Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn are back for the Season 14 of Project Runway! And this time, it’s a whole new crop of designers without any previous contestants getting a second chance. Let’s see how the 16 new designers fare with an even playing field.

Heidi and Tim greet the new designers at Madison Square Garden. Stretched over the seats in the stadium are multiple sheets of fabric. Heidi tells the designers they have three minutes to grab the fabric that they’ll be using for their first challenge, but they can only choose four fabrics each. Then they’ll have one day to create a look that will explain to their point of view to the judges.

The designers race to grab the fabrics they want. Duncan spots a coral fabric all the way from the court and ends up being the first to grab it. Ashley doesn’t love her selections as she ended up just grabbing what the other designers didn’t want.

Back at the workroom, Tim takes a minute to scold a few of the designers. David, Merline and Swapnil all forgot to bring personal work kits that include design basics like scissors and measuring tapes. Lindsey is annoyed that they did not come prepared and thinks they should all be eliminated right now. Instead they have to to beg and borrow tools from their fellow designers.

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Finding Your Voice

Ashley is a big girl creating clothes that she always wanted to wear but could never find to fit her. She still struggles with her self-esteem after spending her whole childhood being bullied. She’s making a crop top with an open back matched with a skirt with boxed pleats for this challenge. Tim encourages her use of print and says he’s getting a strong statement from the look.

Duncan is from New Zealand and still relatively new to the fashion world. He’s making what looks like a coral bridesmaid dress but Tim responds positively to it, but wonders if he can properly sculpt the fabric in the way he has it draped.

Before getting into fashion, Merline was an architect. Now, she’s already annoying everyone in the work room with her constant singing and chattering. She has a top constructed when Tim comes to check in with her, but she has no idea what she’s going to do for the bottoms. She springs into a panic after he leaves trying to figure out what she’s going to do. She doesn’t even have a skirt for her model to try on when she comes in.

Kelly is a self-taught designer who started making her own clothes when she was tired of being made fun of for wearing hand-me-downs as a child. She’s working on a dress that Tim is afraid looks too amateur because of the wonky way the graphics on the print line up. After her critique, she decides to scrap the dress and start over with one of her other fabrics.

As a designer in India, Swapnil had certain restrictions when it came to baring too much skin on the runway. But he considers himself a fashion rebel now who designs by his own rules. He’s making a beautiful bustier with geometrical strips of fabric that he thinks perfectly represents him as a designer. The only problem is that he’s not used to working at such a rushed pace.

Edmond has been trying out for the show since the first season. He’s very grateful to finally get an opportunity but he gets crushed when Tim gives him a brutal critique. He doesn’t want to blow it after waiting so long, so he decides to re-work his cocktail dress to look more sophisticated.

Hanmaio calls herself “Pistachio” because it means “happy nut” in Chinese. She’s making a boxy vest over a boxy dress. Tim tells her that he doesn’t care for it but Hanmaio says she listens to her own opinion as opposed to those who try to give her advice. It’s good that she has such a strong point of view, but sometimes it helps to listen to a dissenting voice.

Candice is making a tailored black and white peplumed dress (something tells me that she’s going to be working with a lot of black this season). She gets her inspiration from her two kids and from surviving a rough childhood.

Blake is working with a very graphic print that looks a lot like a stained glass window. He’s very confident, on the edge of cocky even, but Tim says that his dress just isn’t special enough. He’s also worried that the draping makes it look like she has a trash bin in the front of the dress. Blake suddenly hates his dress, but decides it’s too late to make any major changes.

First Impressions

Joining our regular judges of Heidi, Zac Posen and Nina Garcia on the judging panel this week is Sports Illustrated model Hannah Davis. Tim will sit in on the runway shows but he won’t be involved with the judging since he’s their mentor and he’s once again equipped with one Tim Gunn “save” to offer an eliminated designer a chance to return to the competition.

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On the Top

Edmond- Nina says she loves that his looks are polished and dramatic. Hannah doesn’t love the neon train but Heidi likes that it added a dramatic flair. Zac thinks it’s beautifully made but not revolutionary.

Marline- Nina thinks that her look really communicated her strong architectural aesthetic. Hannah loves that it has a menswear feel to it and Heidi thinks that it looks different than anything else on the runway.

Ashley- All of the judges think that Ashley’s look is beautiful. Nina thinks it’s ambitious and bold and appreciates how she used texture unlike anyone else. Zac says it’s playful and chic and feminine but not too girly.

On the Bottom

Blake- There’s so much going on with the print and the design that Hannah says that her eye doesn’t know where to go. Zac says it’s not theatrical enough to be interesting and Heidi critiques the messy sewing.

Hanmiao- Zac thinks Hamiao’s dress looks like a picnic tablecloth, Hannah says it looks like maternity wear, and Nina says the model looks like a monk … so not great. Nina says she does understand her over-sized aesthetic though.

Duncan- None of the judges are impressed with Duncan’s simple design. Zac says he has a serious problem with the fabric and the color. Heidi has a problem with the way it was constructed because it looks like he wrapped her in fabric and sent her down the runway. Duncan says he’s still trying to find his point of view and he’s eager to hear their feedback.

The Results

Ashley is the winner of the first challenge. She’s so excited to win and it gives her a boost of confidence to continue on and hopefully win the competition.

It’s between Duncan and Hanmiao in the bottom. Duncan is the first sent home for his lack of design. We’ll miss his cute New Zealand accent but, I’m glad we’ll get to see more from Hanmiao.

(Image courtesy of Lifetime)

Gina Pusateri

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV