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Project Runway All Stars: The Wrong One Wins and We Are All Very Disappointed In The Judges

So, since we had four contestants two weeks in a row, we only have a one hour finale this season. This is not a bad thing, since last year’s “Finale Part One” felt really pointless.

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Carolyn is wearing an ugly pink polkadot dress. And I mean *ugly.* The length is terrible, the shade of pink is awful, and the polka dots are atrocious. Did AnthonyRyan design it? (Oh, sorry, did I say that out loud?) She slowly tells us what we already know: four days to create a mini collection that will be presented in a special runway show. The budget will again be $3000. The big difference from last year is that there’s not a set number of pieces they have to make. They are given free reign to choose how many outfits the collection will have. (For the record, Emilio ended up making eight and AnthonyRyan and Uli each made seven. In the end they all were limited to seven for judging.)

Uli decides her theme is “Winter Wonderland” and is sketching a lot of white pieces (natch!) Emilio’s theme is really smart: “Urban Plantation” for the African America working woman. Fashion always like a political point of view. AnthonyRyan decides to make a collection called “The Thin Line” which he claims is about “the line between dark and light,” but sounds to me like he’s making clothes for skinny people. Since that’s all he knows how to do anyway! (Yes, I think it’s Insult AnthonyRyan Day today, don’t you?)

There’s no moving to a new space to work, or private rooms like last year. Carolyn does helpfully show up the first day with the cast offs from the season who are here to beg for an hourly rate as assistants. Well, most of them are. One is apparently here only because he is contractually obligated to show up. AnthonyRyan asks Josh of he’ll be his assistant, but Josh says no. That’s the first time I’ve ever seen a contestant turn down the chance for more screen time, or the hourly rate. It shows just how hurt he is not to make the finale. You know, I almost feel sorry for Josh. If AnthonyRyan had gone home like he should have for that atrocious outfit he made for the Real Woman Challenge, Josh would be there in the finale right now. That really sucks for him. So AnthonyRyan picks Kane instead. Uli takes Casanova. Emilio takes Althea. Casanova makes sure to bring some drama by hating Uli’s method of working, and then disappearing off to take a nap. Aw, Casanova! Don’t be a crappy assistant! We know you can do better–we saw it with Ivy.

Day two and it’s time for Joanna’s walk through. (No going to visit Joanna at Marie Claire this time. Perhaps it’s because they’ve been subtly depimping that whole “works at Marie Claire as an assistant for a year” part of the winner’s package.)

  • Uli: Joanna loves that’s it coherent, but worries there’s no “wow” piece. Also, she wants the faux fur vest that Uli has finished. Joanna, shopping like she’s Heidi.
  • AnthonyRyan: Joanna really doesn’t have anything useful to say to him, except to ask about one very yellow and black outfit that AnthonyRyan admits he worries is a bit “bumblebee.”
  • Emilio: He doesn’t have anything on the mannequins  so they look over his drawings. Joanna is very excited that it’s the first time in ProjRun history they are having a political collection in the finale.

Then there’s makeup consultation with the product displaying make up people, and I assume hair consultations, but since hair didn’t pay extra money we’ll never know.

Day Three and the assistants are fired, leaving Uli, AnthonyRyan and Emilio to finish on their own. There’s a lot of panic and stress, and there’s never a point where they stop to create the video for their show, which is funny since that was a big focus last season. Oh well, whatever.

The show is once again at Gotham Hall. Shall we go to the clothes?

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Project Runway All Stars: To Paris (And Back)

Once again, there are four. Carolyn wanders out wearing an unfinished top and ugly pants. No one cares what Carolyn wears, not even Carolyn! This, she tells us, is the haute couture challenge. To celebrate, there will be shopping at Janssens & Janssens instead of Mood. There will be a tour of the House of Valentino….

….because they are on their way to Paris. How does Carolyn even make this sound boring? They obviously ought to have sprung for money to hire Tyra Banks to host, even just for this one episode. That woman knows how to make contestants get excited about going abroad, by shrieking with excitement in order to get the contestants to react. After all, she just spent a ton of money on them, she wants a reaction damn it!

Once in Paris and the House of Valentino, we discover that Carolyn has been left behind, and Joanna is now hosting. This is not a bad thing. Joanna is excited about Paris and taking her charges around the tour of Valentino’s Fashion House. There is footage of them walking through the most chic sweatshop you’ll ever set foot in. The contestants then get invites to the Valentino Paris Runway show (I recapped it at the time) that is happening the next day. Josh says he’s “like a straight guy at a baseball game” he’s so excited. Someone should tell him it’s football straight guys are into.

The next day we get to sketching by the Eiffel Tower and shopping at the aforementioned Janssens & Janssens. The budget is 3000€ (that’s just under $4000) and there’s a full hour to shop–I assume because it’s an unfamiliar store, and no one speaks French.

And then after the Valentino show (where they are obviously guests of Joanna’s)… they go home to New York. So that was just a random detour to exhaust them, and maybe get someone sick from air travel? The designers are all obviously exhausted, as they buckle down to try and complete what turns out to be a one day challenge.

Speaking of exhausted, so is Joanna, who is working mightily not to show it. As for her walk through:

  • Emilio–She says sees the Valentino red in his fabric choice. She likes that it feels Parisienne, but worries about his ideas for appliques taking over the design.
  • Uli: Joanna says (and I quote!) “Gladiator alligator meets Sicillian widow.” Alll righty then.
  • Josh: She points out his fabric choices don’t look couture (Nope. They look like quilting fabric.) The lace bodice he has on the dummy on the other hand is fabulous. He tries to describe what he’s doing and how this is going to work, but Joanna doesn’t see it, so she just walks away.
  • AnthonyRyan: After 6 hours he’s abandoning his first design and therefore has very little to show her. He says to Joanna to pray for him. After last week? He’s gonna need it.

