'Project Runway All Stars' recap: 'Some Like It Hot Dog'
Can someone explain what we just watched? That was the wackiest hour of Project Runway I think I’ve ever seen. Well, I’m forgetting the stripper and WWE challenges. I guess we’ll just say this show has had some very crazy episodes, and this one now ranks up there. I should have known we would be in for some weird fun when the title of the episode was listed as “Some Like It Hot Dog.”
It started off normal: Alyssa came out on the runway to present the challenge. In a smart move of synergy, Lifetime gets to promo their Marilyn Monroe miniseries AND give the designers a purpose this week. Marilyn left a lasting impression on pop culture, Alyssa says. In that vein, the designers must create a red carpet gown that dazzles, is timeless, and would be suitable for the Oscars. (What a perfectly timed episode!) In addition to securing a spot at the final runway, the designers will also land a job if they win this challenge: Designer for an upcoming Lifetime miniseries event.
With $500 burning a hole in each of their pockets, the designers get to shopping at Mood. Michelle blows through her cash very quickly with a burnout velvet that costs $80 a yard. Sonjia goes the opposite route and buys a variety of gold fabrics because—per usual—she doesn’t know what she wants to do exactly. Helen grabs a beaded Chantilly lace in a mint julep color. A theme from this episode emerges here: Is Helen’s fabric really sparkly? From my TV, this does not seem like a fabric that popped, but Helen was in love with the “timeless color.” Dmitry wanted to get a fringe to match the off-white lace he found, but he couldn’t find it. (Sean Kelly must have been there before him and bought the store out.)
So in a pretty genius move, Dmitry buys the bright white fringe and dyes it with tea bags. The result is off-white fringe that matches his lace. But if you ask Helen, the result is a dirty mop that looks like it has been cleaning up vomit. The woman paints a picture with her words—but she should be worrying about her own fabric. When Michelle (completely unprompted, I’m guessing the producers asked her to start some drama) asks, “Helen, do you think your lace is sparkly enough?’ Helen LOSES IT. As the creator of Mary Lambert‘s 2014 Grammy performance dress, which wouldn’t stop shining “for the life of itself”—whatever that means—Helen knows what sparkly is.
But there’s no time to contemplate fabrics because Isaac Mizrahi is entering the workroom with… wait for it … LASSIE. There was some loose connection between Lassie being a Hollywood icon, Isaac having a dog collection, the Best Friends Animal Society, and an exec from Dreamworks. All I know is that someone paid money for a Project Runway All Stars sponsorship and it resulted in a dog couture runway show that made me LOL over and over at the absurdity.
Lassie got to select the designers’ fabrics, dog models, and movie genres—yes, you read that right. No offense to Alyssa, but I kind of hope Lassie hosts Project Runway All Stars season 5.
If I were a designer, I would be angry that I’m called to do a mini, dog-related challenge during time I could be prepping my looks for the actual runway. But there is a prize for this challenge on the line as well. The winner will become a guest designer for Lassie’s couture canine collection. An excerpt from my notes at this moment: “WHAT IS HAPPENING?”
But the result is the most adorable runway in which four tiny dogs strutt their stuff on the red carpet. Michelle comes out the winner—and now has the title of Lassie’s Creative Director. How these designers aren’t laughing at the absurdity of this is beyond me. But then Helen utters, “My model pooped on the runway,” and I’m so thankful this is the first portion of the show and not the real runway.
NEXT: Back to the main event
Getting back to the focus of designing for humans, the designers talk through their looks with Zanna. She is for the most part complimentary: “It’s going to be a really tough call to get rid of anyone at this point,” she says. The only bad critiques she has are for Michelle’s back chains and Helen’s high-necked bodice.
Because we’re down to only four designers and this was a slightly blown-out episode, we were treated to more workroom personality: Michelle likes to speak in a Russian accent and ask Dmitry about his “crystal balls.” Helen tries to drive the whole room crazy with hammering. And we learn that Sonjia is a really good friend to hidden zippers, but the feeling isn’t mutual. Even with the odd detour, they’re all able to finish their looks in time the morning of the show.
Out on the runway, a very pregnant Alyssa reminds them of the Lifetime prize and introduces this week’s guest judge: Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso. Having star power is fun, but it’s also nice to have people who deal with fashion day in and day out. I trust their opinions more—and I’m sure the designers do as well. And she—along with Alyssa, Isaac, and Georgina—has her work cut out for her. All four designs are definitely All Stars worthy.
Buying endless amounts of gold fabric paid off for Sonjia. Unlike the other designers who went with “timeless,” as in retro, looks, Sonjia picked something that would be “timeless,” as in memorable in the future. And the giant bow top and embroidered skirt is just that. As Georgina mentions, there are almost too many places for the eye to go—which seems to be a trend with Sonjia. But the other judges love it; they feel she’s the only one who really took a risk.
Michelle was banking on that burnout velvet fabric—and it almost got in her way. The judges seem very split on whether it looks expensive or cheap, but they do love the fit and form of her slinky gown. The open back is flawless, except for that single chain, which she decided to keep for reasons unknown to anyone. But she did add a little creativity with thumb hooks along the side of the dress. And now I’m questioning why all of my dresses don’t have a place for my thumbs!
The other designers tried to warn Helen that her lace wasn’t sparkly enough and she just wouldn’t listen. Her dress is gorgeous, but it’s not memorable or original. She played it safe, and it’s hurting her that the length is off and the top was pulled together at the last minute.
Dmitry was able to transform fringe and tea bags into a runway-ready gown. The judges love it so much that Alyssa whips out the F word. (Isaac does not approve of such language from pregnant women.) Everything about the dress is strange: clear straps, an odd length, lace with fringe, crystals—but somehow it all just works.
NEXT: And the final three are…
The judges seemed pretty evenly split on all four looks, so I honestly had no clue who they would choose. But they go with…
Immediately, Sonjia is also told she’s made it to the finals. And then Alyssa goes to announce whether Helen or Michelle is out—except she says the judges haven’t made their decision yet. In an evil-for-the-designers, but a treat-for-the-viewers twist, the remaining designers are given one more challenge. Using the losing looks from this season, the ladies must create a new look in an hour on the runway.
The judges leave the room and suddenly the runway is filled with a season full of terrible looks, sewing equipment, and two models. Who knew the runway was that big? Michelle has no problem jumping in on this last-minute scramble. She grabs Jay’s pants from two episodes ago and starts ripping away. Meanwhile Helen is BREAKING DOWN. She has the world’s biggest crocodile tears as she realizes that she’s tearing about her friends’ works.
This is when Michelle shows that she is an amazing human being. Instead of thinking of her own future on the show and maximizing her time, she takes valuable minutes to go over and hug and comfort Helen. That’s all Helen needs: She is able to pull out this…
It’s a cute dress with a Peter Pan-like collar that she created from Pamela uptown girl look, Fabio’s bridesmaid dress, and Chris’ Wicked couture design.
Meanwhile, Michelle throws together a pancho (a poncho made out of Jay’s pants) over a tank, which is also from Jay’s look, and a skirt, using Justin’s avant-garde design. I don’t really get this look—the judges don’t seem to mind it, though. The biggest problem is she used two looks instead of three per the rules.
The judges give them both great critiques, and have to make the hard decision, but they do…
Which means that Helen, Sonjia, and Dmitry will be our final three next week, when they will create an eight-piece collection in four days. If the promos don’t lie (which they never do), it looks like Sonjia bursts into tears upon just hearing that. I can’t wait.