The Return of Project Runway: The First Recap of Season 8

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Here we go, here we go, here we go! And we are still in New York City, FTW!!!

Listen, Papa Gunn said NYC was the place to be. One must need always listen to Papa Gunn. Including when he tells you that wearing a teeny fedora makes you look lame.

Image courtesy Lifetime

OK, let me pull myself together from slightly incoherent, but obviously jubilant, ramblings about the start of Season 8 of Project Runway, and actually recap the premiere 90-minute Project Runway opener.

First, things first: We have our new Season 8 catchphrase, delivered courtesy of the thus-far-not-apparently-aptly-named-except-in-his-own-mind Casanova:

"I take New York from the balls!"

That's right, Casanova, I do too! Especially this week, while I'm writing this recap despite the fact that I haven't yet started packing for my early morning flight tomorrow for, that's right!, New York City...which BlogHer '10 is obviously going to take from the balls!

[Do you think Lisa and Jory would kill me if I started to lead a chant like that from the main stage in front of all 2,400 attendees? And how many of those 2,400 would know what I was talking about? Any guesses?]

So, the show opened with about 10 minutes of random meet-ups between designers on various corners of NYC or at Grand Central Station or at other points unknown. I could have done without the set-up. If that's what expanding to 90 minutes is getting us? Pass!

Eventually they all converge on Lincoln Center, where Tim and Heidi meet them with news of their first challenge. Each designer is to pull something out of their suitcase with which to base a design. And then, because there's a twist of course, they have to pass their chosen item over to another designer who will use it for their design.

The aforementioned Casanova is a bit verklempt given he pulled out a $1,000 pair of Dolce & Gabbana pants. And I need to ask him: Have you ever watched this show? Because even if you didn't anticipate they would make you turn over your item to someone else, didn't you guess they might make you deconstruct whatever you pulled out, even for your own design? Did you think they were going to let you just put a $1,000 pair of pants on a model as is and call it a day?

Oh, Casanova, Project Runway really took you from the balls on that one, eh?

With only 5 hours to work, the 17 (yes, 17, and that's just too many...who's with me?) designers get to work, get to freaking out, and get to sniping about one another. Ah, Project Runway, I love you.

When we're ready for the runway, we are comforted to see Heidi joined by our good friends MK and ninagarcia. They are all joined by Selma Blair, who is apparently another one of those "fashion icon" celebrities we hear about every season on Project Runway. I think they're starting to have to dig a little deeper in the "fashion icon" barrel, though. I mean...when's the last time she was even in a movie? No offense, loved you in Legally Blonde Selma.

And here's what the multitudes of designers sent down the runway. As always click on the link under each designer's name to see their creation:

1. Valerie created a mini-dress from Casanova's pants.
It was an inauspicious start to the show with this patchwork desecration of $1,000 pants. There was a pink landing strip. There were beige breast pads...on the outside. There was a yellow hem that badly needed pressing. The Bad Idea Bears got to Valerie on this one.

2. Peach created a halter dress from Michael D.'s scarf.
It's kind of funny that Peach gave up her toile pants (see below) and then made a dress from a blue and white floral fabric that wasn't actually toile, but has the same kind of visual look. The issue here is that she made a cute dress with just the tiniest bit of Michael's scarf included. She didn't really rise to the challenge. She wasn't inspired by her piece; she was forced to use it, so she turned it into rather inappropriate trim. A cute, wearable dress, but not high on the creativity scale.

3. McKell created a halter dress from AJ's button-down shirt.
The blue button-down shirt became a pretty simple blue button-down halter top for a baby-doll dress. The skirt was an overly-full blue floral-metallic mini that didn't do the model's figure any favors. The hair was sort of an incongruous modified Sanjaya-style fauxhawk. I'm not sure I loathed it like the judges, but I did think you could find it in Forever 21, and who wants that?

4. Andy created a black on black pants ensemble from Gretchen's skirt.
I think Andy was going for a Matrix-y sleek, futuristic look with skinny pants, boots, a black backless top with butterfly sleeves and a big hip-length black cape a la Zorro. But between the lame tie at the waist, the coffee filter painted black as the hat, and the overall shapelessness of the outfit, he achieved frumpy and dumpy Zorro gone to seed, not sleek and sexy Zorro.

5. Sarah made my junior high gym uniform out of Michael C.'s shirt.
Seriously. Or maybe, it's a onesie for adults. Or maybe it's an outfit for a hooker on safari. I did not like it. I know you're surprised.

6. Nicholas created an evening dress out of Christopher's jacket.
There were some really good ideas here...using the sweater band at the bottom of the jacket as a bateau neckline. using a segment of the jacket with a pocket as the waist tie. But the overall fabric of the dress was this blue taffeta type of bridesmaid dress fabric that looked trite, not luxe. So the contrast of the different styles didn't stand out as they could have.