The moddles arrive, and Uli’s dress is way to big. Emilio is fitting sleeves. Josh’s looks horrific, and I mean OMG WTF style horrific. AnthonyRyan is just proud he had something to fit on his moddle, even if it currently looks (in his words) “like Tarzan The Warrior Princess.”

Day of Runway, and naturally no one is finished because Couture In A Day is a near impossibility. When Emilio starts to complain, Josh snaps that he’s not the only one behind. AnthonyRyan has somehow pulled a dress out of his ass. Josh is gluing beading on the top half of his dress (which is the good looking part.) Uli is fretting about her moddle’s goods showing.

On that note, to the runway!

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Project Runway All Stars: Fatigued

…and then there were four, on an air craft carrier called “The Intrepid.” As our remaining contestants walk up to Carolyn,  horrendously heroic music is playing, obviously written by somebody with a John Williams fetish. Carolyn is wearing a black leather jacket. It does not suit her, nor does it look at all military. It looks like it’s her idea of military–in other words, all wrong.

Welcome to the real women challenge. It’s about time–I was starting to wonder if they might skip it this season. But no, they decided to wait until there were only four left. Is this to avoid the embarrassment of an idiot who doesn’t know how to make clothes for those who are larger than a size four? No! It’s due to the concept. The real women are veterans, one from each branch–Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines. (Each is helpful labelled via t-shirts so that the designers–none of whom have served a day in their life–will be able to properly identify which is which.) Noted that the Army vet has lost a leg and has a service dog.

Since this is the “real women challenge” they will walk the runway instead of the models. As for who gets who…this appears to have been preassigned.  No one picks anyone. Carolyn just says “come meet your models!”  and the four vets walk directly up to the four designers in the order they are standing. The pairs end up being:

  • Josh–One Legged Army Captain with Dog
  • Emilio–African American Navy Vet
  • AnthonyRyan–Larger Woman Air Force Vet
  • Uli–Vacant Eyed Marine Vet

Each designer sits down with their vet and we get a bit of back story on each. The one legged Army vet apparently lost her leg in Bosnia because of a blot clot, not because she was in Iraq or Afghanistan seeing combat. Wait, what? Lifetime wanted us to think they had a wounded vet from our ten year war…and they didn’t. Due to lack of sway? Due to inability to find someone who was willing to come on the show? Due to the continuing inability of our media to acknowledge we just sacrificed thousands of lives in a ten year war? The war in Bosnia was when I was in high school, for christssake. I know we leave our troops scattered around the globe after combat like so many toys we forgot to clean up, but this feels like a cop out.

The Air Force vet is a religious officer. The Navy vet is a jet engine mechanic. The Marine vet is 25 and has been out of the service for a year. Each of them has a different event to go to, ranging from birthday party to wedding guest. Wait, what? Did I just see what I thought I saw? Lifetime tries to make it out like they’re this channel that’s all pro military with their godawful Army Wives program, and yet they didn’t have a vet that (was willing to, on camera) represent the last ten years of war that’s been mostly invisible from civilians. This bugs. A lot.

$150 budget, one day challenge. 30 minutes at Mood, where Josh fails to find the fabric he wants, so he buys black and white fabric and green dye and then has meltdown that this is going to be a process that dirties his hands. AnthonyRyan is fretting because his larger woman wants her bust line minimized, and yet he bought fabric that has zero structure to it. Uli’s vet loved the dress Uli herself was sporting during their consultation, so the plan is to make her a nice “Uli Dress.” Emilio is very focused that his vet’s event is in Vegas.

Time for Joanna! She feels it is an honour to be dressing female veterans, and announces therefore she’s going to be extra tough. (Oh, goody!)

  • AnthonyRyan: This is for the AirForce Vet’s 40 birthday party. She requested strapless and long. (A larger woman who wants strapless? Um, bad idea.) Joanna likes that AnthonyRyan is doing a dark to light gradation with his fabric, but thinks that he should ignore the “strapless” directive and make it at least one shoulder, as a large figured woman will appreciate the ability to have the support.
  • Uli: This is for the Marine Vet’s best friend’s wedding. Joanna instantly notes that Uli has made the exact same dress she herself is wearing, just in a different print. Uli nods that this is exactly what she is going for.
  • Emilio: His Navy vet is going to a bachlorette party in Vegas, and she said her favorite color is yellow. Currently it looks like he’s making a sexy big bird dress. Joanna worries that he’s not as familiar with designing for real woman. He defends himself as perfectly capable. Joanna’s tone says “We’ll see.”
  • Josh: His one legged Army vet doesn’t seem to have an event–or if she does he’s not bothered to mention it. Joanna is all into how inspired Josh is by this challenge. Rather than talk about his outfit, Josh gets to talks about his brother who is in the Army serving in Afghanistan, and how his brother seeing him on TV helped them understand each other, or something. It boils down to his talk with Joanna being all about Josh. So much for tough.

Anthony Ryan plays consultant to Josh and his dyeing project, because apparently it’s natural for Josh to be begging AnthonyRyan for help. When the vets show up, Uli is nearly done and the flitting goes swimmingly. Emilio’s fitting doesn’t go quite as well, there are bodice issues. AnthonyRyan’s vet looks like she’s wearing a shower curtain when she first steps out. Josh doesn’t have anything ready, so there’s no fitting. He insists that his design process cannot be rushed. I pity his vet.

