‘Project Runway’ season 18 premiere recap: ‘Blast Off’ gave us intergalactic fashion, but who was jettisoned into space? [UPDATING LIVE BLOG]

Just a few months after “Project Runwaycrowned Sebastian Grey as its season 17 winner, the show returned for season 18 with another group of 16 design hopefuls looking to win the grand prize. So who was in and who was out in the season premiere, “Blast Off“? Find out below in our live blog with all the minute-by-minute developments as they happened.

Host Karlie Kloss and mentor Christian Siriano are back for their second season overseeing the fashion shenanigans, as are judges Nina Garcia, Brandon Maxwell and Elaine Welteroth. The winner they choose this season will receive a $250,000 grand prize from Bluprint and the opportunity to be featured in a Blueprint digital series, a feature in Elle magazine, $50,000 compliments from Pilot FriXion Erasable Gel Ink Pens, and a mentorship with the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA).

The first challenge of the season was out of this world — literally. The 16 designers landed at JFK Airport in New York City and met in the former TWA terminal, which has since been refashioned into the TWA Hotel. They were tasked with creating futuristic looks for a space station, but for the first time on “Runway” the designers had to collaborate right out of the gate — no airport pun intended — forming eight teams of two to present cohesive, complementary looks even though they were still strangers to each other.

So what did you think of the new designers? Who made the best (and worst) first impressions? And did you agree with the judges’ ultimate decisions? Follow along below starting at 9:30pm (times listed are Eastern).

9:30pm –The key to the season premiere of “Project Runway” is first impressions, not just for the judges but for the audience getting to know more than a dozen designers for the first time. Will anyone stand out for their designs? Will anyone stand out for their behavior? And who will fly under the radar?

9:32pm — Everyone’s meeting for the first time at the TWA Hotel at JFK Airport. “Hi, designers!” says Karlie Kloss from on high — too high, the designers can’t hear her. “Let’s get started,” she tells them when she finally gets their attention. Their first challenge starts right here and right now. The TWA terminal first opened in 1962, what was also the first year an American orbited the earth, so this airport challenge will really be an outer space challenge.

9:33pm — “Collaboration equals innovation,” says Karlie, and the designers are scared because they know what that means. They’ll be working together on the very first challenge. There will be eight teams of two, which seems very triggering to Alan Gonzalez. They’ll be making complementary looks for a trip to a hotel in space. One must make a jumpsuit for daytime excursions, while the other designs a chic happy-hour look. Funny thing is, the designers will be choosing their teammates instead of having them assigned. Even though they all just met.

9:36pmDelvin McCray says partnering can be challenging, and I thought he’d say because of clashing aesthetics, but no, he’s worried the other person will just be incompetent. Nancy Volpe-Beringer is 64 and thus the show’s oldest contestant in history, and she’s more chill about the idea of teamwork. Brittany Allen is a fashion designer and an Uber driver. Sergio Guadarrama comes in with fashion cred having designed Billy Porter‘s red carpet look from the Tonys — impressive! — but he says nonchalantly that he’s already at Brandon Maxwell and Christian Siriano’s level, so watch out for arrogance with this one. Geoffrey Mac has designed stage pieces for Debbie Harry and Bjork, so I’d think outer space would be a cinch for him.

9:39pm — The teams getting the initial focus are Alan Gonzalez with Dayoung Kim, Victoria Cocieru with Veronica Sheaffer, Asma Bibi with Jenn Charkow, and Geoffrey Mac with Melanie Trygg as we head to Mood. Also joining forces are Brittany Allen and Sergio Guadarrama, Marquise Foster and Nancy Volpe-Beringer, ShaVi Lewis and Chelsey Carter, and Delvin McCray and Tyler Neasloney.

9:42pm — Christian is worried Brittany and Sergio’s designs don’t sound too exciting — too much navy blue? ShaVi and Chelsey are comparing price tags at the register. Geoffrey is freaking out with indecision and Melanie is already worried she backed the wrong horse. I’d say she’s being too hard on him, but the first Mood shopping excursion is a little early to be this overwhelmed. It’s only gonna get harder from here, folks.

9:47pm — Workroom time! Delvin irons and puts on a lab coat, which he considers his uniform. He learned that from couture ateliers in Paris. That’s a really bold affectation, so as a designer he’s going to have to put up or shut up. Meanwhile, Sergio warns Brittany not to be so nosy about other designers’ work. ShaVi aand Chelsey seem to be clicking. Alan and Dayoung take a time out to watch the sunset and bond over the Spanish language (Dayoung’s husband is Mexican). No drama just yet.

9:48pm — The workroom time is over pretty quick on day one, and then it’s time for visit the penthouse for the season where they drink some wine, pick out their beds — Chelsey is stuck in a room with the boys — and presumably drink some more.

