Zack Bunker on Project Runway – Season 9: The Crazy Has Begun [Tall Glass of Shame]

Calling all Designers! (And gays, ladies with a sewing machine, wanna-be seamstress fashionistas and generally fierce bitches!) Project Runway has returned this Summer to Lifetime TV for Season 9 with what looks to be a highly talented group of crazy! In most recent years the first episode allows the cream rise to the top giving you a pretty clear glimpse of who might take the title. This season’s premier showed us that for once, making that call is going to be a little more difficult than you think.

With a fun Casting special this past Thursday and Episode 1, we were introduced to 20 contestants. In the first portion of the program Nina, Michael, Tim and Heidi whittled it back down to the best 16 of the group. They kept Rafael Cox which was a mistake from the get go with his obvious taste issues and aesthetic straight out of 1983. Luckily they saw how tacky and unstable Amanda Perna was and dodged that crazy bullet by auf’ing her before the game began. (Beware Heidi, that girl is out there with a knitting needle with your name on it…) I must say I was sad we missed out on seeing more from Serena Da Conceicao and Gunnar Deatherage as they both had some seriously good looks on their racks and strong points of view. Serena even put off her wedding to come on the show, poor thing. I’m sure they sent her packing as she already has a pretty established career designing for Beyonce’s clothing line, and Gunnar seems to be making a handsome living for himself designing dresses for the Kentucky Derby.

Michael Kors is using less bronzer this year thank god! Last year I kept fiddling with the colors on my TV, as he started to resemble an over-ripe orange by the 3rd episode. Somewhere in Chelsea, some poor fake tan salesman is going hungry this season and my new flat screen TV is getting a break in the orange department.

As for the designers who stayed… here’s my quick rundown of some of the standouts.

Anya Ayoung Chee – I think this girl is a liar. She may be a beautiful former Miss Trinidad, but there is no way in hell she could only have 4 months of sewing under her belt, and pull out some of the stuff she did in this first episode. She is that girl in school who always said “Oh teacher, I’ve never done this before.” setting up everyone’s expectations low so she could blow them out of the water once she finished her assignment. This girl is bluffing all the way and I’m already tired of it. At least her stuff looks good, no complaints there. I just wish she’d fess up and own her talent rather than pretending she is at a disadvantage.

Becky Ross - This Portland girl has nailed the period look with a youthful twist, and I love her little splashes of color. She is strong, but I wonder if she is strong enough to break out of that style she seems so comfortable in and surprise us all.

Josh Christensen – Boy, you may have 2 kids and a wife, but do they know you are gay? Do you even know yet? Oy vey, clue phone for you…. I liked Josh’s designs on his presentation rack when auditioning, but what he showed us in the challenge was safe and boring. Step it up, girl, or you are gonna have to leave your roomie/ new boyfriend Joshua McKinley and head home to wifey.

Laura Kathleen – The first real blonde Barbie bitch we’ve seen on this show. She has no qualms about it and seems like she has some real defensive issues. Word of advice girl, don’t talk back to the judges. Your work isn’t strong enough to rock the boat that way, you’re no Santino.

Julie Tierney – Such a huge first impression when she was showing her rack. Her aesthetic is strong, using her snowboarder background to inform her designs. She incorporated saddle blankets into the clothes she showed, and they looked like a collection I’d want to see more of. She needs to branch out from the snowboarder thing though and not use it as a crutch or she may be in trouble.

Danielle Everine – 2 words… Amish Robot. At least that was my first impression. This girl is strange and is so hard to read. She is like an alien life form, there’s something fascinatingly cold about her. Her work on the other hand is really great. I liked what she turned out in the challenge and her quirky conservative style mixed with girlish cuts and earth tones, really work well together. She is one to watch out for though, she seems like a perfectionist ready to meltdown… She might just resort to cutting a bitch.

Bert Keeter - He worked for Halston and it shows! This man has talent and taste when it comes to the finish and cut if his garments, I just hope he can emerge from the shadows of the names he has worked for and show us his true voice. He deserved the win this week by a mile and if he can work a bit on making his styling more youthful and  present, he might just take the show. I’m hoping he won’t start to play father figure to anyone here due to the age gap, that might get in his way and backfire when these power hungry kids get into a group challenge with him.

Anthony Ryan Auld – He likes to talk about his balls and eyes a lot. We get it, you are colorblind Anthony. We get it, you only have one ball Anthony. Now can we focus on the work you are bringing to the table? While the judges found his work charming, I took issue with the feather merkin skirt and boring top. This guy can do better than that.

Now when it came to our challenge this week, the contestants were woken at 5am and told to come as they are with 1 bed sheet from their rooms and proceed to Parsons with Tim Gunn. I know if I were on this show that night, we’d have a problem… I’d be walking through times square with a toga on. The designers were then asked to create a look for their model using only the clothes on their backs and the bed sheet. They could dye the fabric, and add anything they wanted from a pile of trims and closures that were in stock at the workroom for them.

I love these crazy challenges as sometimes it has the most impressive results. Limitations on this show always bring out the best and worst in the designers and makes for great TV! This week the challenge showed that we have a group of very talented individuals with a strong sense of style and color, as well as impeccable tailoring skills. I think this season is going to wow us in a way we haven’t quite seen before.

In the challenge, Anya decided that since she has no experience dyeing fabric, and such little experience sewing and patterning she’d make a pair of tailored pants and a complex halter top with the silk garment she was wearing. Oh yeah and she has never sewn silk, too, you guys! (Ahem, bull crap!) Of course since she was so inexperienced and had really no idea what she was doing, the garments turned out flawlessly and landed her solidly in the top 3. Interesting, wouldn’t you say?…

Julie’s enormous snowboarder type pants (pictured) made her model look like she had a diaper on under them, and the top looked like something from Wet Seal. For such a build up in her audition, she really let down the judges. She better step it up next week, cause I like her and don’t want to see her go.

Bert’s gorgeous asymmetrical dress using his shirt and boxer shorts was the obvious standout. His dress looked like it walked off the runway in Milan and bitch slapped the others. I think the other designers who doubted him were eating their words.

Fallene Wells is one to watch. I think the other designers don’t get her quirkiness but I loved her dress utilizing the clown puking rainbows motif from her sleep shirt and and applying it to the corner of the skirt. She is fun, talented and I want to see more. I liked her outfit so much i’m surprised she wasn’t in the top 3 instead of Anthony.

Josh’s white shorts and orange T-shirt combo was the dreaded mix of Safe AND Boring. This, of course, means Nina will eat your design alive, but if anyone else turns out something remotely ugly you will be safe. Luckily for Josh, Rafael was allowed into the competition!

Rafael’s Horrid top and grey camel toe legging pants (pictured) were unforgivable, not to mention the cheetah print bib that Michael Kors referred to as the “Flintstone disco pouch.” He was obviously the least prepared for this challenge and the taste level just wasn’t there. Heidi auf’ed him on his way, and the judges realized they shouldn’t have let him in to begin with.

From the preview of the season it looks like we have some hefty sewing related drama ahead and I can’t wait!

Who do you think is gonna win Season 9? For the first time in quite a while I really think it is anybody’s game! With what I saw go down that runway last week, we have some very strong contenders and bigger personalities. I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody got stabbed this season.

Tune in this evening to Lifetime TV at 9PM for tonight’s episode and check back every Friday here at Fierce and Nerdy where I’ll be giving you my 2 cents recap of Project Runway, with a healthy dose of snark and trash talk. (You can also play catch up online at youtube or mylifetime.com.)

Here’s a fun spot they have been running for Season 9

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