Project Runway Season 11 Pre-Show Rundown! [A Tall Glass of Shame]

Get ready, because next week, an all new Season of Project Runway hits the air, and my bitchy commentary will start to flow like the mighty Mississippi! Season 10 turned out to be a bit of a snooze-fest and shaking things up is exactly what the reality series Project Runway needed, so for Season 11 they have announced it will be the “Teams Edition!” The poor contestants always dread the team challenges, so if the new batch of hopefuls are entering this season hoping for just one or two to slug through, they are poorly mistaken! It sounds like they plan to take the “teams” aspect to the bitter end, most likely pinning the last few remaining designers against each other head-to-head, in the final few episodes. I think this is a good spin for the series, as it will show these Artists (with a capital A) exactly how to collaborate. I get so sick of seeing these headstrong designers making garments with no thought to their client or the other pieces in their collections. This might just force some new creativity (and drama) out of our poor little designers.

The panel of judges has a slight change this year as well with renowned clothing designer Zac Posen taking over for Michael Kors on the judges panel. Michael Kors will be joining us as the main guest judge for the finale. They seem to have upped the ante as well in the area of guest judges with the likes of Bette Midler, Susan Sarandon, Kristin Davis, Singer John Legend, one of my favorites from past seasons: Christian Siriano and everyone’s favorite skeleton duo: Joan and Melissa Rivers.

I’m hoping that these simple shifts make for a more compelling season, God knows so many people slept their way through last season usually nodding off by the time somebody uttered the word ‘Chiffon’… (Which was usually about 2 minutes into the show.) The new group looks pretty talented this year though, and perhaps perfectly cast to have a few big personalities fighting over who is really leading these “Teams.” Let’s take a look at my first impressions this year like we always do and get a feel for the cattle we are about to brand Ready For The Runway!

Amanda Valentine, 31 – Hometown: Nashville, TN; Resides in Lincoln, NE

First impression purely based on their photo: The Bitchy Goody 2 Shoes/ Know It All

After watching their intro clips and looking at their portfolios and inspiration boards: Yeah, seems pretty impressed with herself. I love her influences and her basic aesthetic (punky edge with lots of texture.)

My Concerns: That shredding and strips thing is gonna get old if she uses that as a crutch! She needs to badly work on craftsmanship, you can see puckered hems on all her garments from the runway photos in her portfolio.

Benjamin Mach, 35 – Hometown: Sydney, Australia; Resides in London, England

First impression purely based on their photo: Albino Bellhop

After watching their intro clips and looking at their portfolios and inspiration boards: He seems to have a great fascination with period gowns and seems to understand draping on the body. His garments look well made. I find it interesting that his favorite former contestant is Mondo considering how conservative some of his work looks.

My Concerns: Gown, Gown, Coat, Gown, Coat. My guess is he will have trouble thinking much further than pretty dresses with a coat here and there in these challenges. Also, GOD help him if he gets a real woman with curves! His work looks like it is tailor made for the skinny set.

Cindy Marlatt, 59 – Hometown: Kent, WA; Resides in Kent, WA

First impression purely based on their photo: The Mother (Smother) Figure

After watching their intro clips and looking at their portfolios and inspiration boards: Dumpy leather and heavy wool coats. She seems to have mastered a very Man-ish looking overcoat with awkward closures. I commend her on her weird (hideous green) latex coat she made but I just don’t think she is the designer for my taste.

My Concerns: While she appears to have some menswear experience and seems up to the challenge of a real woman’s figure, her work just comes off a tad dowdy.

Daniel Esquivel, 48 – Hometown: Dallas, TX; Resides in Austin, TX

First impression purely based on their photo: Gay Deer In Headlights

After watching their intro clips and looking at their portfolios and inspiration boards: Seems able to make bold choices. His work intrigues me. At first when he came on screen I thought perhaps he was a character from a Christopher Guest movie.

My Concerns: Be brave and use some more color damnit! (Except of course for the stuff YOU choose to wear, tone that stuff down.) Oh, also your styling and make-up is God awful in those photo shoots! Step it up mister!

Emily Pollard, 24 – Hometown: Richfield, OH; Resides in Falls Church, VA

First impression purely based on their photo: Girly Girl That Think She Is Edgier Than She Really Is

After watching their intro clips and looking at their portfolios and inspiration boards: Good use of fabrics and textures. I am intrigued by her use of odd materials and fusing of non-fabric materials for use in gowns.

My Concerns: She seems a little too obsessed with “dark glamour” and needs to discover there are colors other than black, white, grey and brown. If she doesn’t liven or lighten things up, she may get pigeonholed as a one-trick pony.

James Martinez, 29 – Hometown: Dallas, TX; Resides in Fort Worth, TX

First impression purely based on their photo: The Sh*t Talker!

After watching their intro clips and looking at their portfolios and inspiration boards: Menswer, leather, denim, and funky gowns? Count me in!

My Concerns: With the high quality and detail of the work he has shown, is he ready for the hectic pace of this series?

Joseph Aaron Segal, 30 – Hometown: Framingham, MA; Resides in Providence, RI

First impression purely based on their photo: The Sweet Guy

After watching their intro clips and looking at their portfolios and inspiration boards: Grace Jones, Leigh Bowery, and favorite fabrics being yarn and paint? I just can’t tell if I love or hate his work.

My Concerns: While his work is certainly forward thinking, it also seems a little haphazard and edging on bad taste. Will he surprise us at every turn with innovation, or will he lose us within his process the way Andre did during All Stars?

