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Project Runway All Stars recap: 'Designing for the Duchess'

The designers take a quick—quick—trip to get London inspiration.

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Pawel Kaminski/Lifetime

Project Runway All Stars

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
Reality TV

Project Runway has never been subtle with its product placements (EW already wrote about it once this week), but this episode went to new extremes. The designers went to London for a day. They sketched, bought fabric, met the Duchess of York, and returned right back to Parsons, in what I’m guessing was the span of 48 hours. Why you ask did they go all the way there? Because of this movie. Granted, the designers did get to meet Sarah Ferguson—which was cool—and the sponsorship didn’t go so far to make the challenge teddy bear themed, but it just felt unnecessary. (Also, these designers are always running on too little sleep, do you think throwing in jetlag is the best idea?)

Anyway, tonight’s episode: Alyssa informed the designers that there is this creepy little bear named Paddington, and because of him, they get to have their own “adventure” in London. Cue lots of screaming. So, they all pack up their Tumi luggage (“I love this bag!”), board a plane, and meet Zanna in her motherland. And she’s not alone. Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, is the guest star—and the one to introduce the challenge: Paddington (yes, more Paddington) is famous for his duffle coat and London is famous for its blah weather; hence the designers will create a coat for their challenge.

Product placement jokes aside, this is an interesting challenge—outerwear isn’t explored all that often on Project Runway. Melissa and Benjamin work in outerwear, so they already have a leg up. And Benjamin has his other leg up, too, because he lived in London for 10 years. (He’s actually Australian if you are confused by the accent.)

The designers board a double-decker bus, where they will get to sightsee, take a ton of selfies, and sketch their designs. I could go through everyone’s design inspiration, but let me just sum up: old mixed with new… for everyone.

They’re then taken to MacCulloch & Wallis to select their textiles and FabricGate, All Stars Season 4 Edition, immediately occurs. Here’s what we know: Sonjia saw a fabric she wanted and was holding it; Benjamin also liked that fabric, so he wanted her to decide quickly if she was going to use it or not. She decided to, so he bought an inferior fabric and was sad about it.

I mentioned this during the Wicked challenge and the Chris/Dmitry debacle as well, but it bears repeating: Designers should never change what they’re doing because of what someone else is doing. London knowledge aside, Benjamin was at a disadvantage from the beginning because he didn’t do what he really wanted to do. And that always shows in the clothes.

After their £200 is spent, the designers head to the Intercontinental London for high tea with the Duchess of York and Zanna. How classy! Too bad Fabio looks like a bum—his words, not mine. There’s really no purpose to this event (except more product placement), but it was fun to see everyone interacting with a Duchess.

NEXT: “It feels like just yesterday we were in London.”