Michael Caulfield/WireImage
People Staff
May 08, 2009 12:00 AM

The sewing machines were fired up. The personalities were over-the-top. And the competition was fierce. On Thursday’s premiere of The Fashion Show on Bravo, 15 designers faced off in two distinct challenges. Tasked at first with designing a little black dress out of a plain black T-shirt, the competitors had to double down and get creative from the get-go. Judged by Harper’s Bazaar editor Laura Brown, three designers: Johnny R., Merlin and Keith emerged as winners.

Each were asked to pick designers for teams — and sew five distinct looks, each incorporating the same “must have” item. Team Johnny designed a collection around harem pants; Team Merlin was fraught with drama and created their collection around bolero jackets; and Team Keith crafted a spandex tube dress/skirt.

In the end, while only one contestant — Jonny — was sent packing for his too-tight and ill-fitting design, judges Isaac Mizrahi, Fern Mallis and Kelly Rowland weren’t impressed with any of the must-have looks. In fact, Mizrahi called the whole debut runway show “embarrassing.”

Ultimately, though, the winning looks were determined by fashion “industry insiders” in the audience, and James-Paul got the first prize: His design is on sale now at Bravotv.com. — Brian Orloff

Tell us: What did you think of the Fashion Show? Will you keep watching? Who should have won the challenge? And what do you think of Merlin?

Michael Caulfield/WireImage

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