Project Runway Season 12 Premier Episode 1: Come As You Are

We start Project Runway Season 12 on the runway–the airport runway! Instead of fashion models, this runway has bi-planes!

Our first surprise/twist is the answer to the question: who did the audience choose to be the returning designer, Kate, Valerie or Ramon? And it is Kate!

Not-really a “twist” but a bit of “business”: one of the designers is deaf and there is a sign-language interpreter.

Heidi announces that “The sky’s the limit…” The designers look up to the skies…it’s a bird, it’s a plane…or as Timothy… wonders “toy army figures? puppies?” at which point I say, not for the last time this episode, “My, God, YOU ARE A MORON.” … NO! It’s skydivers!”

The skydivers are here to deliver the material for this first, unconventional challenge: parachutes. Is MC Hammer the guest judge? You know, parachute pants?

The designers race to choose their parachute.

Back in the room, we get some more information about the challenge and the season, plus a taste of the drama to come.

Instead of being given a budget for each challenge, designers will manage spending for the entire season from an account. This sounds interesting and opens up some new strategy possibilities…though not for

Alexandria / “Miss Sweden” / “Anya from the Buffyverse” was a former model and wants us all to know she is very confident.

Bradon was a former dancer. Bradon was obviously not a scholar, though, since he calls a former Army mechanic: “Rosie the Riveter.”

Alexander Pope has done costuming for the Lion King and Mary Poppins…and knows how to work with nylon…and also style himself like a Cirque de Soleil character or maybe a cartoon super villain, apparently.

Russian dude is making a swimsuit–never a good idea.

Timothy is whipping this sustainability horse: he doesn’t even like to use an electric machine. Is he a sustainable artist or Amish? He burns the nylon and calls the result, “neither additive nor reductive but utterly transformative.” Oh, please. Tim likes the burning but does not seem to be buying the whole performance art runway walk. Timothy wants to bind the wrists of the model and send her down the runway barefoot without hair and make-up. What-ev-ah.

Hellen is primarily using the supplemental black fabric. Tim warns her away from this bad idea but she just refuses to change her design.

Sue apparently can’t use a machine. Really? Really?

Let’s hit the real RUNWAY!

We meet our judges and find out about the one time “Tim Gunn rescue” (like it) and that the judges won’t know which design is whose until after they score…love it although within a few challenges they should be able to guess.

Another interesting addition: after the runway and scoring and discussion, the judges get a chance to look at the garments up close.

Let’s start with the also-rans:

Jeremy: I think this was a neat idea and the pants came out pretty cool but I think that the top, while smart in terms of showcasing the pants, was too bland for a competition.



Kahindo: This is stiff but not terrible considering the material requirements. I am interested to see what she can do with real fabric.

Helen: This is interesting but a bit messy. Also maybe used too much of the supplemental white fabric?

Alexandria / Anya: While I don’t think this matched her bravado and the pockets gave her a puffy middle, I like the layering of the translucent fabric. High middle, in my opinion.

Karen: S’a-ight. It is shapeless and the color blocking seems messy and unplanned. Low middle.


Justin: This is a cute hot pink number. A little dowdy up top and the platform pumps don’t help it…but a decent attempt.


Kate: This is a cute ray of sunshine but isn’t anything extraordinary. If you have a second chance, you need to take more risks, especially in the beginning.


Alexander Pope: The diamond color blocking was a good idea but he had some trouble with the movement of the fabric. A mixed bag.


Dom: Basic urban sportswear. Bland but passable at this stage. Points for constructing a jacket.


Ken: This orange and coral ruffle-neck dress had an interesting shape and a fun color combo. I would have put this in the top three. I think he’s a contender based on this.


Top Flight: On the Top

Bradon was my pick for the win, and the judges’, too. This dress had a concept (he really used the whole skydiving idea). I thought it was interesting and dramatic. And there was some design without too many clashing elements. Zac Posen liked the movement but finds the loose cording distracting. I agree but considering the challenge I still think it is appropriate. Nina likes that there is a fragility to this dramatic and imposing gown.

Sue: Considering she struggled with the machine, I thought this was alright. It was a decent concept but I thought it was too messy for the top. I would have pegged this for high middle. Nina thinks it is sporty but elegant.

Grounded – On the Bottom

Timothy:  I get that he has a concept but he really did not make it beautiful. You can have art that is beautiful in its ugly. This was just ugly and sad. Zac Posen rightly calls out this “sustainable” designer for his hypocrisy in burning synthetic fibers.

Sandro sends his model down the runway almost naked (the producers add a black box over her nether regions but you can see she thankfully was allowed to wear underwear) and over-cluttered. He was going for a variety of early and mid-century references, primarily touching on the aviator part of the challenge but Zac Posen sees a “slutty cat toy,” Without the “mock-topus,” it almost achieves “Vargas pin-up.” The judges tactfully avoid talking about the exposure but even Heidi questions the taste level. In the end, they think he over-accessorized but see something in the construction of the garment.


Miranda: This chic dress was originally in the top three until the judges realized Miranda primarily used the supplementary fabric. Heidi was especially ticked.  This is pure stubbornness as the coral fabric could easily have been used as a big panel on the skirt. In the end, Miranda is let off with a slap on the wrist.

Angela: Angela also drew on the parachutes for inspiration, trying to mimic the fullness in the silhouette. Too late, she realized that it was too shapeless and tried to compensate by chopping the bottom short and doesn’t have time for pants. Heidi says it looks like it is missing a bottom. Nina sees a disposable poncho. I think it was the poorly placed darts the judges saw during the closer examination that did her in–that and the fact that Timothy and Sandro are more interesting characters.


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  1. linda rand says:

    I enjoyed reading your review of season 12 episode 1 of project runway and TOTALLY agree with your commentary.

    The changes made for this season will make the show even more enjoyable. I especially like that the judges get to see the garments up close.

    • Candace says:

      Yes, I think these changes will be a good thing–hopefully we’ll see some great design this season!

  2. Danielle says:

    I too enjoyed your commentary of the first episode. I agree with most of your views. I also hated Tim’s dress but I liked the no make up and shoeless idea. It would of showcased a beautiful dress if he had designed one.

    • Candace says:

      I think “no shoes” could work. I think sheer make-up would have been fine. No make-up doesn’t work well under those lights. What really bothered me though was the pretentiousness… and how he was extreme in his sustainability when it suited him but abandoned it when he felt like it. If you can accept using an electric machine, you can let your model have some foundation.

  3. Drama Blog says:

    Considering A Say Yes To The Dress Season 12

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