Project Runway Recap: Season 9's Top 20 Become the Top 15

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Can you say Guten Tag?

Welcome back Project Runway fans...did this season sneak up on you too, or have you been waiting and salivating since the travesty that was Gretchen's Season 8 win?

You may recall that one of my favorite things about Project Runway as a show is that they pack it all into one episode a week. The competition and the results, all in one fell swoop. Yes, they've expanded it to 90 minutes, but it's still better than the 3-4 hours a week that shows like American Idol and Dancing with the Stars make us sit through.

Project Runway Tim Heidi

Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum in the Premiere of Season 9 of Project Runway. Image: Barbara Nitke / Lifetime Television

But one of my least favorite things about the show is the first couple of episodes when we are asked to keep track of and care about way too many designers. So, yeah, the season kicked off...but the real good stuff will start *next* week, for me, because I might be able to actually overcome overwhelm. Is it just me?

The episode started with 20 designers who were told that only 16 would make it to the actual show, and they each presented some of their "audition" collection to the big four: Heidi, Tim, Nina, Michael.

That was a whole lotta info, and two guys stood out to me, and stood out because of their stories.

Bert: The 57-year old who worked for Scaasi and Halston, but dropped out of the fashion business after his partner and two best friends all died of AIDS. He started drinking, and it was a downhill spiral from there. Three years ago he got sober and got back into design. You gotta root for the coot, right?

Anthony: OK, he survived testicular cancer, but that's not even what impresses me: The dude is color blind...what the what???

So, based on overcoming odds and rooting for the underdog alone: I'm liking these two.

They figure out a way to cut four designers, and the Top 16 move into the Atlas. And it sucks to be Tim, because he's the guy who, dapper as ever, has the unwelcome job of waking up the designers at 5AM. They're told to grab a sheet and "come as you are." No bras, no make-up. Move it on out and follow Tim to the workroom.

Not too surprisingly, what they're wearing and that one sheet are their materials. Plus they can use closures and dye and dying bins. They have until 10PM that night. And then a couple of hours in the morning to pull it all together.

And so it begins. With lots and lots of designers. And a modicum of drama.

And a few things that just cannot be unseen and unheard.

Nut juice? Cannot be unheard.

Anthony's feather merkin? Cannot be unseen.

Fallene's cown puking rainbow? Cannot be unseen either.

And I yearn to tell Rafael that his doo rag ain't all that, and he shouldn't work so hard to hang on to it.

And in the morning came the most controversial moment of the show: Why, WHY did Tim not advise the designers to use the Piperlime wall "thoughtfully"? I was shocked, I tell you. What can it mean? I know I'm going to be listening extra carefully next week to see if he has moved on to a new catchphrase.

Well, having used my smelling salts to recover from that, let's move on to the show:

Heidi comes out in an elegant nice green dress that beats most of the outfits she wore last season hands down. She introduces the panel who will join her, comprise, of course, of MK and ninagarcia, with the added judge, Christina Ricci. Not sure why, other than her general macabre adorableness.

As always, click on the designer's name to see their work:

1. Joshua

Joshua didn't seem to change much at all about his bedtime attire. His black tank and shorts turned into a black tank and skirt, and he cut his white sheet into a white vest with a draped back. And randomly he added a little blue strip to the waistband of the skirt. No idea why. Seemed like a pretty low-intensity go at the challenge, you know?

2. Laura aka Glamour Girl

Laura created silvery tie-dyed lounge pants, a burgundy top with lace shoulders and a jacket with nice gray lining. Nice job, although she could end up being another Kenley type.

3. Danielle

This was a competent set of high-waisted blue shorts, with a brown top with black accents and elbow sleeves. Competent, but not that interesting. It totally looked like activewear from Nordstrom.

4. Viktor

Did a really nice job, creating a white sleeveless dress with black insets and buttons. I was surprised the judges didn't give Viktor more credit; this was a fully formed outfit that managed to evade looking like a sheet without any dye.

5. Becky

Becky produced a one-shouldered turquoise dress with polka dot "runway" strip down the front of the dress. This was a little underwhelming on the show, but reviewing the picture, it's actually pretty cute, especially the cute little button detailing on the front of the bodice.

