Meet The New "Project Runway" Designers

Last Thursday’s season 12 premiere featured lots of trash talking and outfits made out of nylon parachutes. Let’s take a look back and see how the remaining designers stack up against each other. Warning: more trash talking ahead.

1. Alexander Pope

AKA: The fiery costume designer
Notable Quote: “Some people love me and some people hate me. I don’t really think there’s an in-between.”
Strengths: As a former costume constructer for musicals like The Lion King and Wicked, his eccentric designs will stand out and be useful for the unconventional challenges.
Weaknesses: He could suffer a similar downfall as season four’s Chris March, who made it to the season finale but was constantly trying to find the balance between commercial appeal and being TOO costume-y.

2. Timothy Westbrook

AKA: The insufferable sustainability nut
Notable Quote: “I’m a sustainability-focused fiber artist…so the platform I take is we have to protect the forest to keep the unicorns alive. Remember your core, remember the unicorns.” (and yes, he said this with a completely straight face)
Strengths: He’s at least inventive and unconventional, which will make him stand out. Also, his technique of burning and fraying nylon already proves he can manipulate fabrics, which the judges love.
Weaknesses: Where to begin? He refuses to use makeup and hair products on his model, drastically limiting his styling abilities—Heidi already called him out on that. He’s very pretentious and is constantly bragging about things like brown water and solar power backpacks. Finally, while it’s admirable that he approaches design with a very clear point of view, he’s already on the verge of taking it too far. He spent half the time persuading his model to forgo the traditional runway walk in favor of a bondage-inspired conceptual performance. It was, however, hilarious watching him tell her to channel the Virgin Mary’s “demure sadness” and to “think of awkwardly sniffing your armpit.”

3. Miranda Levy

AKA: The army vet
Notable Quote: (about Timothy) “I don’t care if he’s here. It’s going to be war and I’m going to beat him.”
Strengths: Her disciplined army background could serve her well as the competition gets more and more grueling. Her two-piece top and skirt was also very on-trend.
Weaknesses: She doesn’t follow the rules. Her well-made design landed her in the bottom because she used too much supplemental fabric, even after mentor Tim Gunn advised her against doing so. With Tim’s expanded role this season (he gets a “save” to use once during the season), ignoring him is definitely not in the designers’ best interests.

4. Alexandria von Bromssen

AKA: The betchy blonde
Notable Quote: “I’m going to be the wild card in this competition.”
Strengths: As a former model, she’s very aware of how her clothes fit on a woman’s body. The judges love when designers pay attention to tailoring, so she’ll rack up major points for that.
Weaknesses: She’s her own toughest critic, so she could crack early on from the pressure. Her cockiness and trash-talking will also get old fast.

5. Bradon McDonald

AKA: The modest winner
Notable Quote: “I’m trying to walk around with a straight face so I can appear I know exactly what I’m doing. Really, I have no idea.”
Strengths: His dramatically flowing but simply delicate gown won him the first challenge, securing his spot as the early frontrunner. As a former modern dancer, he too understands the importance of how clothes move on the body.
Weaknesses: He admits to wanting to play it safe, and his understated, though seemingly reliable, instincts may keep him from being bold in a competition where risks are sometimes necessary.

6. Helen Castillo

AKA: The tattooed problem child
Notable Quote: “I’m definitely going to rub people the wrong way. Sorry, b*tches.”
Strengths: She seems to have a very clear point of view and strong instincts.
Weaknesses: However, her stubbornness could also be a potential downfall, as could her obnoxiously pointy nails, which I could totally see her using to stab another designer.

7. Justin LeBlanc

AKA: The hearing-impaired hipster
Notable Quote: (pointing to his hearing aid) “If they get on my nerves, all I have to do is turn this off.”
Strengths: He has a valid point there—being able to tune out any workroom drama will be a huge advantage when tempers start flaring.
Weaknesses: TBD. His first design, a flirty, pink dress was safe but well-made, and should have been in the top.

8. Jeremy Brandrick

AKA: The adorable Brit
Notable Quote: “I’m really trying to do my best on the show to win for my kids.”
Strengths: His likeability. He has a charming accent, two insanely cute blonde toddlers, and an equally handsome husband. Even if he doesn’t win the competition, he’s definitely an early frontrunner for Fan Favorite.
Weaknesses: BUT, being a family man could also work against him as the competition gets tougher and homesickness sets in.

9. Kahindo Mateene

AKA: The African queen
Notable Quote: None.
Strengths: Even though her first design was yawn-worthy, she insists she loves working with vibrant colors and prints and is inspired by her African heritage. If and when she shows that side of her aesthetic, she could definitely be big competition for the other designers.
Weaknesses: Playing it safe, for now.

10. Kate Pankoke

AKA: The comeback kid
Notable Quote: “There’s this whole big fuss made that I get this second chance, so I’m gonna kick some a** this time.”
Strengths: The season 11 contestant is back thanks to a fan vote, so she has the obvious advantage of having been on the show before and knowing how the challenges work.
Weaknesses: So far, she’s been overly generous by dishing out advice left and right—possibly an attempt to correct her reputation as last season’s resident b*tch—but trying to make friends could end up hurting her.

11. Dom Streater

AKA: The spunky trendsetter
Notable Quote: “I’m going to listen to (Kate’s) advice but I may not take it. You never know who you can trust in this competition.”
Strengths: What little we saw of Dom during the first challenge didn’t show us much about her technical skills, but she definitely doesn’t seem boring. As one of the youngest designers this season, expect her to infuse some energy and trendiness into the competition.
Weaknesses: TBD.

12. Ken Laurence

AKA: The sassy prima donna
Notable Quote: “I think people are kind of intimidated by me. I like to describe myself as a force to be reckoned with.”
Strengths: He’s a confident, self-taught designer who seems to really trust his instincts. He also used to be homeless, which probably means he’ll fare well with a tight budget.
Weaknesses: On the other hand, his lack of formal training and overall inexperience could end up hurting him if he’s not used to working on a deadline.

13. Karen Batts

AKA: The quirky ginger
Notable Quote: None.
Strengths: TBD. Like Kahindo and Jeremy, she wasn’t featured enough in the premiere to know for sure.
Weaknesses: The dress she sent down the runway was blah and the dress she wore to the runway was boring. Which is too bad, because the Queens girl seems genuinely sweet and funny. Bottom line: she’ll have to step up her game and match her clothes to her personality if she wants a fighting chance at the finale.

14. Sandro Masmanidi

AKA: The eccentric Russian
Notable Quote: “I feel I have a good potential. That was f***ing not humble to say—good potential?”
Strengths: His likable sense of humor will assuredly made him the season’s class clown, and his intricately detailed designs might very well make him a top player.
Weaknesses: Judging by his vagina-baring first design and his own tacky clothing choices, his taste level is definitely questionable. On top of that, his big mouth is bound to get on everyone’s nerves sooner or later.

15. Sue Waller

AKA: The badass Brooklynite
Notable Quote: “I’ve been living way outside of the fashion world. I don’t have all the experience that another designer might have.”
Strengths: Her beautifully pleated gown landed her in the top, proving she has a good aesthetic eye and the natural ability to design.
Weaknesses: However, she admits to being technically inexperienced. The other designers already have her pegged as a weak link after she asked for help using the sewing machines.

16. BONUS ZAC POSEN COMMENT:

17. We <3 you, Zac

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