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Project Runway 9: Come As You Are

Rafael is sent home with this ill-fitting garment.

Project Runway Season 9’s premiere episode was titled “Come As You Are.” They could have subtitled it “But Don’t Expect to Stick Around.” Five designers were eliminated from the 20 introduced as possible competitors. Four (David Chum, Gunnar Deatherage, Amanda Perna and Serena Da Conceicao) were eliminated after another audition round before the competition even started. Why? “Because we’re a little bit mean like that, ” Heidi joked about the format twist. What a smart idea from the producers, to inject the first half of the show with elimination tension!

After what has felt like a long, long, wait (Season 8 ended in October 2010) these mini re-auditions served not only to introduce the possible players but to reaquaint viewers with the judges’ quirks. I love the balance that comes from Tim Gunn’s furrowed-brow concern, Heidi Klum’s goofy enthusiasm, Michael Kor’s grim acerbity, and Nina Garcia’s prickliness. My, Nina doesn’t care for being contradicted or interrupted – did you see her expression when Laura Kathleen did both? I think it was smart to return to New York as well, although the first challenge didn’t take us to Mood!

About that first challenge…

After a montage of the lucky 16 choosing beds and moving into the Atlas Hotel, everyone settled down to sleep. Not for long! At 5 a.m. Tim’s impeccable shoes were striding down the hotel’s corridors. He knocked on doors and forced the groggy and disgruntled designers to get out of bed. The challenge was to “Come As You Are.” Each designer had to create an outfit from his or her own sleepwear and a single bedsheet.

The runway rundown ….
Sometimes, I think the special celebrity guest strongly sways the decision. For example I think Victoria Beckham contributed hugely to Christian Siriano‘s win in Season 4 (she happened to be just about his perfect client, and she’s turned out to be a worthy designer herself). I didn’t think Christina Ricci had much to contribute, however. They could drop the celebrity guest, in my opinion, but keep the designer guests, such as Zac Posen – what do you think? On to the judging:

The best
Bert Keeter’s boxer/T-shirt/dyed-sheet dress worked on every level – except styling, Michael Kors pointed out. Bert’s checked boxers formed half of the asymmetrical wrapped top, and an obi-esque belt cinched the waist for a nice fit. Bert dyed his bedsheet to be a shade of taupe lighter than his sleeping T-shirt. The tone-on-tone result of using the two fabrics together was sophisticated, but leavened by the boxer print.
Bert’s hair and makeup direction, however, gave his model a Farrah Fawcett look which the judges chided him for. Other than that, it was a great turn for a first challenge.

Anya Ayoung-Chee’s silk top and dyed-sheet pants were something of a miracle, considering that the pants were the first the former Miss Universe contender (she represented Trinidad and Tobago) had ever made, and made from the first fabric she’d ever dyed herself (something that’s been bothering me, though – if you watch Anya’s “Home Visit” video, I’m pretty sure she’s finishing a pair of pants at the end of the video). The top was silk (and the first silk she’d ever sewn). Maybe part of it is her pageant training, but Anya seems very poised. She didn’t fall apart when she had trouble threading the Brother sewing machine. She calmly and wisely chose to make challenging garments because she knew she had to wow the judges – which she did. Anya’s the fan favorite by a wide margin at MyLifetime.com.

The winner: Bert! He secured immunity for Episode 2.

Top Three

Bert Keeter: (winner)

Anya Ayoung-Chee:

Anthony Ryan Auld:


The worst

Julie Tierney’s outfit really didn’t make any improvement on her original pajamas. The pants, which she said were modeled after snowpants, were crudely and bulkily tucked at the waist to fit the model. The pants also featured an odd right-front abdominal zipper pocket. I don’t think it served design and/or utility.

Joshua Christensen’s tank, cropped hoodie, and shorts were ill-fitting, poorly made, and looked cheap. No one would buy them as inexpensive sportswear, let alone consider the pieces to be serious contenders in a design competition. In addition Joshua C. attempted to pass the blame – PR’s cardinal sin! “I wish somebody had told me I was going in the wrong direction,” he said, a remark which earned him a straightening-out from Michael Kors and from Nina Garcia.

And then there was Rafael Cox. Let’s start at the top, with the necklace made from his night headscarf. “What grown-up wants to walk around wearing a a bib?” Heidi asked. “It looks as if she’s wearing a ‘Flintstone disco pouch’,” Michael Kors said.
Then there was the too-tight shirt. If you manage to make your model, as Michael Kors put it, look as if “She went out to eat, ate too much and had to open up her shirt,” you are in deep, deep trouble. The pants were “a sweatshirt/legging/jean combo that’s just unflattering,” Kors also remarked, completing a triple and complete condemnation. Check out the image of Rafael’s design – you’ll get the unfortunate picture.

