{iStyle} Project Runway: Who’s In, Who’s Out and Who’s Annoying

By: Jenn Ortiz, {iStyle} Editor

Lindsay Lohan, crystal meth, and see-through clothing. No, it wasn’t all Lindsay and this isn’t a night out on the town. It was the first episode of Project Runway. Actually, she wasn’t a bad judge. (Damn, and here I was waiting for her to screw up so we could join the ranks of trash talking websites. Sigh.)

After the battle for Project Runway between Bravo and Lifetime, and the epic fail that was its wannabe replacement, The Fashion Show, I’m relieved to have my Project Runway back. I’m sure you are, too! This is possibly the first time I voluntary watched Lifetime. {Note to Sasha, perhaps we shall have to do an analysis on Lifetime’s possibly trying for a new image.}

This season on Project Runway, we can expect a bigger emphasis on the models, with the spin-off, Models on the Runway. They even made an all-star episode of past designers to air before the premier. Ok, so enough yapping. I’m sure you want to know about the designers. Who’s the whack job? (Because you know there always is at least one. Remember that girl who spit marked her fabric to infuse it with her spirit?) Who looks like they will win already and who might be a sleeper. Warning: Spoilers!

Althea Harper
Interned for Viviene Westwood, Anna Sui, Zac Posen, Victoria’s Secret, and Alexander McQueen. Firmly believes in the LBD. Has a degree in fashion. Believes she has good taste and skills in draping. Weakness is that she tries to do too much. As we know, on Project Runway, not finishing a garment can be your damnation. Loves to work with silk. Proud of her suiting skills. Loves the old-school supers.

Result: Dreamy and very feminine dress. She’s got skills, but does she have taste?

Ari Fish
Has a degree from the Kansas City Art Institute. Sews quickly. Says she’s detail oriented. Seems to like designing reversible items… this will be bad. Would dress Michelle Obama in some ridiculous peach concoction with a ridiculous collar. Ummm. Seems to be the wacky one. Something about tents and water cooling?!

Result: What the hell is that thing? OUT! Guess we’ll have to find someone else to make fun of.

Carol Hannah Whitfield
First designs she ever made were barbie clothes. Well, that means she could pass at least one past challenge. Completely self-taught. Was a buyer in the past. Says she works well with cohesive themes and can work quickly. Likes chiffon and charmeuse. Says she hates bad fit. We’ll see if she lives up to it.

Result: Her dress is beautiful, but not too finished. I’m looking forward to see how long she’ll last.

Christopher Straub
His first garment ever was a pair of clown pants. Self taught. Likes adding volume to garments. Says his weaknesses are working with body-con designs and delicate fabrics. If that’s true he’s doomed. Then again, he could just not know his own potential.

Result: He won the challenge… hmmm.

Designs for his own store. Loves layering. Self taught. Likes to “re-engineer fabrics” and claims to have no weaknesses. Muslin knits and boiled wool – interesting choices. Seems like he won’t get into any conflict.

Result: His dress was nice, but not memorable.

Gordana Gehlhausen
From czech and now owns her own store in Charlestone where Althea sold some dresses. “Give me a sheep, I’ll make you a sweater.” That’s the soviet way! Well, she can knit! She is self-trained. Loves detailed work, draping, silk, and knits. Loves Kate Moss.

Result: Very feminine and unusually structured. Not my favorite dress, but if she adds that sort of twist to her other designs, she’ll survive for awhile.

Irina Shabayeva
Fashion designer. Favorite designer is Jean Paul Gaultier. Attended Parsons and defended wildcard Ari. Functional: loves jersey and silk. Can handtool leather. Designs coats. Went right for the “old hollywood glamour” for her runway dress.  We love glamour, but it has to be innovative. Can she do it?

Result: Holy crap that dress was gorgeous. It may have been a bit too safe for the judges, but it was definitely marketable.

Johnny Sakalis
Favorite designer is Alexander McQueen. Also designed barbie clothes. Formally trained at FIDM. Wishes for better pattern making abilities and patience. Bring the drama. Former meth addict, you want to root for him, but will he survive?

Result: Not a fan of his dress, but it was well made and for the right girl, it would do well. Rhianna perhaps. Just not in that red. Looks like his past designs aren’t too shabby, especially this.

Logan Neitzel
Favorite designers are John Galliano and Tom Ford. His first design ever was a hand sewn pair of moccassins. Has an associates in fashion. Likes streetwear and edgy looks. Feels that evening wear is his weakness. Likes to work with the basics: silk, twill, denim, cotton, and leather. Hates sweat suits and loves Karl Lagerfeld. Guessing he’ll never work for Juicy. Would put Michelle Obama in a suit and somehow I don’t think this would be her style. From his photos, he sketches well and says he is good with patterns.

