Don’t you love how they make “Project Runway” seem like a superhero movie in the promos? TIM. HEIDI. NINA. And MICHAEL. Duh-DUM. I want each of them to wear capes with contrasting leotards while demonstrating some freakish power, like the ability to turn into ice or make squirrels burst into flame with an evil glance. Actually, I think Heidi would have that one nailed. Maybe Michael could wear a sports jacket instead of a cape, though. I don’t think I’d recognize him without one.

 

[Full recap of Thursday's (Jan. 14) "Project Runway" premiere after the break...]
 
Anyway, let’s meet our contestants, shall we? Don’t get too attached to anyone, because someone’s going home and really, everyone usually behaves themselves this week so it’s too soon to spot the evil ones.
 
Seth is 37 but looks 45. Jet black hair is too harsh after 35, people, time to accept it. He likes vintage, blah blah blah. How can someone with such vertical hair be this clichéd?
 
Janeane is from Oregon (shades of Leighanne?). She’s super excited to be in New York! And then she’s crying. Boo hoo, the thought of Bryant Park makes her weep. Girlfriend, too soon for the freak-out, you’re not even sleep-deprived yet. I can’t decide if she’s adorable or nauseating.
 
Ping is a physical therapist. She wants to liberate body movement. She seems serious and I suspect lots of minimalist, drape-y clothing.
 
Ben is from Florida. He likes comic books. They inspire him. I think I would rather poke myself in the eye with a fork than wear anything Ben designs. Have you seen the women in comic books? They’re like Barbie, but with less realistic proportions.
 
Anthony is the necessary sassy gay man for this season. He tells us it’s hell being black and gay in the ghetto, but he laughs when he says it so we’re comfortable with his pain. He wants to design for Miss USA and Miss Universe. This doesn’t bode well for Anthony.
 
Jay is from San Francisco, and his designs look pretty good. I don’t get much of a read on Jay.
 
Pamela is old. She’s 47. She’s a type A personality. She designs things for “private clients” who apparently don’t mind clothing that looks like tablecloths.
 
Anna is a print maker. She seems nice and clean cut and very, very dull, which means she’ll probably work hard and go farther than I expect.
 
Jonathan is an animal when it comes to competition. He likes splatter painting. Splatter painting? Egads.
 
Jesse is from Florida and used to be Jack Sparrow at Disneyworld. Hmm, who’s my bet for out first?
 
Mila is a costume designer. She’s 40 but looks 50. Again, someone didn’t get the memo about jet black hair after 35. Still, she has an excellent haircut.
 
Maya likes risky fashion and punk rock. She gives Mila a high five for wearing bangs. I’m hoping Maya is having an uncomfortable moment and doesn’t usually greet people this way.
 
Christiane lived on the Ivory Coast. She thinks she’s good. I think her ego’s bigger than her talent, but that’s just a guess.
 
Jesus is young and says he’s confident. Well, good for Jesus. But on this show, that’s usually a hint that Jesus will be crying by episode three.
 
Emilio is 43 and he works in costume designs. He wants to dress the people who ride the subways. I don’t know who rides his trains, but every time I’m in New York there’s usually a stinky homeless guy, an elderly sleeping lady who’s thrown up on herself and might be dead and some teenagers who look like they carry knives. So, Emilio has his work cut out for him.
 
Amy is from Oakland and has an Iranian background. She likes being different. Because really, everyone on this show likes to be the same. Are these designers more boring than usual, or is it me? God, Anthony can’t be eliminated too early or this show will not be worth watching.
 
Time for rooftop drinks! Could they mix this up a little? I’d be happier seeing these guys drinking in a blood-spattered abattoir than on the roof again. No one ever gets pushed to their deaths, so I hardly see the point. But Heidi’s there with her squeaky voice and so is Tim, thank God. I’ve missed Tim. He’s like the perfectly dressed gay uncle I never had.
 
Anyway, onto the park. Mood has donated fabric, and the designers have to run around, collect fabric in three minutes and design something. Oh wait, they have to edit down their grab bags to five fabrics each. This is apparently very upsetting to pretty much everyone. Have these people not seen the show before? Seriously, they needed to drink more champagne and loosen up a little.
 
In the workroom, everyone is sewing and stitching and, yes, making it work. Ping likes to use herself as a model, which makes everyone uncomfortable. Let’s just hope there’s not a lingerie challenge.
 
Tim arrives! He tells Christiane to stand in her confidence, and then he goes to Ping. Who decides to model her outfit. Tim suggests that maybe that’s not the best idea. Ping doesn’t seem to care.
 
Tim asks Seth if maybe a ridiculous red zipper is cartoonish. Seth doesn’t care. Seth is stupid. because Tim is always right.
 
Tim is not impressed with Janeane’s puckery, shiny mess of a dress. Janeane gets weepy. Anthony’s outfit isn’t a hit with Tim, either, but he’s determined to fix it. Tim finds Jesus’ train disturbing. Jesus is confident. Jesus should pack a bag.
 
Tim likes Emilio’s top. But he’s worried he won’t finish. Emilio then becomes worried he won’t finish. I’m worried Emilio won’t finish, because I already like Emilio. Come on, Emilio!
 
Janeane is starting over. From scratch. Crap, Janeane, it’s like you’re looking for reasons to cry.
 
Finally, the first catty moment of the show! Thank you, Jonathan! To quote: “Ping’s outfit is very Ping. Ping may go home.” Okay, it wasn’t super catty, but it was something. I’ll take what I can get.
 
Oooh, it’s runway time! Heidi, Michael, Nina and friggin’ Nicole Richie are the judges. Really? Was Lilo or Paris not available? Has Nicole Richie ever actually done anything? I mean, plopping your name on a clothing line and hiring a stylist does not a style icon make.
 
Jonathan
Cute little black dress. Nice job, Jonathan!
 
Seth
A plaid sundress. The zipper still doesn’t wow me, but it’s a pretty adorable dress.
 
Jesus
Wow, a leather handbag as a dress. I think Cher wore this once.
 
Ben
I hate this dress. It’s like a napkin with spiky shoulder pads that makes the model look flat-chested and fat at the same time. And there’s one thing she isn’t, and that’s fat. Blech.
 
Jay
All women like ruffles over their hips and stomach. Not.
 
Pamela
Another tablecloth. But I like the color.
 
Emilio
I kind of love this dress. It looks great. I’d buy it.
 
Jesse
Weird shoulderless jacket, but he did make three pieces, so good job.
 
Ping
Did this require sewing, or did she just throw fabric on the model? That said, it looks super comfy.
 
Christiane
She thinks ti looks great. It doesn’t. Hideous fabric, too.
 
Amy Sarabi
Um, what’s with the enlarged right boob? That’s freaky.
 
Janeane
Boring, but I’m amazed she actually pulled it off. Total points for not sending the model down the runway naked.
 
Mila
This is actually cute. Love the lining.
 
Anthony
Another cute little dress, but the weird thing on her hip, not so cute.
 
Anna Marie
Oh, a big change here – a swingy little dress. Wearable, but maybe not runway.

Maya
Big ruffles, basic silhouette. It works.
 
The best and the worst are Emilio, Jesus, Christiane, Seth and Anthony.
 
Heidi likes the bottom of Anthony’s dress but not the top. Michael doesn’t like the appendage on her hip. Nina thinks the fabric is wrong for the silhouette. Nicole likes it.
 
Nicole likes Seth’s outfit. Heidi likes the point of view. Nina loves the back. Michael thinks young girls would love it. Okay, so maybe Tim was wrong about the cartoon zipper. But I side with Tim.
 
Nicole likes Ping’s outfit and would wear it in a minute. Nina thinks it has no hangar appeal. Michael says he knows what she believes in. I think this is a love it or hate it outfit. And I think Michael loves it. Maybe Ping isn’t going home for a while.
 
Heidi doesn’t think Jesus’ gown is fashionable. Michael thinks it’s not sexy. Nina thinks she looks like a Hershey’s chocolate bar. Nicole thinks it has potential. Nicole is either being nice or she’s way too forgiving.
 
Nina liked Christiane’s draping but hates the fabrics. Michael thinks it looks she ran out of fabric.
 
Michael likes that Emilio’s dress is deceptively simple. Nina appreciates his technical work and thinks the dress has hangar appeal. Nicole likes it.
 
Then, the confab. Michael thought Anthony’s outfit was discordant. Heidi thought Christiane was unsophisticated. Nicole actually didn’t like this. I knew it, Nicole was just being nice out there! Michael thought Jesus was clichéd and fake glamorous.
 
Nina loved Seth’s head-to-toe look. Nicole loved Emilio’s dress. Nina loved the choice of fabric and thought the dress looked expensive. Michael was transported by Ping. Nicole says Ping’s look was her favorite.
 
Ping is... safe. Emilio is... the winner! I’m so happy! I know, I said not to get attached to anyone, but hey, I got attached to the winner of the challenge, so who cares?
 
Seth is... in. Anthony is... in. It’s down to Christiane and Jesus. The two most confident designers. I love irony. Jesus is... in. Christiane is out. Christiane looks stunned. Guess she’s thinking she shouldn’t have been so confident.
 
She doesn’t cry, though, she’s just thankful and surprisingly gracious. Hope she didn’t unpack.
 
Next week looks dramatic, in that Michael seems to be getting his mean on and Ping cries. Oh, and Anthony’s eyes about bug out of his head about something, so that should be fun. But more than anything, I’m just glad “Project Runway” is back. Even if some of this season’s designers are fashion victims as well as fashion designers. Seriously, no dyed black hair after 35, people!
 
Who are your early favorites? Do you think Christiane deserved to go? And do you love Ping’s design aesthetic or hate it?