Project Runway 6 - Episode 1 Preview

>> Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Welcome back, true believers! They said it was over. That it would never air. That we would never hear Tim Gunn say, "I'm dubious" again--but they were wrong! At long last, Project Runway Season Six is ready to air. For sixteen designers and sixteen models, it means the end of a long, contractually-obligated silence, as filming on the season wrapped months ago, culminating in an oddly anonymous runway show for the three finalists at Bryant Park. (Which one of us attended! Click here for the full report.)

What's new? The question ought to be, "What isn't?" Heidi, Tim, Nina, and Michael are all back, but that's about it. Project Runway has gone all LA on us, whisking the production over to the left coast and leaving behind all its old familiar haunts. (Is there a Mood Fabrics in LA? Aha, there is! So maybe not everything's different.)

What else is different, of course, is the move to Lifetime Television. But while this change was at first bemoaned by fans of Bravo who couldn't imagine their beloved show on the network of Lifetime Original Movies and Reba reruns, Lifetime has done everything right that Bravo did wrong last season. A quick glance at Lifetime's Project Runway site is almost impossible; there's just too much good stuff there not to lose an hour or two: designer portfolios, profiles, intro videos, buddy icons, wallpapers, games, even a nifty choose-your-own-Tim-Gunn-message you can send to a friend's phone. It's like Lifetime got Project Runway to go on a date with them and went nuts and drove off to Vegas and married it. Bravo, on the other hand, acted like a scorned partner last season, making Project Runway Season Five sleep alone in a hotel room while the lawyers drew up the divorce papers.

Oh, and can we just take a moment to point out how smart this is? Lifetime announced today that every episode of Project Runway will air for free--with commercials--online at the Saturday after the show premieres on Thursday and encores on Friday. Huzzah! FINALLY! Someone who understand the power of rerunning a show online! Seriously, kudos to Lifetime. They seem to be doing everything right.

And thanks to Lifetime, this Thursday will be a full night of Project Runway goodness. At 8 p.m. ET is a special Project Runway All-Star Edition (but hey, where's Uncle Nick!?), at 10 p.m. ET is the premiere of PR Season Six, and then afterward is Models of the Runway--a behind-the-scenes look at PR from the models' point of view! It's so much Project Runway fun we might just explode.

But here at Gratz Industries, we're in the business of making predictions, not providing scheduling reminders (or exploding), so let's get down to the prognosticating, shall we?

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SPOILER ALERT: As we point out each week, we don't have any prior knowledge of what's to come, other than (usually) the guest judge, (sometimes) a vague idea about the competition, and (occasionally) whatever preview videos Lifetime chooses to air. Using all these sources of public information, we make guesses about who will be in and who will be out. Often bad guesses, but (every now and then, we hope) fun ones. If you prefer to be surprised by this week's episode, we suggest you stop reading right about now and go take a nap so you can watch Project Runway programming until 3 a.m. tonight.

* * * * * * * * * * *

This week's premiere is called "Welcome to Los Angeles!" but we prefer "A-Lohan Against the World," as celebrity disaster Lindsay Lohan is week one's special guest. What better way to prove Project Runway is so LA than featuring a tabloid superstar as your first guest judge? Seriously, what could go wrong with this? Nothing we can see--as long as, you know, they don't ask her to drive the designers anywhere. Or let her near the booze.

This week we'll get the obligatory shots of designers arriving at the airport, getting out of cabs, and lugging large suitcases into their rooms, where they will make awkward small-talk as they not-so-secretly assess each other's threat levels. Then--oh my gosh!--someone will discover an elegantly printed card that wasn't sitting there on the counter before or that has been slid under the door, and everyone will head to the pool or the roof (or both! this is LA, after all) for champagne and hellos with Heidi and Tim. The only surprise this year will be that the designers won't be insulted by having to run, scramble, grovel, or otherwise debase themselves to collect material for their first challenge. (That will undoubtedly come later.)

Instead, the designers will get a night to simmer in the hot tub before being the only people on the planet to be surprised the next morning when Lindsay Lohan bounces out from behind the Project Runway scrim. Lindsay will then ask the sixteen wide-eyed and over-anxious designers to design a red carpet dress for her to wear to some relatively minor event, so that if she has to pick the lesser of three evils she won't be seen by too many people. Lindsay will exit stage right to have a drink, and the designers will load into this year's sponsor cars and be whisked away to Mood Fabrics' LA branch, where they will have far too little time and far too little money to make appropriate fabric decisions.

Back at Parson's, er, the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, the designers will have one day to finish their looks. Their models will have been randomly assigned to them to save time, and one poor model will lose the lottery and get Ari Fish as her designer. (But we're getting ahead of ourselves.) We don't expect too much drama in the workroom this episode, and like most early-season PR installments, we probably won't feel like we've gotten to know any of the designers too well either.