9:49pm — The next morning Sergio is glad that everyone seems to know what they’re doing and no one is younger than 24, which is when Nancy admits that she may actually be the least experienced designer since she left her career to pursue fashion only in the last few years; she seems magnanimous and anti-drama, so I hope she sticks around for a while.

9:51pm — Geoffrey was an unhappy military brat who expressed himself through fashion, and some of those past looks of his they show are out there. I dig it. I’m rooting for him too. But Alan “has been sucked into a black hole” when he looks around for his organza and doesn’t find it. Oops. As Mood screw-ups go, that’s a big one.


9:58pm — Christian warns Sergio and Brittany to watch their proportions, but “I don’t know if he understands how technically advanced I am as a designer,” says Sergio in a confessional, dispelling none of my concerns about his arrogance. He’s making Delvin’s lab coat seem humble.

9:59pm — Jenn and Asma might have trouble with their unforgiving satin fabrics, and Asma has a lot going on with the excess details in her planned design. “I’m a little extra,” Asma admits. I’m okay with extra. Heck, I was a fan of Hester Sunshine last season. Bring it.

10:01pm — Geoffrey is spending too much time with his muslin and needs to start working on his actual fabric, but Christian thinks their military concept is “cool.” Alan seems to have moved on from his missing organza, and Christian digs their “cyber Monet” idea, but he doesn’t seem impressed with Alan’s plan B dress — not nearly impressive enough for a two-day challenge.

10:06pm — Victoria and Veronica have issues with their “disconnected” fabrications, but “there’s a way to make it more beautiful.” We didn’t see consultations with a lot of the other designers, so maybe they’ll fly more or less under the radar for this challenge. The worst looks usually get a lot of screentime in the workroom.

10:07pm — I’m “100% irked about this,” says Asma about how her and Jenn’s aesthetics seem to be clashing. There doesn’t seem to be very much cohesion there, which is a big problem, but they could survive if both looks are at least good.


10:08pm — Tyler’s model DD is gender neutral and uses they/them pronouns, which is nice to see because I always love when this show thinks outside of the usual gender box. Tyler likes it too because he’s a drag queen on the side and often creates his own looks, so he’s comfortable with challenging gender roles.

10:10pm — Dayoung is a perfectionist, so she might be overthinking the fit on her model. Jenn doesn’t have anything ready for her model to try on yet at all. And oof — Asma’s look is way too tight for her model, and she doesn’t have a lot of fabric left in that color.

10:15pm — Dayoung is getting even more emotional since she has so much to adjust with her asymmetric lines. I wonder if she might be the kind of perfectionist who’s actually doing way better than she thinks she is. We’ve seen that a lot. Last year’s winner Sebastian had that problem. At least I hope so because she clearly cares about her work. Her partner Alan is worried about her too until he finds out there are macaroons, and suddenly fit matters way less than getting himself a damn macaroon. Okay, I’m officially enjoying Alan.

10:18pm — Morning of the first runway show, and the models are back. But Devlin is literally lying down on the job. “Stress is the number-one killer,” he says to Christian. I’m mean, I can see his point, but in the overconfidence Olympics, he’s giving Sergio a run for his money.


10:24pm — Time for a crowded first runway show, and this is a flash sale challenge so the fan favorite look along with the winning look chosen by the judges will be manufactured and sold by Nineteenth Amendment tonight.

10:26pm — There’s dramatic fog and some kind of animated sci-fi tunnel in the background, so the show is not going for subtle tonight. Brittan and Sergio start things off: Brittany’s sleek black look is really cool. Sergio’s is good too, but I’m not quite as big a fan of his use of puffy sleeves. Chelsey and ShaVi next: Chelsey’s space jumpsuit is simple without being basic (love the straps across the back), so I dig it, and I’m loving ShaVi’s short metallic pink dress to go with it.

10:27pm — I like Geoffrey’s brown jumpsuit, while Melanie’s accompanying dress in a similar color is solid but doesn’t have much wow factor for me. A little plain. Jenn and Asma are next, and Jenn isn’t happy at all with her look: I think it’s decent, but not stellar — pardon the pun. I like Asma’s eccentric full-coverage dress (not sure the judges do from their reactions), but there really is no cohesion between the two looks. Could be iffy for them.

10:29pm — Victoria and Veronica: Victoria’s blend of metallic and flowing fabrics could have been a hot mess, and it is kinda messy, especially on the flowy half, but I don’t hate the idea of it overall. Veronica’s jumpsuit might save them, though. It’s great. Marquise and Nancy: cool off-the-shoulder jumpsuit from Marquise with a couple of sparkly details, and Nancy’s black dress is a nice complement with a nice little runway reveal — kudos to both!