It was no surprise that the “fashion-backward” Rafael was sent home, the first dismissal of Season 9.

Bottom Three

Julie Tierney:


Joshua Christensen:


Rafael Cox: (out)

Coming up…
The preview for Episode 2 had drama aplenty! It looks as if we can expect crying jags, team challenge conflict (particularly between Bert and Anthony), a medical emergency for Olivier, and a dire warning from Tim: “In the history of ‘Project Runway,’ I’ve never, ever been so worried about people not finishing.” Oh, and I’m pretty sure they have to shop for supplies in a pet store.

I think Anya may have had a charmed experience so far. It be interesting to see if she can continue to execute her creativity, or if she will be hampered by her lack of sewing experience. Did you notice that although she pieced most of her runway top, the placket, including the loop and button closures, was cut directly from her sleep shirt?

I’m eager to see what’s next from Laura Kathleen and Viktor Luna; they both made well-fitting, quite commercial garments for the first challenge. They just didn’t seem to command much attention from the judges. Past seasons have proven that safe designs can take you right up to the finals, however.

What happened, Julie? Tierney showed exciting sample garments at the show’s beginning, but she seems fixated on bulky outerwear as inspiration. I would like to see if she can do better.

Joshua Christensen knows he made it to Episode 2 by a thread. Do you think he can really turn it around?

Were you satisfied with the premiere episode for “Project Runway”Season 9, especially after such a long wait?


Season 9 Designers: (*eliminated)
Amanda Perna
Anthony Ryan Auld
Anya Ayoung-Chee
Becky Ross
Bert Keeter
Bryce Black
Cecilia Motwani
Danielle Everine
David Chum*
Fallene Wells
Gunnar Deatherage*
Joshua Christensen
Joshua McKinley
Julie Tierney
Kimberly Goldson
Laura Kathleen
Olivier Green
Rafael Cox*
Serena da Conceicao*
Viktor Luna


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  1. MarthaO | | #1

    I was shocked that the judges thought Anya's outfit was sewn well. And I was equally surprised that they didn't call her out for using the placket of her nightgown as is. In the past they have ripped people apart for doing similar things. Overall I thought Anya's outfit was ill-fitting and weird, but obviously there were some outfits that were much worse.

    I'm team Bert all the way! He is both lovable and an obvious talent.

  2. Ocrafty1 | | #2

    I was shocked that Anya's outfit was in the top three. The fit on those pants was awful. I think the judges are keeping her 'cause she just learned how to sew. Her ideas are cute, but there are obviously no skill involved in her work. My 10 yr. old granddaughter sews better.

    I love watching this show because there are lots of inventive ideas, but we must remember that this is a 'reality SHOW' and they mentioned in the 'pre show' that they need a mix of talents and personalities to make the show interesting.

    So far, I'm liking Bert; but I think he's gonna clash with the two female judges somewhere down the line. It takes a lot of courage to compete with people who could be your kids/grandkids, especially after dealing with the circumstances that he's come up against in his life. I think he's got the talent, skills, and experience to go all the way. Just think of all the great garments he's seen or worked on to draw ideas from.

  3. Captaint7 | | #3

    I was surprised to see Anthony Auld's outfit in the top three. Perhaps the outfit is sewn well but is simply not in accordance with my taste. I just find the combination to be odd and clashing, as if I had reached into my closet in the wee hours of the morning, grabbed a random skirt and top, tucked in once side and then dashed out the door without looking.

  4. Cherlyn | | #4

    I agree with the others commnets about Anthony's garment. I was not impressed with it at all. I did love Bert's garment and I loved Anya's garment. I believe Anya will be challenged with her limited knowledge with sewing, but she is creative. Bert will have a edge since he has worked in the industry. Once he catches on to what looks win, he could be one of the final three.

    I am excited to see what the designers do this season. I love going into the stores after a season of Project Runway and seeing their ideas show up.

  5. Flanerie | | #5

    I was disappointed in the first episode - maybe I've been looking forward to it too much and wanted too much!

    For starters, why have 20 designers whittled down to 16 right away - we had no time to get to know them, so it felt to me like it does when you are waiting for your flight at the airport and people-watching, and you watch everyone go off to different gates and different destinations.....you don't miss them when they're gone because you never knew them.