Kate Pankoke, 23 – Hometown: Eau Claire, WI & Parkland, FL; Resides in Chicago, IL

First impression purely based on their photo: The Girl Who Loves To Hear Herself Talk

After watching their intro clips and looking at their portfolios and inspiration boards: From her work she appears to be the love child of Austin Scarlett and Kenley.

My Concerns: She has applied before for the show, what changed I wonder? Is she ready? All I really see are bridal, and a few hipster vintage looks… *yawn

Layana Aguilar, 28 – Hometown: Valadares, Brazil; Resides in New York, NY

First impression purely based on their photo: The Feisty Chick

After watching their intro clips and looking at their portfolios and inspiration boards: Her overworked color blocking reminds me a bit of Mila and Laura Bennett combined, but her work does have a sophistication and finesse. Having my own live-in Brazilian husband I will find it fun to watch this designer! She seems like she is sweet and bubbly but could bring some fun drama.

My Concerns: Too much black, too many plunging necklines, and her garments take her waaaaaay to long to make. She may be in trouble if she can’t keep up.

Matthew Arthur, 30 – Hometown: Hammond, LA; Resides in New Orleans, LA

First impression purely based on their photo: The Bitchy Gay With Scissors

After watching their intro clips and looking at their portfolios and inspiration boards: Anyone who says their main design influences are Kelly Bundy and New Orleans both scares and enthralls me. This guy has some bold and playful designs that don’t try to look edgy, they just ARE. This designer could be one to watch as both his menswear and his women’s gowns etc. are all such strong expressions of his creativity. He may have an attitude, but he can back it up with some serious talent…

My Concerns: The lack of sophistication to some of his work may turn off some of the judges and appear as though not enough thought has gone into his simple bold fashion statements.

Michelle Lesniak Franklin, 34 – Hometown: Portland, OR; Resides in Portland, OR

First impression purely based on their photo: The Cool Chick To Be Afraid Of

After watching their intro clips and looking at their portfolios and inspiration boards: Elegant, funky, well crafted, versatile looks from this Portland designer. As Portland has landed two former winners (Leanne Marshall and Gretchen Jones) perhaps the quirky aesthetic and weird vibe of the city has rubbed off enough on this designer to claim a third prize for the City of Roses…

My Concerns: She may turn out to be another stuck up version of Gretchen, sending ugly rust toned hemp garments with ugly purses down the runway as her final collection.

Patricia Michaels, 46 – Hometown: Taos, NM; Resides in Taos, NM

First impression purely based on their photo: The Other Mom

After watching their intro clips and looking at their portfolios and inspiration boards: With her inspirations listed as “Water, the circle of life, and eagle feathers,” I think this hippy dippy woman is a little obsessed with the Earth Mother Goddess, but her work is pretty interesting. I think if she is pushed to try things outside of her comfort zone, and she can still find a way to ground her aesthetic in a more modern way, her clothes could be really cool. Right now her work kind of looks like a trendy hipster chick bought a sewing machine and set out to make her grandma’s clothes from the Albuquerque reservation more modern, and threw in a feather necklace.

My Concerns: She needs to learn not to hide the woman’s body… Celebrate the curves honey, don’t just throw a bunch of velvet over her tits and call it a day.

Richard Hallmarq, 39 – Hometown: Saramento, CA; Resides in Sacramento, CA

First impression purely based on their photo: The Guy Who Is Very Impressed With Himself

After watching their intro clips and looking at their portfolios and inspiration boards: The man has already had hangers made with his name… he does like himself I take it. He has some funky knits to be worn in strange ways, some large fabric flower adorned hoochie skirts and a big funky gold top I think I saw at Dragstrip 66 last weekend. Over-all I’m not sold on his work, I need to see more.

My Concerns: For now, he is no Ven with that fugly flower, and there are some serious taste concerns here.

Samantha Black, 28 – Hometown: Bronx, NY; Resides in Fairfield, CT

First impression purely based on their photo: The Fun Girl!

After watching their intro clips and looking at their portfolios and inspiration boards: Her work is sexy, simple, and brave. I like her!

My Concerns: All of the garments she has shown appear to be the same basic fit. I wonder how she will adapt to different silhouettes and sizes when they are presented.

Stanley Hudson, 45 – Hometown: Lynwood, CA; Resides in West Hollywood, CA

First impression purely based on their photo: The Stubborn Guy

After watching their intro clips and looking at their portfolios and inspiration boards: He once worked for Bob Mackie, and God knows former contestants that came from that kind of background tended to be a little set in their ways. (Ahem “Bert” *cough*) His work seems very safe to me.

My Concerns: Where is his own voice? I can’t tell if he has his own inspiration and design abilities beyond who has worked for, or given a “nod” to in his designs.

Tu Suthiwat Nakchat, 26 – Hometown: Chacheangsao, Thailand; Resides in Springfield, VA

First impression purely based on their photo: The Quirky Guy

After watching their intro clips and looking at their portfolios and inspiration boards: Great eye for simplification of line, and seems to have a good hand with fabric and how it drapes depending on type.

My Concerns: A little simple, I’d love to see what he can or cannot do with some patterned fabric.

Join me in watching this season and tune in here every Friday for my Runway Rundown. I will give you my side of the good the bad and the fugly. Chime in, what did you think of the intro to this fresh crop of designers?!

Project Runway: Season 11 – Teams Edition airs on the Lifetime channel, January 24th at 9pm (8 Central.)