The past few seasons of Project Runway have been admittedly lackluster, but season 8 showed us a promising return to form. Still, the *SPOILER ALERT* eventual winner, Gretchen, put all PJR fans back in Hater Town after she stole the crown from Mondo.
Season 9, however, has been all about pleasing the audience. The contestants? Mortified. The Judges? Not amused. The challenges? Outrageous! And Tim? Well, Tim is just as wonderful as ever.
In the season opener, we met the cast of 16 via an interesting credits sequence in which two new PJR regulars made an appearance: Michael and Nina! It was quite the shock, since the two have been notoriously mum about their involvement with the show.
I’ve always enjoyed the idea that Nina and Michael are simply there to judge and look fabulous then walk away while Heidi and Tim have to work grueling hours and do multiple takes of things like “Make it work!” and “Auf Wiedersehen,” but it’s nice seeing them paying more attention to the job that made them famous.
Of the designers and challenges, well let’s just say it’s the usual gang. You have the bitchy gay cliques (with the extra super-bitchy outsider) along with the ladies who lunch and that is-he-gay-or-straight? designer PJR requires.
The season premiere started rather hilariously at the crack of dawn when Tim crept into everyone’s room at 5:00 a.m. and told them to take what they were wearing (along with their bed sheets).
“I’m not wearing a bra!” contestant Becky cried. No time, responded Tim in his usual running-out-of-time concerned voice.
So far, the two best challenges have been “Pet Project” and “All About Nina.” The pet store challenge resulted in some fabulous designs, especially by Anthony Auld Ryan (who famously introduced himself saying “I rock one now,” referring to his testicular cancer survival) who made a dress out of bird seed and Oliver who made a modernist piece of art out of…wait for it, DOG BEDS.
In All About Nina, designers were forced to create an outfit for Nina Garcia, the judge who has been known to say things like “I can’t even comment on this!” She was harsh, but that’s the way we love her.
“You have a plan B, right?” she told one designer after looking at their sketches. Another designer was told their jacket drawing felt “a little Dynasty.” OUCH. (For all you youngins” out there, Dynasty was a famous 80’s nighttime soap that was famous for its catfights and atrocious clothing.)
Project Runway isn’t even halfway through the season, so if you didn’t know it was on, there’s plenty of time to catch up! While it doesn’t appear to have the emotional resonance that Season 8 did with Mondo’s HIV-positive symbolic pants, there’s plenty of drama, good fashion and classic one-liners to bring the show back to it’s glory days on Bravo.
Brava, Lifetime! You finally made it work. Season Grade: A-
By the way, here are my early predictions for the final three:
Oliver, Anthony and Anya (she’s only known how to sew for FOUR months, so I dub her the wild card entry)
And keep an eye out for a full season of Project Runway All-Stars!! The cast was announced recently, but a start date has yet to be determined. Designers participating are listed below:
Austin Scarlett, Season One
Kara Janx, Season One
Elisa Jimenez, Season 4
Rami Kashou, Season 4
Sweet P, Season 5
Jerell Scott, Season 5
Kenley Collins, Season 5
Gordana Gehlhausen, Season 6
Anthony Williams, Season 7
Mila Hermanovski, Season 7
April Johnson, Season 8
Michael Costello, Season 8
Mondo Guerra, Season 8
Below, watch an clip from the now-notorious pet store challenge: