Heidi and Tim start us off telling us that the designers are going to be working in teams and they don't know it. Tim says that it's his favorite season ever because of the teamwork. There are billions of people. They meet at the runway. James seemed stoned when he came in and was tripping over everything. Cindy runs a funeral home. She just graduated from fashion school. She seems super sweet.
Heidi and Tim enter the runway to applause. My optimistic side feels, on first glance, that no one is horrible. They begin splitting into two teams of eight. Hmm. I was wondering if they would have the same small teams throughout the entire competition, but this means they will have to change often, if they do it like that. Tim tells them that their first challenge is to show something that displays their personal aesthetic with the input of their teammates. I don't understand. New York City is the inspiration for the challenge. One team will go on a boat ride on the Hudson for inspiration. The other team will see the city from above.
The team on the roof has a champagne toast. People are voicing in their interviews some reticence about the group work. On the boat, that team decides they are Team Keeping It Real. The others decide they are the Dream Team. Benjamin from Sydney doesn't seem to like James very much. Patricia is Native American and her native name is Water Lily. She uvulates when they are on the boat and it is awesome though Layan thinks that she needs to take it easy.
The next day, they go to Mood and get to work. Patricia paints a print onto her fabric and everyone seems to doubt the logic in doing that. Daniel from Austin seems adorable and he has a really interesting moustache. Tim comes in to consult and starts with Dream Team. Emily started out puffed up but becomes more humbled as the consultation continues.
Team Keeping It Real's consultation is interesting. Patricia doesn't get any grief from Tim for her handmade print. Daniel seems to have the approval of all of his teammates.
When the models come in for their fittings, Cindy and Emily seem like the people who are suffering. It's unclear if Patricia is in danger or doing really well. At the end of the day, Emily doesn't even have anything completed. The next day, Cindy like makes a skirt for Emily (who, incidentally, was ragging on her earlier.)
On the runway, Zac Posen is replacing Michael Kors. Cute. There's Nina. Christian Siriano is the guest judge. Team Keeping It Real is first. Patricia's print is a hit, if you ask me. They were all pretty good. Dream Team has some good stuff too. Matthew, who is maybe the only crushable dude -- sorry, it's what I do -- has a pretty good showing. Samantha's looks pretty good too. James's looks a little boring. Emily's is, in the words of Siriano, a hot mess. Cindy's is not poorly made, but it doesn't look very tasteful. Team Keeping It Real wins the challenge. The top three designers are Daniel, Richard and Patricia.
The lowest scores from Dream Team are James, Cindy and Emily. I know crap when I see it. Daniel wins! He is really emotional about it. It's sweet. James is safe. Cindy is...in. Wow. The old ones always go first. Nina did say though that Emily's garment was the most unfinished she had ever seen on the show. She's really sad about it.
Seems like just last week that we were watching all-stars triumphing in a climactic, truly memorable finale. Strike the climactic. They're running a new season immediately. Tim and Heidi greet us in video clips. They tell us that every challenge will be a team challenge. There will only be one winner, but all designers have to work as a team so this is truly applicable experience that they will be gaining. Tim says that the teamwork element makes this his favorite season of Project Runway yet. Then, we start meeting people.
First up, Layana is walking into Parsons. She's 28 and originally from Brazil, though she now lives in New York. She tells us that she was up the night before thinking anxiously thinking about what garments she would have to make. She walks into the runway area and is joined shortly by Richard Hallmarq (brilliant name). He is 39 and hails from Sacramento, which he jokes is the "other fashion capital." He says that he has always liked to push the envelope. And his menswear is drag wear, so yeah... he's a women's wear designer. Layana tells him that she likes his leopard print pants. They are pretty special. Kate Pankoke, 23, and from Chicago excitedly enters next. She says that she likes to work alone, but works in bridal wear so she has to get along with others. Cool chick Michelle Lesniak Franklin interrupts to meet everyone. She interviews that she is "thirty-fourdorable" or "thirty-fadorable." In any event, she's 34. She has tattoos. She seems fairly cool. She tells the other designers that the runway is bigger than she had imagined. She tells us that "geek chic" is her thing. Wait a second. Where is she from? Portland. Hmm. Sometimes there is a dissonance between appearance and references. She looks a lot cooler than her product. She says that her woman is stylish and could recite the Periodic Table. So she would look cool, but you would not want to talk to her. Ever.
Here are some leopard print loafers staring at us. Who's wearing them? His name is Daniel Esquivel and he is 48 and from Austin, the other Portland. This is his first time in New York and the mannequins are like, "Does he have like a little tiny handlebar mustache?" Why yes ladies... he does. Daniel has the neatest accent. It's everywhere. He tells us that he dropped out of school in the 9th grade because of bullying. That's really sad. He has no formal fashion training. He is self-taught. When he enters the runway, Richard tells him that his mustache is "everything." Bully free zone! Hopefully. So far, at least. Daniel interviews that his design aesthetic is simple, elegant and glamorous. Patricia enters next, but we don't hear from her. James Martinez from Dallas stumbles in next, literally. First, he knocks his hat off of his own head then trips over a bunch of stools. It's kind of brilliant. Also, I think I love him for that. But then he acts like he's peeing on the runway, as a way of marking his territory. I don't like that as much. I guess this is our straight guy for the season. Emily Pollard, 24 and from Falls Church, Virginia, enters next. There's something slightly affected about her air. She interviews that she is used to not sleeping. She thinks that gives her an edge.