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Project Runway Season 7 Premiere Recap

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Hi everybody! I'm here. Don't freak out.

As I communicated to as many of you as I could via Facebook yesterday, I had a prior commitment that prevented me from watching the ProjRun premiere in a timely manner. If it had been any ordinary commitment--a brow threading appointment, a hunger strike, a state dinner with Barack and Michelle--I would have totally bailed so that I could do my recap, but it was the opening of my mother's solo show at an art gallery in Brooklyn. I know. That bitch. Scheduling the celebration of her life's work on the same night as Project Runway... it's almost as bad as Obama threatening to pre-empt the Lost premiere with his stupid "first State of the Union address." Whatever. But in all seriousness, my mom's opening was fantastic and I was so glad to be there for her, so you should give me brownie points, or maybe even actual brownies. Mmmm, brownies. Now I'm distracted. Why am I here?

Oh, right. The show. I watched it today at my dad's on DVR. He's in Vietnam this week, but he left me a little recapping shrine:

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(That's a Tim Gunn bobblehead doll in front of the TV; I gave it to my dad for Christmas. It could also double as Anderson Cooper, or Malcolm Getz from Caroline in the City. Multipurpose!)

So I'm not sure if much happened before this, but when the DVR started recording Seth Aaron Henderson, who I am henceforth going to call Seth (because I am a lazy typist and also because calling him Rufus, after the aging rock star dad on Gossip Girl, might get confusing), is approaching the Atlas apartments. As Seth enters the building, his voiceover tells us that he wants to be a household name, but that if he's not having fun he doesn't want to do it [by 'it' I assume he means fashion]. Upon entering the empty mens' dorm, he immediately jumps on--and breaks--one of the beds. He is also, it should be noted, wearing what appears to be a velvet blazer and a neck bandana. And maybe eyeliner. Could be important later, you never know.

The first lady arrives, and it's Janeane, the Oregonian free spirit who made a painting of a fish whispering a secret to a kitten! The first thing she does is go the wrong way in Atlas' revolving door. Aw. Bless. Janeane explains that her aesthetic is not specific to a time period or trend, and as she starts to talk about Bryant Park she becomes verklempt and starts to cry. Not because it's her life's dream, but because the secret the fish was whispering turned out to be "Please kill me."

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Adorable, bizarre Ping joins Janeane in the womens' bunker and they hug. Ping (I feel like her name needs an exclamation point after it, like Ping!) says that since she is also a physical therapist, she knows how the body moves. We see some of her sketches, in which all of the figures have one leg raised as if performing in STOMP on Broadway or perhaps relieving themselves against a tree. CUTE.

Over in the mens' apartment, Seth is still all by his lonesome until Ben arrives, immediately followed by Anthony, who is wearing a glorious tuxedo shirt and who quickly establishes himself as the one-liner king of the cast so far. "It is hell being black and gay in the ghetto," he observes before telling us that his goal is to be the designer for Miss USA and Miss Universe. "I don't really care for Miss America," he says with a smirk. Also: Anthony talks about himself in the third person occasionally, which is, if troubling, also awesome.

Jay Nicolas (per my lazy typing rule, he's going to have to settle for just Jay) appears, luckily not pursued this time by mannequins.

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He informs us that he's not in fashion for the money, he just wants to do what he loves. Seth alerts the other boys to the broken bed and they compare weights to see which of them is the lightest. This excited me, because when four grown men know their exact weights, it means one thing and that is DIVAS. I really want people to behave badly this season. I'm starved for it. I need some drama, y'all. Related: they should totally stock grain alcohol and wiffle bats around the apartments. Just to ... y'know, see.

Omigah, guess who shows up at the girls' dorm next? Buffalo Bill! I mean, Pamela Ptak! She of the stuffed animals and butterfly wings and daquiri colors. She does not disappoint; she has brought her key lime separates and her crazy eyes. Next comes Anna, who seems super sweet and who kind of reminds me of Allison from Season 3 crossed with Leanne from Season 5.

