Another season of "Project Runway" has begun, and another carefully selected group of designers has embarked on a quest to become the next hot thing in fashion. In case you missed it, there's a big twist this season: The designers must compete in teams!
Here is a full list of contestants for this season, with links to their official Lifetime bios.
Amanda Valentine, age 31
Benjamin Mach, age 35
Cindy Marlatt, age 59
Daniel Esquivel, age 48
Emily Pollard, age 24
James Martinez, age 29
Joseph Aaron Segal, age 30
Kate Pankoke, age 23
Layana Aguilar, age 28
Matthew Arthur, age 30
Michelle Lesniak Franklin, age 34
Patricia Michaels, age 46
Richard Hallmarq, age 39
Samantha Black, age 28
Stanley Hudson, age 45
Tu Suthiwat Nakchat, age 26
In the Season 11 premiere, the designers were split into two opposing teams. Team "Keeping It Real" includes Stanley, Kate, Layana, Patricia, Daniel, Richard, Amanda, and Joseph. The other team is the so-called "Dream Team" and consists of Benjamin, Emily, Cindy, Michelle, James, Tu, Matthew, and Samantha.
In the premiere episode, Emily talked a big game about how she would make it to the final three. But by the end of the episode, she was the one who got eliminated. That must have been a big slice of humble pie.
So, out of the remaining designers, who is most likely to make it to the finale?
Right off the bat, it's safe to eliminate Cindy, Daniel, Patricia, and Stanley from the list of possible finale contenders. In the past 10 seasons of "Runway," the oldest person to win the title has been Season 7's Seth Aaron Henderson, who was 38 at the time of his win.
In the world of "Project Runway," being over the age of 40 isn't a good thing (just ask Peach Carr or Bert Keeter). Sure, Patricia and Daniel made the top three in the premiere, but an early win is rarely a sign of success late in the competition. Keep an eye on Patricia and Daniel, for sure, but don't place a bet on either of them to win. Even Richard, at age 39, might be too old to win. One of the "40 plus" crowd might make it to the finale, but surely not more than that.
However, Richard impressed the judges with an asymmetrical dress made from clingy jersey. The judges loved the look, and Richard appears to be one designer to watch in the coming weeks. Of course, there is a downside to success early on: The judges are more harsh when a good designer has an off day.
While Benjamin wasn't on the winning team, his personal look was well-received by the judges. His flowing dress had great movement, a complex blocky design, and great detail on the shoulder. It was avant garde, yet still accessible.
Other designers to watch: Kate (who designed a "cross my heart" dress in a neutral color) and Samantha (who made a stunning black dress with a voluminous skirt and an interesting neckline).
One thing's for sure: In a season all about team challenges, it is inevitable that a good designer will get sent home for a team member's shortcomings. As judge Zac Posen put it so succinctly in the premiere, "If you have one hole in a boat, the whole boat sinks."