Project Runway All Stars recap: Once Upon a Runway
The designers must create modern gowns for fictional characters
You know how on The Bachelor there’s a scene every season where there’s one bachelorette who uses her alone time with the bachelor to talk bad about the other women? And how everyone at home screams at the TV, “Use that time for yourself!” Tonight we got the Project Runway All Stars version of that. I was yelling: “WHO CARES what someone made or didn’t make five weeks ago? Who cares what the judges say about other people’s work? Focus on yourself and your work.” No one listened to me.
One of the most unfortunate things about All Stars season 5 isn’t the level of cattiness, but that it comes from a somewhat unexpected source. Kini was one of my favorites on his season, but this incessant drama is getting old. I’ve said it almost every week, and I’ll say it again: I miss the tweens on Project Runway Junior. And the fact that these adults are acting like tweens doesn’t count.
Anyway, let’s talk about the other, better aspects of the episode: The designers meet Alyssa at a bookshop. Ken is “praying to baby Jesus” that it isn’t a conventional challenge — and his prayer is answered. Alyssa brings out Laura Michelle Kelly, the star of Finding Neverland. After Laura Michelle explains the story behind her hit musical (in case you forgot it from the times we heard about it on Project Runway regular and Project Runway Junior), Alyssa explains the challenge. The designers will each be given a classic woman in literature for whom they’ll make a modern runway look. Laura Michelle reads out the descriptions and assigns each designer with his or her “client”…
Sam: The Little Mermaid
Emily: The Snow Queen
Ken: Snow White
Alexander: Cinderella (which is perfect because “we’re both princesses and I’m a gorgeous tall blonde,” Alexander says)
After shopping at Mood with $200, the designers set to work…but sadly do not sing a song about it. Alexander is making a gown for Cinderella, Kini is creating a denim look for Alice. Asha wants to make something Rapunzel will be comfortable in, so she designs a jumpsuit with a detachable overskirt (she really thought through her character). Sam is using netting for the Little Mermaid, who I guess we aren’t allowed to call Ariel? And Layana wants to do a feminine dress with a print for Belle.
The edit spends the most time on Layana: It doesn’t seem like she has a clear-cut inspiration right away, but eventually it evolves to “Beast is taking Belle to Argentina, where they’re going to a polo match.” That seems…complicated. When Zanna comes for her critiques, she tells Layana that they’ve seen something like this from her before. This causes the designer to struggle even more, but she wants to make something she’s proud of — especially if that’s what sends her home.
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As for the rest of Zanna’s critiques, she gives generic-ish advice to the rest of the room: Make it modern! Don’t be dull! Don’t be an old lady! Model fittings go off without a hitch — and, if you can’t tell, I’m avoiding the big drama of the workroom: lunch. But I guess we have to talk about it…
When the designers are all in the kitchen eating, Ken points out that it could be only six designers now if there hadn’t been two safe weeks. And Kini just happens to point out that the only person left from those saves is Sam. That could be chalked up to a simple observation, but then he says, “Bye, girl.”
That sets Sam off and he says, “I’ve also won two challenges. How many have you won, Kini?” Then it essentially devolves into them comparing their wieners wins. Kini throws down that he won three on his season of Project Runway (emphasis Kini added, I assume because Sam was on Under the Gunn?) and went to the final runway. Then he says something about how Sam should stop talking unless he wants to keep getting shut down. “I’ll just keep shutting you down on the runway,” Sam counters.
Everyone in the room is clearly uncomfortable and laughing because they don’t know what else to say, but Layana finally does say that they’re making everyone awkward. The room disperses, but Layana and Ken are still in there. Ken says that Kini and Sam have been at each other’s throats since the group challenge — and Layana says it’s probably because Sam is embarrassed that Kini created part of his look. Sam overhears this — and although I was waiting for a blowup — he just calmly says, “Yeah, Kini did the flounce.” There. He said it. CAN THIS BE OVER NOW?
NEXT: No, it’s not over
The next morning, the designers and models head to the runway, where Alyssa introduces them to guest judges Kesha and Brad Goreski. I think we needed Brad — a fashion critic pro from Fashion Police — because Kesha was just too sweet to say anything critical.
Ken and Emily have the only safe looks of the week, which means that Kini, Sam, Layana, Asha, Alexander, and Dom get critiques.
Kini says he made a look for Alice to go to a denim tea party. I have no idea what a denim tea party is, but okay. Isaac likes that he used denim and that the back is a bit costumey — it made him feel like he was at a fashion show. Georgina agrees; she likes the strict front and playfulness of the back. Kesha says it’s like a fashion mullet. I’m not sure I’m a fan of mullets — the hair or fashion kind.
Sam had the Little Mermaid and the judges like how he made her a modern look, but he didn’t do the other part of the challenge — the “runway” part — as well. Georgina says his execution isn’t as strong as it should be, that the sleeves are off in length. Alyssa says the netting is so white that it cheapens the look, and Isaac puts a ban on crop tops for all the rest of Project Runway All Stars.
Layana explains her Belle at an Argentinean polo match story again, and Isaac says this isn’t the kind of dress you wear to that kind of event — this is a PTA dress. Georgina says that the print makes it feel like a T.J. Maxx dress, which makes me question a lot of my clothing purchases. And Brad just wishes she had done something more simple.
Thinking a lot about the background of Rapunzel, Asha knew the fairytale character who’d been imprisoned most of her life would want to be comfortable. Her jumpsuit achieves that yet has a runway aspect to it, as well. Alyssa loves the duality of it, and Georgina thinks it looks regal and fresh at the same time. Isaac and Brad have quite the hot debate about the flat sandals Asha chose for the model, but they both like the look.
One of the designers said that Alexander’s Cinderella look was more of an evil stepsister look, and the judges echo that. Georgina says Cinderella is young, but this look is sophisticated and old. Brad says it’s the year of the booty (did you all know this?) and the back is shaped weird and missing the mark. Isaac says the back is actually off-putting and the neckline is cheap — and then Kesha tells him to be nice.
Also incredibly creative with her client’s literature background, Dom created a top with negative space where Tinkerbell’s wings would be. The prints are a little crazy, but the judges love her design and the details, such as black and white fabric piped on the inside of the top and the cut of the pants.
While the judges are deliberating, the designers wait in the lounge, where Kini says he’s glad the judges “finally saw” Sam’s construction issues. I’m SO over this pettiness.
I want to know what you thought about Alexander being sent home and Asha’s win, but I don’t want to know what you think about the Sam/Kini debacle because I’m OVER IT. (I mean, you can tell me if you really want.) Let’s chat below or on Twitter @realdalener.