Project Runway is back for a brand new season and back to its original home network, Bravo! And while much can be said to it being revamped in certain aspects, is it really that far off from where it has always been? My answer is No. Many fans said having the show moving back to Bravo would make it better, so is that really the case? Hard to tell from the first episode, but I am not seeing a huge difference yet — quality of the work is not much different than what we’ve seen in previous seasons, the format is still the same (i.e. top/bottom 3, eliminations, 1/2 day challenges, etc.).
Do not get me wrong — I love Project Runway! I will continue to blog about it because I am a long-time, avid fan. However, I am not seeing much by way of differences with this network move. Yes, the show has been updated in certain aspects, which was much needed! A new runway to showcase the designer looks, this should have happened ages ago. As well as giving the designers a more open, larger workroom space. And yes, this was a fabulous new addition for this new bunch of designers. But ultimately, I am seeing the same format from before, nothing to get too overly excited for.
But yes, this move back to Bravo of course prompted some other changes to this show, that while yes, are new, I don’t know that it’s changing PR at its core. The underlying fabric is still there, we just now get some new additions and fresh faces to continue the phenomenon that is Project Runway! And so by fresh faces, first we have new mentor Christian Siriano. I will miss Tim Gunn, but hearing a young designer, someone who competed on the show, and who is really so active in the fashion world presently, I think this was a great change for the show and I think Christian will do well in this role.
We also have a new host, replacing Heidi Klum is mega supermodel Karlie Kloss. I liked Heidi, but I am totally fine with a new host and interested to see what Karlie brings to the table. I guess in a sense of replacing Michael Kors/Zac Posen, we have established designer Brandon Maxwell. I am not as familiar with his work, but eager to see how he is on the panel and what his perspectives are. I know we will have some guest judges this season, but still full-time for the panel will be journalist/former Editor in Chief of Teen Vogue Elaine Welteroth. I always will welcome a fresh voice, but wondered if there was really a need for 4 on the panel since we still have one unchanged judge in that of Nina Garcia, as well as guest judges?
So I am eager to see how the fuss of a network move and these other changes will impact the show! We began with 16 brand new designers meeting at a launch party, including editors and influencers. Each designer brought with them a look to showcase their work in order to provide a first impression. I will give some thoughts on this later in my individual challenge critiques.
Learning the prize package for this season’s winner was good. I wondered if it would be more, but really it wasn’t. So the winner will receive $250k provided from Pilot Pen; a feature in Elle magazine; $50k to be put towards a design studio courtesy of Bluprint; & a mentorship with the CFDA. Still an impressive prize package for the winner!
The first impression looks showcased at the launch party were important to see, but really what it would be all about is the first challenge looks created. For this first challenge, each designer was assigned a photo from the past for one of the 4 judges. This photo represented a moment each judge recognized fashion was their passion. The designers would use the photos as inspiration to create a look. Brandon’s image was one of his mom in a fashion show. This made him think of the women in his life and how strong and confident is mom is. Karlie’s photo was her first runway show, such a huge moment for her. Nina showed hers from a time when she was in South America, on a boat, taking part in her first photoshoot from an internship with her first magazine. And finally, Elaine brought her first cover from when she worked with Ebony magazine. This was the first cover shoot ever for a woman of color, celebrating that, making any woman feel truly empowered.
We then saw the new workspace so of course the designers could get to work! They met Christian, and checked out the new Brother sewing room. They also received some new sketching materials, including Pilot Friction pens. The designers had 20 minutes to chat with their assigned judge and then 20 minutes to sketch. This would be a 2-day challenge. They also were given their model comp cards, where we learned the models would still be all shapes and sizes, as seen from the last season of Project Runway. And then to wrap up a busy first day, the designers finally landed at their new designer penthouse home in Brooklyn.
The first day of the challenge officially started with a trip to Mood, given a $250 budget. Some of the designers were getting lost looking for fabrics. Others were complaining about the budget being too little, namely Cavanagh, while others were gracious to receive such a large sum. Hester seemed to have the most trouble at Mood and ended up picking a fabric she had never worked with, which she later regretted. I did like how she handled that stress though, much better than we saw from others later on, namely Frankie.
Day 1 of the challenge was really all about getting things going, figuring out directions for the looks. But day 2 was going to be jam-packed with Siriano sessions and model fittings. Each workday is 12 hours. And boy, that workroom looked like a mess from day 1! We also learned about a new aspect for the show, to take in with the business savvy times, e-commerce mindset. PR would be partnering with Nineteenth Amendment to sell winning pieces right after the show. The judges pick and America’s favorite look would be sold. This will be interesting to see any differences between what the judges think and that of America’s opinion. The looks would be sold on BravoTV.com. As of right now, I only notice one look on the website and that was the winning look for this week. And then for some of the challenges, the designers would be using Instagram to show their looks thru a creative photo on the IG story.