Jonathan Peters shows up in the mens' bunker. You know Jonathan, the one who wore a boater hat and hoed a field in his audition tape? "I'm kind of an animal when it comes to competition," he says. "I'll do anything to win." He explains that he's been hand-painting and splattering his designs lately in an attempt "to discover the place where gritty meets pretty." Gritty Meets Pretty would be an awesome band name. Also, I've just decided that the world needs a Showboat musical parody called HoBoat (thank you Jonathan, for the inspiration), by the 30 Rock writers who brought us MILF Island.

Oh, and it just keeps getting better: Jesse LeNoir arrives and A) he's wearing a porkpie hat and B) it turns out that he is an actor at C) DISNEYLAND who plays D) CAPTAIN JACK SPARROW on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Yes, Nina Garcia, there is a Santa Claus. Anyway, Jesse and Jonathan bond, possibly over their impeccable taste in hats and ambiguous gayness.

Mila Hermanovski makes her entrance in the ladies' quarters. Mila is a costume designer for TV and film and dresses in a stark black and white wardrobe that reminds me more than a little of Beetlejuice. In the interest of full disclosure, Mila is also following me on Twitter, so I'm scared to say bad things about her. No, just kidding, I'll be fair. But she did ask me never to compare her to Louise Black again (I can't say I blame her.) Maya Luz, the S&M purse-making fashion school grad, arrives and says hello to Mila. "I like your haircut. High-five for bangs!" she says, and they high-five. Bobsled team-building, I love it. Christiane, who earned my dislike early on in her audition tape when she claimed that Tim Gunn wanted her, shows up and is boring. (I don't like to hold grudges so much as squeeze them in a death grip.) Amy Sarabi rounds out the female contestants. "I love innovation. I love being different," she says. Apparently a lot of her inspiration comes from stuff she has around the house, which kind of makes you wonder about those vaginal designs. I mean, obviously she has at least one vagina in her house, but could there be others being used as, like, bookends?

But enough about ladyparts, because Jesus is risen over at the mens' apartment. Jesus Estrada, that is, the cornhusk wunderkind from Mexico. He has big doe eyes and kind of talks like Cadillac from Planet Unicorn. He tells us that he is young but very talented, and that his imagination makes him a good designer. He informs Jesse and Jonathan that his specialty is couture, so "you guys better watch out." Emilio Sosa, the last dude to show up, immediately endears himself to me by extending his hand to the group and saying "My name is Emilio. What is your name?" Not that there's anything wrong with manners, but something in the way he says it suggests he might have his name and home phone number written on the bands of all of his underpants.

Now that all of the designers have arrived, they open letters from Heidi asking them to gather on the roof for an official welcome. And seriously, you guys, when they get to the roof I have hope for the season, because Heidi is not only pregnant but is also wearing a leopard print. YES. Tim is not wearing his signature pink tie, but that's okay, because as they all raise their champagne glasses against the backdrop of Manhattan, I feel like all is right with the Project Runway universe.

Speaking of the skyline, immediately a bunch of the designers start gaping at the Empire State Building. Are there no smug New Yorkers in this bunch? On cue, Emilio reveals that he is from New York. He's been working making costumes to pay the bills and says that his goal "is to have my clothing on people's backs who I ride the subway with." Emilio seems like good people, and I'm sorry I jumped to conclusions about his underpants. Heidi and Tim ask Ben what his style is, and he tells them that he went to school for comic book illustration, saying armor is a big theme for him and that he doesn't always make things that are feminine and pretty.

Christiane tells Tim (HANDS OFF, BITCH) that she's into textures, layers, and colors, since the Ivory Coast--where she's from--is all about color. We learn that Christiane has won an award for Best Haute Couture (although we don't learn who gave her this award--possibly she found it on the street, the way my roommate Ellaree once found an award for "The Essence of Blackness" on a Brooklyn curb) and has had designs "on the red carpet." (Again, no mention of which red carpet. This could mean a Wendy's.) "I'm good," Christiane purrs. If you'll indulge me in a little foreshadowing, I'll just take a moment to say: We'll see about that.

