No matter what show-altering changes Project Runway has thrown at us over the years -- from substitute judges (can't wait for Michael Kors to be back for good!) to switching networks to its current home on Lifetime Television -- for diehard fans like us at SideReel, the next season of our favorite fashion show can never come soon enough! Luckily we won't have to wait much longer -- season 8 premieres Thursday, July 29th at 9/8c on Lifetime -- and previous seasons' updates have never been quite as exciting as the ones that season 8 has in store! We get to look forward to extended 90 minute episodes (every week!), as well as a record-breaking 17 contestants vying for their spots at Bryant Park and ultimately the grand prize! So in order to get even more pumped for the upcoming new season, here's a rundown of the newest batch of aspiring designers, including our snap judgments (yes, we dare to go there):
Name: A.J. Thouvenot
Hometown: St. Louis, MO
First Impressions: His apparent affinity for "playful" children's clothing reeks a bit of Miley Cyrus, but who knows -- it may translate to some intriguing runway fare! And what's with the Justin Bieber 'do?
Name: Andy South
Hometown: Waipahu, HI
First Impressions: The fact that he's rockin' some extreme harem pants is already a red flag in my book, but then again, it can be misleading to judge a designer's talent based on their own duds!
Name: April Johnston
Hometown: Savannah, GA
First Impressions: Being the youngest competitor this season and fresh out of college, she'll need to pack loads of confidence to overtake her more experienced couturiers. But as Christian Siriano proved back in season 4, age ain't nothin' but a number!
Hometown: Astoria, NY
First Impressions: Casanova? Seriously? Seriously. This guy better be good!
Name: Christopher Collins
Hometown: San Francisco, CA
First Impressions: I'm diggin' his knack for taking casual materials like denim and jersey and making them look upscale. Let's see how he does with recycled car parts and trash bags!
Name: Gretchen Jones
Hometown: Portland, OR
First Impressions: You know a gal has confidence when she can wear her own pieces. While her designs are definitely approachable, they might translate as a bit "blah" on the runway!
Name: Ivy Higa
Hometown: New York, NY
First Impressions: Samurai-inspired warrior coats? "Blood"-splattered dress shirts? Is it morbid that I'm intrigued?
Name: Jason Troisi
Hometown: Greenwich, CT
First Impressions: He's got a kind of Justin Bobby vibe goin' on, but I won't held that against him. What I might hold against him, however, is that he claims his favorite designer is himself. Bring it!
Name: Kristin Haskins Simms
Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
First Impressions: With a background in fashion and graphic design, I'm looking forward to vibrant prints and patterns a la Uli Herzner from season 3!
Name: McKell Maddox
Hometown: Layton, UT
First Impressions: Alright, I'm calling it right now. She's going to be this season's token crazy.
Name: Michael Costello
Hometown: Palm Springs, CA
First Impressions: Third time's the charm when it comes to Michael -- he's tried out for the show twice previously -- but hopefully his unbridled enthusiasm doesn't reflect too much in his designs, because so far his looks appear borderline drag queen...
Name: Michael Drummond
Hometown: St. Louis, MO
First Impressions: Knit plastic?! This guy is either super innovative or totally loopy. I suppose there's a very fine line...
Name: Mondo Guerra
Hometown: Denver, CO
First Impressions: .... I'm sorry. I'm speechless. I think his photo speaks for itself. I think I'd like to change my vote for "token crazy."
Name: Nicholas D'Aurizio
Hometown: New York, NY
First Impressions: The first thing out of his mouth at casting is that he's "into Twilight." I'm just hoping that doesn't involve any cut-off jean Jacob shorts or anything inspired by Bella Swan's snooze-worthy closet!
Name: Peach Carr
Hometown: Lake Forest, IL
First Impressions: Okay, she's just about the 13th person to quote McQueen (RIP!) as her favorite designer. That's great, but if McQueen's work is really one of your inspirations, your runway work better be exciting as hell!
Name: Sarah Trost
Hometown: Toluca Lake, CA
First Impressions: Her ironic approach to fashion is totally risky, but definitely interesting -- who knew that choosing the ugliest patterns you can find could be translated into something high-fashion?
Name: Valerie Mayen
Hometown: Cleveland, OH
First Impressions: Her uber-girliness makes for some sweet designs, but hopefully she doesn't get labeled by the judges as a one-trick pony!
Which designer gets your vote for early favorite? For more info on season 8's designers, check out the official Lifetime page for contestant bios and casting tape clips!