Tonight the highly anticipated first episode of ‘Project Runway: Season Nine’ aired on the Lifetime Television network. Immediately fans were given a quick look at the lives and designs of the twenty designers who were selected over the months long application and casting process earlier this spring.
Most notable in these were the hilarious and giddy quips from Heidi Klum. The retired super model mom, and host/producer/and judge of ‘Project Runway’, sang to Joshua Christensen as he walked into the interview room and tried, unsuccessfully, to get another to give her the scarf her was wearing. In a more serious moment Heidi Klum fought her co-judges Michael Kors and Nina Garcia to accept Anya Ayoung Chee onto the show.
Chee is an experienced competitor, having been crowned Miss Trinidad and Tobago back in 2008, and is well experienced with the drama that comes along with making an appearance in the limelight as shortly after Chee’s reign was completed a leaked sex tape brought her a much different kind of fame. Her experience as a fashion designer is, however, far more limited. By her own admission she had only been sewing for four months although other sources have said she took a leading hand as stylist during her beauty pageant days. Despite her infamy from the sex tape scandal Chee has been an early favorite in the competition and is currently leading in fan votes.
Once the interviews were over the real problem, of course, was that ‘Project Runway’ has never started with such a large stable of designers and, in a surprise twist the twenty hopefuls were unaware of when they appeared to tape the first episode, four were culled immediately. The four eliminated designers were David Chum, Gunnar Deatherage, Amanda Perna, and Serena da Conceicao.
Now with the traditional sixteen designers ready to prove they had earned their spots on the reality television fashion competition they toasted the new season, more quips from Heidi Klum, and then the designers were brought to Atlas, the long-time home of designers on ‘Project Runway’. Very early the next morning the designers were awoken by Tim Gunn and whisked away to Parsons wearing whatever pajamas they had on when he arrived and one bed sheet. While the designers didn’t know it, the competition was on. For the first challenge designers were tasked with creating a look using their pajamas and bed sheet.
Lifetime had promised fans, among other spoilers, that the first challenge of this season would be among the hardest ever seen on ‘Project Runway’. Few will be disappointed. While somewhat reminiscent of the first challenge from season eight, where designers had to give one article of their clothing to another designer and create using that fabric, this pajama challenge put designers on an uneven footing using, in most cases, poor materials that neither draped not dyed easily.
The difficulty of the challenge was seen in the uneven-ness of the final designs. With an adorable asymmetrical dress, with a cute red check detailing that came from his own boxer shorts, Bert Keeter won the first challenge while Rafael Cox, whose demeanor but not designs will remind many long time ‘Project Runway’ fans of former winner Christian Siriano, was sent home for an ill-fitting pair of legging-pants and white bed sheet top. Christina Ricci, who had been leaked early on as making an appearance this season, was celebirty guest judge.
While the designers were still getting used to each other drama was low key this episode. We got a momentary snarky comment about model stealing, between Laura Kathleen and Danielle Everine, but the sneak previews of the season promised all of the tears, fights, and Michael Kors-isms that keep ‘Project Runway’ fans coming back season after season.