Day of runway, and AnthonyRyan is struggling with his shower curtain. Emilio is still sewing. Josh finally has something to put on his vet–and he even magically made something matching for the dog!

On that note, let’s go to the runway.

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Project Runway All Stars: Target Retail Price Points

…and then there were five, on 5th Avenue. AnthonyRyan clams to have never been there before, not even as a tourist. The five of them figure out which store they’re supposed to enter by the one that has to have a small PR:AS logo on its front window. The retailer with that mark of shame? Elie Tahari, who we are told is “one of the biggest forces in fashion right now.” So today he’s in and the next day he’s…well, we won’t point that out. Uli goes on about how airy and light the place is while we catch a glimpse of sweatshop workers happy to be working away in such a wonderful environment.

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Eventually they find Carolyn and suffer through her slow talk on the subject of retail and ready-to-wear. The client is (surprise) Elie Tahari, who is all excited to be on TV. He also talks irritatingly slow, but he has an accent, so at least he has an excuse. The challenge is to make a “wow” outfit cheap enough so that when it retails for $500-$700 you make a profit. (This seems a bit generous. Last year the highest end dress was price pointed at $500. Everyone else was in the $350 range.) The prize is to have the outfit made by Tarhari’s shop upstairs and carried on his website. The contestants won’t see the profits though. Like last year, they will go to the Save The Garment District charity organization.

30 minutes to sketch on the name branded tablets (I thought HP stopped making hardware though?) in borrowed corner offices with views of 5th Avenue these guys will most likely never see again. Then downstairs to Elie’s fabric storage, so as to insure that whatever the contestants make, he will already have a cheap and plentiful supply on hand. Once everyone has their swatches, what should be the most interesting part of the episode commences, where they sit down with someone with a clue, who talks them through the reality of how much everything is going to cost. Unlike last year though, no one talks money on camera. The phrase that is used instead (over and over) is “this would fall nicely within our target retail price point.” I’m a little sorry they didn’t use this to educate us more the way Nanette Lapore did last year. I assume Tahari’s people were embarrassed to get that real? Such a shame. That’s why I was looking forward to this challenge.

Once back in the workroom, Uli worries she should not have picked white fabric again. AnthonyRyan continues to get the bitchy, catty edit. Ivy is a little freaked out over choosing to work with a print, which she doesn’t do normally. Emilio is being cocky about his colors.

And it’s time for Joanna, who shows up with Tahari in tow, calling them a “double act”, so that he can judge what the slave labor is making for his line.

  • Ivy–Elie looks at her busy print and suggests rather than use the whole thing, cut it off at the knees. Ivy is upset because her whole idea of changing to a maxi dress was to show off the print. She suggests maybe the woman who buys it can hem it to length. Joanna eyes pop and she says any designer who thinks the customer should immediately head to the tailor after purchasing is lazy.
  • Josh–Elie takes one look at the dress figure whose breasts are completely uncovered and demands to know what happens “there.” Joanna says she’s glad he asked, so she didn’t have to. Tahari delicately suggests that Josh consider what woman would want to wear that much fuchsia, especially with fuchsia lace trim.
  • Emilio–He’s all into color blocking today. Joanna says it’s an interesting color combo, but that it’s hard to wear. Elie says that simpler is easier to wear, and because of that he thinks the back is stronger than the front.
  • Uli–Joanna has fun with the “Elie, Uli” introductions. Elie says her white fabric is very heavy. Joanna can only see how enormous the silhouette currently looks from the side. Uli admits she got afraid that her dress was too simple. Elie grabs that use of the “afraid” word and starts lecturing about how fear is what causes designers to go wrong.
  • AnthonyRyan–Joanna notes immediately that the print is doing a lot of the work of the dress for him. There is discussion of the pockets on the dress, and whether they up the cost of production. Elie says that the cost is marginal, he’s more worried about the lines on the hips that the pockets are creating. then he starts lecturing AnthonyRyan about how things being easy makes one lazy, and starts ranting about how those who have to fight and struggle appreciate what they have more. Not 100% sure how that relates to the dress, but Joanna declares herself moved.

Elie’s parting words are to work from “All love and no fear.” Uli and Emilio get to work changing their designs to follow Elie’s advice. Then we move on to video chatting with loved ones. AnthonyRyan’s chat does nothing to counteract the bitchy edit he’s gotten the last couple of weeks. Ivy’s shows her talking to Casanova, who gives her a pep talk and makes me sorry he’s gone.

Time for moddles! Josh and Uli have fitting issues and only 15 minutes left today to fix them. Ivy decides if she’s going home this week, she’s doing it on her terms and keeps the dress length long.

Day of runway and AnthonyRyan is quite pleased at how his dress came out. Uli is worried about her white dress still. Josh’s zipper is a complete disaster that makes the model look like “she has a dump in her butt.”

Right-o then. On that note, let’s go to the runway.

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Project Runway All Stars: Six Flappers Flapping

…and then there were six, hanging out having lunch. Ivy misses Casanova. Anthony Ryan points out from here on out they’ll all be up on the runway. No more mushy middle!

With lunch over, they head back to the runway studio and meet Carolyn who is carrying envelopes, which I assume is the cheap version of the button bag. Anthony sighs “Not a Team Challenge?” Oh yes dear. There’s an even number? You can safely bet it is most likely a team challenge. Carolyn starts slowly drooling on about the latest thing in fashion, which is the 1920s revival. The challenge this week is to join that revival–but where is your girl going? She then passes out the envelopes. The invitations read as follows:

  • Uli–Evening Social Soriee
  • Josh–Afternoon Garden Party
  • Anthony Ryan–After Hours Speakeasy
  • LauraKathleen–Evening Social Soriee
  • Ivy–After Hours Speakeasy
  • Emilio–Afternoon Garden Party.

