Ken has had enough of Project Runway All Stars — and based on the comments on these season 5 recaps, he’s not alone. But he’s not able to fast-forward through the drama or turn off the TV. Instead, he just packed up a bag, told the producers “see ya later,” and hailed a cab.
But after he got a good night’s rest, he calmed down and returned with a more level head on his shoulders. Maybe that’s what all of these designers need: a really long nap. Because — although the highlighted drama of the episode was Ken’s — there still is that underlying tone of bitterness and hostility. And it’s getting old.
How can the designers stay mad at one another even over a good ol’ game of baseball? I don’t know, but they can.
Alyssa has the designers meet her at the Brooklyn Cyclones stadium on Coney Island. From center field, she talks to them about how she launched her clothing line, Touch: She went to a baseball game and couldn’t find anything cute to wear while “flying her team’s colors” (I refuse to use that phrase more than this once, even though Alyssa said it about 100 times).
In that vein, the designers are being asked to create a high-end athleisure look that a women could wear to the runway, to a game, or to dinner. Sam and Layana are excited for this challenge the most because this is the kind of clothing they design… Runway history indicates they will do poorly.
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After sketching in the stadium and buying lots of neoprene and mesh at Mood, the designers begin working. Asha is making a skirt playing on a baseball uniform and a top playing on a sports bra; Sam is going to do a cheerleader-style circle skirt out of mesh (no surprise); Layana wants to make detailed leggings; Emily is riffing on the basic white tee; Dom is doing a wing-sleeve dress with a detachable skirt like those popular cargo pants back in the early ‘00s; and Kini is doing denim (also no surprise).
A small bit of drama bubbles over at the beginning when Kini and Sam realize they’re both using mesh. “Maybe I can show you how it’s really done,” Kini says in his confessional. But that mesh matching isn’t as bad as what Dom notices: The whole room is using blue textiles. It’s going to be a one-note show, but oddly it doesn’t cause any of these designers to worry.
Zanna’s critiques, on the other hand, do cause some panic. For Sam’s lace and mesh dress, she says he’s creating two different looks instead of a cohesive one. She’s worried that both Kini and Layana are leaning too “sporty” and less “athleisure.” She tells Emily not to go too “ladies who lunch” and gives the whole room a “don’t play it safe” baseball pun before leaving.
Based on previews, I was expecting Zanna’s critique to be what set Ken off, but she likes his design. When the models come, all Ken has to fit is a hood and headphones “from the BaubleBar accessories wall.” But even that doesn’t set him off. All it took was an incorrectly sewn shoulder seam to make him lose it.
NEXT: Ken, where’d you go buddy?
The next morning, the designers return to the workroom, where there’s still no sign of Ken. They have no idea what’s going on. But with two hours left on the clock, he comes back. He says he didn’t want to take his frustration out on the other designers, so he pulled himself from the situation. That might be — dare I say it — smart? He also doesn’t want to go out on a look he actually kind of likes, so he gets to work.
He’s able to whip it together fast enough to get down to the runway with everyone else on time. Alyssa introduces them to guest judge Kristin Cavallari, who’s a good fit for this challenge because she attends a lot of sporting events thanks to husband Jay Cutler. Alyssa also tells the designers that the winning look will be modified, manufactured, and sold as part of her Touch line.
With only seven designers left, Emily is the sole person safe. The rest prepare for good, bad, or so-split-we-don’t-know-if-they’re-top-or-bottom critiques.
Ken designed for an uptown girl; this is a girl who sits higher up in the stadium because she buys the affordable tickets. I’m with Kristin Cavallari — I think there are lots of girls who would wear this (but remember I shop at T.J. Maxx). Georgina doesn’t like it, mostly because it doesn’t feel like Ken. Alyssa likes that it’s sleeveless, but she doesn’t like the pockets on the vest, which Ken added very last minute. Isaac just says it’s not elevated enough.
Dom, one of the few designers who understands sports, is a Phillies fan. She was incredibly thoughtful about her look when creating something warmer for spring training (when it’s still chilly). Alyssa loves the detachable skirt — she thinks it’s clever and thoughtful. Kristin is a fan of the dress without the attached skirt, though Isaac prefers the longer version. And Georgina compliments Dom on how great she can work with textiles.
It was no surprise that Kini went with denim, but what is surprising is how terrible those jeans are. True, he only had a day to make them, but we know Kini is a sewing whiz. These look like Midwest mom jeans (I have a Midwest mom, I can say that). But his coat is so great that it overshadows what’s underneath. Kristin says it’s smart because you could wear it anywhere, and all the judges agree. Even Sam agrees that the coat is great.
This was Layana’s challenge to win, and even though she knocked the leggings out of the park (sorry had to work in at least one sports pun), the judges aren’t on board with her top. Isaac is a fan of the top more than the pants, which were supposed to be the focal point. Kristin says the top should have been a cropped jersey or a T-shirt — which is what Layana had originally made. Alyssa doesn’t feel that the look is gamewear, which means Layana really missed the mark in her eyes.
Like Dom, Asha is a baseball fan. She used a very literal inspiration of a baseball jersey for her skirt, and Alyssa thinks that went a little too literal. Georgina and Isaac think the design is clever, but that the buttons up the skirt are a bit too much. But as Georgina says, she’s English — she doesn’t know anything about baseball!
Oh, Sam, Sam, Sam. This was a challenge he should have passed with flying colors. The judges like his look — but not for this challenge. Kristin says it’s a beautiful look for a cocktail party, and Alyssa agrees. She thinks she would be ridiculed if she showed up to a baseball game like this. But Georgina, who’s likely never been to a sports game of any type in her life, says that if Sam added fur and feathers, that’s what she would wear it to a game.
This exit was telegraphed all the way from last week, but I’m still sad to see Layana go. She was a sweet designer, and more importantly, a sweet person — which this season needs more of. As for the winner, I’m finding it harder and harder to root for Kini because I just don’t understand his attitude. Aren’t people from Hawaii supposed to be more chill than this?
What did you guys think of tonight’s episode? Leave your thoughts below, or find me on Twitter @realdalener.