“Project Runway” premiered Thursday, August 17 on Lifetime, with hosts Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn being joined by judges Zac Posen and Nina Garcia for the show’s 16th season. In the premiere episode, titled “One Size Does Not Fit All,” we were introduced to 16 new designers who each created a red carpet look that showed their own fashion point of view while working with models of all sizes. So which designers started the season by impressing the judges and which ones were at the bottom in danger of being eliminated? Read our “Project Runway” episode 1 recap below to find out.
The designers met each other for the first time at a welcome party where they introduced themselves and their personal aesthetics. Twin sisters Shawn Buitendorp and Claire Buitendorp were the first to arrive and made the biggest impression, acting as ice breakers for the group in lieu of a proper host in attendance. But their tenure was cut short when a bus rolled into the warehouse and Klum and Gunn descended the stairs to formally congratulate them on being cast and to begin the season with the start of their first challenge.
In the first twist of the season, the designers learned that they’d be working with models of different sizes throughout the season and be assigned a new one for each challenge. The news excited some designers, but worried others — none more than Brandon Kee who is not only not familiar with plus-sized models, but has also never designed for women before.
After meeting their models for the day, the designers sat down to sketch out their ideas. Ayana Ife, a Muslim, spoke about how she translates fashion-forward designs into forms that keep with religious customs that require women remain mostly covered in their dress. Elsewhere, while Shawn and Claire discussed their anxieties about designing on their own instead of with each other, Brandon’s confidence wavered as a menswear designer in a room of others more comfortable designing for women.
Later, following a trip to Mood to pick up their textiles, Brandon learned that there are other menswear designers among the cast — former dancer Sentell McDonald and gender deconstructionist Aaron Myers both expressed their own preference for menswear, too. And during a visit to the workroom, ChaCha‘s look gave Tim pause, but he advised him to follow his own voice in order to remain authentic to his point of view. During the fitting, ChaCha’s model loved the garment, inspiring more confidence in him heading into the final stretch of the challenge.
Actress Olivia Munn joined the series judges on the runway to score the garments and help determine who was in and who was out for the week. Batani-Khalfani, Deyonte Weather, ChaCha, Shawn, Kenya Freeman and Brandon were the six that faced the judges for critiques, with one being named the challenge winner and one eliminated. The judges thought Kenya’s white mermaid dress, Deyonte’s floral large print gown and Brandon’s formal ath-leisure separates were the best of the week. That left Batani’s simple appliqué work, ChaCha’s oversized pastel dress and Shawn’s wrap top with shorts in the bottom.
In the end, the decision for the win went to Deyonte’s effortless and bold Cannes-inspired gown. Kenya, Brandon and Shawn were all complimented and declared safe, leaving Batani and ChaCha in the bottom two. Though they were concerned with Batani’s decision to camouflage rather than embrace her model’s curves, the judges saved her and eliminated ChaCha due to messy construction.
Here are the answers to Gold Derby’s predictions event questions for “Project Runway” #16.01:
Who will be eliminated? ChaCha
Who will be in bottom 2, but safe? Batani-Khalfani
Who will win the challenge? Deyonte Weather
Who will be challenge’s runner-up? Brandon Kee and Kenya Freeman
Will Tim Gunn use his save? No
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