Lifetime move doesn’t change a strong Project Runway; Daniel Vosovic wins all-star challenge

Project Runway is back, and it’s back: None of the behind-the-scenes changes have affected the show at all, just as the producers told me was the case. (If you missed it, Lifetime will do what Bravo did not and offer full episodes–up to five at a time–on their web site starting tomorrow.)

Still, I was worried that new producers Bunim-Murray, of Real World fame, would wreck the show, even though Lifetime’s president said they’d follow the “template.” There was also the possibility that Lifetime would demand changes, but it was nearly identical to the Bravo version. Besides being set in L.A., the only discernible difference was that all of the spaces were bigger: the apartments, the workroom with its windows, the runway set.

The episode started kind of abruptly, and although it was the same show, I worried for a few minutes that I just don’t care about Project Runway in the same way I used to, especially because I’ve grown to love Top Chef so much. But soon, I was reminded why the show works.

Tim Gunn seemed more alive than he did most of season five; when the designers learned who their models were, one said, “Oh, she has big feet like me,” and Tim said, “Yeah,” in a hysterically dismissive way that totally cracked me up. The judges were also in fine form, with Michael Kors saying the losing designer’s model “looks like a disco soccer ball,” and Nina Garcia said talking to the designer was “like speaking to someone in another world.” Guest judge Lindsay Lohan wasn’t very insightful, although she did stay conscious.

The season has the requisite mix of wacky designers (one stood on her head instead of sketching) and raw talent, plus some drama (former meth addict Johnny cried to Tim). What they managed to produce in the first challenge was impressive, so it looks like it’ll be a great competition.

I wish I could say the same for the two-hour all-star competition, which was kind of a miss for me, and not just because as a group, what they produced was less interesting and remarkable. The show kind of dragged and was full of the with the problems with all-star episodes, which is that the contestants know what to expect–when Tim Gunn invited them to dinner they all refused, knowing what was coming–and also play too much like they know we love them. Santino was somewhat tamer, maybe, but still annoying.

Two runners-up on their seasons were the finalists: Korto Momolu and Daniel Vosovic, and Daniel won $100,000 because his collection was “innovative and modern, and had a crystal-clear point of view; it left us wanting more,” Heidi Klum said. Of the top four, Chris March was eliminated first, despite sleeping his way through the episode. Sweet P went next, followed by runner-up Korto. Santino Rice, Jeffrey Sebelia, Uli Herzner, and Mychael Knight were the bottom four.

Nicole Kidman’s appearance was via videotape, on which she read an ad for her new movie off a teleprompter, yet still caused the designers to wet their pants and go into convulsions. Who knew product placement could be so exciting?

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.