At least we'll still have Tim, Heidi, Nina, and Michael as friendly faces. Heidi will certainly be happier--LA is her home. As for the others, New Yorkers all, we'll have to see how they like spending a few weeks away from home. What is it Heidi always says of Michael Kors? He's "the king of jet set fashion?" Guess he's going to have to prove it this season.

So who's in and who's out this week? We barely guess right when we've been able to watch the designers, and you want us to pick without seeing a single episode yet? Sheesh. Well, we already gave our preseason rankings, but we're already taking one of our predictions back, based on new evidence. Check out this still from Lifetime's season six preview:

Stop looking at Heidi's legs and count the designers. That's right--fifteen. And we start with sixteen. This is clearly a week two shot. So all we have to do is figure out which one is missing, and we know who gets aufed in week one! Er, well, the trouble is, some of the boys and girls kind of look alike--particularly the ones with blonde, shoulder-length hair. But we've been over this photo a couple of times now, enlarging it as much as we can without everyone turning into pixelated blobs, and we've come to the conclusion that the odd designer out is Ari Fish. And when we say odd, we do mean odd. If ever there was a first episode competition that would knock this girl out, it would be a red carpet gown. From our pre-season rankings:
Ari might just be the longest shot of them all, but like kooky Elisa before her, she may stick around a few episodes for the entertainment factor. Where do we begin? Ari is an art school student who transfered from painting to ceramics to textile design. Her influences are "geometry, ergonomics, American Indian ritual wear, nomadic tribe wear and athletic apparel," and in a video she tells us she's into leopard print, track suits, muumuus, tight pants, and Mickey Mouse sweatshirts. Our favorite moment: when she shows us the reversible, waterproof, jacket she's making for a friend, and tells us it's sleeveless because "he's going to be in the desert." Which of course begs the question: then why does it have to be waterproof? All Tim says of Ari is that she's "deeply conceptual." She'll be around only as long as other people make mistakes.
Guess no one makes bigger mistakes than she does this episode. So while we thought Logan Neitzel would be the first to go, we're calling a do-over. Our apologies to Logan in retrospect, and our condolences to Ari in advance. In fact, if the following still from the season preview video is a final ten, paired up in teams, we may have to reassess a few of our guesses--including Logan again:

Are these just the best and worst teams, with other designers already safe in the back room? But then, they usually keep out sets of six--three winners and three losers--even when there are teams. And there's none of the odd spacing that comes when some of the teams leave and the others keep their places. Hrm. Are we looking at a top ten here? If so, that's six of the girls, and only four of the boys. [Left to right, best we can tell: an Irina/Gordana superteam, a Carol Hannah/Shirin whippersnapper team, a Logan/Althea tall team, a Nicolas/Louise emo-goth team, and a Christopher/Epperson boys club team.] Perhaps this is the season the women rule Project Runway from beginning to end--pretty fitting for the show's first season on Lifetime. (Let the conspiracy theories begin!)

So, we have video evidence to help us pick the aufing, but who wins immunity next episode? This is a crap shoot. For no particular reason, we're going to predict that Irina wins first place in week one. We were tempted to go with Rodney Epperson, or Gordana--we have good vibes about both of them--but we're going with the girl whose models Tim says "look as if they've been in for a dozen fittings, and they haven't." Plus, we know how Lindsay likes the ladies.

After the real winner is named and we're made to look like idiots, we can at least take some consolation in the after dinner mint that is Models of the Runway, in which a variety of size zero waifs reveal that the walking clothes hangers on the show can be just as petty and shallow as the designers.

We kid. A bit. We really are looking forward to the behind-the-scenes look, as long as it keeps most of the focus on the models' relationships with the designers, and what takes place during the show--not just the models sitting around not eating in their apartment. At least this time it sounds like they have an apartment for the models, so we won't have any more foolishness with models disappearing on their designers due to flightiness or better gigs.

Only fifteen models here, just like fifteen designers in the above still shot. That means this is a shot from episode two. If we cared enough, we could figure out which girl goes home first. But we don't.

And what about a prediction for the All-Star Challenge, we hear you ask? Uli. For no other reason than she's one of our all-time favorites, and we want her to win.

See you next week, when we bring back the Big Board of Shame and start picking favorites!

Previous related posts:

Project Runway Season Six Preseason Rankings
Leanne Marshall's show and Jay McCarroll's movie party
The Project Runway Season Six Finale - Before
The Project Runway Season Six Finale - During
The Project Runway Season Six Finale - After


Laura K August 20, 2009 at 2:42 AM  

Thanks so much for your excellent analysis - can't wait for tomorrow!

Tom August 20, 2009 at 8:35 AM  

!_SQUEE_! I am so friggin' excited! Excellent post! Can't wait to read more from you!

Chris August 20, 2009 at 9:30 AM  

Wonderful predictions! What if Ari is modeling her own design? It's certainly been done before...

TropicalChrome August 20, 2009 at 1:09 PM  

I've missed your predictions - they're as much fun as the show itself! It's always so hard to handicap the first episode because we haven't seen the designers, and you know the network has thrown in some misdirection.

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