He tells us in an interview that his name is Santino Rice and he is thirty. We see a snapshot of him holding one of the interview room mannequins, and I'm struck by the thought: Maybe he is a warrior sent from the future to defeat the mannequins that have been lurking over the shoulders of the designers, waiting to leap. He's the Mannequinator. Santino is a freelance fashion designer who interviews that fashion has always been a part of his life. He won a contest in high school and came to L.A. to design school. I'm assuming that the contest was for acceptance to and tuition for design school, but he doesn't really say that. This guy seems pretty confident. There's a video of him (which I guess you have to send it before you are allowed to wait in line for your interview?) in a boxing ring. His hair is long, which doesn't really jive with his receding hairline. He's wearing another lion t-shirt in the ring, as well as giant boxing gloves. He says some stuff about how he's the next great American designer.
Heidi informs us via voice-over that the judges saw some strange people in L.A. We see this very solemn guy who is wearing his own design. It's a waistcoat and the tails attach to his hands, creating a wing effect. He says hilariously, "I like fantasy." Then we see this lady making monkey sounds. That really disturbs me. Kara Saun is NOT having the monkey lady. Then, the freaking King of Queens walks in wearing a sports coat, a T-shirt, high heels, and NO PANTS. One of the most ridiculous things I've ever seen. I have absolutely no idea what this guy was thinking, except maybe "I'm likely to get five or more seconds of air time on a basic cable TV show if I do this. The world will be my oyster! I hope my ex-wife will let me see my children again one day." What the fuck, dude? Tim doesn't know where to start with this guy. Kara asks him if he would wear pants on the show and he replies, "If you asked me to."
The biggest surprise of all in LA, Heidi tells us, was the re-entry of Daniel Franco from Season 1. He enters the judges' room behind a luggage cart that he is pushing. Kara is the first to say, "Is that Daniel Franco?" They all seem happy to see him. Daniel interviews that he was the first one cut last year. Thankfully, very thankfully, he assures us that "this time, there will be less talk of bliss, that's for sure." Okay, Daniel, you have a deal. Tim asks him why he wants to come back, and he explains that he doesn't feel like he was able to show what he can do. He really feels that his talents with fabric, fit, cut, proportion, line, textures, and nuances weren't showcased. I guess he is just showing them right now that he knows a lot of fashion words. At first, I thought, "Oh, he's a maestro with the fabrics! That's what we didn't get to see." But then he keeps on saying words and it feels like just another way for him to blow a bunch of hot air, a.k.a. "bliss" talk.
As he is showing the judges one of his designs, he says, "I'm a tailor, Tim. It's what I do." Why does that sound confrontational? He shows a lovely coat made of cashmere angora. There is a silk velvet trim and it is fully lined with silk dupioni. He shows a shorter jacket that consists of similar fabrics. Kara Saun says to him, "It's not about the hair or the designer suits, which are gorgeous. You have to let the work speak for itself." I didn't realize that Daniel's hair was so important to him. He responds, "That sounds like truth to me." I totally believe Daniel is sincere, but why does he have to sound like such a goob? Tim Gunn asks Daniel to step outside while they "caucus." Three cheers for the use of the word "caucus"! They all think that his work is gorgeous and decide to invite him back. Tim does point out that Daniel's faults were not in his design abilities, but rather in his time management and his ability to work with a range of materials. It is deemed a worthwhile endeavor to see what Daniel has learned from his previous failure. He seems really happy to have been accepted. Commercials.