Project Runway Season 6: Meet The Designers

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After what seems like decades of legal battles between the Bravo and Lifetime networks over who owns what, Project Runway will be back on the air August 20th for its sixth season. Not only is there a new network, but also a new city! Gone is the New York Parson’s school of design, and in comes the new studio in sunny Los Angeles.

Of all my T.V. guilty pleasures, PR takes the cake. I can’t get enough. The past five seasons have been so well produced, with some huge talents showing their garments at New York Fashion Week. Even the two seasons of the Canadian version have been top notch. From all the fashion inspired puns, to the back-stage cat-fights, Project Runway is reality T.V. at its best. Since the competition is based on clothing, there is a visual aspect that we the viewer can judge the contestants on. I hate shows like Top Chef, where you can only really cheer for a personality, since there’s no way for you to know if their food was any good or not.

The designers for season six have been announced. In just over a month, host Heidi Klum, mentor Tim Gunn, and returning judges American designer Michael Kors, and editor of Marie Clair Nina Garcia will be critiquing the latest garments on the catwalk. 16 hopefuls will compete to determine who will be the next great American designer [sic]. Well, to be the next winner of Project Runway anyway. Judging from some of their personal styling, we’re in for another Fabric-lous season.

project-runway-6-nicolas-putvinskiNicolas Putvinski:
Age: 27; Hometown: Moscow, Russia; Resides in New York, NY

Nicolas has communist regime written all over his face. Smile buddy! The Iron Curtain has fallen, you’re on T.V.! Fortunately for him, the pictures in his portfolio on the Lifetime website seem to have a flair for the dramatic. There’s certainly some SPUTNIK inspiration there. He looks like he likes to work with different textiles, which I’m sure will help him if he can make it to the unnecessary “Make a dress out of random objects” challenge that PR is so fond of.

Click to view Nicolas’ portfolio

project-runway-6-qristyl-frazierQristyl Frazier:
Age: 42; Hometown: St. Louis, MO; Resides in Brooklyn, NY

Your name is Qristyl? You’ve got to be Qidding. OK, I qan deal with this. Although her picture is all bubbly and smiley Ms. Frazier’s designs do not make me happy. She uses a lot of colour and draping, but some of her designs just look sloppy, and unfinished. Check out the denim / leather / knit? puke job from her portfolio, yiqes! I predict a big-ol’ breaqdown in the first three episodes (if she makes it that long).

Click to see Qristyl’s portfolio

project-runway-6-irina-shabayevaIrina Shabayeva:
Age: 27; Hometown: The Republic of Georgia; Resides in New York, NY

Irina makes me nervous. Some of the stuff in her collection I think is pretty interesting, and her sketches have nice sharp angles that are very visually appealing. But then I keep looking and realize that I can’t really get a feel for her aesthetic. She’s kind of all over the place. One dress has lovely pastel colours with some beautiful jewelry around the waist, and another is a hard, shiny, black dress. I see potential, but I think the judges are going to want to see some cohesion.

Click to see Irina’s portfolio

project-runway-6-johnny-sakalisJohnny Sakalis:
Age: 30; Hometown: Long Beach, CA; Resides in Los Angeles, CA

Johnny Sakalis reminds me of why I don’t hit on guys who wear hats at the bar. Once it comes off, you usually find that they’re bald(ing). Anyway, looks aside, Johnny showed a collection at Mercedes-Benz fashion week back in 2004. Check out his portfolio from this show to see some familiar faces! I’ll admit, I like what I saw. There are some sassy Asian inspired prints, and some beautiful dresses that really show some great colour choices. That was five years ago though darling. Seems like he’s had some moderate success in the past, let’s see what he can bring to the table in the present.

Click to see Johnny’s portfolio

project-runway-6-logan-neitzelLogan Neitzel:
Age: 26; Hometown: Blackfoot, ID; Resides in Seattle, WA

In a question & answer section in his bio he claims his strengths are “Street wear and an edgy rocker look”, and his weakness is “evening wear”… Your weakness is evening wear, and you applied for Project Runway? That’s like me signing up for a Best Pussy Licker competition. (They have those, right?) I took at look at his portfolio, and he was right, that is his weakness. He doesn’t seem to know how to fit a woman’s breasts.

Click to see Logan’s portfolio

project-runway-6-shirin-askariShirin Askari:
Age: 24; Hometown: Tulsa, OK; Resides in Garland, TX

There sure is a lot of young talent this season. 24 year old Shirin is the first I’ve seen to actually impress me a little bit. Her bio makes her seem pretty quirky, and the designs in her portfolio are cute. She takes a lot of inspiration from old Hollywood (i.e., Hepburn) and includes some unique architecture in her cuts. I 100% guarantee that she brought that outfit she’s wearing in her promo photo to her audition. That pleating / cross-fabric pattern on the skirt looks difficult (albeit a little asymmetrical in the pleating). I wonder how she’ll do under the time crunch.

Click to see Shirin’s portfolio

project-runway-6-mitchell-hallMitchell Hall:
Age: 26; Hometown: Melbourne, FL; Resides in Savannah, GA

Mitchell’s favourite past Project Runway designer is fellow Southern belle Austin Scarlett. Well, we know there’s a least one ‘mo on the show this season. There wasn’t a lot to judge on in his portfolio pictures: a number of white / off-white tops (with obvious construction issues), and some sort of dress with a black veil that I’m sure Winona Ryder’s character (Lydia Deetz) in Beetlejuice would have loved. Goth is dead, no pun intended. I think we have an early contender for first to be cut. Sorry Mitch.