6. Bryce

Bryce paired a black high-waisted skirt with a gray top with kimono sleeves that slid off one shoulder. This was sexy and stylish, although not exactly wildly original.

7. Anya

Anya, the gal who learned to sew a mere four months ago, decided to challenge herself by making slacks and a halter top. Personally I thought the gray pants were not that great a fit...lots of droopiness in the crotch, but the paisley halter top was pretty cute.

8. Julie

Julie stayed true to her outerwear muse by creating gray snow pants with an asymmetric black zipper in the front. (Which MK helpfully pointed out would provide excellent access for self-pleasuring...thanks MK!) She paired it with a one-shouldered top with yellow top band and patterned bodice from her bizarre childish pajama pants. The pants were big and shapeless. The top was random and chaotic. The outfit was not quirky; it was just weird.

9. Olivier

Wow, this was dull. Brown skirt with light gray jacket with darker slate long sleeves and that simple simple jacket? Didn't fit. it was all so Bo. Ring. In fact, even writing about it I start to zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Huh what?

10. Kimberly

Kimberly was clearly afraid of dye, given that she came up with a floating white handkerchief top and white pants to which she merely added black tuxedo striping and a cornflower blue waistband. Oh, and? The fit of the pants was pretty atrocious, especially in the butt region.

11. Anthony aka the Merkin Man

Colorblind Anthony produced a green skirt with dyed stripe top (black and gray) And while I realize now that it's lace, not fur, he was using for his skirt trimming, I still think it was MOST unappealing to have a dark texture strip down the center front and center back of the skirt. It's like a disgusting mullet skirt: Merkin in the front and unmentionable stain in the back. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

12. Rafael

Oh. My. Taupe I-guess-you'd-call-them-jodhpurs with a white vest and doo rag necklace. The back of the vest was actually nice with some detailing, but the pants? Really really bad. Horrifying.

13. Fallene and her Insane Clown Posse

Took her puking clown pajamas and added them like a poodle to the skirt of a black and white vertical striped sleeveless backless dress with yellow cummerbund and subtle bubble skirt. This was actually much cuter than it had any right to be, given the whole clown aspect. (And have a general clown aversion...not just puking clowns.)

14. Bert

Bert's still got it with a sexy sassy wrap mini-dress with one side of the bodice featuring a gingham-like pattern from his boxers (which I tried not to think about too hard). I know the judges tore apart his Brigitte Bardot styling, but I obviously have no taste and liked it!

15. Josh

Oh. My. Again. Start with incredibly poorly fitting white shorts. (Who wears white shorts?) If only it were after Labor Day; he could have been saved from himself. To make matters worse, he paired the poor shorts with a red and white tank top with a gray sweatshirt hoodie shrug. Total train wreck.

16. Cecilia

Had a mish-mash outfit that could have landed her in the bottom: Orange skirt (and one so short that she should have known WAY better than to add a slit in the back!!!), wine-colored strapless bustier and finally a rose short-sleeved bolero. The color combos were gross, the styling was haphazard, and overall it was a hot, hot mess.

So, after our first show, here were the Top and the Bottom:

The Top 3:

Anthony: The Merkin Man was in the Top...WHAT? And no one's going to mention the merkin? Or the unmentionable stain down the backside? The world has turned upside down.

Anya: They love it!! Vindication for that gal who can't sew! While I thought the crotch seemed to have extra room, Heidi preferred to "focus on the butt" which was admittedly better.

Bert: Heidi is in love. "It's sexy, elegant, modern." Nina: "Adorable." They mocked the dated styling, but in the end...

Bert takes it!! And gets immunity for next week.

The Bottom 3:

Rafael: While the shirt did show craftsmanship, the pants were horrifying, tight and dated. And the doo-rag necklace looked like a bib. 'Nuff said.

Julie: Heidi didn't mince words, simply saying: "It's bad." As I said, MK gave me a visual I didn't need, especially when he made the universal masturbation gesture!! Thanks, MK.

Josh: Well, it comes down to this: Those shorts are so bad. And the top too. It's all just bad bad bad.

But, in the end...

Rafael is auf'ed.

And that's a wrap, folks -- week one is done.

Are you watching? Could you keep track of all those people? Do you already have a favorite?


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