In case you've been living under a rock, tonight marks the single most important night in television this entire year: Project Runway returns. And today, critics around the country claim that, for the most part, the greatest show on earth continues to be just as ridiculously fabulous as it always was: Tim still says "Make it work!"; Michael Kors still talks like your senile, campy great aunt; Nina still looks like she wants to cut a bitch. What everyone from the Washington Post's Robin Givhan to the Detroit Free Press has to say about the new season, after the jump.
[P]roblematic, however, is that by the first episode, too many of the competitors have settled into well-worn archetypes... All the conversations and exchanges feel predictable. [T]here are several moments during the premiere when [Tim] Gunn's look of horror indicates he knows in his heart that there is nothing to be done to make some of those garments "work"...[Michael] Kors still has issues with things looking old, "farty" and too MOB — mother-of-the-bride..The first challenge begins...and you hope they will involve constructing a cocktail dress out of sod. But no.
—Robin Givhan, Washington Post
...In Season 4, the big difference is that a lot of the contestants have already had some favorable breaks and encouraging success. This may initially turn off some devoted fans of the series - why root for someone who has already designed "red carpet gowns" for a string of big-name celebrities, or who has worked for Ralph Lauren, or has an at least minorly successful labels of their own?...But, then again, you have to trust that the brains behind "Project Runway" understand that all bets are off when the cameras are on, the judges hold you to a high standard and everyone else is insanely jealous of you.
—Tim Goodman, San Francisco Chronicle
...even after three seasons of home study, some designers found it unexpectedly hard to, as Gunn often puts it, "carry on." He confides that one woman, whom he gently describes as "difficult," had to be taken aside for an off-camera intervention. When asked why she was so miserable, she admitted she'd assumed the rigors of the challenges were exaggerated for TV.
—Elise Juska, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
In the season opener, the contestants have a few minutes to grab armloads of luxury fabrics, then a few hours to turn the scraps into a dress to wow the judges... frantic sewing ensues, frank critiques follow — and someone gets voted off the runway.
—Maria Puente, USA Today
Something about this show, now in its fourth season, seduces the fashionista in all of us... I can watch hours of Tim Gunn bobbing between half-draped dress forms, wielding sagacious wit and an SAT vocabulary... The challenges, bundled with drama and conflict, are as ratcheted up as a scandalous A-line (whatever that means). The crop of competing talent, their personalities clashing like silver bracelets and gold earrings (guilty of that, too), is as engaging as a plunging neckline (or so I've heard).
—Monica Watrous, Kansas City Star
After an absence of more than a year, Bravo's "Project Runway," the grande dame of design competitions, returns for a fourth season tonight at 10. Does it still have its edge? Its sense of style? Can it still - forgive me - make it work? You bet your Manolos it can. Even to this fashionably fashion-challenged dolt, "Runway" remains brilliant in concept and execution.
—Mark Perlgard , Boston Herald
...starting Wednesday night, reality junkies can feel a little better about themselves. Bravo begins the fourth season of "Project Runway," a series that's useful in making the argument that reality TV can also be quality fare....Although it's labeled as a fashion show, "Runway" is really a lesson in design that sneaks up on you, explaining the mysteries of high style and laying bare the technical side of making a garment. Even if you'd never sit still for seminars in sewing, draping, fabrics, color or the history of fashion, the knowledge seeps in as you watch 15 contestants being whittled down, based on their mastery of such topics. Before you know it, you'll be talking about bias cuts and Balenciaga like an old Women's Wear Daily pro.
—Julie Hinds, Detroit Free Press