Click to see Mitchell’s portfolio

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To check out the Project Runway Season Six Gallery, click the picture above.

project-runway-6-althea-harperAlthea Harper:
Age: 24; Hometown: Dayton, OH; Resides in Brooklyn, NY

Althea Harper has quite the resume of a 24 year old, including internships at Alexander McQueen & Vivienne Westwood among others. Impressive… but she also suggests that every designer should read The Fountainhead. Not so impressive. Recommending an Ayn Rand book is like telling me you’re a Scientologist: evidence that you make bad life choices. Here’s a book Althea should read: “How to make clothes that look good For Dummies”. BARF.

Click to see Althea’s portfolio

project-runway-6-eppersonEpperson:
Age: 50; Hometown/Resides in New York, NY

There’s some sort of implicit pretension in going by only one name. Eppy better live up to his mono-nomenclature, or I will be forced to give him a second name. And that name will be Peppy, Peppy Epperson. Furthering his boasting, Eppy claims that his designing weaknesses are “none”. I’d hate the guy if his clothes didn’t look awesome. Clearly eccentric, great sketches, great execution, and some fairly well known clients. Project Runway six has it’s early front runner.

Click to see Epperson’s portfolio

project-runway-6-louise-blackLouise Black:
Age: 32; Hometown: Temple, TX; Resides in Dallas, TX

When I first saw Louise’s picture I immediately thought: Dita von Teese, burlesque, leather bustiers. Then I saw her portfolio and found that I was spot on. The thing with that style, is that the construction really has to be impeccable or it will show. Louise was self-taught from 2001, so she doesn’t have experience on her side, but the photos of her work are pretty good. She makes me want to see more. I’m hoping she’ll have some depth to her designs.

Click to see Louise’s portfolio

project-runway-6-malvin-vienMalvin Vien:
Age: 24; Hometown: Englewood, CO; Resides in Brooklyn, NY

Malvin? Interesting name. Not really sold on the portfolio though. Like Mitchell, he had more sketches than fully executed pieces. His bio says he takes inspiration from Chinese farmers. Um, ok. Well, we’ll see how that comes to fruition. Looking through his sketches I noticed quite a few silhouettes that don’t really flatter the female physique. I think he may have some trouble making women feel good in his clothes. I guess that will always be a hurdle for a male designing women’s garments.

Click to see Malvin’s portfolio

project-runway-6-christopher-straubChristopher Straub:
Age: 30; Hometown: St. Louis Park, MN; Resides in Shakopee, MN

Another self-taught designer. Hmm, why do people even go to design school? It seems useless :P. Chris has a lot to show in his portfolio, with only really one obvious mess. The rest of his dresses are chic. I heart the black layered petal dress (though it appears a bit short), I would love to see it move down the catwalk. His questionnaire makes him seem like a bit of an invert, and he admits that he doesn’t want to do any group projects. That may hurt him early on, but it’s easy to sneak through by passing the buck to someone else so he could be a contender.

Click to see Christopher’s portfolio

project-runway-6-gordana-gehlhausenGordana Gehlhausen:
Age: 45; Hometown: Yugoslavia; Resides in San Diego, CA

Coming in at 45 years old, Gordana is one of the oldest of the designers. It’s tough to write anything about her, as her portfolio has a minuscule four pictures. She claims that Uli Herzner is her favourite past Project Runway alumni, which I have to agree with. Gordy sort of looks like Uli, is foriegn like Uli, but from what I saw, doesn’t use prints like Uli. Disappointing. I wouldn’t mind seeing Uli 2.0. See, that’s what you get when you have such a scarce portfolio, I talk about someone else. Mmmm, Uli.

Click to see Gordana’s portfolio

project-runway-6-carol-hannahCarol Hannah Whitfield:
Age: 24; Hometown: Anderson, SC; Resides in Brooklyn, NY

Wait, haven’t I already talked about this chick already? Another pretty, young, blonde designer. Althea, oops, I mean Carol, appears to be able to work a print. The garments in her portfolio are fun and visually pleasing, but a lot of them are on the form and not actual models. That can make a big difference, so I will reserve my judgment until the first challenge. Side note: Not only is she 24 & blonde like Althea, but she also lists The Fountainhead as one of her favourite books in her bio. Double-you-tea-eff. Maybe that’s the twist this season: “We’ve secretly entered a clone into the competition, let’s see if the designers notice!”

Click to see Carol’s portfolio

project-runway-6-ari-fishAri Fish:
Age: 26; Hometown/Resides in Kansas City, MO

Two words: avant-garde. And one more word: odd! Ari’s designs weigh heavily on the conceptual side as opposed to ready-to-wear. I didn’t really see anything in her portfolio that I could see someone actually wearing (unless you like strolling down the street with yarn wrapping your entire body). Ari seems like the kind of girl who might say something like “I’m not going to compromise my artistic vision for this challenge.” Which ultimately I predict will be her downfall. I’m always curious as to why people like this apply for PR when it doesn’t seem like it’s the right career path for them. I’m just speculating though, maybe she’ll design the next line for Wal*mart.

Click to see Ari’s portfolio

project-runway-6-ramon-lawrence-colemanRa’mon-Lawrence Coleman:
Age: 31; Hometown: Chicago, IL; Resides in Milwaukee, WI

Ra’mon-Lawrence Coleman. I’m thinking this guy craves attention. His designs appear avant-garde, but his portfolio has some pieces which take the ideas from the more conceptual items and make them wearable. I’m glad for that. Christian Siriano was also very good at that, and he won season 4. Ra’mon could be a designer to watch out for.

Click to see Ra’mon’s portfolio

So there are my initial impressions. I have a feeling this is going to be a great season. Keep visiting for episode recaps once the season starts.