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‘Project Runway’ Returns: Our Early Thoughts

With all the drama around Project Runway’s imminent move to more silver-haired pastures (we STILL can’t imagine flipping to Lifetime for something other than old Tori Spelling movies), we greeted last night’s premiere of its swan-song season on Bravo with fear. What if the departing honchos gave into temptation to stick it to Harvey Weinstein by running Runway into the ground?

Fortunately, at first blush things are promising. Reprising old favorites like the grocery-store challenge, with corn-husk sorcerer Austin Scarlett judging it, reminded us why we fell in love with the show in the first place. Throw in Tim Gunn lecturing the designers for lacking originality, a character contestant (Stella) whose makeup reminds us of Cher, and the season’s theme apparently shaping up to being Heidi Klum’s Upper Thighs — did her legs develop a fabric allergy? — we can only conclude that the tingly sensation in our extremities must be…optimism. Here’s our take on this season’s crop of competitors, and who, in the words of our favorite life coach, just might make it work.

FRONT-RUNNERS: It’s tough to argue with last night’s top three. Of all the tablecloth offerings, Korto’s maybe-overwhelming canary kimono looked the LEAST like a portable picnic, Daniel made molding plastic cups look easy and chic; and Kelli’s innovative marbled vacuum-bag dress simply rocked. Anyone who looks at a spiral notebook and sees hook-and-eye closures, rather than acid flashbacks to geometry class, is a true hero. Her win was much deserved.

DARK HORSES: Weaving a top from mop heads shows Terri may have a keen eye for detail, and we dug Kenley’s dodgeball bodice and cool, angular skirt. But so far, Jerell intrigues us most. Between the fascinator and the Koosh-ball sleeve, maybe his dress looked like Cirque du Soleil as costumed by Pat Field, but admit it: You’d totally go see that show, even without a purse flask.

WTF ARE THEY DOING THERE? Judging from his shapeless cylinder dress, which somehow managed to be hideous and Dullsville, we suspect Suede is just there to be the Token Faux-Hawk. And although it took us twenty minutes to figure out which, exactly, of the cast’s several young dark-haired women Emily is, we knew her bizarre Jell-O-mold-style neck ruff left something to be desired. Like taste.

AND WHAT ABOUT NINA? After her unceremonious booting from Elle, we wanted Heidi Klum to introduce Nina as a “fashionable lady of leisure,” since she hasn’t started at Marie Claire yet. But Heidi stuck to the script, and the Elle “editor-at-large” title felt like a stale compromise designed to prevent Bravo’s brass from torching the Elle offices as payback for screwing with their judging panel.

SHUT UP, YOU’RE ALREADY ANNOYING: Hard-core tanorexic Blayne referred to his tiny, diaper-tastic, deeply contrived onesie as “girlicious” so often that he probably owes Robin Antin royalties. Worse, he and Suede appear to be moonlighting on America’s Next Top Christian Siriano, which is tiresome at best. Did we mention that Suede refers to himself in the third person? Stop that.

SHUT UP, NOW KISS US: True confessions: We hated Christian early on but ended up rooting for him. Ergo, we’ll probably be madly in love with Blayne and Suede sometime within the next three weeks.

BIGGEST SIGN THAT IT’S ALL GOING TO BE OKAY: Tim Gunn and Michael Kors. The teaser for the rest of the season included Gunn trilling, “Holla at your boy,” Kors calling something “slutty, slutty, SLUTTY,” and Gunn likening a design to “a pterodactyl out of a gay Jurassic Park.” As long as our boys stay in such fine form, we’ll follow them anywhere. Yes, even to Lifetime. —The Fug Girls

Related: Most Fabulous and Hideous Project Runway Looks
Check out the Cut’s complete Project Runway coverage.
Plus: New York’s Guide to Project Runway
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‘Project Runway’ Returns: Our Early Thoughts