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Mondo Guerra Recaps 'Project Runway' Season 10, Episode 1: Chaos in Times Square

Each week, the Lifetime show's first "All Stars" winner will share his insights into the contestants' designs and give his take on the judges' critiques at THR.com.

Mondo Print on Print Portrait - P 2012

[Warning: Spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen Thursday's episode.]

Hi, friends! It’s me, Mondo Guerra -- Project Runway season eight runner-up and Project Runway All Stars champion. I am thrilled to be joining forces with The Hollywood Reporter to bring you weekly recaps of Project Runway season 10. I had the honor of being part of the casting for this fresh crop of designers, so I’m excited to see their skills put to work. Let’s get into it!

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The premiere of Project Runway season 10 wastes no time with formalities. The episode opens amidst the chaos of New York City with Tim Gunn and the judges greeting an audience of thousands. The backstage footage of frantic designers tells us that this season packs a major punch. After all, Project Runway is celebrating a decade of designers and drama, so it only makes sense that they raise the bar for season 10.

But first, let’s rewind one day before the madness…

We are introduced to the designers as they file in to the famed workroom at Parsons. Already, it’s clear that there are some strong personalities in the mix. Gunnar and Christopher are fighting over the role of diva, Kooan serves up kooky on a platter, Fabio is a “freegan,” and Dmitri seems to disapprove of everything with icy cold detachment. Nicknames will be necessary for this cast -- more to come on those next week!

Personalities aside, this is a group with some impressive talent. At each workstation, there is a dress form with a look that the designers were asked to send in prior to arriving on the show. Melissa’s gothic inspiration actually has an edgy, modern vibe. Ven’s perfect construction has everyone feeling intimidated and for good reason --the drape on that top is pretty cool. 

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Before long, the designers are met by the one-and-only Tim Gunn, who presents them with their first challenge -- to create a companion piece inspired by the look they sent in. With one day and a $100 budget, they are faced with the biggest runway presentation inProject Runway history -- a fashion show in Times Square. This is a huge opportunity and everyone, it seems, is feeling the pressure.

The designers meet the challenge with a mix of reactions -- Buffi can’t stop talking, Lantie is in pain, Sonjia has self-diagnosed ADD, Beatrice is quickly learning that the competition is not all “puppies and rainbows," and yet Melissa feels like she belongs there as she takes in the sights of Parsons. (By the way, did anybody catch my brief cameo in the wall art of the workroom?!)

Fast-forward to runway day, and the roar of the Times Square crowd. Heidi Klum, Michael Kors and Nina Garcia welcome the fans and introduce guest judges Lauren Graham and Patricia Field. Then, it's showtime!

Some designs were standouts. Elena’s futuristic dresses were pretty cool. I actually liked her companion piece better than the original, though -- the color-blocking and articulated sleeves flattered her model whereas the original dress looked a tad boxy. I also liked the ombre effect Fabio achieved with his companion piece. It was interesting but still very wearable.

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Other designs failed to impress. Lantie’s looks were a hot mess.  I appreciate when a designer refers to the past for inspiration, but she lost me when she tried to pair snakeskin and tulle -- not cute. As for Andrea, everyone knows I’m a sucker for graphic black-and-white design elements, but her companion design made her model look like a croquet ball with a bow.

The judges responded well to Ven, Christopher and Melissa while Lantie, Beatrice and Kooan fell to the bottom. 

Although they acknowledged Kooan’s strong point of view, the judges cautioned him not to let his designs become a joke. I sympathize with Kooan because I’ve often been accused of being too “cartoony” with my aesthetic. But I hope he can evolve and deliver looks that are true to him but still feel refined.

The judges praised Christopher for the intricate details of his looks, which showed his skill with fabric manipulation. However, Michael warned him to keep his styling modern and not “wedding party.” 

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Beatrice wasn’t able to communicate who she was as a designer to the judges’ satisfaction. While they thought her silhouettes were pleasing -- particularly her original look -- I think her lack of innovation and ideas left the judges feeling uninspired.

In the end, Christopher was named the winner and Beatrice was bid auf wiedersehen. 

I’m a little surprised it wasn’t Lantie who got the boot. When Nina says your look is “horrifying,” I feel like your bags are packed.  Between Beatrice and Lantie, I feel like most women would probably prefer Beatrice’s looks over Lantie’s. But what I think saved Lantie was that at least she took a risk.

What do you think about the judges’ decisions?  Should Beatrice’s knack for knits have received a second chance? Was Christopher’s delicate design detail solid proof of his talent or just a fluke? Sound off and let your voice be heard. Get into it!

Denver fashion designer Mondo Guerra earned a runner-up finish on Project Runway season eight then went on to claim victory on the debut season of Project Runway All Stars. In addition to an upcoming guest editor position at Marie Claire, Mondo has also launched I Design, a new HIV/AIDS education campaign with Merck. To learn more about Mondo, visit mondoguerra.com.