In a few short weeks, we'll be enjoying season nine of the Bravo-cum-Lifetime hit Project Runway, and I will be recapping all of the zany fun for you. I am, as always, far too excited about the show, but I simply cannot resist Tim Gunn ... or Heidi Klum, or Michael Kors, or even NEE-nah GARRR-see-ahh for that matter (that was my Heidi Klum impression via the written word. I'm working on it). For all of the product placement and editing room-crafted drama, the thing I have loved about Project Runway from the very beginning is that it requires real talent. If you can't sew, you can't win. If you can't design, you can't win. If you can't do a good Tim Gunn impression--you might be able to win, but you won't be my favorite contestant.
Project Runway Season Nine will continue the 90-minute format introduced last season. I think the new format is quite good, if time-consuming, but the more time I get each week with Tim Gunn the better. Plus, when you DVR the show as I do, you cut out at least 18 minutes of commercials (not counting the ones within the show itself). Project Runway will air on Lifetime Thursdays at 8 p.m. Central Time, beginning July 28th. Tip: if you miss an episode they usually run the previous week's episode before the new one.
Who are some of my favorite Runway designers of seasons past? Let's take a look:
Season One was the first that I watched, but only once it went into re-runs. I remember it clearly: I had the flu and spent a couple of days on the couch and got completely sucked in. I'll never know if it was the cold medicine or the merits of the show that hooked me, but I've been a fan ever since. My favorite from season one is, naturally, the fabulous Austin Scarlett. Winner Jay McCarroll was a character, and competing villainesses Kara Saun and Wendy Pepper made for good TV, but Austin's sweet nature won me over.
Season Two saw Houston's own Chloe Dao emerge as the winner and as a major personality from the show itself. Santino Rice is the most famous "character" from Season Two, and his spot-on imitation of Tim Gunn softened his abrasive edges enough for him to become a fan favorite. I still love Santino--I follow him on Twitter, and I was glued to his show with Austin Scarlett On the Road with Austin and Santino, in which the two designers travel around the country giving "regular gals" makeovers. The reactions to these two in some of the small towns they visited were hilarious.
Season Three brought a lot of change to Project Runway (new network, new sponsors) that distracted from the show and its contestants. Season Four was more cohesive and brought a better group of designers to the screen, including the pixie-like winner Christian Siriano, and his teddy bear of a pal, Chris March. These two made quite an odd couple, but they had great chemistry and won a difficult challenge when paired up as a team.
I didn't get invested in any contestant for several seasons until Season Seven brought Seth Aaron Henderson and Emilio Sosa to my screen. The combined force of their egos made every episode fun to watch; whether you loved them or loved hating them, it was an equally entertaining ride.
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Chock-full of controversial characters, Season Eight featured episodes I would sometimes watch twice, they were so compelling. I found winner Gretchen Jones' personality almost as objectionable as her Boho dessert-warrior clothes (in all fairness, short chicks like me don't look great in the kind of billowy, blousy designs Jones favored, so I am TOTALLY BIASED against her design aesthetic).
Season Eight featured a lot of drama surrounding the question of sexuality: the is-he-or-isn't-he gay Michael Costello (he is, although he has a son from a previous marriage and struggled with his sexuality vis-à-vis his family) and the powerful moment in which Mondo Guerra not only came out as gay, but as HIV positive. This season renewed my love for all things PR and I can't wait for Season Nine--bring it on!