I turned up at the well-chosen, sparkly-walled Beauty Bar for the first of a season's worth of Project Runway viewing parties hosted by Tran Wills of the Fabric Lab and Mondo Guerra, the Denver designer who was put to the test in Season 8, which debuted on Lifetime last night (check out Jef Otte's interview with Mondo for a longer look). The glittery room was filled with gay boys and fashionistas, Mondo's relatives and other style-savvy gawkers. Photos by Kate Levy. See a full slideshow from last night's Project Runway watch party at Beauty Bar.
Mondo himself looked adorable, kind of like an elfin Angus Young, in black short-shorts, a sequined vest, a short-sleeved white shirt with the sleeves rolled just so, a bow tie, white knee socks, patent leather shoes and a slick, shiny pompadour. (I should note right now that it was fun to be in a room where the best hair belonged to the men.)
The scene included girl talk at a mini-manicure station; cupcakes to nosh on; pretty, snowflake-tatted girls in white pique party dresses; cute boys in plaid; loners and phoners; bustiers and bubbles; ruffled hot pants and open booties. And Denver designer James Silvrants offered up a quickie fashion show during commercials late in the game, featuring three models sporting a drop-dead, almost-severe schoolmarm look as they took to the catwalk in party gowns and kimonos. On air, the judges' obsequiously catty criticisms got lots of laughs from everyone and even the vaguest Mondo sightings drew cheers, but no one, and I mean no one, was quite ready to make any predictions yet.
Last night's pre-challenge, in which the designers had five hours to transform a random item from one of their co-contestants' suitcases, was Runway's shortest and possibly most impossible challenge to date. But everyone did their best and only one contestant got the boot last night, the dreadlocked McKell Maddox, who overshot her mark with a dressed-up polo-shirt look that Heidi Klum described as "butt-ugly." That Casanova's dreadful gown somehow kept him in the race we'll never understand, but what the heck. Every show needs some comic relief, so that considered, the narcissistic Casanova is a good choice to keep.
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Mondo slid easily in with a skinny dress that Tim originally worried was too "matronly." And what does the future hold for him? Of course, he can't say. But as the party drew to a close, he promised everyone a good, long run, which could mean anything.
Tran also declined to make any predictions, although I think she knows at least Mondo's outcome. "Maybe Gretchen?" she says. Last night's winner, Gretchen Jones, she notes, also has a home-state connection: She grew up in Colorado and used to work at the Boulder Buffalo Exchange.
But maybe not. It's too soon to tell, so in the meantime, join Tran and Mondo back at Beauty Bar next Thursday for the next episode.