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Tim Gunn Dishes on ... the New Runway Stars

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A neon-wearing obsessive tanner, a prodigy who loves short shorts, a guy with a blue mohawk: The contestants on Bravo’s fifth season of design competition Project Runway (which has been taping since June) are a little … out there. As Tim Gunn judiciously puts it, “There’s never been a season when we’ve had so much personal style evident.” Don’t expect to pick a winner early, though. “It’s a real roller coaster, very different from last season,” says Gunn. “One week someone’s on the top; the next week that same person’s on the bottom.” Gunn gave PEOPLE a preview of what to expect from the contestants fans will be talking about.


“He is a big character,” says Gunn of the 37-year-old from Barryville, N.Y. And even though Suede refers to himself in the third person, “I found him to be a very likable guy. He is current and contemporary in what he produces. And he had a lot to say.”


How to characterize Kenley, 25? “Sybil!” Gunn says with a laugh. The Brooklynite and daughter of a tugboat captain has many personalities, all fiery: “I tell designers to listen to their own voice. Kenley doesn’t listen to anyone’s voice but her own.”


“I’m very curious about how the audience will respond to him,” says Gunn of the Manhattanite, 23. While Gunn applauds his designs, he wonders what viewers will think of Wesley’s penchant for “little short shorts—like Little Lord Fauntleroy.”


“People won’t be neutral about Terri—she’s polarizing,” says Gunn of the designer, 39, from Columbus, Ohio. “There’s an intense personality there and not everyone was a fan.” He was: “Terri can get herself out of a jam; she knew how to make it work. I loved her.”


He loves neon as much as he does tanning, so “Blayne is hard to miss,” says Gunn of the 23-year-old Seattle resident. “His work is like his personality: exuberant. And he’s our resident workroom cut-up. Very lovable and funny. Thank God for Blayne!”