The welcome wagon disbands as Tim announces that the designers will meet him in Central Park the next morning to learn the details of the first challenge. Central Park? Are they going to cruise joggers on the reservoir? Or make jackets out of those turdy little pellets they feed to the goats at the Central Park Zoo? Oooh, oooh: Hot dog vendors. I would die of happiness if I could just get to see Ping make a pair of gaucho pants out of kosher all-beef franks.

Of course, I know better than to get my hopes up like that. And lo and behold, the next morning the designers arrive at the park to find tons of fabric draped over benches. ("Lord have mercy!" Anthony swoons. "Mood has come out here and hung their fabrics out to dry!") Tim stands on a makeshift runway at the center of it all, looking snazzy. He tells the group that Mood has donated textiles in "myriad colors and patterns." (I love it when people use the word myriad. It makes me think of Heathers. Tim is totally a Veronica, though. I mean, obviously.) Anyway, the first challenge is to create a look that embodies who each of them is as a designer. I must still be all starry-eyed from Heidi's leopard maternity blouse, because I don't even care that this challenge is boring.

Tim gives the designers three minutes to grab as much fabric as they want, and I just love watching people run and grab things indiscriminately, although I'm more gratified when the things in question are hams (I miss Supermarket Sweeps. Anyone? Anyone?). Everyone goes nuts with the bolts (see what I did there? Nuts, bolts? I'm pretty slap-happy and I'm not even halfway through this recap, God help me). When the time is up, Tim announces that a good editing eye is important to have, so they must each choose only 5 fabrics out of all they've grabbed to take back to Parson's. Pamela interviews that letting go of a fabric is "like your leg. You don't want to cut it off!" Yes, because that's a sane metaphor. Also, you might need to cut off the leg if you're making a suit of human skin, Buffalo Bill. Meanwhile, Ping realizes that all of her fabric is ugly and weirdly Scottish-looking, and then somehow she has trouble unrolling something and everyone stands around and claps and chants her name and I bet any random passersby thought it was a performance piece. Ping might have thought that, too, actually. Man, she is awesome.

After all the FIDM nonsense of last year, we are, happily, finally back at Parson's. The walls are painted shocking pink, and Tim has worn a tie to match. He introduces the Brother sewing room and a new sponsor, I mean addition, which are HP Touchsmart notebooks that the designers can use for sketching. Poor Tim has obviously memorized his spiel from a press release, his normally musical baritone suddenly awkward and wooden. Each designer gets a random model assignment and Tim informs them that they will have just over a day to complete their looks and that the winner of the challenge will win immunity.

Seth proclaims that he is going to go over the top and in-your-face. "If you don't shove who you are down the judges throats," he muses, "You might be in trouble." Janeane is planning a black cocktail dress with inset pleats, while Emilio is focused on using a colorful pattern and getting a great fit. Ping begins draping fabric on herself, and Anthony's fabric is a garish floral that makes me scared for him. Before anyone is even partially done, Tim comes back with the models for a first fitting. (By the way, I might as well tell you now that I am not wasting my time on Models of the Runway this season. I'm not a night owl, and by 11:30 pm I am generally racing myself into bed before my eyelids shut. So unless there are some Tyra Banks-worthy shenanigans going on--and a model leaving the competition to work at Arby's does not qualify, ahem Season 6--I have no time for that nonsense.)

