Project Runway review: Collaboration equals the unexpected

PROJECT RUNWAY -- "Blast Off" Episode 1801 -- Pictured: (l-r) Elaine Welteroth, Nina Garcia, Brandon Maxwell, Karlie Kloss -- (Photo by: Barbara Nitke/Bravo)
PROJECT RUNWAY -- "Blast Off" Episode 1801 -- Pictured: (l-r) Elaine Welteroth, Nina Garcia, Brandon Maxwell, Karlie Kloss -- (Photo by: Barbara Nitke/Bravo) /

As the new season of Project Runway begins, the designers look to innovate and impress. Can a team challenge really foster the sense of collaboration?

Project Runway is back and the first episode sought to push the boundaries both in theme and designers’ dynamics. While all the designers hoped for greatness in the first episode, the little twists and turns created an unexpected result.

Often in the first Project Runway episode, the designers have an opportunity to get to know one another, present a look that reflects their personality and have a little freedom to explore. In this first episode, the designers are thrown into the deep end, well more like the black hole.

With the opening scene as the historic TWA terminal hotel, the theme of the first challenge could have had a more retro feel. Instead the designers had to embrace the opposite idea. With space travel as their inspiration, out of this world designs would hopefully walk the runway. Unfortunately, these looks were more down to earth.

Putting aside the theme, the designers were hit with a huge twist on the first episode. It would be a team challenge. With no one really knowing each other, the dynamic between designers could be difficult.

Luckily, the designers were able to choose their partners. During a quick “happy hour,” the designers had to mix and mingle to determine who would be their perfect pair. Some people choose wisely and others seemed to miss the mark.

It is interesting to see how the designers size each other up. Some people looked to be more reserved while others looked to make a big impression. While everyone is different, it could set the tone for a significant part of the season. Should you have really mentioned that you made Billy Porter that infamous Tonys red carpet dress?

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PROJECT RUNWAY — “Blast Off” Episode 1801 — Pictured: (l-r) Karlie Kloss, Shavi Lewis, Jenn Charkow, Chelsey Carter, Asma Young, Nancy Volpe-Beringer, Marquise Foster, Delvin McCray, Tyler Neasonly, Victoria Cocieru, Veronica Sheaffer, Alan Gonzalez, Dayoung Kim, Brittany Allen Geoffrey Mac, Sergio Guadarrama, Melanie Trygg — (Photo by: Barbara Nitke/Bravo) /

Like any first episode, there are niceties and drama. Who leaves their fabric at Mood? Or, if you knew that this challenge required a similar vision, why would you veer too far outside of the box?

For this first Project Runway team challenge, the designers had to create a look for a trip to a hotel in space. One look would be a jumpsuit and the other look would be a chic dress, appropriate for cocktails at the bar.

While the designs should reflect the same girl, each designer should showcase his/her point of view. Basically, these looks weren’t matching, but they were complementary.

Overall the designers’ looks were rather good, especially given the team challenge and theme. For the most part, the looks were more middle ground. In a way, more designers wanted to be safe versus take a risk.

In a way, the majority of the designs were “nice.” Nice doesn’t earn anyone the Project Runway title. Yes, these designs are better than year’s past, but the bar is higher now. These designers need to set a tone, with more than words about their previous achievements.

As for the top two teams, the winning team was rather obvious. While Jeffery had a very impressive jumpsuit, Melanie’s dress was a slightly ill fitting. The dress was good, but not great.

Jeffery, and his jumpsuit, propelled the team into the top two position. Given his scatterbrained approach to shopping at Mood, it turned out well in the end.

The judges thought that his jumpsuit was cool. It was similar to a flight suit, with form, function and fashion. It definitely embodied space chic.

Given that it was the first Project Runway episode, fans could have guessed the top team of Sergio and Brittany. The amount of backstory and screen time made it likely. Given the other teams, it was rather certain that they weren’t in the bottom.

Sergio, after previously bragging about his Billy Porter look, had a good dress, but more should have been expected. The sleeves on his dress were controversial. While Nina loved them, Brandon wanted them gone.

In a way, the dress needed those voluminous sleeves to make it stand out. Otherwise, the dress was just a nice, chic cocktail dress. Sometimes a little extra makes a statement.

As for Brittany, her jumpsuit was on point. The look was described as Audrey Hepburn meets space traveler. It was a beautiful blend of timeless yet futuristic.

While the judges loved the ankle, this design aspect might not be a good fit for the modern woman. Described as a mullet ankle, the choice was innovative, but it could be easily be misunderstood.

Project Runway
PROJECT RUNWAY — “Blast Off” Episode 1801 — Pictured: Brittany Allen — (Photo by: Barbara Nitke/Bravo) /

Still, the little details as well as the impeccable fit earned Brittany the first win for the Project Runway season. In addition to getting immunity, her look will be sold online.

This week’s episode featured a flash sale. Similar to last year, fans can vote on their favorite looks and that look will be sold online.

Brittany’s look should sell out quickly. Many women (even with the mullet ankle) will want this jumpsuit.

As for the bottom looks, the two teams were rather obvious. Alan and Dayong struggled from the beginning. From missing fabric to fit issues, this team was destined to be in the bottom.

Still, they had a cohesive look. Even with the controversial armband, matching element (more of a fashion don’t), the looks showed a point of view.

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PROJECT RUNWAY — “Blast Off” Episode 1801 — Pictured: (l-r) Dayoung Kim, Christian Siriano — (Photo by: Barbara Nitke/Bravo) /

Of course, no one liked Alan’s flower print. It did have everyone wondering about his taste level. Given his amount of airtime in this episode, it seems like Alan will have a major role in this season.

Dayong struggled with her emotions. Again, this first episode could set up a plot for the rest of the season. While she deserves credit for trying to make a well-fitted garment, certain concepts aren’t appropriate for Project Runway.

Given the themes, time constraints and other issues, the designers need to be savvy about their design choices. Sometimes a completed design is better than a well intentioned design.

The bottom team was extremely obvious. Jenn and Asma were clearly in the bottom. Those two looks were polar opposites of each other.

Jenn’s jumpsuit was beyond pedestrian. If her design aesthetic was supported to be modern goth, this look was more like sad mall look. It had nothing to do with her point of view.

While the look was decently crafted, it was blah, almost forgettable. When everyone else was looking to impress, Jenn faltered. Allowing herself to be overwhelmed was a poor choice.

To say that Asma’s look was a train wreck is the understatement of the Project Runway episode. The pink cotton sack dress should have been shipped to space and forgotten forever. There was nothing chic, futuristic or fashion forward about it.

One major concern was that she didn’t know how to work with cotton fabric. How can a designer in this competition not know how to work with certain types of fabric? That concept is baffling.

Project Runway
PROJECT RUNWAY — “Blast Off” Episode 1801 — Pictured: (l-r) Jenn Charkow, Asma Young — (Photo by: Barbara Nitke/Bravo) /

From her lack of finishing to her poor styling choices, Asma was definitely the bottom. Similar to Jenn, she seemed to be overwhelmed by the moment.

The team’s biggest downfall was that they didn’t communicate. The two designs had nothing to do with each other nor did they look like the same universe, let alone same girl. Different perspectives can have a sense of commonality.

In a twist that no one expected on the first episode of the new Project Runway season, both designers were eliminated. Does this decision make a huge statement about what could happen in future episodes?

Related Story. Sebastian Grey said emotions fueled his winning designs. light

What did you think of the Project Runway premiere? Which design best represented space chic?