    I, too, would have picked Bert's outfit as the winner, and so far I'm rooting for him overall. As for the other two outfits in the top two?? Are you kidding - why oh why did the judges rave about the fit on Anya's pants? It was dreadful - all pouchy in the front - really really bad. Anthony Ryan's outfit was so bad I thought he was in the bottom three - I nearly fell off the couch when they started praising his outfit....so bad in so many ways, and what was that crazy panel on the front of the shorts?

    Finally, I just found the whole concept of this challenge an "ugh" moment - sewing with your pajamas that you've been sleeping in and a hotel sheet? yuck. like pulling something dirty out of the laundry basket - maybe that's next. The only thing worse would be if they were assigned the laundry basket and then had to switch dirty laundry with the person next to them. . .

  6. alaskapsych | | #6

    I'm new to Project Runway, but I gotta say, I think Bert's dress was da bomb! He needed updated hair and accessories, but other than that, he had it in the bag.

    I'm confused about that Anya girl. How do you never once sew and then make something out of nothing? And I agree with MarthaO, I thought her trousers were ill fitting and a little strange.

  7. Juliaheart | | #7

    Bert is my favourite so far!! I actually WANT that dress that he made! And they shouldn't be so hard on him about the styling, he's a fashion designer, not a hairdresser. Also, they can overlook the fact that Anya CAN'T SEW, but they pick on Bert for his modest hair choice? If they didn't know Anya was new to sewing they would have hated what she made, but instead they were all like "ohh I guess it's not bad for someone who's never made a pair of pants before." Come on, that's crazy. This isn't Project Learn to Sew. I think they're just keeping her around for kicks, there's no way she deserved to be in top three this week.

  8. User avater
    BarbaraSki | | #8

    Anya pants only looked good from the back. That low hanging crotch and excess fabric was terrible.

    Once again I am so over Michael Kors & Nina Garcia as judges. I think MK spends the off season just thinking of nasty comments - all the while he believes they are witty observations ala Oscar Wilde. Some of his comments are unnecessary and hardly constructive. And NG...her "bored with it/above it all" attitude I find so annoying!

    I am not in favor of celebrity judges with no experience with clothing except to wear it, but I have to say I thought Christina Ricci actually took her job seriously and had some thoughtful, constructive things to say.

    I've never been impressed with MK's designs either - if one of the designers brought a dress like some MKs I've seen in the store to the runway - I think MK would call it boring and fashion blah!

    But I'll continue to watch.......alas, I do enjoy the process. BTW - has anyone seen anything of "Wretched" since last year? I believe she'll be a flop like Jay!

  9. Hilily | | #9

    I cannot see this outfit as being either fashionable or well made.
    Designers cannot and must not keep producing poorly made garments as being desirable.
    This is basically something I would wear to work in the back garden in.... if I hadn't already decided to use it to clean the car.

  10. shaniqua | | #10

    Doesn't anyone stylish post comments on this blog? Heh heh... Those Anya trousers were fabulous - the fit is very fashionable and, like most super-right-now fashion, only looks good on stick-thin gals. Still, the trousers are not in the least "ill fitting." I do agree she should have been hammered for using that top placket. As the show goes on, that'll definitely (and rightly) be considered cheating.

    I don't understand the Anthony thing at all - it must look a LOT more interesting in person.

    They picked the right winner.

  11. User avater
    rodezzy2 | | #11

    I love the fact that Burt has come back to the world of fashion and won the first challenge. I, too was surprised at Anya being in the top three. Didn't like the pants.

  12. littlemsdynamite | | #12
  13. littlemsdynamite | | #13

    I question Anya's truthfulness about her sewing skills. Gut tells me she's not a beginner sewer. Also Nina needs to look at her own hairstyle. It definitely needs updating. If you pay close attention styles are like an orbiting planet... they always come back around. Tim is the only one that has earned my respect. He's truthful but caring.

  14. SuzyQCanuck | | #14

    My cable company is not running Project Runway season 9 yet!!! Can you see the blue cloud above my head from where you are?

  15. MsTeddo | | #15

    I too loved Bert, let us older people show that we know a few things. Too often I have noticed that what some of the judges think is "edgy" is just ugly and not sewn well. I wish they would show us some closer close-ups of some of the detailing, especially when the designers are explaining their work to the judges. There could be some split-screen work with the super closeup on half the screen. Hopefully Tim will refrain from describing something as "too costumey". Huh? Does he know how many theatrical designers and technicians watch? Is he making fun of our work? He needs to explain exactly what he means when he says that. I'm looking forward to a fun show.

  16. kdr | | #16

    So far nothing has been impressive. The finishing skills are horrid overall. It is important to make things look polished because sloppiness draws attention to everything else.