Tim checks in with Christiane first. She wonders if her dress--a very bright blue with floral fabric draped across it--is too simple, and Tim advises her to finish it impeccably. Next he stops by planet Ping. "Ping, are you cold?" he asks, as she is draped in yards of tartan and is wearing a knit cap. Ping explains that she's fitting her design on herself. "Does that allow you to be objective?" Tim asks rhetorically, and Ping says that she always does it that way because she doesn't have a dress form at home. Ping so crazy, y'all! Tim stops by Seth's work station. Seth is crafting a gingham minidress with punk detailing like tons of zippers. Tim wonders if the piece will become cartoonish, but Seth insists that gingham and zippers represent his innermost soul. Janeane is working on a little black dress, but Tim is concerned that the shiny fabric she's selected shows all of the imperfections in the seams. "Clean it up," he says, and Janeane cries. Janeane's tear ducts clearly operate on a hair trigger, and I predict that she'll lose about ten pounds from dehydration by season's end.

Anthony's dress is a hot mess, which Tim acknowledges, but they have a funny banter over it and Anthony has a good sense of humor about his own lack of taste, which is refreshing. Emilio has created a pretty ombre top by stitching strips of a patterned fabric over a solid fabric, but Tim worries that his look won't be finished in time for the runway, since Emilio still has a skirt to make. "I only have half of my dress done!" Emilio interviews. "Why, why, why me?" He says this as if it is beyond his control, as if God has cursed him with slowness and poor time management. I also have in my notes "Janeane cries again" because she has to start over with just a few hours to go. Anyone looking for a drinking game rule, I think you've found it.

It's the morning of the runway show! The Bluefly.com accessory wall is back, and Ping hits herself in the face with a giant ruler. Good times. Janeane interviews that she has a lot to do, and Emilio is worried because he hasn't put his garment on his model yet. Mila gives Christiane some advice on her dress, interviewing afterward that Christiane's lack of construction skills will do her in. Ping piles fabric on her model. Ping's outfit actually looks a lot like the costume I had to wear in 3rd grade when I played an African washerwoman in P.S. 282's production of "It's All the Fault of Adam" wearing a kanga wrap and sweatpants. "Ping's outfit is... very Ping," Jonathan interviews. "Ping may go home." To which I say, shut it, HoBoat. No one asked you.

Tim comes in to plug Garnier, L'Oreal Paris and Bluefly. The models arrive. Jesus, who has made a long brown crocodile evening gown with a chiffon ass train, is very confident and thinks he'll be in the top 3. Anthony is nervous that time is not on his side, and when he has trouble getting a zipper up he exclaims "I'm sweating like a Baptist preacher!" Emilio is pleased to discover that his dress--which he did finish--fits well on his model, and Seth has taken to wearing a bandana around his head a la Bret Michaels,or one of the Outsiders. "Could I win?" he asks himself. "Absolutely!"

There's a commercial break here, and can I just say that Valentine's Day looks God-awful? It does, doesn't it? Also, apparently there is some contest ProjRun is throwing whereby you can win $10,000, a makeover, and a fashion consult with Nina Garcia. I can see it now: "Una, I question the taste level of those Old Navy sweatpants. Can you turn around for me. It's... well, it's lumpy. It makes your butt look lumpy. And what does it say on your shirt? "Snackers do it between meals?" I just... it's not sexy. You look like a Cathy comic."

It's runway time! Heidi is resplendent in green. She introduces the prizes, which are all the same except for--shockingly--a $50,000 technology suite from HP, the selfsame maker of those Touchsmart notebooks Tim got so tongue-twisted over. Hmmm. And now, the judges: Michael, looking, as always, like the little-known Beat poet Oompah Loompa; Ninagahcia, ever radiant and fashionable, and guest judge (and, allegedly, designer) Nicole Richie, who looks amazingly healthy but this I suspect is because she is pregnant.

Now take your seats and stop huffing that Garnier Fructis Anti-Humidity hairspray, because like Roy Scheider said in All That Jazz, it's showtime. (Since the theme of the challenge was showing who they are, I am going to attempt to translate their messages.)

In order of appearance, we have...

JONATHAN

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I am Clara Bow, and I am trapped in an Edward Gorey illustration.

In all seriousness, I like this dress a lot. I love the hand-painting detail on the shoulders. It's sophisticated but sexy.

