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Project Runway All Stars recap: 'Sketching With Sharks'

Helen literally sketches among sharks in this season’s avant-garde challenge.

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Project Runway All Stars

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
Reality TV

Well, that was shocking. And no, I don’t mean Dmitry finally winning. No, I don’t mean Helen sketching in a shark tank. I mean learning Alyssa Milano was the inspiration for The Little Mermaid. WHAT?

Apparently, this is information that people already knew, but I was shocked. And she said it so offhandedly that the designers didn’t even blink. Maybe she looked so at home in the Long Island Aquarium standing beside two adorable penguins—Kevin and Pam—that they could see the connection. Or maybe I was just the last person on earth to know that Ariel’s beauty came from portraits a young Alyssa.

But you didn’t come here to read about Disney faces, you came here to talk about designs. Avant-garde designs, specifically. This challenge is the chance for the designers to go so far out of the box that you and I at home are like, “What is happening on the runway?” and the judges rave, “This is the best thing ever.” This All Stars season did not disappoint.

The designers receive their inspiration—and challenge instructions—at the Long Island Aquarium. As they’re being told they get two days (finally), they also learn that they only have $150 budget for fabric… unless one designer sketches in the shark tank, then they all will get an extra $100. Helen takes one for the team: “If I can buy more fabric, I’ll risk my life for that.” Well, okay.

As the other designers walk around snapping pics of seahorses and anemone, Helen suits up in scuba gear and climbs into a shark cage. They made it seem scary and life-endangering, but I don’t think that was truly the case. I was more concerned with how she was actually sketching. Waterproof paper? Underwater pens? Pencils? Magic markers? I must know.

With inspirations in the form of cuttlefish, red-bellied piranhas, coral, lion fish, and more, the designers head off to Mood and then the work room. Things are going along swimmingly (see what I did there?) until Justin starts to get too emotional. And he’s breaking my heart. We’ve come to the point in the season where the designers are worn out from working nonstop every day and sleeping very little. It happens to a designer every season, but it’s still hard to watch.

Luckily, though, he’s on an All Stars season where the designers aren’t quite as ruthless. Michelle tries to give him a pep talk, and Helen gives him additional fabric. It does the trick! And he’s back to designing with a clear idea.

Zanna comes in for her critiques and is ready to give the designers some tough love: She tells Michelle she’s not feeling her look, a.k.a. “maternity fish costume” according to Dmitry. Zanna tells Dmitry that he needs to put aside his arrogance and get a win. And she tells Helen that she needs to cool it on the shower loofah ruffles AGAIN.

Then Zanna does the thankless task of introducing this week’s sponsor: Lauren B. Beauty, who is going to do special manicures for the models. I highly doubt the judges can see the nail art from their seats, but we can and the finished products are actually pretty cool.

NEXT: “Holy Picasso, Batman.”