Project Runway Season 10 Premiere: Observations, Impressions, and Predictions

Last Thursday night was the Season 10 Premier of Project Runway. Producers kicked things off with a one-hour "Road to the Runway" special that aired before the premier, where we were treated to a brief look at the audition process as a means of getting to know the new crop of designers/contestants.

Last year the show brought 20 designers out to New York City, only to cut four right away. This year they scrapped that, starting with 16 designers who compete in a "regular" challenge and runway show in the premier. In the starting 16 is Gunnar Deatherage, who in addition to having the best name ever, was one of the four designers cut in last season's premier episode.

Gunnar is out for revenge. Or, at least, headlines. We'll take a brief look at him, and the other contestants, after the jump.

Zanna Roberts Rossi of Marie Claire walks us through the "Road to the Runway" episode, where we meet the 16 designers competing for the Season 10 title. The casting judges have chosen an interesting cast, who represent a variety of design aesthetics. From rocker to Goth to ladies-who-lunch, we'll see a little bit of everything this season. Here are some brief thoughts on the new cast:

Quotes & Notes from Season 10 Contestants

Christopher Palu (24) "Fashion is my life. Nothing feels more amazing to me than seeing my clothes on a woman and making her look like a ferocious bitch!" [FUR (boo), FEMININE, CONFIDENT]

Dmitry Sholokov (33) "I'm definitely a leader, it's in my blood. When I moved to the United States I modeled for a little while but if you want to be a model you have to be a girl, and I knew I wanted something else." We shall enjoy his tangle with language. [TAILORING, FUTURISTIC, DRAPING]

Lantie Foster (48) "If I see somebody who is really talented and interesting across the room, you're instantly part of our group. You're part of the pretty girl group!" [BORING, SIMPLE, SNAKESKIN]

Ven Budhu (28) "My work is more geared toward that modern and sophisticated, but still young." [RED, DETAILED, TAILORING]

Gunnar Deatherage (22) "This eyebrow goes up, I'm a bitch! You don't want to be around me when this eyebrow is up." [VINTAGE, DRAMA, DERIVATIVE?]

Sonjia Williams (27) "There is nothing else in the world that matters to me, than designing clothes." [PLEATED, COLOR, PANTS]

Elena Slivnyak (28) "My favorite thing to do is avant garde. I have very dark themes." [FUTURISTIC, ANDROGYNY, SCULPTURAL]

Beatrice Guapo (29) "I'm on the go constantly, and that's my girl. She's on the go, she wants to look great, and she doesn't want to think about it." [NEUTRALS, READY-TO-WEAR, CASUAL]

Andrea Katz (58) "I'm a little different than other designers. I don't go for conventional, I don't really fit in." [TOILE, STRUCTURE, PERIOD-INSPIRED]

Kooan Kosuke (30) "I like mixing fabric, because it's like mixing cultures." [ANIME, AFRO, HUMOR]

Buffi Jashanmal (30) "I love mixing prints. My uniform is sequin shorts with ripped up leggings. I don't think you can ever have too many tutus." [QUIRKY, BRIGHT, TOO CHEAP?]

Fabio Costa (29) "I'm a freegan--that means I do my shopping in dumpsters." [PROPORTIONS, CONCEPTUAL, DRAPING]

Alicia Hardesty (27) "Simple but modern, with a fresh new take." [TOMBOY, UTILITARIAN, DENIM]

Melissa Fleis (31) "My favorite color is black, and I wear it almost every day." [BLACK, LEATHER, CHIC]

Nathan Paul (33) "I would classify myself as a social occasion designer." [NERDY, COMMERCIAL, GAMER]

Raul Osorio (27) "I'm not designing for the whole world. I'm designing for a very vain woman." [PRETTY, DETAILED, COMMERCIAL]

Episode One was a bit of a letdown. "A Times Square Anniversary Party" sees the designers involved in a one-day, $100 budget episode with materials sourced from ... Mood. Wait, no pet store? No party supply store? Bo-ring! But the point of the episode is that the runway show will be held in front of an adoring throng ("of maybe thousands" Tim Gunn suggests) of PR fans, and fans don't want to see mostly ugly dresses made out of fish aquarium nets or "Happy Anniversary" banners, so regular-old-fabric it is.

The biggest takeaway of episode one is that Gunnar has decided to be The Queen Bee of the Workroom. Granted, he was only on one episode last season, but he didn't really strike us as a giant, flamboyant personality; this season it's almost as if he's decided to avoid the cut by being larger-than-life. He's almost too determined to say outrageous things and act diva-like; it feels like he's trying too hard, so it doesn't feel authentic.

The winner of the first challenge is Christopher P. (who is also Gunnar's least favorite person in the workroom--guaranteed catfight in the near future) and we see Beatrice go home. Did you watch? Who were the standouts for you, and who do you think will be among the first to fall? We love Ven, but are his looks too sophisticated to appeal to young women? Can Andrea Katz's combination of conceptual design and experience see her through to the end? Will Gunnar and Christopher fight to the death in a workroom filled with sharp objects?

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Christina Uticone