It’s a mother fucking Fashion Face off. The top three will be the winners of the pairs, the bottom three will be the losers. $250 budget at Mood, one day challenge. Also the tables in the workroom have been paired, so that they have to share space, just in case there wasn’t enough drama just from the challenge structure.

LauraKathleen announces she doesn’t need feathers to compensate for her design, just as Uli is covering her design with feathers. Sigh. They didn’t need to move those tables together. Ivy is blows her budget at mood on a $150/yd fabric, and then is seriously insecure about AnthonyRyan working so close to her. LauraKathleen may be turning her nose up at Uli’s feathers, but she’s all over fur and beads. It turns out Uli’s confident enough that when LauraKathleen needs help smashing the aforesaid beads to sew them, she imparts a trick and a tool to the girl. Way to make LauraKathleen look bad, Uli. Meanwhile, Emilio and Josh are both in the world of prints, even though Josh is only using his to help him “see the drape.” They are the friendliest of the pairs–Emilio because he knows Josh is lucky to still be here, and Josh because he knows he’s lucky to still be here.

And now it’s time for Joanna:

  • Josh–She worries his drape is too “marsupial.” I love this way of putting it. She also notes he is one of two in the room who has yet to win a challenge. The other, it is noted, is Ivy.
  • Emilio–She worries that his print is something that could be found on Grandma’s sofa and his whole outfit will read old. Emilio says his woman owns the Garden Party Estate, while Josh’s is a guest. Josh playfully sasses back that Emilio’s woman is just an appetizer for her husband–his girl is the main course.
  • LauraKathleen–Joanna loves the pant aspect of her design, and then passes on.
  • Uli–Joanna takes one look at Uli’s dress and starts Charleston-ing. Her main critique is it looks similar to other things Uli has done.
  • AnthonyRyan–Joanna loves the feather caplet, and threatens to steal it at the end of the challenge. She asks AnthonyRyan to rate Ivy’s dress. He gives it a 7-8.
  • Ivy–She calls Ivy’s dress idea “very Roxy Hart.” She then asks Ivy to judge AnthonyRyan. She gives it a 5. Ouch.

Uli forgot to buy a skin colored lining for her dress, which is a huge problem since her dress is barely anything but embellishments. Ivy does not have anything to put on her moddle, since she’s behind–again. AnthonyRyan name checks the Nine West Accessory wall. This must be why the judges love him so much.

(Commercial Interruption: Did anyone else see that ad for Project Runway: Spotlight Marchesa? Is this what we are doing now? We gave up on after shows, we gave up on making the moddles happen, so Lifetime tries to get the audience to stay on their channel after ProjRun is over by giving air time to the judges to showcase their runway work on an hour long infomercial? Discuss.)

Day of runway, and once again everyone is behind. There’s lots of handsewing and lining and fringing to be done. Josh seems to be designated time caller. There are also backstabbing catty comments from Ivy, AnthonyRyan and LauraKathleen. Insecurity is not a fashionable accessory people!

On that note, let’s go to the runway.

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Project Runway All Stars: It’s A Ho Ho Whole Christmas Tree!

…and then there were seven, at the South Side Seaport. Josh is fantasizing this will be a pirate challenge, so he can be his ultra tacky self and perhaps make the top three in the process. Not to be. Instead Carolyn introduces Fawaz Gruosi, a man who designs…wait for it…accessories. I have to wonder if he was originally contracted to guest appear on Project Accessory, and when that show disappeared down the memory hole, they quietly moved him over. He certainly seems to think that he is talking to accessory designers. He apparently will be back for the runway portion of the show and will be awarding the winner a watch. I assume this is not the $50 gold watch that one gets after 25 years of service with a company, but you never know. The other guest judge (the one the contestants actually get excited over), Carolyn tells us, will be Kylie Minogue.

Once they’ve been told the prize, Carolyn breaks the news that this is the unconventional challenge. Emilio immediately flashes back to his disaster of a bikini with the washers from season seven. Casanova says he’s not used to making garments out of bullsh*t. Yes dear, we know, THAT’S THE POINT. Anyway, the store on the pier they are being sent to turns out to be “Christmas In New York.” Yes, one of those year-round Christmas stores, that I can never figure out how they survive during the summer. The budget is $350, which seems to impress the contestants, because none of them are thinking about the reality of how much they need to buy of stuff in order to make an outfit that doesn’t look to be made from what they bought.

Once they walk in, Uli and Ivy realise how little $350 is. Santa not only greets them at the door, but does the honors of calling time Tim Gunn style. I am only sorry it is not Tim in the suit. Santa hohohos them out of the store and Emilio notes that a fat white dude crawling down the chimney would get shot in his neighborhood. Happy Holidays everyone!

There are lots of short dresses being planned. Josh is realising that he shopped stupid–the “roll of blue fabric” he thought he bought is actually just a cover for a small rolled up “Happy Hanukkah” children’s toy. He’s hosed, especially when he starts planning a bra-let since he’s has no fabric. Oh and I hope you liked last week’s Uli Explosion because this week is promising to be an Uli Explosion on Steroids. Meanwhile, Emilio is having a meltdown in the corner.

Let’s get to Joanna, shall we? She gives them a pep talk that they can get through this.

