Project Runway season premiere recap: It Feels Like Bravo Again!

Inspired designs. Fresh judges. Fierce Joanna Coles. Lifetime has pulled out all the stops for the All-Star season. It's like we're back in season 3 all over again, and it feels good!
Ep. 01 | Aired Jan 5, 2012

MONDO'S REVENGE Mondo's back with a vengeance! Gretchen who?

David M. Russell/Lifetime

We already know these designers — not all of them are the most talented designers of seasons past, but they're definitely memorable — so let's skip the rundown on each and jump right in, shall we? It's good to see Mondo, the favorite coming into this All-Stars season, and it seems his personal style has evolved. In the opening shot, he was dressed like Rihanna in the "We Found Love" video after the drugs stopped being fun. Yeesh. If you're going to wear those micro-shorts, please shave the legs and cover the scabs with flesh-colored Band-Aids, okay? But it was good to see him reunite with buddy Michael Costello.

The 13 designers convened at the Limelight, an Episcopal Church turned hardcore gay nightclub turned mini-mall. When Angela Lindvall, the host filling in for Heidi this season, walked into the room, a distinct "Who the hell are you?" look crossed the faces of a few of the contestants. Looking and sounding a bit like the host of an MTV surfing competition, she explained that there would be no immunity this season, and all told, the prize package for winning All Stars would be worth close to half a million dollars! Mila just had a fashion orgasm.

The designers then had a chance to meet their models and kick their tires, so to speak, by dressing them up in pre-existing designs. It looked like Lifetime pulled out the big guns and hired some especially gorgeous models, especially Kenley's. Well done! (Last season's looked like they came straight from ANTM). We'll see more of the looks later on the runway, but it was an opportunity for the All Stars to size each other up. Mila's looking more and more like Edna E. Mode, Sweet P's side-bun makes her look like she fell asleep on a doughnut, Rami has really pumped up those muscles, April's still making boring, colorless clothes (why is she on this season again?), Jerrell's being aggressively obnoxious, and Elisa is still a loveable weirdo, marking her territory with lipstick instead of spit this time. She probably claims hors d'oeuvres at parties by licking them.

Angela met the designers on a sweltering Manhattan street to announce the first challenge -- and it's an unconventional one! I only hope there are plenty more to come this season. Each designer got $100 to shop at the 99-cent store (which would be like getting $500 at Mood) to create a look inspired by the looks they tried out on their models earlier. April and Michael both went after the mops; Michael worried that April's mop dress would be way better than his. I'm not liking all this constant false modesty coming from Michael. Even if it's genuine, it's lame — this is a competition. Mondo avoided easy items like wash cloths whereas Sweet P went right for them. I wish Elisa or someone picked actually weird items like water guns or bubble wands.

NEXT: Nobody can replace Tim Gunn as mentor -- but I'm kind of obsessed with Joanna Coles in a very, very different way.

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