SETH

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I am your teenage daughter and not only do I hate you, but I AM going OUT and I AM going to CBGB. What do you mean it's John Varvatos now?

This isn't my particular taste (my taste being "made of sweatpants") but I appreciate that this is really well-made and well-styled. Kudos, Seth. Or is it... Elvis?

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Jerry Lee Lewis?

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Anyway. Moving on.

JESUS

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Much like celebrities wear red dresses to raise awareness of heart disease, I am walking this runway in support of IBS.

Originally, this dress was short, but Jesus decided to go glam and add a long skirt (and the aforementioned ass train, not visible in this photo. Unfortunately, he went glam with brown crocodile, which is risky. I see the craftsmanship, but it's a lotta brown. And, it must be said, not very well-fitting.

BEN

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Shoulder pads? Fuck shoulder pads.

I know the horns or whatever are supposed to say something artistically, but for me they fall flat. Maybe it's the shimmery rust-colored fabric? Or maybe if this had more dramatic styling? I can't put my finger on it... what say you?

JAY

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Well, the cake said EAT ME, what was I supposed to do?

No, but seriously, does that dress not look wee on her giant frame? It is running away from her collarbones on one end and away from her knees on the other. I like the aesthetic, with the two-tone tweed-y fabrics and the rosette-like appliques, but I just want to stretch it out and make... more of it.

PAMELA

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My stylist just had Lasik surgery, but she swears she can totally see.

As her look comes down the runway, Pamela says that the use of pink will show the judges "that I'm happy." The dress is fine. But the hair, the necklace, the shoes... they ruin it for me.

EMILIO

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In a past life, I was a Maypole. Now I am a Scandanavian shot putter.

This photo does not quite do the dress justice--this was so pretty in motion. I like the work Emilio did blending the two fabrics so that the dress feels like a coherent piece.

JESSE

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I am a working girl. What do you mean, what kind?

The fit of the top bothers me, and the bare shoulders seem oddly risque... maybe it's the cut? Anyway, Tess McGill would totally have worn this. Whore.

PING

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I am so depressed. Why does everyone keep calling me Mary-Kate?

This model looks like a Sibyl that somehow stepped off of the Sistine Chapel ceiling and onto the Bowery. Which, by the way, is a great premise for a movie that will, incidentally, be much better than Valentine's Day.

CHRISTIANE

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This is MY Super Sweet Sixteen and I am not about to let some Daffy's discount bin dress ruin my night!

I feel bad snarking, maybe because I just feel bad about this dress in general. The construction is pretty terrible, the colors garish and the fabric unflattering.

AMY

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Well, I was wearing a top, but--funny story--I got into a slap fight with this bitch at the coat check in Lincoln Center because she asked if I was one of Mother Ginger's polichinelles. So I pulled her hair and she ripped my top in half, and afterwards I realized I lost one of my chicken cutlets in the fray. It was unreal. Why, does one boob look bigger than the other?

Um, see above.

JANEANE

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I am Jackie O. Except not, you know, dead. And with greater potential for a nip slip.

Maybe weeping is good juju for Janeane, because I love this outfit. It's chic and wearable and doesn't look like she pulled it out of her ass at the last minute.

MILA

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I'm mod, baby. Let's smoke grass. I'll let you plot a graph on my chest.

This look as a whole gels beautifully, even though it has many parts and many patterns. I'm not wild about the graph print, but I must concede that it works. And I love the cape. Love.

ANTHONY

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Step one: Cut a hole in a dress.
Step two: Slap a bag on that dress.
Step three: Hide some junk in that dress.

And by "junk," I mean "colostomy bag," because, really, what else is that "panel" for? Say what you will about the fabric, but I applaud Anthony for making fashion-forward options for the nursing home set.

ANNA

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I think I get enough B-12...why?

This is sweet and pretty, but smacks of Anthropologie (or, as I like to call it, twee heaven).