  • Josh–Joanna looks in horror and says “Is this all you’ve got?” She notes that when she looks around the room there are people pulling together “more considered outfits.” Josh remains in denial.
  • Casanova–Joanna catches him in the act of deconstruction. He announces that’s because what he was making “was horrible.” She tells him actually from far away she thought it looked good. He asks if she would wear it. She admits not.
  • Emilio–The top collar piece that he has so far is fantastic, and Joanna is impressed that he found a color palette that was un-Christmas. But she is concerned that his bottom half seems to be made all of ribbon.
  • AnthonyRyan–Joanna says “It doesn’t scream Christmas, it screams winter.” Anthony Ryan seems to be under the mistaken impression he is making an outfit for Kylie to wear. I’m pretty sure that’s not the challenge.
  • Uli–Under Joanna’s questioning, Uli admits that the dress is the same basic shape as her 70s disco dress, but she promises it will be more structured so that the judges won’t see that.
  • LauraKathleen–Joanna notes there is a 60 vibe to her design. LauraKathleen promises she’s going to make sure it stays modern though.
  • Ivy–Joanna likes her idea of taking a deconstructed garland and using it as fringe, but she notes there not quite enough of it. Ivy nods, saying she hopes to have enough to at least make it looked balanced.

Just before leaving, Joanna reminds everyone that the NineWest Accessory wall is still legal, so they do have that to help them along even if they don’t have real fabric. With that, she exits.

Josh is making fun of Emilio’s ribbon dress asking “Are we in design school?,” completely oblivious that all he has for the bottom half of his own dress is ribbon, and not nearly as much. Meanwhile Casanova is tearing everything off his dress *again* and starting over a third time. Meanwhile, the moddles show up for fittings and every last designer puts them to work as assistants, doing intern like work of cutting leaves off branches and cutting bead strands to pieces.

Day of runway and everyone thinks they’re screwed. Emilio is gluing his dress together, and destroying glue guns in the process. Ivy is freaking that she should have bought more garland to Casanova, who trumps her with the fact that he has no dress. He’s literally cobbling stuff together from the trash. He ends up running around the room taking donations from everyone and creating what he calls “a recycling dress.” Everyone gives, which is probably the most surprising part. Magically his moddle walks out wearing a dress that he made in under two hours.

On that note, let’s hit the runway.

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Project Runway All Stars: No One Cares What Carolyn Wears

…and then there were eight, walking one of the non developed sections of The High Line Park. Carolyn manages to make the “excitement” of the High Line sound slow and boring. She is joined by the much faster talking Joshua David and Robert Hammond, who founded the non-profit that created, maintains and is developing the new sections of the park. They have a spiel they’ve pre-written for the occasion, but apparently it doesn’t contain the buzzword Carolyn was looking for, so when they’re done, she interjects “So essentially you recycled the High Line?” with such emphasis on “recycled” it’s almost comical.

So is this a “recycle challenge?” No. It’s a “green,” “environmentally friendly” challenge. They are to make a red carpet gown in an “environmentally friendly way.”

….That’s…not exactly in the designer’s control. That’s really up to the ProjRun producers to give them a “green” workroom and “environmentally friendly” fabrics, is it not?

Well, apparently the fabrics have been taken care of–they’ll be using “AirDye” fabrics, a company which prides itself on using “no water or power.” (I’m sorry but I’m picturing thirsty third world people sewing in the dark.) Carolyn has swatches from them that everyone gets to pick–they are “double sided,” according to her, so this way everyone gets two fabric looks to work with. Emilio, having won last week, picks first. Some of them don’t look double sided to me–especially the chiffons, but ok.

(Note that for whatever reason Laura Kathleen’s fabric isn’t featured on Lifetime’s website, so the shots of her fabric are screengrabs.)

It turns out there is recycling involved, in that they’re not allowed to shop, so the show has collected all their half used thread spools, and cast off closures and embellishments from all the challenges leading up to now for them to use along with their fabrics. Diane von Fürstenberg will be the guest judge today, as she’s a big supporter of the High Line, so it all ties in nicely. And this red carpet dress? Carolyn slowly suggests she might like to wear the winning look. (Seriously? No. Either they’re designing for you, and they all fall at your feet like they do when Heidi announces the outfit is for her, or you don’t. This coy shit does not fly.) 30 minutes to sit on the finished parts of the High Line among the tourist hordes walking it and sketch….

…and then back to the workroom, where there’s a free for all over the leftover trims and embellishments collected from the previous challenges. Emilio and Casanova have a private moment making fun of Uli and her “bedsheet garments” in Spanish. Ivy calls them out, saying she can’t wait for this episode to air so she can read the subtitles of what they just said. Casanova laughs, embarrassed to be caught.

Uli is having an “Uli explosion,” according to her, since she discovered she accidentally picked a depressing fabric. LauraKathleen is making a jumper. (For the red carpet? O. K.) AnthonyRyan feels stuck because he ended up with a chiffon, and doesn’t work with those very often. Ivy has a ton of pieces to cut out and stitch together. She’s also flashing back to being eliminated on the red carpet challenge for not finishing two seasons ago. That’s pleasant.

Let’s go to Joanna. She says she ‘s “excited” that “Runway is embracing ecotech,” in a voice that says she’d rather kick a puppy. She also refers to Diane von Fürstenberg as “DvF.” From here on out, in the interest of not having to press all the keys to get an umlaut, I will too.

  • LauraKathleen–Joanna likes the idea of the pants, as long as they are so full you can’t really tell it’s not a dress.
  • Emilio–Joanna calls it a spectacular color and likes that the design is simple.
  • AnthonyRyan–Joanna loves the strong blue and that he doubled up the sheer fabric. She also notes it has the flowiness one associates with DvF.
  • Althea–Joanna frets that it might be a bit dreary on a red carpet.
  • Josh–Joanna doesn’t say she hates the fabric, but you can tell that’s what she means as she drops her “fabulous or hideous” remark.
  • Casanova–When he shows Joanna the backside color, he folds the fabric in the center of a breast, causing her to remark that his design is “nipple focused.”
  • Ivy–Joanna is impressed with her clear vision, and tells her good luck.
  • Uli–Joanna frowns that the “Uli explosion” of trimmings makes it very similar to last week.

