Project Runway Season 12: A Mystery Contestant

Project Runway Season 12 airs next week! I’ve been watching since Season 1, picking favorites, guessing the judges’ reactions and designing outfits in my head while the designers create theirs, and even following along with some  of the designers’ careers (Christian Siriano, Seth Aaron Henderson and Mondo). It’s one of the most fun shows to watch with a group, as people can bicker about their favorites, whether it be the designers, judges, or outfits, or cheer when their favorites win.

This season offers us a few new goodies. While last season switched up the normal routine by having almost every challenge be a team challenge, this year we go back to individual challenges, but with the following changes:

  • Tim Gunn will be utilized more, which the fans have been asking for since season 1. He will be watching the runway shows as well as offering insights to the judges about the workroom conditions and the contestants. As someone who adores Tim Gunn, I am thrilled we’ll be seeing more of him.
  • The fans are also getting a runway show of their own! Seven “superfans” will be appearing during a challege. I’m kind of hoping it’s an unconventional one, like the candy challenge, or the hardware challenge.
  • The most intriguing change is that the hashtag #RunwayRedemption has allowed fans to interact with the show in such a way that one mystery contestant from a past season will be appearing as the 16th designer in Project Runway Season 12.

Who will this mystery person be? While I wish Mondo had managed to snatch the season win from Gretchen’s greedy little fingers in season 8, he did just win Project Runway All-Stars (finally, some justice in the world).

Fans did have a chance to vote for a fan favorite, but Project Runway chose the three individuals up for a second chance: Ra’mon-Lawrence Coleman, Valerie Mayen, and Kate Pankoke.

I don’t remember Ra’mon-Lawrence from season 6, but Kate Pankoke was voted off last year, after leaving a generally unpleasant feeling due to her attitude. I would be thrilled to see Valerie Mayen return for Project Runway season 12, as she always had fun ideas and a winning personality. I didn’t really agree with the judges on all their comments about her outfits, and I’d love to see her get a second chance.

What I remember most about Valerie was her use of color, and while I do love simple black and white, Valerie brings a splash of color that I appreciate. She has also done work with HALO teaching sewing to girls living in orphanages in Africa, and she’s been working on her own line, Yellowcake. I feel like someone this dedicated to working hard, helping others, and polishing her vision is definitely a contender for a Project Runway Season 12 winner’s spot. Who did you vote for during #RunwayRedemption?

I’m looking forward to seeing what these new additions to Project Runway Season 12 add to the show. It’s one of the best reality shows in terms of talent (since you need to be able to sew and design well at a fast pace), and I’ve learned quite a bit from watching Tim’s critiques. I’ve learned how to put outfits together, edit a look, critique outfits and decide which ones flatter my shape and even mix and match patterns and colors I previously thought were incompatible (or would never have put together otherwise).

While it isn’t specifically an educational show in terms of sewing skills, it is educational in that future designers can see what a life in fashion looks like. It’s a crazy, fast-paced world where you must learn to work with others (something Tim Gunn talks about a lot). You need to be able to hold onto your creative vision while also ensuring that the customer is happy. Time management, self-editing and business savvy (budgeting, partnerships, etc.) are also must-have skills the contestants either have or will have to gain while on the show. There’s also the creative challenges, that push the designers out of their comfort zones, often with fabulous results.

Project Runway has lifted the curtain hiding the fashion world to give us a glimpse behind the glitz and glamour. It takes a lot of hard work, dedication, courage and smarts to succeed in the business, and Project Runway has offered a chance at success in that arena to the contestants. It’s one of the most positive reality shows because of that chance, seeing many designers start their own lines, get hired at prestigious companies, and find their niches.

Project Runway Season 12 airs on July 18th, and you can read about the #RunwayRedemption contestants on Lifetime’s website.

K.M. Cone

K.M. Cone

K.M. Cone

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