Project Runway All Stars recap: 'Something Wicked This Way Comes'
The designers come up with Wicked and (Glinda the) Good couture designs.
Since opening at the Gershwin Theatre in 2003, Wicked has won numerous awards, broken tons of Broadway records, and gained worldwide fame. When the trailer for All Stars season 4 released and showed Alyssa Milano dropping down in Glinda’s bubble, my first thought was: This is going to be a great challenge. The musical is amazing, so how could it not be?
When I interviewed Milano ahead of the season and she mentioned it was a couture challenge, I thought: This is going to be Chris March’s challenge. And I wasn’t the only one who thought that. However, the judges, the other designers, and probably most of the audience was shocked at what he turned out tonight. After all, this is a couture gown challenge with a Wicked inspiration—it’s right in his wheelhouse, but he seemed to be on an entirely different road than everyone else from the beginning.
The current Broadway Elphaba and Glinda, Christine Dwyer and Jenni Barber, explained the challenge along with Alyssa: The designers would be doing a fashion face-off, good versus wicked. (Clever.) They must each create a couture look with two days and $250.
Last week Jay mentioned the only way Kate would get pulled out of her wedding dress rut was a funeral challenge. This wasn’t exactly that, but as she was saddled with “wicked,” she did have to do something other than white. But don’t worry, she said her look will be “wickedly pretty.” But like all first day designs on two-day challenges, it’s hard to tell what that will turn out to be.
With a slower production schedule, the designers are able to spend more time on their looks and even help one another out by critiquing one anothers’ looks face to face (rather than on camera after the fact like usual) and offering advice. Dmitry does not approve: “It’s called the workroom, not the talkroom.” But I disagree with him. It’s nice to see the designers collaborating and supporting one another—even if they do make sassy remarks to the contrary in the confessional later.
By the way, is it just me or is this season bursting with great one-liners from all the designers? Michelle’s line about Dmitry’s gown being “cooter-ture” was definitely this episode’s winner.
Zanna Roberts Rassi comes for the critique on the second day and has a lot to say: Fabio’s pants-plus-harness-gown look has too many ideas; Sonjia’s dress is “regal”; Helen’s ruffle stuff looks like a shower loofah; and Sam’s look is “dulls-ville.” She might not have the rapport with the designers like Tim Gunn, but she knows how to get straight to the point with her critique. She leaves them with one overall rule: Get rid of anything crafty and replace it with “exquisite details.”
NEXT: “Bye couture, see you tomorrow”
As Georgina is out for the episode, Betsey Johnson is taking her place (which is good news for Chris’ dress). The other guest judge is Modern Family star Ariel Winter. I’m fighting the urge to say something snarky about her qualifications because she seemed perfectly sweet and her opinions weren’t totally off, but I guess these young starlets are just part of the Runway process.
This is where it got a little confusing: Michelle, Justin, Sam, Sonjia, Benjamin, and Dmitry are the winners of the face-offs. Michelle, Justin, and Benjamin have high scores but are just safe. Jay, Kate, and Gunnar have low scores but are safe, which means that Chris, Fabio, and Helen have the lowest scores.
Maybe it’s because Michelle mentioned how Dmitry‘s look was too much like a ballroom gown or because Gunnar said it was like “Nancy Kerrigan gone wild,” but all I see when I look at this is a dress that needs chopped off to be made an ice skating costume. However, the judges are fans, even if it isn’t quite “wicked” enough.
Helen was so into this look—it made her hands go numb she was so committed to that ruffle. And it probably would have been okay in moderation, but using it to create a “side table” was too much… unless you’re Betsey Johnson and need a place to put your drink at all times.
This dress is flawless. It’s hard to make a gown that looks expensive, handmade, and expertly tailored in two days, yet Sonjia did just that. Isaac says it’s “amazing”; Ariel says it’s “beautiful”; and it embodies the “good” aspect of the challenge effortlessly.
NEXT: Wickedly good… and bad
Remember how this was Chris‘ challenge to lose? Well, maybe he wanted to lose this one because his “gown” is so off the mark. Michelle says his look has “the best little whorehouse in Texas” vibe—not subtle but also kind of true. As expected, Betsey likes the costumery of it, but even she isn’t fully on board. In Ariel’s best line of the night, she says it is like a “Hot Topic T-shirt dress.”
The judges have somewhat mixed reviews for Sam‘s look, (so do I honestly) but the important thing to remember is she put it together in one day. She scrapped her first look when Zanna wasn’t a fan, and she was able to whip out a top design.
Fabio decided to play with gender roles and do an “interpretation” of a gown. He took a risk and tried something new—and the pants (which you can’t see in this photo) are pretty cool, but the judges don’t love it. They think his idea failed to live up to the couture aspect of the challenge.
Out: Chris. This is sad, but he doesn’t seem to mind too much—he knows what he makes, and he loves it. As he’s leaving, he says he’s surprised the look was criticized so much. I have to wonder if he’ll look back on the episode and see what we all did… that it wasn’t his best work.
Next Week: Nina Garcia! “You know who doesn’t love Nina? People who suck.” —Dmitry Sholokhov, ladies and gentleman
Project Runway All Stars