Ivy is so behind that she has no dress when the moddles walk in. Her moddle giggles uncomfortably. Althea’s fabric looks terrible. Emilio only has an underdress for his moddle, but unlike Ivy, he’s not worried. He should be. Time is short. The day ends, and everyone goes back and drinks at the hotel and giggles over red carpet dresses.

Is it already day of runway? They have two hours. Emilio is suddenly realizing how screwed he is. Uli feels better realizing she’s not the only one who is screwed for time. Ivy is melting down and hacking at her dress with scissors. AnthonyRyan’s moddle is having trouble walking in his voluminous insanity. Joshua name checks the shoes he pulls from the wall.

Ivy and Emilio are sewing their dresses onto their moddles. Ivy is just glad hers is not naked.

We all are, Ivy. Let’s go to the runway.

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Project Runway All Stars: Avante Garde Androgyny

Welcome back! it’s been a couple of weeks, so feel free to dig back through the recaps and remind yourself of where we are, and the last challenge where we finally lost Andrae. (Where’s Andrae?) Now we are nine, as the insanely slow talking Carolyn Murphy tells us. Which of you will make it through? If she talks any slower, I may not make it through this introduction. I think I can see the contestants growing older as she talks.

Today’s challenge: androgyny. There are groans from the contestants. If that wasn’t enough, Carolyn then tells them to “push the boundaries” and “make some avante garde outfits.” So wait–is this the “avante garde challenge” too? Or is Carolyn merely babbling? She talks so slow, I assume everything she says is deliberate. The budget is $150 budget for Mood and one day to do this. Because avante garde in a day. Lovely.

Kayne name checks Lady Gaga, Adam Lambert and David Bowie as what he thinks of when he hears “androgynous.” So I guess he means “rock star.” LauraKathleen announces she “doesn’t do androgyny” and looks worried. Ivy and Casanova are checking out each other’s sketches and giggling. Uli is a dress maker, so she is also a little at sea here. Emilio figures a good suit looks good on both a woman and a man. (Only if the woman is a size zero with no curves! But I digress.)

Where is Joanna? Instead we have Georgina Chapman show up. Just as I’m starting to fret that we will be bereft of a Joanna walk through, it turns out Georgina is here to announce the twist–Male Moddles. Just as everyone starts panicking they didn’t buy enough fabric for larger sized bodies, it turns out these male moddles are here…for them to make a second outfit for. Tomorrow. When they get to go back to Mood with another $150. The second outfit must go with the first, because the two will be coming out together. The sigh of relief from the contestants is as palatable as mine when I realised we weren’t going to miss Joanna walking through after all.

Thirty minutes with the guys to take their measurements and get inspired leads several of the designers to hold their pieces upon the moddles (or put them in them) in order to see how androgynous their original pieces were. Most of them pass the test–even Anthony Ryan, who decides that a dress on a guy checks that avante garde box just nicely. Josh is talking “skirt plus assless chaps.” How is Josh so lacking in the taste department? AnthonyRyan can’t stop giggling and tells him that’s straight vulgar. Meanwhile Uli is having a meltdown in the corner. Poor girl. Once they’re done with the men, the female moddles come in for fittings, and the rest of the day flies by.

Day two and we’re back at Mood. Emilio apparently bought them out of his original fabric yesterday and has to improvise. I believe in you, Emilio! In the workroom, there are now male model dummys next to the female, and some of the contestants simply move pieces they made yesterday to the male dummy, and get to work on a new look for the women. AnthonyRyan moves his dress wholesale, causing some of the designers to question this choice, and the next thing you know he’s put it on Josh, who walks it up and down the workroom. It’s not a bad look. Josh puts in an order for one like he’s Heidi Klum.

Finally Joanna! She issues a stern rebuke for some of the outfits that scraped by two weeks ago before getting down to business.

  • Uli–She’s relying heavily on trims and strong shoulders. When Joanna sees she’s moved the original pants to the male model, she looks quizzical, and Uli admits there wasn’t much “ball room,” but it worked. Joanna eyes pop, and then she announces she’s never heard that expression, but she’ll take it.
  • AnthonyRyan–He first says that when it comes to androgyny, everyone does pants, so he made a dress. But then it turns out he’s making pants to go with said dress anyway. The fabric for said pant is quite yellow, and Joanna warns him that it could look a bit like a wasp.
  • Althea–Joanna looks at her two outfits and name checks the movie Eyes Wide Shut, in that these could be outfits for a religious cult. Or maybe Star Trek?
  • Josh–At Josh’s description of his outfit Joanna says “Woof. That does sound avante garde.” in a way that suggests this is not a good thing.
  • Ivy–The shorts Ivy has on her male dummy are so tight, and the “ball room” pouch so pronounced that Joanna says that if that’s the only thing he’s wearing, she is not responsible for how Georgina reacts.
  • Emilio–Joanna can’t immediately tell if the outfit she’s looking at is the man’s or the woman’s which pleases Emilio immensely. She likes the avante garde twists on his garment, saying “the judges gave you a twist, you should give them a twist.”
  • Casanova–Joanna asks bluntly what man would wear gold leather. She then suggests that it is very Gladiator. Casanova looks puzzled.
  • LauraKathleen–Joanna looks highly doubtful at the design she’s seeing and decided all she can do is nit pick that the details aren’t perfectly symmetrical  because if you can’t fix the overall design, you can at least keep Georgina from tearing it apart on technical merits.
  • Kayne–He has leather flowers on his jacket that look like they belong on a clown and a smiley face made of black leather squares on the nipples and abdomen of his yellow chiffon. Joanna say “it could be hideous…or fabulous.” Whatever it is, it is certainly a choice.

