Project Runway season 17 premiere review: Basic is boring


Project Runway season 17 is back on Bravo. While the fashion show returns to its roots, one fashion rule will always apply.

The Project Runway season 17 premiere looked to bring new life to the iconic fashion reality television show. While the show went back to its original home, Bravo, the show has taken several new twists. Even after switching up the judges, mentor, and look, a few traditional elements are still present. One day you are in — and the next day you are out.

To start this new Project Runway season, the episode opens with a runway. The designers showcased one look that seemed to capture their design style. This runway was very diverse. From edgy and modern to outrageous and playful, the designers have very different design personalities.

While this first runway was fun to watch, it isn’t necessarily indicative of the upcoming season. There is a vast difference between what a designer can do over a course of weeks versus a matter of hours. Although these looks were stunning, fans shouldn’t expect that level every week.

Additionally, these challenges have parameters. The designers must find a way to channel their design aesthetic into the specific week’s challenge. That ability takes savvy. In the first episode, some designers seem to be lacking that attribute.

Like most seasons, the first episode really focuses on just a few looks. Even the good looks take a back seat to the bad looks. While the walking disasters are entertaining, the good looks need their moment, too.

For this first challenge, the designers drew inspiration from one of the four judges. Each judge provided a picture and told a story about this pivotal moment. The designers who applied that moment to their own design journey excelled. The designers who didn’t embrace the process were definite fashion don’ts.

The two top looks were modern, sleek and strong. Tessa’s look captured Nina’s photo on the boat, but elevated it in a modern way. From the front, the pantsuit was sleek and flattering. As the model turned, the long strips flowed down the runway.

PROJECT RUNWAY — Episode 1701 — Pictured: Designed by Tessa Clark — (Photo by: Barbara Nitke/Bravo)

Although Tessa’s inspiration was a potter’s apron, that inspiration was subtle. Yes, the apron shape is there, but the blending of inspirations is a better angle. More importantly, this look shows that fashion finds inspiration anywhere. But, smart choices will always put a person on the best dressed list.

The other top look was from Renee. Her look showed a strong woman. Even though the design was very covered, the model looked powerful, modern and a confident. Anyone, any size, could wear this look and feel fierce.

PROJECT RUNWAY — Episode 1701 — Pictured: Designed by Renee Hill — (Photo by: Barbara Nitke/Bravo)

The winning look was from Tessa. This look is available to buy via Bravo. It is sold as a pant and an apron top. To buy the whole look costs around $190.

Since it is the premiere, many of the looks were brushed over. Granted some looks were repetitive. Other looks were a little strange. Overall, the runway was a little blah.

After showcasing what the designers could do in the first preview runway, this first challenge could have been so much more. It seemed like everyone was a little timid. Where was the go big or go home vibe?

That being said, the two bottom looks were wrong on so many levels. Also, it was a little disappointing that the fuller sized models had the bottom two looks. Hopefully, this situation ends quickly.

Frankie’s body suit was horrible. While her intention was valid, she couldn’t execute this look. Whether it was nerves or just lack of ability, the model should have been horrified to walk down the runway.

PROJECT RUNWAY — Episode 1701 — Pictured: Designed by Frankie Lewis — (Photo by: Barbara Nitke/Bravo)

Truthfully, anyone, regardless of size, can wear a bodysuit. The key is for that bodysuit to be well fitted. Pieces falling off, highlighting bulging areas and a reference to a dessert animal should never, ever happen. This outfit will live on in Project Runway history.

The other bottom look was from Cavanagh. Her plain black skirt and top were beyond boring. This didn’t deserve time on the runway.

PROJECT RUNWAY — Episode 1701 — Pictured: Designed by Cavanagh Baker — (Photo by: Barbara Nitke/Bravo)

Truthfully, her attitude sunk her design from the beginning. Complaining about how much she could spend, the size of her model, and a variety of other issues sealed her fate.

Cavanagh made a huge Project Runway don’t. She was boring. No one ever wants to be referred to as boring. It is the kiss of death.

While the black dress was well made, it could have been bought at a retail store. People don’t watch Project Runway for dresses that their mom would wear. They want drama, even if that drama is a walking nightmare.

For both her boring design and her bad attitude, Cavanagh was the first designer eliminated. She will become a forgettable part of this season.

Although the runway was a little blah, Christian Sirano looks to be a great mentor this season. Where Tim Gunn would say “make it work,” Christian has more subtle ways of sharing his displeasure. From the side eye to the shady comments, he was a highlight of episode 1.

While he shouldn’t have a catch phrase, those workroom critiques will become the highlight of the season. So far, his commentary has been spot on. Hopefully, these designers will heed his warnings.

After this first episode, it isn’t clear who will be a top designer. There wasn’t enough information or insight. But, based on Frankie’s first look, it seems doubtful that she will be in much longer.  There is a skill set (beyond taste level) that is needed in Project Runway. Maybe “helping Frankie” will be a storyline.

You can also watch the whole episode below:

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What did you think of the Project Runway season 17 premiere? Did you have a favorite look?