Project Runway: Bless Your Heart, Ari
Many rounds of litigation later, we finally have the sixth season of Project Runway on its new home, Lifetime, and its new location, Los Angeles (in the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, or FIDM).
Let’s meet our designers. First up, Ra’mon the former med student, then Logan (Matthew Lillard’s stunt double), and Johnny who didn’t get on two former seasons because of his former meth addiction. Speaking of formers, Gordana is formerly from the potatoes and corn raising former Yugoslavia. Malvin introduces a dash of androgyny and hair that makes Christian Siriano’s look conservative. Carol Hannah works with pixies and woodland fairies or something, Qristyl designs for all sizes but the photos just look like colorful muumuus, and Shirin (dolce in Farsi) makes multipurpose clothes. Then we have Feather Prince Nicolas, Mitchell who knows what women like, and single-named Epperson (meaning he’ll either be really good or a diva). Finally, we meet Christopher of Minnesota who will someday be amazing (and apparently this is his “someday”), Ari who wants clothing with water filtration systems, Althea whose intro moved too fast for me to write anything down, Irina’s dog-inspired totes, and Louise Black of the (hopefully) Kenley-free 1920s.
They all convene on the roof for the annual champagne toast with Heidi Klum and the distinguished and very handsome man, Tim Gunn. The next morning they will join Tim for their first challenge.
Welcome to the next morning! The designers arrive at the red carpet of the 60th Annual Emmy Awards (so this was filmed in September 2008). Their first challenge is to create a red carpet look representing their point of view as a designer. These “point of view” challenges either go really well for people or are total disasters. As this is the first episode, I’m expecting more disasters.
Tim escorts them to the design room with windows. Already, they’re at a huge advantage over former contestants who used to work in the sensory-deprived rooms of Parsons. As I admire the new set, Ari interrupts to say her model has “got big feet like me.” (“Yeeaaaah,” says Tim.) Oh she’s going to be a fun one, as she announces she doesn’t sketch, opting instead to do a headstand before they head to an annex of Mood to pull fabrics. And before Qristyl cuts someone with scissors, they head back to FIDM and freak out. Johnny is so overwhelmed he steps out to contemplate whether he’ll continue in the competition. Enter Tim for a “very special moment” as he talks Johnny off of the figurative ledge. Hugs! Johnny gets his head back in the game and life goes on.
Tim’s Review. He meets with Christopher who just throws words out there, and Tim thinks he needs more style to avoid the cruise cocktail waitress motif. With Ari, she’s designed a Buckyball-style dress, which Tim thinks is a halter diaper. Ra’mon and Tim talk about big butts (and they don’t lie!), and then Tim all but calls Mitchell’s work, “dated.” Qristyl enjoys one of Tim’s long awkward pauses and then the models rush in for the fitting. At this point, I’ll mention Lifetime is airing a new Runway-related show, Models of the Runway, which tells each weekly episode from the perspective of the models. I suppose that’s interesting, but who wants to see the furniture talk, right? Right?!?
Morning of the Runway Show. Mitchell’s in trouble because his model is too large for his outfit and he has to design it with minimal fabric. Tim introduces the return of the Macy’s Accessory Wall, plus the L’Oreal Paris Makeup Room and the Garnier Hair Studio (replacing the Tresemme Hair Studio, ooh la la).
Runway. Heidi intros top American designer Michael Kors; fashion director for Marie Claire Nina Garcia; and the lady who put TMZ on the map, Lindsay Lohan (hereinafter “Li-Lo”) with crazy hair extensions. Althea very glamorous, Malvin’s misfitted, Mitchell’s looks good from the front but there’s too much pantyline when the model turns around. Christopher cries his eyes out when his outfits comes down the runway, it’s good but not tear-worthy. So far, I’m rather impressed with everyone I’ve seen. Somehow I think this is going to come down to hem and other technical things that won’t translate onto my screen. At least until I saw Ari’s outfit, blech! And there’s too much boob double-sided tape needed to hold in Johnny’s model. Carol Hannah presents interesting texture, but we forget about it when we see Qristyl’s purple monster and Logan’s salute to Grace Jones.
Heidi dismisses almost all of them for the evaluation. We begin with Qristyl, who says she designed it for someone like Miley Cyrus or Li-Lo, and Li-Lo snickers/vomits in her mouth. Kors thinks she’ll get killed by the tabloids. Kors thinks Christopher’s outfit is cute and edgy; the others all agree. Ra’mon also scores well with the panel, with high praise from Heidi for making something look so expensive on a limited budget.
Nina asks Ari what red carpet her model is walking. The answer? “The VMAs, like 2080. I want her to also go and receive her Nobel Peace Prize on the same night.” Kors thinks she looks like a disco soccer ball, and the model laughs. Without a hint of irony, Li-Lo lectures Ari about appropriateness and self-awareness. We hear patronizing comments about respecting and appreciating her vision, which us Southerners would substitute with, “Bless your heart.” (Note: It’s not a compliment.)
I’m shocked that they like Johnny’s as much as they do, except the color is too much for them. Finally, we come to Mitchell who makes excuses for his model’s lying about her size, which according to Heidi is de rigueur for the industry. Nina thinks it’s unwearable but she likes his attitude. Kors thinks it is a cool nightgown “with a glass of brandy and the fireplace going.”
Privy Council. Ra’mon is safe, as is Johnny. Heidi would wear Christopher’s above all of them. In the worst dressed, Kors is concerned about Qristyl’s eye and he wonders whether Ari is on another planet, too smart for them to get.
Results. Johnny is in. Christopher wins. Cue the tears! I think he’s our crier this season. Ra’mon and Qristyl are in just because it’s taking me the whole hour to figure out how to spell their names correctly. Heidi tells Ari she missed the box completely (vice thinking outside of it) and Mitchell gave too many excuses. And Ari is out. Good! After suffering through seasons of Jubilee Jumble (no, I can’t believe I went there so early this season) and the Spitter, I’m glad they got rid of the spacey chick so early.
Next week: Design a garment for a real, big celebrity. If this were Bravo, it would be The Real Housewives of Orange County, but since it’s Lifetime, maybe it will be the star of Drop Dead Diva.
For another take on this episode, check out Attack of the Disco Soccer Balls by Jaimie Campos.
Listen to The J Factor with J.B. and Jaimie here or on iTunes.
Season 6, Episode 1: Welcome to Los Angeles! (Originally aired August 20, 2009)
For more on Project Runway, click here.
Thursdays at 10pm EST on Lifetime
Photographs courtesy of Lifetime and IMDbPro