Joanna decided to emphasize that this is the avante garde challenge before leaving. Just incase we weren’t clear that Carolyn had not been babbling. She also seems to have convinced Kayne that the smiley face is not the best idea. Thank god for small mercies. Casanova starts freaking out during the second female model fitting because his pants pattern is wrong, and looks terrible on his girl. Ivy swoops in and tries to help. The the boys show up and we are treated to the sight of men walking in high heels. Josh is in heaven.

Day of runway and everyone is behind and panicking. Casanova, Josh, Uli, all freaking. Ivy is finished, so she turns to help Casanova. Again. Not complaining, but if Ivy thinks this is rehabilitating her image, I’m not sure what to say.

Anyway, let’s head down to the runway.

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Project Runway All Stars: “Can You Picture That?”

…and then there were ten. Carolyn and her slow talking self is wearing a dress that seemingly only has nude netting for sides and a back. It would be interesting to look at if she talked faster. We haven’t got all day.

This is ProjRun’s first “interactive challenge.” What the hell does that mean? Apparently it means something that would take to long to explain if Carolyn did it at her normal half speed, so we’re heading over to Joanna in the workroom to get the low down. Just before the contestants leave, Carolyn says she’ll “see them tomorrow for the runway.” So we already know that whatever this challenge is, it’s not one Lifetime was going to waste extra money to make a two-day challenge. (Oh and as Carolyn leaves, we see her dress does indeed have a back. In case you were worried.)

Joanna is accompanied by one Sandra Micek who is an “SVP of Marketing” at hotel fodder rag USA Today. She claims they pioneered “visual storytelling” and “infographics.” This is a nice way of saying their newspaper is written at an 8-year-old level and all stories are accompanied with large pictures, as if from a toddler’s book, because they assume their patrons cannot actually read. Joanna says the theme for this week is “Every Picture Tells a Story.” Apparently at some point fans of PR were asked to tweet pictures in to help inspire this challenge. (Note to self: start following Project Runway on Twitter.) The challenge is to chose one from the thousands of entries and turn it into a fashion design. (Um, thousands? That’s going to take a while isn’t it? I’m going to assume the producers quietly whittled it down to like 100.)

For the record: when I think “interactive” I think tweeting in the now with a back and forth exchange–you know “inter-acting?” This is far too passive to really count as “interactive.” This is really more of a “We ran out of ideas, so we got free help from the fans” challenge. I guess that name is a little too long, and a little too “truth in advertising,” so we’ll let them call it “Interactive.” I just wish the the contestants would stop spewing the word “interactive” over and over like good little parrots. Joanna tells them to think about the “headline” the piece will have. Also–the winning design will fill some white space in USA Today‘s Style section.

Noted that this is where the HP branded computers come into play (after last week, I was wondering if we were rid of them), though there are only two workstations, so the contestants have to select their pictures two at a time, while the other eight cool their heels and wait. Emilio, as last week’s winner, picks first and get to choose who gets first crack at the second workstation. He chooses Casanova. When Casanova finishes, he passes his station to Ivy, and Emilio passes his to Althea. They in turn, then pass them to Uli and Kanye when finished, who pass them to Josh and AnthonyRyan. This is really just a way to play up the fact that no one likes LauraKathleen because she and Andrae get last crack at the computers.

(Noted that Lifetime does not have the pictures the designers chose up on their website. I did screen grabs.)

There’s more Laura Kathleen drama when they get back from their $150 shopping spree at Mood, as Josh tries to tell her to be nicer. I’m not sure why the show felt the need to fill our early episodes with this. Where’s Joanna?

There’s Joanna! Who’s that with her? Oh it’s USA Today‘s Style Editor, who Joanna does not name, but is Chryon’d as “Alison Maxwell.”

  • Andrae–His picture is a self portrait of a woman. I’m not sure why, but it apparently inspired his to do this weird “tinker toy” panel insanity that Joanna terms “make your own tee shirt.” She can’t decide if it’s “bonkers or brilliant.” He says it’s brilliantly bonkers.
  • LauraKathleen–She chose her picture because it’s vulnerable. Joanna asks who wears long gowns. LauraKathleen says she does! All the time! Alison points out that *she* never does. Joanna suggests maybe LauraKathleen should be trying to design for “everyone” (read the style director at USAT) than for herself.
  • Emilio–His picture is of a little girl named Sophie, so he calls his tee-shirt dress “Sophie’s Choice.” Joanna winces, and suggests maybe he should rethink that.
  • Josh–His picture is of rusted gas meters, which says a lot about him that’s really interesting. His color palette and architectural design he got from it is less so, at least at this stage. Joanna frowns that this is a bit “arts and craftsy.”
  • Uli–Her clouds from an airplane photo is really pretty and so is her fabrics. Alison says “perfect.” Joanna says nothing.
  • Kanye–We aren’t shown Kanye’s picture, just Joanna looking at his red dress with a black lace cut out and saying “hooker-y.”
  • Casanova–No picture again. Just Joanna hating the hat Casanova picked from the Branded Accessory wall.
  • Ivy–Her picture is a monarch butterfly. Joanna plays to the “Ivy matures” drama by stating her energy this season is coming from a good place.
  • AnthonyRyan–His picture is one that is not quickly identifiable, which is part of the interest, but it looks like fire escape shadows through a window–or maybe ceiling trussing in a warehouse. Very urban. He calls it “Always Moving Forward” and sells himself to the USAT lady by breaking out his cancer back story.
  • Althea–Her photo looks like the interior of a train station. The architecture is very Victorian England. Lots of sun dappled columns and high arched ceilings. This has somehow inspired her to make a taupe suit. Joanna doesn’t really get the correlation either.