  17. plafollette | | #17

    I re-watched Anya Ayoung-Chee's home visit and yes she was working on pants at the end of the visit. So much for reality tv.

  18. joycerenee | | #18

    If Anya cannot sew, then she should not be on the show. Of course, if she says she can't sew, then how was she able to effortlessly thread an industrial machine? Something just doesn't sound or look right.

    I used to have great respect for Michael Kors until the Gretchen debacle last year. Now, we're going to see the same horrible treatment of Bert. Yes, I know they chose him as the winner thia week, but Kors seems to hate him and isn't afraid to let anyone know.

    The designers they chose this year other than Bert are simply wretched and they actually sent some home who had talent. Did anyone notice Tim's surprise when they selected certain people such as Anya?

    As for the styling comments, have these people looked at how people are dressing? Bert's model's hair style looked just like Kate Hudson. Are they saying that Kate Hudson isn't stylish (even though she seems to grace the covers of the high end mags such as Vogue and Elle, but then Marie Claire isn't even close to high end so who is Garcia trying to fool?)

    Anyway, if Heidi and Tim don't get their acts together, they're going to lose money because they'll lose their audience if Kors doesn't straighten up and they don't toss Ms. Snide Garcia.

    The minute Bert is gone, I've watched my last episode of Runway and will never buy another Kors garment again. Actually, I'm so fed up with his color palette that I may not anyway. And I don't even bother with that thing that Garcia calls a magazine.

    Bert has more talent than Kors and it shows. No wonder he's so rah-rah about little Miss "I can't sew". Sorry for the long post, but I am so tired of these horrible looks and colors.

  19. joycerenee | | #19

    By the way, if Anya does make it to the final three and she can't sew, how can she compete? Didn't they almost throw out a fabulous contestant because he was accused of having someone else sew a pair of leather jeans? (He did prove he did the work, but not after being humiliated.)

    Just wondering . . .

  20. marijke1 | | #20

    I liked Bert's look also. Creative use of the fabric he had for this project and a sophisticated look. I didn't think the styling was bad at all -- kind of retro, but that's a popular look. He's both talented and experienced.

    As for Anya ... the home visit not only shows her working on pants, but also shows her studio and has her talking about it being the space where she drapes, sews, and meets with clients. Sounds to me like she portraying herself simultaneously as a professional and a novice.

    Anya's pants had a nice wide leg, but the crotch seemed to hang halfway down the model's thighs at front -- that's poor fit and she should have been criticized for that.

  21. User avater
    carynification | | #21

    It is a joke to have someone who can't sew on a show that requires sewing! I guess beauty helps. And the gushing over Anya's pants makes me think they must be smoking something, they were awful.

    And I don't buy her story either, something is very fishy. Ditto the general dislike of Kors and Garcia. Kors couldn't win Project Runway.

  22. User avater
    hollynoel | | #22

    Anya says she can't sew and the first thing she sends out are her first pair of pants! Really! I've been sewing for years and pants still make me nervous. Can't wait to see her first set-in sleeve.

  23. imacook | | #23

    Get some judges who know really the business-- not celebrities who seek exposure for self-promotion. Surely other viewers are like me who live in areas where M Kors' fashions are not available except occasionally in consignment stores. Given the re-cycled few I've seen and his boring black clothes with unkept look, I cannot appreciate him or his sarcastic critiques or PR designers. Re Season #9: Bert was the best and poses a challenge to the others. His seniority and life experiences show a balance from which to draw and to support his creativity.

  24. sewsilky | | #24

    I love Bert!!! Another oldie!! Anya's pants are what saved her. They were beautiful and fit especially well in the back, but she should have been called out for reusing a design in the top. Bad, bad. If she truly is a beginning sewer, she's brilliant thus far.

  25. User avater
    Oraya | | #25

    Although we don't get the program here in Switzerland (I'm still trying to figure out if it's possible to get it via the internet?) - just looking at the pictures is enough though - Bert's outfit is the only one with a bit of polish....I presume you get Fashion Television in the States....have a peep at the Spring/Summer 2012 collections that are airing at the moment - there is "Farrah Fawcett" hair all over the place! As for Anya's pants....I'll remain polite and reserve my comments....that said that were a few too many of the 'dropped crotch' look for my taste in the 2012 collections as well...no thanks. Hope they expose Anya for the sham she would appear to be.
    I think as sewers we make clothes to have, if nothing else, a better fit over off-the-rack, at least for me that is priority number one - a very, very close second is to better express who I am and what I like over what someone else thinks I should look like. Hope Bert makes it by furlongs over the others...and thank you Threads for allowing those of us who can't see the show to get at least a flavour of what it's about.

