RECAP: ‘Project Runway’ Is Back And Bitchier Than Ever

Aaah, it’s back!!! Last night on the premiere of “Project Runway’s” ninth season, 20 designers were invited to New York to pitch themselves to our beloved panel. Only 16 would survive the first round of cuts. The designers met one another for the first time at the Astor Center in SoHo (mere blocks from the Styleite offices) and did their best to set up their collections and wage psychological warfare simultaneously. A few stood out right away, most notably Anya Ayoung-Chee, a former Miss Universe contestant (she entered as Miss Trinidad-Tobago) and she of the now infamous and perfect for publicity sex tape, who learned how to sew four months ago just for this competition, and Bert Keeter who at 57 is this season’s requisite “CAN an old dog learn new tricks???” standard-bearer. We also had the pleasure of meeting Rafael Cox, who looked a bit like Aziz Ansari, if Aziz was reincarnated as a lothario from Miami in the early 90s.

The first elimination happened swiftly, which was fine given that most of the designers hadn’t yet made much of an impression. We do feel obligated to note that Gunnar Deatherage was axed in this round, so we will be denied the pleasure of having his chyron on our screen for another week. “Gunnar.” “Deatherage.”

The designers settled into their new apartments (“The Empire State Building is right outside my window!”) and tucked themselves in for the night. Then, in a standard rite of passage for all well-established fashion designers, they were awoken in the middle of the night by the dulcet tones of Tim Gunn, who presented them with their first challenge. They were told to “come as [they were],” in whatever pajamas they had on plus one sheet from their beds, and walk to Parsons. Luckily, no one was naked. Once there, they were instructed to dye/manipulate the PJs/bedsheet they had brought into…something.

This challenge appeared exceptionally difficult, given that each designer needed to create his or her own fabric before they even began to sew. The model fittings went off without a hitch for just about every designer, except Laura Kathleen from St. Louis, who couldn’t handle hearing Italian spoken in front of her by fellow designer Olivier Green and his model and demanded to know “Are you speaking foreign?”

On the runway, the only person who really ate it was Julie Tierney, whose fancy snowpants (!!) and asymmetrical candy-and-bows-marinating-in-Pepto-Bismol top horrified everyone, though it wasn’t totally her fault that she wears pajamas meant for 9 year olds (we can’t hate, we do it too!). Perhaps it was that thinking that saved her, as it was Rafael who was sent home as punishment for his long underwear and white tank, complete with leopard print bib necklace. The winner this week was Bert, with a dress made from his orange gingham boxers and gray T-shirt that sounds heinous but ended up looking absolutely lovely and interesting on his model. Keep an eye on the Keeter! Sorry.

Quote of the week: when asked if he did any modeling in addition to designing, Olivier replied, “No, I’m too short and ugly.”

Runner-up: Rafael, walking to Parsons in his PJs, noted “I’m out in New York with a head scarf on. Not good.” Oh, Rafael.

Insult of the week (by Michael Kors, of course): “She’s wearing, like, a Flintstone disco pouch.”

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