Prepare to be dazzled by design–Project Runway is back! This year it’s season 10, which means we’re starting with splash with a first-time-ever Times Square runway show. But before we get to the special runway, we need to get a little acquainted with the 16 finalists, their talent level and how much drama we can expect from this hallmark season.

Meet the Contestants
The Eccentrics
BUFFI is half Indian, half Australian and hails from Dubai. From her personal style, you can tell she likes a lot of color, mixed prints and a funky element to her looks.
KOOAN is a Japanese designer with a fro who likes to create outfits that are “costume, but not.” I will definitely be interested to see what he turns out.
FABIO grew up in Brazil, where his grandmother’s sewing machine drummed him to sleep as an infant. He is also a “freegan” (translation: he gets his food from supermarket dumpsters).

The Edgy Girls
ELENA is an experimental, avant-garde designer who is not afraid to think outside the box. For example, the look she brought with her is inspired by fencing uniforms.
MELISSA was in law school when she realized she was in the wrong place, so now she makes all black, modern and cool clothes, which she seems to wear herself.
ALICIA is a lesbian designer who makes “clothes for tomboys.” She is also rocking some serious dreadlocks.

The Nice Girls
SONJIA thinks she has ADD, likes mixing soft and hard textiles and hopes everyone can start off being nice to one another in the work room (yeah, good luck with that).
BEATRICE is a lover of knits, though she’s not so good with the sewing (that could be a problem, Beatrice). She soon realizes PR is not all “puppies and rainbows.”

The Troublemakers
GUNNAR auditioned last season, making it into the top 20 before being cut. He says he’s become a whole new designer since then and this is his time for redemption. Oh, and he designs for old Southern ladies now.
RAUL specializes in menswear, but likes to do ultra feminine womenswear, too. He also hates trends and seems to have his nose turned up at the other designers.
DMITRY used to be a professional ballroom dancer, but now he designs clean, architectural clothes. He also likes a quiet work space, so Buffi’s chattiness drives him nuts from the get-go.

The Mature Ladies
LANTIE, who is 38–scratch that, 48–likes to rework vintage clothes in her designs. She also likes to “make it up” as she goes along.
ANDREA calls herself “the grandmother of Project Runway” at 58 and is actually an instructor of fashion, with a Masters in art education and an MFA in fashion.

The Others
CHRISTOPHER is hard to place; he’s either super confident (“I can sew like a [BLEEP]”) or second-guessing his skills as he frantically races around the work room at the last minute.
VEN is definitely this season’s all-confident masterful constructionist; his
first look is a perfectly structured rose bustier. He’s superior and he knows it.
NATHAN, sadly, practically had zero air time, so we’ll have to wait until next week I guess to figure him out.

The Challenge: Create a second accompanying look
All 16 designers arrive at Parsons School of Design with one finished piece, but now they have $100 and one day to construct a second complementary look. As there are so many designers, it’s hard to feature each one’s work during the challenge, but there is plenty of negative backtalk to focus on instead.

First there’s Gunnar, who throws a hissy fit at Christopher for no apparent reason, other than the fact that he doesn’t like him because “he’s too similar to my personality.” Dmitry, who already was annoyed by Buffi’s bubbly-ness, calls her mixture of colors “diarrhea.” Going along with this unsavory image, Gunnar says Kooan’s outfits looks “like Liberace threw up.” On runway day, Ven calls some people’s outfits crafted “student projects.” Ouch, the zingers have clearly begun!

The Times Square Runway
Heidi, Nina and Michael open up the runway show to thousands of screaming fans. They’re joined by guest judges Lauren Graham (of Parenthood) and the first guest judge ever on PR, Patricia Field. After all 32 looks strut the special runway, it’s back to the Parsons runway for the actual judging process. Six names are called and the others are declared safe, and everyone is SO relieved. I guess they were really nervous, but playing it safe won’t get you too far for long on this show.

The Top 3 Designs

melissa1.jpgMelissa is complimented for her distinct POV, which is current, young and “very now.” Michael just hopes she can do more than just black (we hope so, too), but all around she gets high marks from the judges and Heidi would definitely wear either of her looks.

christopher1.jpgChristopher‘s first look, a delicate halter top gown made from his own detailed fabric, blows the judges away. There’s such labor-intensive detail and yet it comes across as effortless and ethereal. His second strapless black mini gets more mixed reviews, but the gown more than makes up for it.

vin1.jpgVen‘s rose bustier is called “phenomenal” and it’s clear he is a master tailor. Heidi likes how his two looks work together and Nina likes how it looks expensive (we know this is important to Nina).

The Bottom 3 Designs

kooan1.jpgKooan really left the judges with a lot of questions, though they appreciate how bold his creations are. Their main concern is that he doesn’t take his goofy, cartoon-y aesthetic too far as to be jokey. Also, they find him to be a bit.. off, but Heidi says let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.

beatrice1.jpgBeatrice got the no-no description from Heidi: “sad.” The judges acknowledge the allure of comfort and ease, but they say that’s not enough to win in this competition. Michael doesn’t know who she is as a designer and Heidi says you can’t win designing t-shirts on this show.

lantie1.jpgLantie‘s vintage dresses are confusing, especially with the python print panel in the front. Overall, her first look gets mixed feedback, but it’s her second look that really brings her down. Nina says the harshest thing of the night by emphasizing how “horrifying” it is and Michael calls the fabric “muddy mosquito netting.” Patricia Field calls Lantie “one step below design” and likens her to more of a stylist.

The Results
The winner of the first challenge is… Christopher! Which was pretty obvious, given how enamored the judges were with his flowy, hand-crafted and complex gown. Of the bottom three, Kooan is named safe and when he lets out an odd ooohh noise, Heidi shrugs her shoulders at the other judges, as if to say, I know he’s weird, but what can you do? So it’s down to Beatrice and Lantie. The person going home is… Beatrice! Which is a bit surprising; I would have guessed Lantie. But sometimes the judges like to see more fighting spirit, even if it comes with questionable designs at first. 

What do you all think of this batch of designers? Did the judges get it right? And who will be the two people who quit the show? It will all be revealed in the weeks to come on Project Runway!

(Images courtesy of Lifetime)

Jenn Lee

Staff Writer, BuddyTV

Jenn grew up in Ohio before moving to Seoul, Korea, where she attended international school and failed to learn Korean. From there she went on to earn a BA in Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania before settling in Seattle, where she now spends too much time pondering the power of narrative in TV shows and novels. While she loves a good smart comedy (a la Community or Parks and Recreation), her favorite current show is Breaking Bad; all-time mentions include Arrested DevelopmentLost and Friends. When she’s not consuming television or literature, she’s savoring pastries and searching for the city’s ultimate sandwich.