MAYA

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Some people wear their hearts on their sleeves. I wear my lower intestines.

This is a little too Carrie Bradshaw circa Y2K for my tastes, but it does make the dress interesting. My main concern here, like with Anna, is that this doesn't give me an original point of view.

Phew! I cannot wait until some of these peeps get aufed so that I don't have to spend 3 hours posting photos.

Anyway, Heidi calls the following designers forwards (cryptically in alphabetical order): Amy, Anna, Ben, Janeane, Jay, Jesse, Jonathanm Maya, Mila, and Pamela. This is the safe group. That leaves Jesus, Emilio, Ping, Seth, Anthony, and Christiane on the chopping block.

ANTHONY says he wanted to do a different shape but keep the dress functional, fun, and feminine. Heidi doesn't like the top part of the dress. Michael says, quite aptly, "She could go to a garden party and steal champagne bottles." Nina argues that the fabric and the silhouette seem at odds with one another, and points out that the butt looks bad.

SETH calls his look "Little Tokyo," and says that his model is going to the MTV Music Awards. Nicole Richie says that everything works. Heidi says that it's fun and has a definite point of view. Nina loves the back. Michael observes that a lot of young women would want to wear it, and that it's commercial.

PING says "My garment looks just like fabric you would hang on a hanger. When you move, it changes." Nicole Richie says that the model got her attention. Nina argues that clothes should have some hanger appeal, but Michael says that the look really shows who Ping is.

JESUS says that his specialty is evening gowns, and that he wanted to show off the female body. Heidi bluntly declares that it is "not fashionable." Michael says that it looks like a huge crocodile trunk exploded on an evening gown, and that it's not sexy. Nina opines that the model looks like a Hershey's chocolate bar. See, I told you. IBS.

CHRISTIANE wanted to create a sophisticated, elegant, sexy dress. The judges basically tell her "Too bad!" They hate the way the draping was handled and think the fabrics are wrong.

EMILIO created a youthful cocktail dress that would show off his technical skills. Michael says that it's deceptively simple but incredibly well-made. Nina really likes the technical work and says that the dress has hanger appeal. Nicole Richie loves the flirty full skirt.

Not that you need the deliberations to tell you this, but the top three are Seth, Ping, and Emilio and the bottom three are Anthony, Jesus, and Christiane.

Ping is the first one safe. Yay! And the winner of the challenge is... Emilio! He does a little arm pump and keeps saying "Yes!" Then he interviews that he's thrown down the gauntlet for the other designers but that winning the first challenge has also put a target on his back. Seth is obviously in. It's down to the final three.

Heidi tells Anthony that he is in and his jaw literally drops. He asks her to repeat it, and she tells him to get off stage before she changes her mind. It's down to Jesus and Christiane. Wait! JESUS and CHRISTiane. JESUS versus CHRIST. Holy shit! Project Runway hates Christians, y'all. Anyway, Heidi does a backwards elimination where she says "Jesus, I'm sorry one of you has to be out... but it's not you." FAKE OUT! Jesus nearly faints.

So Christiane goes home, which you all should be happy about since you know I would have bitched about her all season for hitting on Tim. Also I have to say, unlike last season when they sent Ari home first, I feel like Christiane was a good call. She wasn't that interesting, her taste level wasn't up to par, and compared to the other designers she was clearly out of her league.

The people I'm frightened for in the immediate future are Anthony, whose sassy personality won't carry him for long, Jesus, who is overconfident and underexperienced, and Jesse, who got by this week I think just because there were so goddamn many of them.

Speaking of the future, next week's episode finds the designers wading through dirt on a farm and working with what looks like muslin, and Tim tells someone "you screwed the challenge." It's only a hop, skip, and a jump until he's screaming obscenities. At least I hope so. Let this be the season of Tourette's Tim!

I'll see you next week (Friday this time, promise). Until then, if you like these recaps check out my blog or become a fan on Facebook.