  26. User avater
    Stitchy | | #26

    I love Bert. I just want him to do well and not get eaten alive. Anya is interesting I want to see how she tackles the other challenges.
    This season will be interesting.

  27. TJSEWS | | #27

    Anya is not a novice sewer! If you see her Project Runway home visit on Lifetime.com, you will see her saying that in her sewing room, she sketches, drapes, sews and has client fittings. On PR, you see her struggling to thread the industrial sewing machine but in her home clip, she has no problem sewing with one! On PR, she said that those pants were the first ones she ever made, but on the home clip, you see her working on a pair of pants!

    If the link is not "live," I believe you can copy and paste the below into your browser and get to the video clip of the home visit.


  28. camillapoof | | #28

    I have to say amen to the critics of Kors and Garcia. To be honest Heidi isn't so hot either. I have been sitting back for years looking at Kors clothing and God Forbid that of the illustrious Vera Wang and just want to say puke. They don't do anything that isn't drab and boring and really ill fitting. The shirts with the long sides and shorter front and/or back just look like bad hem jobs. In Wang's RTW collection the fabrics are really cheap and uncomfortable. I know silk is expensive but this scratchy copy cat non silk chiffon's and retched knits are not only uninteresting and unflattering but I've had to throw them away after washing even in gentle care. Kors is the same. Don't remind me of the Gretchen situation. I was so infuriated I couldn't stand it. It was almost as bad as the Casey Anthony murder case. I'd like to see some other designers, forget the magazine editors, you don't have to be a good designer to be an editor, more likely a good marketer and manager. And I totally agree on the celebrity guests.

  29. sewinforever | | #29

    Lets get real!! If they really wanted to find good design talent, they should eliminate some of the "games" they play to eliminate good contestants. This is all about publicity for the judges!:(

  30. alaskapsych | | #30

    Did anyone see last night's episode? I was stunned the turquoise get up didn't get axed (but I'm totally new to PR). And I just don't see how remaking an umbrella is different from remaking a dog bed (although I do get the hamster bedding thing). I'm still TEAM BERT, but I was a little disappointed in his offerings last night.

  31. User avater
    Stitchy | | #31

    Bert was not good in the pet store challenge, he seemed lazy and wanted to bask in his immunity. I was bored with the sheath silhouette that most of designers were picking. The dog food bag outfit was the most original.
    Last nights show was not inspiring.

  32. 358dogs | | #32

    OK, I know this is not what the show is about, but I cannot get past how skinny Heidi is this season. She looks anorexic! Even, to quote her, "the boobies " are gone.

    I can't wait for them to sew with "real" fabric and see their real personalities.

  33. User avater
    FineTexan | | #33

    HEY! I love Project Runway and just live to see the next episode. Michael Kors, Nina Garcia and Heidi Klum make the show. That is what they are there for...to judge and criticize. I especially like the older episodes where Nina is showing her thigh flab and cellulite as she sits high up on the stool in her short skirt with her legs crossed. She noticed it because she toned up a bit and got a tan in later episodes. I now have a soft spot in my heart for Michael Kors who had his-look-alike mother on. Soo cute~~
    Heidi is just the most gorgeous person I have ever seen. Although her calves and knees look very large and thick at times. Too bad she got those tattoos.
    I think it is entirely appropriate to have celebrities as guest judges. They wear designer clothes in movies, on TV, at award shows and in gossip mags etc. Many of them are very savvy about fashion. The big bomb was Jessica Simpson. She was so porky that her cheeks almost covered her eyes! She was not very interesting or expressive.
    Vera Wang's clothes are just as Cammillapoof says...I bought a nightgown and after I washed and dried it...on to the trash. I hated the feel of it and it was ruined. Her fabrics are something I would never wear. I do have ONE soft cotton top of hers but they are few and and far between. I have not yet become attached to any of the people on the new episode. I do like Bert because he is older like me and has a history of quite a career behind him.

  34. Ferntasia | | #34

    I am extremely disappointed with this year's show so far. How about interesting challenges without the bizarre quirk? I can't believe the puppy dog bed/sherpa dress won over the birdseed dress, which was much more creative. Afterall, the challenge was to not use any thing like conventional fabric. That bedding certainly was.

    I agree that I have never seen anything special abut Michael Kors clothing in himself or in his line. And if Nina is so fashion forward, why doesn't she do something with her hair?

    Heidi, on the other hand I adore, and always want to see more of the outfit that she is wearing.

    And Tim can stop asking the losing designer to "go upstairs and clean out their space". They know they have to clean it up. Can't they have a minute to gather themselves? What is the rush, they have a week!

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