Stephan Lee
January 11, 2013 AT 12:00 PM EST

Layana Aguilar, 27


”It’s a more mature group this time around, and Layana — God bless her — is more of a kid. Owing to the fact that she’s Brazilian by birth, there’s a sexiness in the DNA of the work that she produces. At the same time, she can channel New York sophistication in a heartbeat.”

Daniel Esquivel, 48



”When we started filming, I kept looking at Daniel, going, ‘Is this for real?’ I mean, the mustache, the laugh, and all that quirkiness — is this a shtick he’s pulling? But there’s no artifice there. At the same time, we’re seeing a really talented designer and someone who’s really quite masterful when it comes to construction.”

Michelle Lesniak Franklin, 34



”Michelle is so in love with what she does that nothing can topple her — absolutely nothing. She has this Oregon Northwest bohemian quirkiness. The difficulty she runs into is whether the judges will get tired of her look, but I think you want a very clear, well-articulated point of view. It’s who she is and what she does!”

Benjamin Mach, 35



”Benjamin is polarizing. I had a positive response to him — I like when people wear their hearts on their sleeve — but other people were completely turned off. He’s a bit of a bossy-boots, and his teammates react in a not very positive way to his constant assertions. I reminded him that while you’re assessed as a team, each designer is creating an individual look — so stop playing creative director!”

Patricia Michaels, 45



”Patricia’s a powerhouse, but she’s also the mouth that won’t stop talking! Her Native American background is very important to who she is and critical to her work. It’s a dimension as a teacher and Runway mentor I have never experienced. I was fascinated by the culture, the iconography, and the meaning of color. I learned a lot from her.”


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