Project Runway Episodes

Wednesday, July 27 by Marina Szaven

The Best “Project Runway” Episodes capture the dramatic personalities, amazing creativity, snarky judges and individual triumphs that have made the show a must-see hit since its premiere in December 2004. Judges: Heidi Klum; Nina Garcia; Michael Kors; and Diane von Furstenberg.

  1. Innovation Indeed (Season 1, Episode) From the very first show, “Project Runway” promised to be a very different kind of TV experience, with an array of unusual personalities and ridiculous challenges. The designers are sent into a market with $50 and expected to create an outfit. Contestant Austin Scarlet, an effeminate and soft-spoken southerner, creates a lovely dress entirely out of cornhusks, in a design that is still considered one of the most amazing creations of the show.
  2. Jay Wins (Season 1, Finale) “Project Runway” cemented its reputation as something entirely different when the punk-influenced Jay McCarroll triumphed over expected winner Kara Saun, a more mature, sedate designer. The last minute drama over Kara’s use of a questionable discount from a friend added to a surprise finish.
  3. Queen Meltdown (Season 2, Episode 2)The second season starts with a bang, and the high-strung personalities at full tilt, when they have to literally take the clothes off their backs and create a new design. The highlight of the episode is an emotional Andrae, weeping on the runway, intercut with the cold response of the judges and an onscreen timer clocking how very long he went on (and on).
  4. Team Lingerie (Season 2, Episode 4) Team challenges always bring out the claws between the drama queens. This episode has the colorful contestant, Santino, starting a fight with the judges, in defense of one of the ugliest, overblown renditions of lingerie ever to grace a runway.
  5. Santino Does Tim Gunn (Season 2, Episode 9) Contestant Santino keeps the other designers amused in the workroom with his spot-on imitation of mentor Tim Gunn in the workroom. The comedy is doubled when Mr. Gunn asks to see his “homage” and the usually brazen Santino is (temporarily) put in his place.
  6. Tattoos and Tears (Season 3, Episode 7) Rock-influenced Jeffrey and Raggedy Ann-esque Angela conflict throughout the third season, but it reaches its high drama peak when Jeffrey makes her mother cry during a challenge.  
  7. Goodbye and Hello (Season 4, Episode 5) A dramatic medical emergency forces one of the contestants, Jack, to quit the show, but it heralds the surprise return of one of the most memorable designers, Chris March, to the competition.
  8. Diva Meet Diva (Season 4, Episode 7) Eventual winner Christian Siriano dominated most of the season, meeting every challenge with a shrug and fashion brilliance. Then, he meets his greatest foe, a sassy teenager in need of a prom dress, with very stern ideas of what she does and does not like. Just when you think Christian will quit, he shows his mettle and carries on.
  9. Tim Gunn and the Wooly Balls (Season 8, Episode 3) Over eight seasons, the unflappable Mr. Gunn has handled every sort of sob story and designer drama. While working on a party store challenge, contestant Kristin Haskins Simms is debating whether the regular balls or the wooly balls are the right design choice. Then, Tim, Kristin, the other designers and the audience start a laugh-fest that is one of the funniest “Project Runway” moments of all time.
  10. Mondo’s Breakthrough (Season 8, Episode 10) Mondo Guerro, a fan favorite throughout the season, explains his use of plus signs in his Design-Your-Own-Fabric challenge as symbolizing his HIV status.  It is the first time he has revealed his condition, the tear-fest that followed, and the happy glow of Mondo thereafter, provide the highs and lows of emotion that has made “Project Runway” a hit.
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