Baroque style couture gowns in two days — what could go wrong?
Credit: Pawel Kaminski

Baroque and couture — words that evoke detailed intricate work that requires lots and lots of time. In Project Runway All Stars world, lots of time means two whole days.

We have our first two-day challenge of the season, but even with that extra day, many designers still struggled. And that struggle led to one contentious designer finally being ousted. But let’s start from the top …

The designers meet Alyssa — the Queen of Project Runway All Stars — at Medieval Times. Atop a horse, she explains how the designers will need to draw upon the Baroque movement to design couture gowns. As Sam explains, this means lots of lace, lots of detail, lots of everything. So naturally this leads to the designers having lots of ideas. There’s talk of fitted bodices, corsets, brocade prints, detailed trims, and lace, lace, lace.

After sketching (while watching the medieval show, which seems pretty distracting), the designers scout Mood for the best textiles. Sam struggles to find something to suit his original design, so he grabs an expensive lace and plans to come up with a new design later. But back in the workroom he’s a bit vision-less, and simply starts draping it on his dressform. And then — according to the way the workroom scenes were edited, at least — he starts getting picked on by about everyone in the room.

Apparently Kini is still upset about the team challenge and everyone is still mad that the judges saved him. Mitchell’s needling reminded me of a little brother who is intentionally trying to annoy you. Dom wasn’t anti-Sam, though, and she gives him advice on his design (he wanted to use muslin underneath and she suggested he layer the lace strategically instead). This only makes the other designers angrier. This whole ordeal made me really miss the Junior kids. They helped one another simply because they enjoyed being among peers. Take note, adults.

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Anyway, on the second day of the challenge, Zanna comes in for critiques. As Ken says, “She [rips] everybody a new asshole.” And as she says, couture is all about attention to detail, so she’s going to be “all up in [their] business.” The most common critique she gives is to avoid costuming, which a lot of people (Ken, Alexander, Kini) are leaning into too much.

Although Zanna’s critiques are harsh, they don’t require anyone to do major changes after. Same with model fittings. But, in general, the designers are struggling to finish on the second night. As they’re leaving the workroom that evening, even Kini isn’t finished. EVEN KINI!

NEXT: Baroque-ing down the runway

But like Project Runway magic every week, the designers and their models are ready to go to the runway the next day. Well, everyone but Mitchell. His zipper broke and his model’s back is exposed. He tells her to head down to the runway anyway, and he’ll figure it out.

After the designers are seated for the runway, Alyssa introduces the guest judges: supermodel Coco Rocha and Georgina co-founder Keren Craig. Keren is there for an important reason: She and Georgina will be working with the winning designer to create a look for the new Marches Notte collection.

Once the baroque looks walk the runway, Alyssa announces Dom, Asha, Kini, and Emily are safe — which means Ken, Sam, Layna, Mitchell, Valerie, and Alexander get critiques.


Ken designed for a bold, strong woman; he tried to achieve this by using rich materials. And although Mitchell says the look is fit for an “elven mistress,” the judges mostly love it. Alyssa says he nailed the “strong and powerful” aspect of the look. Georgina and Keren are fans, but Isaac says it’s not his favorite. Coco has mixed feelings: At first she thought “nope, not at all,” but then she saw it walk the runway, and it won her over.


As Georgina says, Sam is the only designer who truly played with the baroque style. Instead of following the austere and heavy style of baroque, he used it as more of an inspiration and created a look that was fresh, light, and feminine. The judges have mixed feelings about this as well. Most of them like the fabric, even though it’s not inherently baroque. But Alyssa has a bigger issue with it: She says it’s not couture enough.


And if those are the critiques the judges give for looks they LIKE, poor Layana is in for it. I personally loved this look — I would wear it — but the judges do not agree with me. Isaac says it’s not couture (okay, I guess it’s not), that it’s just weird (okay, no). Georgina says bottom line is there are too many ideas.


Mitchell was trying to design something that was true to him (it’s unclear if he feels like he achieved it). He originally had leg pieces he was going to add, but ran out of time or maybe forgot them in the workroom… I’m unclear on this, too. Georgina is happy that he finally committed to an idea, but she thinks it doesn’t feel baroque. Alyssa agrees: The bodice is nice, but the high-low skirt is “terrible.” And his zipper fiasco really didn’t help because he had to add an extra patch of fabric down the back.


Valerie wanted to keep her couture look simple; even though baroque is about the ornate details, she wanted to keep it elegant. The judges finally agree here: They all love it. Georgina says the way she referenced baroque so simply is nice; Isaac likes that the look is fresh; and Alyssa says Valerie’s craftsmanship is beautiful. (For the record: I would also wear Valerie’s look.)


Though going for elegance, class, and aristocracy, Alexander ended up settling somewhere more along the Breakfast at Tiffany’s line, according to Georgina. She thinks he could have pushed it further. Keren says that the whole thing is too costumey — exactly what Zanna warned against. And Coco says she gets “grandmamma” from the look, which is not what a designer wants to hear.

Winner: Ken, who also got his first win in Project Runway history (Is it just me or is it strange how many “All Stars” have never had any wins?)

Out: Mitchell

Honesty, Mitchell was living on borrowed time since the first episode of All Stars, so this isn’t that surprising. But what did you think: Did you agree with the judges? Were you happy with Ken’s win? Hit the comments below or tell me on Twitter @realdalener.

Episode Recaps

Project Runway All Stars
Past Runway designers compete for the top prize.
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