10:31pm — Alan and Dayoung: Oh, Dayoung, I think your look turned out fine — the strap across the chest and shoulder is a little constricting, but I like it. It’s softer than most of the other jumpsuits, so it stands out nicely. And Alan matched it nicely with his look. Totally cohesive pair, but do they look too similar? That could be a drawback. Now Delvin and Tyler: I love Delvin’s strapless red and white jumpsuit, so I think he’s earned his lab coat for the week. A great dress from Tyler to match, so I could see this being the top team.

10:32pm — Honestly, no one totally crapped the bed as far as I’m concerned, so I feel bad that anyone will be eliminated on this challenge. Karlie says they’re “changing things up a little bit this time around.” But it turns out that Karlie is just talking about the Siriano Save, which is just a surprise for the designers, not for us.


10:36pm — ShaVi and Chelsey, Delvin and Tyler, Veronica and Victoria, and Nancy and Marquise are safe — not in the top or bottom. That means the highest/lowest teams are Alan and Dayoung, Jenn and Asma, Geoffrey and Melanie, and Brittany and Sergio. Hmmm …

10:37pm — Geoffrey and Melanie, Brittany and Sergio are the first to get their critiques, and they’re the top teams, which is a little surprising, not that I thought they were bad. I think this might be bad news for Jenn.

10:38pmBrittany and Sergio are from Texas, as is Brandon — bonding right away with the judges. Brandon thinks Sergio’s dress is “beautiful” but didn’t like the puffy sleeves, which are luckily removable. Nina loves the sleeves, though. And Nina thinks Brittany’s look is a good blend of “futuristic” and “classic … This is the future Audrey Hepburn.” Brittany has Elaine’s favorite look of the runway.

10:40pmGeoffrey and Melanie: Brandon loves the draping on Geoffrey’s look and “the sleeve is cut so beautifully.” So it turns out Geoffrey was the designer who was freaking out when he didn’t need to — poor Dayoung, I thought she did well. Nina admires the “function and form” of Geoffrey’s look. But Nina thinks Melanie’s fabric is “dull and heavy,” and she’s lucky to be with Geoffrey. Never nice to hear that you’re one of the top teams, but you suck. Karlie also thinks they look like two different women, but Brandon thinks Melanie’s look is finished beautifully.

10:40pm — Those reviews were pretty mixed for being the two top teams, so I’m scared for the other two teams.

10:42pm — Starting with Jenn and Asma: Elaine thinks Jenn veered away from who she is as a designer. Nina also doesn’t get who she is as a designer, but she does see Asma’s “overabundance of ideas,” though she didn’t execute them well enough. Asma blames it on the cotton. “What in the actual hell,” says Brandon about the two looks, and the styling is all over the place. I did like Asma’s look better than the judges did, though. There’s at least a design idea there.

10:47pmDayoung and Alan: Nina doesn’t like Alan’s flower pattern, and it “doesn’t look upscale.” Elaine questions his taste level and calls it a bad Destiny’s Child outfit — oof! Brandon doesn’t like the fit on Deyoung’s look, or the strap around the chest and shoulders on both looks. Elaine thought it was “straitjacket-esque.” Nina “didn’t mind” Dayoung’s design, though, but she has to be more meticulous with her execution. I hope this team is safe.

10:48pm — It’s funny that the winning team will come down to which team had the better jumpsuit, because both dresses got mixed reviews. I think Brittany will win the challenge because they liked Sergio’s dress a lot better than Melanie’s, which will pull their team to the top.

10:51pm — Whew, the judges agree with me that Alan and Dayoung deserve another chance because Jenn and Asma were just not on the same page at all. So it’s Jenn or Asma on the way out. It looks like it’s a choice between bad execution and too many ideas (Asma) or solid execution and no ideas (Jenn). They usually eliminate the designer with no ideas. But I still don’t think Asma and Jenn were as bad as they’re being made out to be.


10:55pm — The winning team is … Brittany and Sergio, as expected, so Brittany Allen is the winner of the challenge and has immunity for next week. Well-deserved!

10:57pm — As we knew, the losing team is Jenn and Asma, and the designer eliminated is … BOTH OF THEM! Wow, that’s brutal. For the judges to think they’re so bad that neither of them is worth saving is a gut-punch. I wish I could have seen more from both of them. Starting the season with a team challenge was probably unfair since we didn’t get to really see who they are as individual designers at all.

10:58pm — Asma is understandably angry, but she’s kinda throwing Jenn under the bus by saying she was the one who should have been eliminated (“I don’t know what she has to offer”). She didn’t say that to the judges, thankfully. I don’t like under-bus-throwing, but better in a confessional than on the runway.

10:59pm — They’re both going to the workroom to clean out their stuff. Unsurprisingly, no Siriano Save. It’s a little early for him to be breaking that out. But I disagree with the judges’ drastic decision. I think at least one of them had something to offer if we could have seen them in an individual challenge. Why not give one of them another opportunity to show them something?

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