Christian did a great job during his Siriano sessions. He gave such great insight, really giving such focus and attention to each designer. He made sure to remind a few of fit issues, and then of course, time management! Christian will also stick around for model fittings. Cavanagh had some fit issues with her jacket and decided to scrap it. Kovid was ecstatic to learn his model was transgender, a PR first. And this is where Frankie’s major freakouts began.
This whole episode could have been boiled down to the Frankie & Cavanagh show. Cavanagh with her strong, blunt opinions, and Frankie with her incessant crying and pity me party. Spoiler alert, they were the bottom 2, so no surprise there! I was very much ready for the runway to begin. So for the day of the runway show, the designers were up at 5 am, with 2 hours in the workroom. Frankie seemed to be in better spirits, but was also getting a lending hand from multiple designers. Cavanagh actually asked her model for help, which I thought made more sense versus having a fellow designer take time from their look to help you out.
The “morning of” also had to consist of Tresemme hair & Maybelline makeup work. Additionally, the designers had to take their Instagram photos. The work really continued right up until the runway started. And literally I felt as if 6 people were still helping Frankie out. Christian had to call for “needles down.”
This first runway was great to see, just in what the designers created for this initial runway, but also to compare a bit with their showcase piece from the start of the episode. And I saw a lot of fit and construction issues for several designers, so not sure how this bottom 3 was selected?? For example, with this photo above, how super thrilling was this? Was it too not pretty basic? It was also constructed poorly and not fit well. Bishme had such a super sexy first look and being assigned the Karlie photo, I thought he would have nailed his look. But he didn’t and it was very blah! And Jamall bragging every chance he got, neither of his looks were worthy of such accolades.
But 2 looks that didn’t make the top, and perhaps should have, were Kovid & Sonia. Kovid’s flowing goddess gown was effortlessly stunning, which was great to see he could do from the more streetwear look he showcased at the beginning of the episode. And Sonia really hit both looks out of the park. She can do drama, but can also do chic glam, super luxe looks that so far, I love!!
Given how amazing Kovid & Sonia’s looks were, I was shocked that neither made the top over Venny. The top 3 consisted of Venny, Tessa, and Renee. Tessa and Renee I got, but Venny’s critiques were not very positive, so I wasn’t sure why he made the top?? His first look showcased was modern, chic, a very cool girl. He tried to keep a modern nod with this black dress, but this look didn’t do it for me. The nod towards a business vibe in the jacket, with the embellishments on the skirt, it felt really unresolved. And as the judges pointed out, where is this girl going?
Both Tessa & Renee did great work, so Tessa winning worked for me. I didn’t care for her first look. It seemed like a school project, with a straightjacket feel. It was such a step-up to this next look. The top was super cute, very wearable. The back was so interesting. This was a luxe, well styled look.
Renee designs in a more conservative aesthetic. Her first look was outerwear, definitely leaving me wanting more. But with this next look, I was sold. The model was covered up, but not in a mumsy way. The look was so well-made, great tailoring, really invoking such strength in this garment.
The bottom 3 was not totally incorrect, but there is no way anyone can say that Cavanagh had the worst look, the one being sent home. But before that debacle, let’s look at Lela who was saved first. Her first look was minimalist, but I wondered could she do more? She kept a minimal approach with this next look, but it was not executed well at all. Both the top and the skirt were too long. One part of the look should have been shorter. And I was left still wondering, can she do more?
But the bottom 2 was Cavanagh and Frankie, not a surprise from the focus they received all episode. I am still perplexed by this decision. Yes, Cavanagh had an attitude. Yes she created a very basic look. But at least she did it on her own, well mostly, and it was still well made and actually wearable. Someone who could barely create a bodysuit over someone who at least made 2 quality pieces — I just don’t get it!!
And yes, despite Cavanagh’s tone during the episode, she at least held composure and owned her mistakes. Frankie broke down all episode, so much crying. I didn’t care for those antics. And I guess what really struck me as most annoying was she had so much help to still have a look end up being so bad!! I commend Cavanagh for not throwing that tidbit of information out there! One could commend Frankie for trying something different I guess with this strip motif, but wait, let’s be real, she was making only a bodysuit, how basic! And really, where was this going that it would be considered super inventive or amazingly creative??
This decision still makes no sense. I don’t know that Cavanagh was really fit for this type of competition either, but Frankie is definitely not! Side note, I also liked the setup that now the safe designers can see the critiques with the top and bottom looks! This poor decision aside, I am ready to see this season play out!