7. Mondo created a mini-dress out of Valerie's citron sweater.
Mondo combined the center panels of citron sweater with a bodice and side strips of a chevroned black and white textured fabric. It was at least visually interesting, if a bit too much like a second skin for the model.

8. Ivy created a pants/blouse set from Peach's pants.
Ivy turned Peach's toile pants into toile capris. And she made a gray blouse with a pleated wave across the front and a bow falling from the back of the neck. I actually didn't mind the blouse. I agree there wasn't a whole lot going on here, but I didn't have quite the visceral negative reaction of the judges. Other than that I agree that making capris out of something will never improve it.

9. Michael C. created a streetwalker outfit out of Kristin's skirt.
OK, this crossed the line, just by a step or two, from sexy to slutty. A short short short and tight tight tight black skirt paired with a hot pink backless halter blouse will do that for a girl.

10. Kristin created a black dress from Mondo's kilt.
Yes, his kilt. I'm only sorry we won't get to see him wear it this season. I'm sure it would look better as a kilt, than as simply a scarf at the neck of a sleeveless black dress. Made of some cheap-looking, nubby, fake Ostrich-skin-type fabric. With all this voluminous pleating, so the tiny model gets lost inside it. Did not work for me, can you tell?

11. Christopher created a dress from Sarah's dress.
And unlike the inordinate amount of crap they gave Ivy for making pants from pants, no one seemed to mind this dress from a dress. He cut it up; he made a ruffle collar; he changed the shape. And it was cute. But still. A dress from a dress.

12. April created a black dress from Nicholas's blazer.
Well, the designer will tell you she's going for a deconstructed look, but I will tell you that she turned the blazer inside out, cut off parts of it, like the sleeves, cut it up some more, tossed a wide belt around it and sent it down the runway looking like a hot hot mess. Everything about it was unfinished and uneven, and deconstruction should look like it's a statement, not that you couldn't figure out what to do or how to do it in just 5 hours.

13. Gretchen created a funereal black dress from April's blouse.
This dress was almost Amish on top. Black with a plain boat neck. Yes, she had the sparkly epaulets at the shoulder from the original blouse, but there was nothing sexy or fitted or flattering about the top. The sheer back was the only point of interest. The skirt was a mullet skirt. Shorter in the front, longer in the back. Again, plain black. The overall effect was pretty boring to me, and I'm not sure why the judges were enamored of it. What am I missing?

14. Michael D. created a bathrobe our of McKell's dress.
OK, well, it was really a wrap dress with some embellishment and a big drapy back. But it looked sort of like a fancy bathrobe. She needed slippers with marabou feathers on them (if it were not for the cruelty to marabous, that is).

15. Jason created a hefty-bag coat-dress out of Andy's kimono.
So, just like April just turned a blazer inside out and called it design, Jason put this kimono on his model backwards and called it design. Seriously, look at the picture. OK, he probably cut the hem or the sleeves or something, but check out the back view: Hey, it's a kimono!

16. AJ created a goth ballerina dress from Jason's sweater.
While I could appreciate the goth tutu look, particularly his styling of the model from head to toe, the tutu skirt was a bit too sloppy and random for my taste. And the big huge bow at the waist? It ain't Christmastime, AJ, big bows belong on presents. Especially cars as presents. Not women. My two cents.

17. Casanova created a hootchie mama dress pretending to be Versace from Ivy's blouse.
But let me tell you how I really feel. This was a barely-there schamtte. The model's parts were covered, basically, but remember these are models who have very tiny parts. Think about Emilio's hooker bathing suit from last season, add a 70's-evoking handkerchief skirt, and you get the picture.

So, after all that, and after teasing that more than one designer might go home, there was, according to the judges, one clear winner: Gretchen.

I don't get it.

And there were six in the bottom:
Nicholas, for being boring
Ivy, for not transforming the pants
Casanova, well, for creating something "fascinatingly bad"
McKell for creating a "butt ugly" "disco apron"
Jason for creating a drab backwards kimono
April for creating a deconstructed mess

It is of note to me, who has missed ninagarcia's "hola" to the designers in the last couple of seasons, that she had a whole conversation in Spanish with Casanova, explaining to him why his outfit was a disaster. Maybe that will get those Spanish gears working, and the ninagarcia "hola" will return!!

After telling each designer why they were in the bottom (and after inexplicably leaving some others off that list) McKell was, somewhat surprisingly IMHO, sent home. And she was the only one.

The deconstructing, inside-out-turning, hooker-outfit-creating designers survive to try again.

SO, how did you enjoy the premiere? Any favorites already? Big disagreements with the judges? Lay it on me! Let's take this season of Project Runway from the balls!!!!

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