The Fashion Show has been eclipsed by Top Chef MastersProject Runway (soon to come on the abused woman channel–er, I mean, Lifetime) hasn’t started yet…so thank gawd the next season of Design Star‘s about to make its debut. My take on this season’s lineup of competitors:

Amy Sklar
She seems polished enough, and she’s coined her own design phrase. I think “eclelegant” will be much less annoying than previous competitors Vanessa De Leon’s “glamalistic” or Michael Stribling’s “It’s official. I’m amazing.” As long as she doesn’t overuse it, that is. Her eponymous company Web site is pretty slick, although for the most part overly beige rooms and only 3 sites represented. The lack of variety suggests she hasn’t been doing this very long, which makes her achievements thus far pretty impressive. She’ll be a strong contender.

Antonio Ballatore
Geezus, one look at this dude’s audition video and I’d like to vote him off right now. What the hell, HGTV? What a schlub this guy is…it’s insulting to all the other interior designers who tried out to let this doofus cavedweller on the show. Maybe they’re trying to lure other grunting he-men to HGTV? Or maybe they’re looking to attract the dudes who like bears? I don’t know, I’m not buyin’ it.

Dan Vickery
This season’s pretty boy, Dan has the construction chops that Antonio seems to have, but unlike Antonio, has a palatable personal style. I’m curious about his experience though…why’s a guy with all of his building and supposed design experience (including a degree in architecture) working as a bartender? It sort of smacks of “mom and dad made me get a degree so I’d have something to fall back on, but what I really want to do is ACT!” That sort of do-anything-to-get-on-TV thing always comes off as inauthentic to me. However, that’s basically Kim Myles in a nutshell and that certainly seemed to work out okay…

Jany Lee
Jany currently hails from Dallas, so we’ve gotta root for her, right? Cute girl, seems a little ditzy but I give props to any gal who travels around the world solo as I used to. It remains to be seen whether or not she’s a particularly strong design force, but I suspect she’ll be one of the most sincere contestants on the show. I’ll also predict that she’ll be the first to be blindsided by a dig from whomever turns out to be the closet evil one.

Jason Champion
Jason, you had me at “Favorite thing in your home: Framed 1960 circus costume from Kandy’s Tijuana Pink Poodles.” And when you were talking about how everyone deserved good design, no matter what their price point? Amen, brother. But then you had to go and wreck it by using the term, “expecially.” Twice. Exspecially, Jason? Expecially and expresso make my ears hurt and my skin ef-fing crawl. I’m going to look the other way on this because you seem like such a nice guy…but you better step it up if you want to be a TV host!

Jan Guerin
This whole International Association of Color Consultation accredidation sounds about as meaningful as being ordained via the Internets, but whatever. I was kind of bored with her audition video, especially when she changed her shoes like Mr. Rodgers. I’m getting a vibe off her like she’s this season’s Crazee…we’ll see if I’m right.

Lonni Paul
I’m mystified by all of these designers with experience who don’t have a decent Web site…but I guess if you are a designer to the stars as Lonni is, you don’t have to be so adept at marketing to the masses. She seems cute and goofy…maybe we’ll like her. I have to say I hated the designs on her audition video though. Bor-ing.

NataLee Callahan
Natalee’s been a gosh-darned swell designer for a year now, you betcha! She can buy a chair with torn upholstery and have it fixed! Wow, impressive! Sorry, a bit of a saccharine video for ye jaded designer. She strikes me as being Ms. Average…nothing heinous, but nothing special either. Hopefully, I’m wrong, but I’m expecting a bit of a snoozefest stylistically from her.

Nathan Galui
Nate is my pick to go head-to-head with Amy for the final challenge. He has a solid design background and enough confidence to make him successful without coming off as arrogant. I also wish I’d had enough design maturity at 26 as he does, judging by his home. I did crack up when he referred to his “Scan” dining chairs and I can’t wait to rip off that posh-sounding reference the next time I visit Scandinavia (the furniture store, as unfortunately, I have no immediate plans to visit the geographic region). Go Nate!

Tashica Morgan
Cute and classic is my impression of Tashica. I’m not so much a fan of her kitchen’s faux backsplash but think her living room backdrop looked very Domino. Based on her bio, she comes across as scrappy and the brains of the bunch. Ditching a law career to go back to school for a masters in interior design tells me she’s got some cajones and isn’t much of a “settler”…and the fact that she was a surrogate mother to her siblings at a young age, leads me to believe she won’t take any guff from the whiners in the bunch.