Project Runway's Crazy Contestants
Watch video of the best moments, from Christian Siriano’s catchphrases to Kenley Collins’ backtalk.
The Extraterrestrial: Ari Fish
Project Runway has a high tolerance for eccentric designers, as long as they possess the artistic chops to back up their nuttiness. So when the adorably elfin Ari Fish kicked off Season 6 by refusing to sketch her design, instead using the allotted time to stand on her head and meditate on her red-carpet creation, that didn’t mean she wouldn’t make it to Bryant Park. But her outer space-worthy silver patchwork dress, which Michael Kors dubbed a “disco soccer ball,” was just weird enough to get Fish sent back to her home planet.
The Class Clown: Santino Rice
Season 2’s Santino Rice looks like the overgrown son of comedians Chris Elliott and Gallagher, so it’s appropriate that he’s better remembered for his comedy bits than any of his designs. Rice would routinely amuse his fellow contestants with spot-on impressions of Tim Gunn and Michael Kors, leading to one of the funniest moments in the show’s history when Gunn caught wind of his designer doppelgänger.
The Crazy Cat Lady: Kenley Collins
Bettie Page wannabe Kenley Collins, from Season 5, earned the ire of viewers after backtalking to beloved Runway gurus Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn. But it was her post-show incident that earned the volatile 26-year-old a place in the wacky designers’ hall of fame. Collins allegedly threw a cat, among other items, at her sleeping ex-fiancé during a domestic squabble.
The Hot Mess: Christian Siriano
Before anyone from PETA gets up in arms, that is not, in fact, a dead crow stapled to the head of Season 4 winner Christian Siriano. No, that’s just his meticulously prepped signature hairstyle. If only one of the memorable designer’s ubiquitous catchphrases could describe his personal style, let’s skip “fierce” and go straight to “hot tranny mess.”
The Tanorexic: Blayne Walsh
Speaking of Runway designers with unusual looks, Season 5 gave us Blayne Walsh, the eccentric and cuddly contestant who learned the wonders of flat ironing at a very young age. His radioactive tan could give John Boehner a run for his money, but he remains a favorite for teaching Tim Gunn to say “Holla at your boy!” Too bad his “girlicious” catchphrase didn’t have the same staying power.
The Biker Chick: Stella Zotis
Stella Zotis, from Season 5 of Runway, never met a piece of leather, or “leatha,” she didn’t want to grommet, burn, fringe, or otherwise turn into something from headbanger heaven. Unfortunately, 42-year-old Zotis stumbled on projects requiring a more delicate touch, and was eliminated in the eighth episode.
The One with the Fauxhawk: Stephen "Suede" Baum
What’s stranger—calling yourself “Suede,” or talking about yourself exclusively in the third-person? Stephen Baum made it to the final six of the show, but was eliminated after showing a collection at Fashion Week.
The Basket Case: Vincent Libretti
The moment when Season 3 contestant Vincent started looking like he was from another planet came during the very first challenge, when he put a basket on a model’s head. Repeat—he put a basket on a model’s head. Libretti somehow stuck around until Episode 9, despite additional sartorial disasters, and despite almost quitting after throwing a grand mal hissy fit over how his laundry was pressed.
The Anne Rice Enthusiast: Austin Scarlett
It’s easy to look past vampy Austin Scarlett’s Lestat-lite look because—strange sartorial choices aside—the Season 1 contestant is a genuinely talented designer. The elegant, always polished Scarlett was unique enough to be parodied on Saturday Night Live, which, really, is nothing but a compliment.
The Teddy Bear: Chris March
Chris March, the Season 4 contestant with the outsized laugh and even more outsized personality, was booted in Episode 4 but brought back the following week when then-frontrunner Jack left to get medical help for his MRSA infection. And it’s a good thing, too, because otherwise March wouldn’t have been able to turn his drag queen-outfitting talents on the WWE Divas, a challenge that was custom-fitted for his slightly showy taste. But he was eliminated in the final round after skeeving out the judges (and viewers) by making a dress out of human hair.
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