Atlanta gets a representative during the ninth season on “Project Runway”: Rafael Cox, 27.
Past notable contestants include season three finalist Mychael Knight and the always entertaining Anthony Williams from season seven.
There’s a twist this year. The show starts with 20 people but gets quickly cut to a more typical 16 after each person makes a presentation before the judges, including Tim Gunn, Nina Garcia, Michael Kors and Heidi Klum.
During Cox’s intro during the 20, we don’t hear any comments from the judges but they seem impressed. “Nina and I are clearly talking sex with our eyes,” he said as an aside on the show.
Without spoiling too much, it’s fair to say Cox makes it through and is part of the cast of 16. How does he do during the first challenge? Well, let’s just say Kors references the Flintstones during his critique of Cox’s first outfit. You’ll know Thursday whether that’s a good thing – or not.
Cox, in an interview, said he grew up in Decatur, graduated from Southwest DeKalb High School and was a 2006 graduate of American Intercontinental University with a fashion design/marketing degree. He’s been able to get dresses into local boutiques including La Bella Vie, Rose Couture and House of Adrene.
His point of view? “I pretty much love angular artistic and really structural pieces. I love making shapes. I love having angular, really detailed looking stuff on a model’s body. And I cater to all sizes.”
[UPDATE JULY 29, 2011 AND SPOILER IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE OPENER YET: There's a reason why I didn't spend much time talking about Rafael. He was the first one out among the top 16. His outfit was eviscerated by eveyrone, save for Christine Ricci, who liked aspects of his blouse. But it wasn't enough. He admitted to me he had issues creating magic in the time frame and that was obvious in this challenge. The program drew 2.7 million viewers, up 8% from a year ago and typical for the show.]
The most memorable contestants on the show after screening the first episode include one of the oldest designers ever on the show at age 57. And there’s a 29-year-old woman from Trinidad and Tobago who shows up with only four months of sewing experience.
“Project Runway,” season 9 debut at 9 p.m. on Lifetime
By Rodney Ho, email@example.com, AJCRadioTV blog