Welcome back to Project Runway. After an ill-fated experiment in Los Angeles, the seventh season is back in New York, where it belongs. As always, we begin by meeting our sixteen contenders. The first to arrive is 37-year-old Seth Aaron Henderson, who hails from Vancouver, Washington. He wants to become a household name and believes that adding his own elements to a vintage look is the way to do so. He celebrates his arrival to New York and the designers’ apartments by jumping on a bed and breaking it. Refer back to what I’d said about this guy’s age.
Janeane Marie Ceccanti is 27 and comes from Portland, Oregon. She’s never been to New York before and is “dorking out” about it. She likes to design clothes that are not specific to any given time frame. She’s also annoyingly emotional. Well, this show always has at least one crybaby on it. She’s soon joined by Ping Wu, who is 33 and lives in Chicago. Ping is a physical therapist, so she knows how the body moves. Hypothetically, at least, this could mean she will have a feel for how to drape fabric. Ben Chmura, who is 29 and from Tampa, Florida, joins Seth Aaron and finds out about the broken bed. (I’ve got a feeling that Seth Aaron’s name is going to be mud for awhile.)
Anthony Williams is 28 and tells us that growing up gay and black in Birmingham, Alabama is “hell.” He wants to design gowns for pageants – but not for Miss America. He’ll be sharing a room with Seth Aaron, Ben, and Jay Nicholas Sario, who is 31 and hails from San Francisco. Jay describes his style as eclectic and dramatic and doesn’t care as much about money as he does about being able to do something that he loves. The four guys discuss who gets the broken bed. I’d vote Seth Aaron should get it, since he broke it, but Jay offers to take it, as he’s the skinniest. This leads to the four fellows comparing each other’s weight: Seth Aaron is 180, Jay is 145, and Ben is 152, while Anthony, the biggest, is “thirsty.” Okay, somebody’s pleading the Fifth … Jay is tiny; he doesn’t weigh much more than I do. I hope his generosity doesn’t bite him in the butt and that he at least lasts long enough to get an intact bed after the first guy is eliminated.
Next in is Pamela Ptak, 47, from Bucks County, Pennsylvania. She used to work in advertising, and then she decided she wanted to do something more challenging. She therefore opened a design business. She mentions being a Type-A personality. Twenty-three year old Anna Marie Lynett from Milwaukee will share a room with Janeane, Ping, and Pamela.
Jonathan Peters is 29 and comes from Providence, Rhode Island. He likes to add gritty touches, such as splatter painting, to “merely pretty” designs. His first roommate is 24-year-old Jesse Lenoir of Orlando. He used to be a theme park actor and thus learned how to sew and design costumes. He and Jonathan vow to stick together.
Mila Hermanovski is a 40-year-old from Los Angeles who started off as a costume designer. She thinks her experience helps her see fashion from different angles. She’ll be rooming with 21-year-old New Yorker Maya Luz, who who likes punk rock and is inspired by music. As Mila and Maya get to know each other, they are joined by Christiane King, who is 29 and from Los Angeles.
Jesus Estrada is the baby of the group at 21 and lives in San Diego. He realizes that he’s young, but still feels ready for the challenge. He is confident in his evening/couture specialty. The last male to arrive is Emilio Sosa, who is 43 and lives in New York. Jesus asks him if he speaks Spanish and Emilio answers in the affirmative. The last designer to arrive is Amy Sarabi who is 25 and lives in Oakland, California. She thinks her Iranian heritage gives her a special vision.
Shortly after the designers have all arrived, one of them finds a note inviting everybody for the usual rooftop meet-and-greet. Up there, they meet Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn and find that the former is pregnant. Emilio points out the different landmarks to non-natives like Janeane, who are excited to be in New York. Emilio started off as a costume designer, but switched to fashion. He wants to see his clothes on subway riders. Ben went to art school to learn how to illustrate comic books, and admits that his style isn’t the most feminine or pretty. (I bet his outfits tend to be skintight.) He wants to see people develop a different personality when they put on his clothes. Um, fine, so long he doesn’t design something fit a for a super-villain.
Christiane grew up in the Ivory Coast, and color is everywhere there. She claims to have received awards for her designs. She tells us that she knows she’s good. When somebody gets the “cocky edit,” they either do very well or very poorly. Anna studied printmaking for four years and thus has an understanding of the process involved in design.
After the rooftop get-together, the designers gather in Central Park, where they see dozens of rolls of fabrics lying around. Tim issues the first challenge: Design a piece that represents their own aesthetics. To do that, they need to start by grabbing as many rolls of fabric as they can in the next three minutes. Cue the mad dash. After, the three minutes are up, Tim tells the designers it’s time to show their skill at editing: They now have to choose five of the fabrics they grabbed to bring back to Parson’s. Pamela doesn’t want to give anything up, while Ping is convinced that she’s gotten stuck with the ugliest fabrics. She also has trouble fitting the fabric rolls into her Mood bag. Anthony calls her “Ping Pong.”
The designers then head to the workroom where they find that each of them has been given a new toy: tablet computers to be used for sketching. Welcome to the 21st century. They have also been given the measurements of the models assigned to them. The designers have until midnight and the handful of hours before the runway show to complete their looks.
Seth Aaron plans to go over the top, while Janeane wants to make a black cocktail dress with an angle pleat inset. Emilio wants to combine fit, color, and style. Ping believes that her designing style will be different– given her penchant for draping the fabric over herself.