Alison tells the contestants to make sure the emotion than inspired them to pick the picture translates into the final product. Then they leave so the moddles can come in and and everyone can get catty about each other’s work. And that’s the end of the day.

Day of runway and everyone is running around frantically. Josh admits he bit off more than he can chew. Emilio is trying to line his five yards of fabric dress. Lots of makeup and hair products displayed for the camera. Andrae is talking to the woman in his picture, asking if she is a lost lonely, artistic soul like him. Sometimes I worry about Andrae.

Right. Let’s go to the runway.

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Project Runway All Stars: Don’t Forget to Spray and Neuter Your Designers

We join our contestants in Long Island City in a graffiti heaven. Oh excuse me, a “legal aerosol art” heaven. Someone has conveniently recreated the Project Runway All Stars Logo in spray paint on the wall behind Carolyn, which helps distract from the ugly dress she’s sporting today.

So what’s up with the spray paint aerosol art? This is apparently the create your own patterned fabric challenge. Except instead of an HP product placement challenge to make the prints on computer, they’re making their patterns on a yard or two of chiffon and/or cotton with a milk crate’s worth of spray paint. (Question–is this because ProjRun has caught up to the reality that HP is getting out of the hardware business? Or is this a paint/art challenge and the computer product placement challenge will show up later?)

Suede has never touched a can of spray paint and is horrified enough by the prospect to talk about himself in the third person. Oh wait, he always does that. He must not be that horrified after all. Laura Kathleen is worried about ruining her expensive clothes. Kayne walks up to the graffiti artists at work and starts interviewing them to get “inspirational words.” Ivy decides this is a time to go all girl power (or is that grrrrl power?) which is going to be used to create a “superhero suit.” One of the artists starts giving lessons on using spray paint as an artist’s tool, to “ooohs” and “ahhs.” Emilio notes that those who do graffiti well do it really well, and those who imitate always look like amateurs. There is no in between. Althea is using a really cool cardboard cut out to help create a print. Ivy finishes her girl power words, and decides to help Casanova finish his fabrics as payback for helping her last week.

Onward to Mood where they have 15 minutes and $50 to spend on extra stuff to supplement their fabrics. It’s a very quick trip. And then it’s back to the hotel to sleep while their fabrics dry and everyone is catty about everyone else to their bunk mates.

Upon arriving at the workroom the next day, the first thing is that some of them realize their painted cotton got stiff and they have to treat it differently than they think. Instead of panicking, Emilio starts treating his as a denim fabric, and decides to make a jacket. Making It Work!

And now it’s time for the drama. Kayne bitches about Laura Kathleen to Ivy in the snack room. Laura Kathleen comes over to get some grub, and gets all self conscious when they stop talking and lashes out at Ivy. After Ivy leaves, Kayne tries to tell Laura no one likes her without actually saying so. It feels like the lunchroom cafeteria in my middle school. It is all very pointless and makes me wish Joanna would just show up already.

And heeeeere’s Joanna! She’s got on a sharp leather dress this week. She looks like a Terminator. Or a Terminatrix. Here to exterminate your soul and your clothing.

  • Althea–Joanna notes the pattern is very close to what Althea herself is wearing, which turns out to be one of her own prints. I think it looks like a purple giraffe. (I’ve never seen a purple giraffe, I never hope to see one. But I can tell you anyhow, I’d rather see than be one.) Joanna says the dress isn’t doing the work.
  • Emilio–She thinks the drip effect of the pattern looks like blood. He points out it’s actually upside down, so it drips up.
  • Kayne–He says he wants his skirt to pop on the runway. She says it makes her think of her fine line in fashion–is it hideous or is it fabulous?
  • AnthonyRyan–She likes the inky black bits. He wants it to be very graphic–he chose the monotone because he didn’t want it to be over-the-rainbow. “Surrender Dorothy!” say Joanna.
  • Casanova–Speaking of Rainbows…and beaded appliques. This isn’t over the rainbow–it is the rainbow! Taste the rainbow! Joanna loves it.
  • Uli–Joanna loves the pattern and the colors and then moves on to talking about Uli’s life in East Germany.
  • Andrae–Joanna asks “Is it wearable art?” He says “I hope so!”
  • Josh–His top looks like Van Gogh on fire. He talks about how familiar he is with working with a spray can–on his hair every morning!
  • Suede–Suede says “earth, sky, stars.” It looks like yellow and green polka dots, which is none of those things. He scores points by pointing out one can wear a bra with it. Joanna approves!
  • Laura Kathleen–Joanna frets at her about the architectural hem and if it works. Laura is confident it does.
  • Ivy–Ivy name checks Lichtenstein in her design idea. Joanna doesn’t have anything useful to say about it, so she has Ivy comment about the room.

Joanna declares herself moved by some of the pieces she sees here. Moved out the door, that is. Bye Joanna!

(Hi moddles! Kanye’s is pooping rainbow fabric. He seems to understand this must be fixed. Bye Moddles!)

And suddenly this day morphs into the next. AnthonyRyan has a real problem with fabric weight. Uli makes jokes about these being flammable fabric. AnthonyRyan threatens to set someone on fire by the end of the show. Suede is so stressed by his amount of work he starts talking about himself in the first person. Time for runway and everyone runs round like mad for a minute, and then they all head downstairs.

To the runway!

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