In the kickoff pajama challenge, the 16 designers decide whether to dress their new models in their own underwear
Credit: Lifetime

"Good moan-ing, design-uhs!" After eight seasons of listening to Heidi Klum's signature chirp, this is how my sister, mom, and I greet each other whenever we visit. And over e-mail. Just go with it. You! You are a design-uh. What, are you not? Gretchen is. You are.

Welcome back to Project Runway, season 9. I am not's eternally reigning Runway-recap queen Missy Schwartz. I'm as depressed about that as you are, believe me. Every day. Ms. Missy delivered a healthy but more importantly fashion-forward baby boy earlier this month, so I'll be filling in here until she's back from maternity leave. Fun fact: The baby's middle name is Nicholas, and every time I think about that, I can hear Missy imitating Heidi  — "Nic-oh-laaaaaaas!" — from way back in season 6. She named her son after a reality TV contestant? How embarrassing! (Middle name of my future baby: Maksim-Bergeron.)

"Are we reeeeeeeeeally back here again?" wondered our increasingly alien-like host. I guess so, "Heidi." Have a cracker. To "shake things up" a bit for season 9, Runway invited 20 designers to present their work to Heidi, Tim Gunn, Nina Garcia, and Top Ameh-wiccan Design-uh Michael Kors. (Screw this CFA Lifetime Achievement Award thing; I gotta go old school.) But only 16 would win the privilege of ripping off their own clothes in order to compete in the first challenge.

Two screengrabs before we continue, just to set the scene. First, the actual expression on Nina Garcia's face as soon-to-be-eliminated designer Rafael claimed "Nina and I are clearly talking sex with our eyes."


And here's Tim, after learning that designer Anya, a former Miss Trinidad and Tobago, had learned to sew just four months ago. "I'm baffled," he said, before rising to inspect Anya's clothes. He then returned to his seat and ramped the drama up a notch.

"I'm horrified."

NEXT: Cue Gunnfire! Tim chases everyone out of bed. The following sad sacks were eliminated right away: Who cares? No, that's mean. They were Gunnar Deatherage, Amanda Perna (non-famous last words: "My most favorite piece is probably my romper. I hate rompers."), Serena da Conceicao, and David Chum, perhaps fittingly because his last name is Chum. What a terrible thing to say. Poor Serena had postponed her Icelandic wedding to make the cross-borough trek to the Fashion District, leaving her adorable, bespectacled fiancé to slink back into the shrubs of their Brooklyn brownstone. And they were never heard from again.

Ah, the simple dread of dawn. Tim Gunn crept stealthily through the halls of the Atlas Hotel. Only a dejected water taxi and the Washington Square Arch knew what terrible games he was about to play. Mass murder? Armed theft? Something worse? Indeed. "We're having a Project Runway come-as-you-are pajama party!" he bellowed in front of 15 blank stares and one straggler who was still asleep. Can Becky at least put a bra on? Sorry, girl! Come as you are.

Doom settled in as the gang took the long walk of shame to Parsons. Kimberly endeared herself to me instantly by wondering if they'd be stopping at Red Lobster to pick up some cheddar biscuits. This is really the only thing that ever kept my spirits up whenever I had to trudge through Times Square. The most important thing is hope.

The design-uhs had to create a runway look using whatever they slept in plus one sheet from their beds. Aside from a few dye freak-outs, the workroom montages were fairly drama-free, even during Tim's first visit. Josh Christensen lost me as soon as he used the term "a square little V-neck" while explaining his three-piece look to Tim. Laura Kathleen, who is definitely nuts, accused Olivier and his model of "speaking foreign." She'll be good for some laughs. Anya rather adorably kept wearing her measuring tape as a belt. How could she know what to do with it? She'd recently participated in Miss Universe and had just arrived on Earth.

HP & Intel, Brother, Brother, "Mary" Claire, Brother, Garn-i-ehhhhhhh, PiperL', blah blah blah.

NEXT: Let's take a look at the best and worst designs! Anthony Ryan (click to enlarge)

Lacy overlays are never my thing, but I appreciated how Anthony didn't go overboard with the trimming on what Nina called an "adorable" T-shirt. "There's a way of using feathers that wouldn't have to be this pubic patch," Tim had warned Anthony in the workroom. I'm not sure he found that way. Michael Kors thought the colors looked very cool together. Anthony is colorblind! He also survived testicular cancer. "I rock one now," he bragged in a confessional. Love it.


This was Anya's first time making pants, and first time sewing silk. How did this work out so well?! "That [the pants] look this good is extraordinary," raved Nina. Guest judge Christina Ricci wished she had that top (fashioned out of Anya's kimono-esque nightdress), then delivered my favorite line of the night: "That's a really good butt on a pant." All four judges chimed in for a few seconds, just gushing about this butt in a pant but not using complete sentences or even three-word thoughts. There was a lot of grunting, a few mmmm's, maybe a "Great!" or seven from Michael Kors. It was just beautiful.

Bert's winning look

It's cute! But it's also tragic because I keep hearing "nut juice" (quoth Kimberly) when I see it. I believe Bert was the only designer to adorn his model with his own undies. She's a special lady with very special Farrah Fawcett hair. Styling nightmare aside, the judges agreed with Michael that "the design is fabulous." Christina Ricci was so mesmerized she didn't even notice the styling. Christina Ricci is hairblind!

Self-proclaimed 102-year-old Bert is so cute, but very contained and tentative and will not deal well with bitchy young divas, i.e. everyone else, when he eventually snaps. I love workroom drama, but I can see Bert's strain of workroom drama being reeeeeeeally awkward. Good awkward? Anyone? Farrah? We'll see.

"I thought I was about to have a stroke on the runway," Bert recalled. "But that didn't happen." Crisis averted, for now.

NEXT: And now, the dregs


This is just so crazy I can't even handle it. It looks like what I would come up with (because I totally would have been caught dead in those hein jammie pants). That's not okay.

"I loved your rack," Heidi chimed in, disappointed in Julie. It's so sad when boobs disappear. I hope Julie gets it together — I liked the boldness of her sketches and I'm sort of intrigued by her obsession with outerwear.

Awwww. Remember Seth Aaron's jackets?

Josh Christensen

Josh called this "a summery, fun, athletically inspired look," then must have caught a glimpse of this blight on civilization in the reflection of Farrah's sunglasses because he quickly modified his self-assessment: "I think there were some fit issues, maybe, in the front of the shorts." I loved how incredulous Nina was here: "You are gonna show me a pair of white shorts and a tank top?"

HOW DARE HE. In a pajama challenge. Shorts! The horror.

And Rafael

I'm still trying to erase Heidi and Michael calling this look "fashion backward" from my brain, although I guess I'm not trying hard enough since I just typed it. Gross. Speaking of which: Check out the Flintstone Disco Pouch on Rafael's model. This ridiculous bum deliberately failed to incorporate the most interesting piece of his rag collection — a leopard head scarf — because his hair would've been crazy and he "didn't want to look homeless."

As for what Michael Kors called the "sweatshirt/legging/jean combo," nothing called that should ever exist — unless they are Pajama Jeans; but still, nothing called that should ever exist on Project Runway. "I don't think Rafael understands that there's a problem," summed up Nina, as she does. "I think he thinks this tight stuff is good."

It's not. You remember last season. Nina likes it loose. Farewell, Rafael.

My favorite looks this week? Fallene, Danielle, and Cecilia (despite the janky skirt length). Hey, ladies!

See you next week, design-uhs. Do you like being called design-uhs? You better.

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