The seventh season of
Project Runway is underway! Season 6 finalist Carol Hannah Whitfield
, who is hard at work on her ready-to-wear line in New York (she's also launching a bridal line for any brides-to-be out there), takes time out of her hectic schedule to share her thoughts with PEOPLE.com on the new crop of designers and to reveal what goes on behind the scenes of the show. She'll also try and answer some of your questions and comments, so be sure to tell us what you think of Project Runway each week!
I can't believe that season 7 of Project Runway
has already begun. It feels like my season just ended, but here we are! Things have been quite busy for me since the finale. I've opened a studio with my costar Logan Neitzel
in Manhattan, continue to work on my ready-to-wear line, and am launching a new bridal line in just a couple short months! Check out carol-hannah.com
for more info. I am really excited to blog season 7 for PEOPLE.com, so let's get into the good stuff!
Watching Project Runway
after appearing on the show makes for a totally different viewing experience. By the time the new designers were toasting Tim
on the rooftop, I felt very weird! It's like those strange dreams that incorporate part of your real life with things that definitely wouldn't normally be there -- like 16 new and completely different designers. Who are these ?! Where are Christopher
Which season 7 designer is the most intriguing? Take our poll
It's amazing how fast the first few episodes move. There are so many designers at this point that you don't get to see much of anyone. Most don't realize that about three-days worth of footage goes into just 44 short minutes of this first episode. It's hard to describe how odd those first few days are. It's a little bit like going to camp -- except that you can't write home and someone wins $100,000 at the camp talent show!
This first challenge was very appropriate: make something that represents your point of view from your choice of slightly random fabrics. The nice thing about this challenge is that it gives the designers an opportunity to express their vision without the constraints of any previous challenge. For example, our first challenge in season 6 was a red-carpet challenge. If women's evening wear wasn't really your thing, you were up the creek without a paddle. I wonder what Ari Fish would have made if this had been our first challenge. It's always fun to see how different designers put their spin on a specific challenge, but this was a very fair way to see what the new designers have to offer.
They started with a mad dash for fabric, then got to work. It takes a couple of challenges to learn the best way to work under the circumstances of each challenge. You have to think about all the factors, such as, the time limitations, cameras in your face, and 15 other working around you -- and secretly watching to see what you're making. Plus, you don't have all the tools you are used to having. For example, there's only one iron. Pressing is a very important part of good execution, so there's always a lot of fighting in the iron line!
On runway day, the designers are getting antsy and nervous. I will never forget the first time our models walked the runway. They always do a couple of runs (one with and one without the judges) to make sure the camera crew gets all their shots. There's no music playing when the girls walk in front of the judges, so all you hear is pens scribbling on scorecards. You're sitting 10 feet directly across from the judges, and it is beyond nerve-wracking the first time. Waiting backstage is the worst -- sitting and waiting for hours. (Logan always brushed his teeth in case he got auf'd and got to kiss Heidi!)
In the end, Emilio, Seth, and Ping were at the top and Jesus and Anthony were at the bottom, while Christiane got the boot for her rather messy dress that looked a lot like Qristyl's first dress from season 6. Emilio's winning dress had a detailed, appliquéd bodice and flouncy skirt. Seth had a clear point of view, though it wasn't one of my favorites, and Ping's look was both interesting and original. I especially enjoyed the draped pants.
Personally, I would have put Maya in the top three for her simple-yet-dramatic dress. I may have even given her the win. I also really liked Amy's garment. After watching PR for years and then participating, I have given up at guessing who the judges will choose! --Carol Hannah Whitfield
Tell us: How do you feel about the first episode? Which designer is your favorite so far? Did the right person win? Did the right person go home?
For more from Carol Hannah, visit mylifetime.com