Project Runway: The Fascinating And The Fascinatingly Bad

Project Runway‘s eighth season kicked off last night on Lifetime with not just 16, but 17 designers ready to make it work.

“And Sew It Begins” began with the designers informed they weren’t officially contestants, and that one or more would be eliminated before the hour-and-a-half show was up. But first, let’s meet the contestants:

Ivy thinks the show should be renamed “The Ivy Show,” uses “luxurious” fabrics and has “amazing” construction skills. The egotism provided some foreshadowing for the competition to come. We met Casanova (it’s his “real last name”), who has “already done everything in Puerto Rico” and was missing the bottom half of his tie. Sarah just moved to NY from LA, A.J. is from Missouri, McKell is from Utah, has dreads and a baby girl.

Peach describes her focus as “the ladies who lunch,” and thinks she’ll be the old lady of the bunch. But how will she get along with the young, gregarious designers? Nicholas says he “can’t wait to beat” her. Kristin is the “accidental apparel designer” who “allows the mistakes that I make to be a part of the final piece.” This will either be a great asset and implies she’s going far, or that she’ll screw up horribly in the first challenge and get excoriated by Nina Garcia.

Jason is the tough guy, because he likes “to mesh men’s wear and women’s wear together” and he is shown working out with a punching bag. Gretchen is from Oregon, Mondo says “if you’re misunderstood then you have something really good going on.” Christopher Collins (full name needed — it’s a ready-made designer name) is from San Francisco, April “just graduated” and loves to “destroy and create” and Michael Costello opened his first store at 17. It takes more than 20 minutes before we meet the other three — Michael Drummond, Valerie (who is already crying) and Andy.

The challenge was to take an article of clothing out of your suitcase, hand it to the person next to you and let them go to town destroying and creating. Casanova gives up a $1,070 pair of pants that he’s never won, but “shit happens.” The guest judge was Selma Blair, Gretchen won (Michael Kors called it “wearable but interesting”) and McKell didn’t even make it to the apartment. Here’s a breakdown:

Quote of the Week: “Side cleavage is a rare thrilling moment for anyone.” – Michael Kors, describing the McKell “trainwreck.”

Quote of the Week (that made me laugh): “I like to play with seaming.” – Nicholas

Quote of the Week (by Tim Gunn): “Is it sexy, or is it vulgar?” – Describing Casanova’s dress. It was vulgar.

Insult of the Week: “It’s such an unfortunate pant to begin with.” – Selma Blair, dissing Peach’s actual pants. Runner-up: “This is like a hot mess.” – Heidi Klum, of April’s “shredded” look.

Fashion Term I Had to Look Up: Feed Bag. Context: “If you’re a designer, you should know how to work with a feed bag.”

Even I Knew This was a Bad Sign: James stapling his dress together. Stapling. Kors didn’t even catch this — he just noticed the pins.

And my early pick for which four will show at Fashion Week: Kristin and Christopher (my two favorites from the first week, solid performers in the vein of winners Chloe/Leanne), Michael Costello (the prodigy — shades of Christian) and A.J. (a wildcard — Jeffrey-ish).

Here’s Casanova getting destroyed (and created). Nina Garcia called his creation “almost fascinating. It’s fascinatingly bad”:

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