Project Runway Episode 1: Grass stains & Nappy-naps

They’re letting the crazy out early this time.

I’m always a bit cautious at the start of a new Project Runway season because there’s a fear that the contestants know too much. The first season of Survivor was amazing because those crazy castaways had no clue what was going on. By season two, it all just seemed so contrived.

When Jack scrawled “Make it work!” on the chalkboard in the guys’ apartment, I feared Project Runway had reached that point. That was until I witnessed the crazy and realized that this season is sure to please, presenting us a level of wackiness unknown in these parts.

This crazy is named Elisa. Last week, I pegged Elisa as the pretentious one, the designer who was undoubtedly talented, but capable of churning up a hatred in my soul usually saved for people who don’t put their shopping carts away.

Let me back up a bit. The episode started out with the usual pleasantries: footage of the designers arriving at their apartments, introductions, meeting Heidi and Tim, etc. etc. etc. On previous seasons, the first challenge always required the designers to craft an outfit out of less-than-luxurious material: purchases from a grocery store, muslin, or items found in their apartments. This season, however, the first challenged involved the designers sprinting across Bryant Park to choose from $50,000 worth of fabric from Mood, the show’s regular fabric store.

I fully expected the chaos that was about to follow, but I must say I was surprised when Elisa took her fabric (very, very expensive fabric), spread it out on the grass, and proceeded to smear grass stains on it. On purpose. I thought Tim Gunn was going roll up the sleeves of his Oxford and punch her in the neck.

The designers returned to Parsons to begin their assignment for the week: create an outfit that shows who you are as a designer. As their were 15 contestants, there was no way to really follow what everyone was doing. There’s always a couple contestants who kind of float around in the middle for awhile before you notice them.

One of my picks from the Project Runway Fantasy League: Klum Division was Marion. I knew within the first five minutes of the show that we wouldn’t be seeing much him during this episode. It was OK though – I only picked him because I liked his hat.

My other pick, Victorya, was featured briefly, and my love for her was further confirmed as her dress was cute, classy, and unique.

The contestants most featured in this episode were Rami, Christian, Simone, and the aforementioned crazy. Rami created a chic gray dress that Tim Gunn called “stunning,” which is always a good sign. It involved elegant draping and a fabric flower that Michael Kors called “Mother of the Bride,” but that I thought was a little sassy.

Christian’s made use of a great golden plaid to create a two piece outfit with a voluminous jacket that Tim Gunn was unsure about, but guest judge Monique Lhuillier enjoyed.

Tim Gunn furrowed his brow at Simone’s boring tank dress, expressing his concern for her technical abilities. During the judging, Nina Garcia pointed out its shoddy construction and Michael said it looked like the model had gotten dressed in the dark. Ouch.

And then there was Elisa. Rather than using a dress form during the design process, she sewed the dress onto herself, claiming that she always did that when creating garments. Tim Gunn was baffled by her choice to pair a fitted, structured blue dress with a cascade of shredded fabric acting as a train. Elisa was unconcerned about Tim’s trepidations and decided she was finished with her work and needed to take a nap. The other designers loved that.

The judges were not amused as they saw Elisa’s model trip down the runway, looking more like a still-drunk co-ed taking the walk of shame after getting the back of her dress stuck in a lawnmower, wearing turquoise suede boots, no less. Heidi described it so eloquently, saying it looked like the model “poohed” fabric out the back of her dress.

The top three included Rami, Christian, and my Victorya, Ricky-tikki-tavi, Simone, and Elisa rounded out the bottom. Rami was named the winner, with Christian and Victorya bringing in 2nd and 3rd place. Ricky took 4th, leaving Simone and Elisa to suffer through pregnant pauses as Heidi worked up to giving the ol’ Auf Weidersehen.

In the end, Simone was declared “Out,” sparing Elisa and her fabric pooh dress, promising us at least one more hour of zaniness and the driving crazy of the Tim Gunn. Thank you, Bravo. Your ratings won’t regret it.

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Valerie Catrow

Valerie Catrow is editor of RVAFamily, mother to a mop-topped first grader, and always really excited to go to bed.

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