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In its first season, Project Runway received critical acclaim including an Emmy nomination for outstanding competitive reality series. Growth in audience popularity was also dramatic from its debut to the season finale, making it a sleeper hit. Project Runway gave Bravo one of its most successful series since Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.
The winning designer of the first season was Pennsylvania-based designer Jay McCarroll. As his prize for winning the competition among 12 designers, McCarroll won $100,000, a mentorship with Banana Republic to aid in developing his own fashion label (which he turned down), and display of his work in the American edition of ELLE magazine. The winning model of the first season, selected by McCarroll, was Julia Beynon.
The 12 fashion designers competing in the first season were:
Mario Cadenas, 23, from Pembroke Pines, Florida
Nora Caliguri, 21, from Cheshire, Connecticut
Daniel Franco, 32, from Los Angeles, California
Starr Ilzhoefer, 27, from Charlotte, North Carolina
Kevin Johnn, 44, from New York, New York
Jay McCarroll, 29, from Lehman, Pennsylvania
Wendy Pepper, 39, from Middleburg, Virginia
Robert Plotkin, 28, from New York, New York
Vanessa Riley, 34, from London, England
Kara Saun, 37, from Los Angeles, California
Austin Scarlett, 23, from Eugene, Oregon
Alexandra Vidal, 21, from Miami, Florida
(ages listed are the designers' ages at the time the show was taped in the summer of 2004.)
The 12 models competing for an ELLE spread in the first season were:
Julia Beynon, 20, from California
Audrey Chihocky, 18, from Virginia
Erin Denardo, 21, from New Jersey
Melissa Haro, 17, from California
Mary Henderson, 19, from Texas
Olga Kononova, 18, from Czech Republic
Joy Pursell, 21, from Texas
Morgan Quinn, 21, from Iowa
Jenny Toth, 22, from Ohio
Allison Zebelian, 19, from Michigan
Martinique Mitchell, 21, from California
Josiane Barboza, 21, from Brazil
(ages listed are according to the profiles on bravotv.com)
Designers chose their models prior to each challenge, with the winner of the previous challenge choosing first and the other designers choosing in random order. The model who was not chosen would be eliminated.
Since models are eliminated at the beginning of the next episode, no model was eliminated in episode 1.
There are only 10 sections for models instead of 11 because no models were out in the reunion episode.
Episode 1: Innovation
Designers created a sexy, glamorous outfit for a night on the town made only from materials bought at a Manhattan supermarket.
Judges: Nina Garcia; Michael Kors; and Patricia Field.
First broadcast December 1, 2004
Episode 2: Vision
Designers used plain white cotton T-shirt tubing to build a garment that conveys "envy."
Judges: Nina Garcia, Constance White, style director at eBay; and Paul Berman.
WINNER: Kara Saun
First broadcast December 8, 2004
Episode 3: Commercial Appeal
Designers created a holiday dress to fit with Banana Republic's current line.
Judges: Nina Garcia; Michael Kors; and Deborah Lloyd, Head Designer at Banana Republic.
First broadcast December 15, 2004
Episode 4: Collaboration
The designers created a new look for rising rock star Sarah Hudson. A team event with three teams, each with a lead designer and two assistants.
Kevin, Nora and Alexandra
Jay, Kara and Robert
Austin, Wendy and Vanessa
Note: team leader in bold
Judges: Nina Garcia; Michael Kors; and Sarah Hudson.
First broadcast January 5, 2005
Episode 5: "Model" Clients
Working with their chosen models, the designers created a wedding dress for that model.
Judges: Michael Kors; Anne Slowey, Fashion News Director at ELLE; and wedding dress designer Amsale.
WINNER: Kara Saun
First broadcast January 12, 2005
Episode 6: Making A Splash
Designers made swimsuits, then attended an evening party with their swimsuit-clad models. The winner was the designer who received a mention in the New York Post gossip column "Page Six".
Judges: Constance White; Anne Slowey; and Richard Johnson, editor of "Page Six".
First broadcast January 19, 2005
Episode 7: Design A Collection
Designers created a collection for the year 2055 as one team. Kevin was the team leader for this challenge.
Judges: Anne Slowey; Michael Kors; and Betsey Johnson.
WINNER: Kara Saun
First broadcast January 26, 2005
Episode 8: Postal Uniform Challenge
Designers redesigned the uniform worn by United States Postal Service workers.
Judges: Nina Garcia; Michael Kors; and United States Postal Service worker Becky Negich.
WINNER: Kara Saun
First broadcast February 2, 2005
Episode 9: Design For The Red Carpet
Designers created a dress for Access Hollywood reporter Nancy O'Dell to wear to the Grammys.
Judges: Nina Garcia; Michael Kors; and Nancy O'Dell.
First broadcast February 9, 2005
Episode 10: Reunion
All of the participating designers gathered for a reunion hosted by Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn on the eve of New York Olympus Fashion Week at which the final three designers will display their collections.
Judges: not applicable
WINNER/OUT: not applicable
First broadcast February 16, 2005
Episode 11: Finale
The final three designers, Jay, Kara Saun, and Wendy, were visited by Tim Gunn at their homes to show their progress of their collection. Each designer created a twelve piece collection for a showing at New York Olympus Fashion Week.
Judges: Nina Garcia; Michael Kors; and Parker Posey.
Winner of Project Runway Season 1: Jay
OUT: Kara Saun, Wendy Pepper
First broadcast February 23, 2005