Recap of episode 2 of Project Runway: Under The Gunn
“In the workroom it gets kind of tense, there all sorts of psychological games that start to happen, my mentoring is also going to be about how to play the psychological games,” advised Anya Ayoung-Chee to her four mentees. Well, that teaser excited radars, who wouldn’t want to peep the playbook used to negotiate the illusion of honesty and authenticity some use to get ahead in the reality TV game.
There is no debate, Anya has an abundance of talent and ambition. To make the cut to join her boys club, each designer endured her soft-spoken scrutiny. In case you missed her notes: Anya’s not fond of nervous energy as witnessed with Natalia, nor over-styling which is Oscar’s trademark, and your garment better not underwhelm as evidenced by Stephanie. Yet, each of Anya’s rejects got plucked from obscurity by mentor Nick Verreos and given the chance to knock her out.
Anya’s charged with grooming four young men for runway battles that will change their lives. Brady Lange’s style is relaxed and youthful, Shan Keith channels the urban vibe that Anya digs, Blake Smith and Nicholas Komor are mellow souls that deliver edge with upmarket finesse.
From the 15 candidates, only 12 became mentees advancing to challenges to be judged by entertainers, editors, and the divine Ms. Klum. Anya filled three slots in round one of mentee selection, and found herself “in a bind,” to quote Mr. Verreos, with just one vacancy and many bold voices to choose from in round two. “I didn’t expect this seven to be as strong as they are; they are pushing the boundaries more,” admitted Anya.
Mentor Nick revealed his arrows are aimed at Anya: “I don’t know how Anya is gonna discuss construction with these designers when she barely finished a garment her whole season [on Project Runway].” Ouch!
The road ahead is no stroll in the park for these mentors. Their brand and street creds may be tainted based on the pointers they pass to their contenders. Tim Gunn, the show’s patriarch, is there to spoon servings of wisdom. “Mentoring is very individualized based on the designer with whom you are working,” he advised. Anya’s approach to design, business and mentoring is informed by her mentor at 6 Carlos Street. We assume as she tweaks her team, she’ll impart that she learned the ‘M’ in Meiling is for meticulous, which should be evident in the details of a garment.
The formula for selecting teams felt like the recipe for paella. Anya was glued to gut moves and used gender to her advantage. On the flipside, Mondo was hardnosed and deemed over-designing a red flag and dismissed designs for being safe. While Nick scoured for “who can do everything, not something that’s in stores now; I want to see the future of fashion.” Odds are that Shan and Brady won’t get much playtime with the mind games of the workroom, we’ll be tuning in to see how long team Anya can make it work.
© SEAN DRAKES
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