is, they have to pass their item to the designer next to them. This challenge is a tweak on some challenges that Project Runway has done before. Season 2 had the designers use the clothes off their back to create a garment and Project Runway Canada had a challenge in which designers raided another designer’s luggage for items to create a look. Normally this kind of challenge is really interesting, but with the time restrictions, in many cases, the designers weren’t able to do much more than alter the clothing – some with better results than others.

Casanova somehow completely misunderstands the challenge and chooses his most expensive pair of pants (which he hasn’t even worn yet) to incorporate into his look. Wha? Even if he had gotten to keep them and use them himself, he would sill have had to cut them up – I can’t tell if he really doesn’t understand or not. Peach chooses a black and white fabric that looks exactly like the pants she saddles Ivy with – and the dress is exactly what I expected; ‘ladies who lunch’ with a bit of frou frou in the back. What bothered me more than her design was the fact that she had NO styling or vision for her garment. Maybe after 7 seasons, we are a bit spoiled with the awesome styling decisions of past designers, but honestly walking into hair and makeup and saying – do whatever you want just doesn’t cut it. Especially as we learn later on in the episode that styling is so important to the judging process.

I was pretty surprised at some of the people who made it through unscathed although I more or less agreed with the bottom six. If they had liked ivy’s pants, would she have gotten away with making pants out of pants the way Christopher got away with making a dress out of a dress? And Peach’s dress was way less young and/or interesting than McKell’s was. The most shocking thing was that they didn’t have any dialogue about the winning garment. Although I liked Gretchen’s dress, I found it a little matronly in the neckline. What Andy accomplished in just 5 hours was a Herculean feat and it was gorgeous. And Valerie’s dress was modern, cute and intricately tailored especially considering the time restraint. (she kicked those D&G pants in the ass!)

The judging is mostly fair.. and then there is McKell, which as Tim Gunn said – the judges must have been smoking crack! I just didn’t understand what the Judges hated so much about this look. And if you are going to criticize the styling – what the $%!@* was up with Jason’s? She literally looked like she ran out of a hair salon in a mental institution! I was so sad for McKell that she was the one to go home, especially because he portfolio was so interesting and I was looking forward to seeing what she would do with a normal amount of time and a creative or unconventional challenge. If it was up to me, Ivy and Jason would have gone home.

Looking forward to next week. I can’t wait for the first unconventional challenge.