Result: Thank goodness I DVR’d the show, because his dress was so not memorable that I had to watch again to remember which one was his. Nothing horrific, but nothing spectacular.

Louise Black
Favorite designer is Lacroix. Bless her. Has some technical training, but otherwise self-taught. Her style is old glam and vintage, but in a darker way. (I feel like her name suits her style.) Not surprisingly, her icon is Isabella Blow. Has no clue how she would dress Michelle Obama, which I think is a bad thing. She says she sews fast and has an attention to details with menswear as a weakness. Yawn. I feel like broken record.

Result: I could see her stuff at Anthropologie. Nice dress, but nothing earth-shattering.

Malvin Vien
He’s his own favorite designer. Quiet, but big ego. Has a “B.A. in social medicine and creative solipsism (University of Redlands)” whatever the hell that is and a degree in Fashion from Parsons. Modern and androgynous. This guy understands design; hell, he might not even need Project Runway. If he can work quick and keep focus but versatility, he might just win this thing. He’s good, but is his head too far up his own ass? Or is this genuine? He claims not to know what a wii is. Sure.

Result: Also a favorite. Beautifully made dress. More movie premiere than award show.

Mitchell Hall
Likes working under pressure. Well, I guess this first challenge put his words to the test. Mitchell had some model sizing drama that left him with an unusable creation, very little time to make a new one, and see-through fabric to make it with.  It looks like he can sew well, so he’s safe. (I’m kinda loving this.)”

Result: In the bottom two, but safe. The judges said the keywords: We want to see more.

Nicolas Putvinski
Currently and associate designer and loves Olivier Theyskens. (We can totally see that.) Designed a dress for Marchessa. Dressed his 12 year old sister like a hooker. (He made her a pleather tube top.) Formally trained at FIT and worked at the Izquierdo studio. Feels that fabric manipulation is his strength, but men’s tailoring is his weakness. (Are any of these designers good at men’s tailoring? Geez!) Made a pair of Victori’sa Secret angel wings. Doesn’t want to dress anyones mother. He’s already annoying me.

Result: Not a great dress. For all the hype he put out for himself, the dress looked like it belonged in a fredericks of hollywood catalog. Blah. Did I mention that he annoys me?

Qristyl Frazier
Favorite designers are Gaultier and Halston. Has a degree in Fashion Design. Likes knits and silks. Wants to design some plus-size fashion. Wait, is she the plus-size designer everyone was talking about? I’m more concerned with her talent. The last thing this world needs is more ugly plus-size clothing. Can we get something pretty for these women?!

Result: Ugly ass dress! What was that thing? Badly structured. Man, Lindsay did not like that dress. Awful. The judges questioned her taste level, and so am I. She has a long way to go from here.

Ra’mon-Lawrence Coleman
Loves Marc Jacobs. Designs for Khols, so he must know something about the “average American” market. It seems he likes the higher fashion, too: his first creation was a 3-ply avant-garde silk gown lined with “40 rows of silk organza.” Has formal training with post-grad training in fur design. NICE! Says he understands movement, being conceptual, and letting designs occur. His weakness is dreaming up designs that are too grand for the time or resources he has. Loves rayon and silk, but also heavy woven fabrics. That’s good in Ms. Jenn’s book; again, it seems he could design well for people other than models and celebs.

Result: Fab dress. Good reviews from the judges; mentioned the golden word “expensive.” Seams and structure were great. Still a bit safe, but it fit the red carpet. He’s definitely a favorite.

Shirin Askari
Favorite designers are Ellie Saab and Jacques Fath. Started sewing at age 4. Has a degree in Fashion. Hates croc (yes!)If she doesn’t win, she could certainly design some dresses for etsy or that might get picked up by Sunday Brunch. This dress and this skirt are adorable. We’ll see if she’s got the versatility, but I don’t see her winning.

Result: Cute dress, well fitted.

So now tell us, who do you think will win? Who’s out next?

Next week’s challenge: create a look for a big celebrity.

Jenn Ortiz is a graduate of the University of Florida with degrees in History and Latin American Studies with hopes to pursue a PhD in Child Development. She believes there is beauty in everything around us; from the inside out, outside in. She currently runs {Bits of Beauty} a place you just feel good about and guest blogs for Design Tavern and Wishpot.