Project Runway All Stars premiere recap: What Makes an All Star?
Host Alyssa Milano says this is the toughest Project Runway All Stars season yet. Is that a little bit like Chris Harrison saying every season of The Bachelor is “the most dramatic yet”? Yes, yes it is. All Stars season 5 might not be the toughest season yet, but they sure have a few characters. Let’s meet them…
Kini Zamora, season 13
Kini came in top three on the second-to-most-recent season of Runway, so he’s eager for a win this time around. “I want this so freaking bad, I can taste it,” he says.
Emily Payne, season 13
Emily says she wasn’t competitive enough her first go-around, and she’s planning to fix that for All Stars.
Fäde Zu Grau, season 13
On his season, Fäde feels he didn’t get to show his true designer self (I remember otherwise).
Mitchell Perry, season 13
“I was eliminated unjustly because there were way uglier dresses on the runway,” Mitchell says. I kind of love this guy.
Sam Donovan, Under the Gunn
Sam was runnerup on his pseudo-season of Project Runway. (Full disclosure: I didn’t watch Under the Gunn, so these designers are new to me — Sam seems to be…fun.)
Asha Daniels, Under the Gunn
Asha finished third on her Tim Gunn-centric season, and she’s best friends with Sam.
Valerie Mayen, season 8
Poor Valerie never won a challenge, so this season is all about redemption.
Alexander Pope, season 12
Alexander has been working on Broadway since we last saw him — which is no surprise.
Ken Laurence, season 12
Ken is best friends with Alex… JUST KIDDING. Ken acknowledges his “drama” with Alexander back in season 12, but he promises he’s “calmer” now. (Previews for this season say otherwise.)
Dom Streater, season 12
The winner of her season, Dom has been building her business. She also name-drops Samuel L. Jackson’s wife. I think the only reason past winners come back is for more money and re-exposure? Which is not a criticism — it’s hard out there for a…designer.
Layana Aguilar, season 11
Since season 11, Layana has had a baby and gotten married, plus she started her fashion line — all of which require lots of money. At least Layana admits she’s here for the money!
Stella Zotis, season 5
Stella says the judges got it wrong, but she’s not mad about it. “I’m not here to stab anybody in the back. I’d rather shoot somebody.” Well, okay…
Daniel Franco, seasons 1 and 2
Daniel has been designing wedding dresses in L.A. God knows why he would come back after 10 years, but he’s ready for take three.
After all of the introductions and “nice to see you agains” (Ken says seeing Daniel and Stella there is “like seeing Beyoncé and Jay Z walking in”), Alyssa gives the designers their first challenge: The All Stars are to seek inspiration from the moment they decided to be a designer to create a fashion-forward look. They’ll have $200 and one day — aaaaaand go!
They sketch at Mood and decide on their designs. After shopping for fabrics, they head back to their workroom, where they start sizing up the competition. Sam, who is definitely going to be our sound bite machine, spots his biggest competition: “Kini can sew like a freaking warlock.” Ken is telling Dom that she isn’t allowed to win since she already did on their season; and Daniel is slicing the tip of his finger off. You know, normal workroom stuff!
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Zanna Roberts Rassi is back as the designers’ mentor, and since she apparently was a judge on Under the Gunn, Asha and Sam feel a kinship with her. She gives them hugs and then flies around the room with mentorship advice (there are a lot of designers to get through this early on). After giving individual advice, she tells the room that she’s not seeing a lot of their inspiration in the designs.
Then she introduces us to all of our sponsors: We have the BaubleBar jewelry wall, the Chinese Laundry shoe wall, the Schwarzkopf hair team, and the Laura Geller, makeup team. Welcome brands we’ve barely heard of!
Model fittings go off relatively well, but there’s a pretty clear underdog in the room: Daniel. Apparently the tiny part of his finger that’s missing is causing him to work veryyyy slowly. (Or maybe it’s just because on his season(s), the designers had time to create fashion and not 12 hours to throw something together. Remember those Bravo days?) The next day when they’re all walking their models out the door and down to the runway, Daniel still has unfinished seams all over the place.
NEXT: Pray for Daniel
Finished seams or not, they all have to get to the runway. There, they are joined by Alyssa who introduces her co-judges, Georgina Chapman and Isaac Mizrahi. She also welcomes guest judge Dmitry Sholokhov, season 10 and All Stars season 4 winner. For the first time on All Stars, the judges will be judging a blind runway, so the work has to speak for itself.
And for Dom, Sam, Stella, Kini, Alexander, Emily, and Fäde it does; they are all safe — which means that Layana, Ken, Asha, Daniel, Valerie, and Mitchell all go before the judges for critique.
Layana says that growing up she loved the look on her mom’s face when she’d put on a great dress; she wanted to bring that kind of beauty into the world. Georgina says she accomplished that with her look, but she isn’t “wild” about the print. Isaac thinks the juxtaposition between the flowy pants and the printed top is “fun.” And Alyssa sees a juxtaposition, as well: She thinks it looks comfy yet beautiful.
Since he came from a family of strong, single women, Ken wanted to create the ultimate power suit. “You sold me!” Georgina says. She points out that it’s not the most original design, but the exceptional tailoring wins her over anyway. Dmitry says he likes how it has a sporty feel to it, even though it is a power suit. And Isaac says, based on this runway, Ken’s the one to beat. (Bold prediction!)
Asha wanted to showcase her African heritage in the look, but I didn’t quite see the connection in her finished product. The judges aren’t wowed: Isaac says there’s nothing fresh about her silhouette, even though this was a challenge that afforded the look to be individualized to her. Georgina likes the detailing and wishes she had made that more prominent. And Dmitry says pleather makes things look cheap — and he’s not wrong.
Daniel tells a sweet story about how he fell in love with his wife in a class. I’m not sure how that relates to his garment, but before he can even make the connection, he tells the judges about slicing his finger and how badly his look is because of it. Alyssa tells him to give them a chance to state their opinions before he dumps on it. But, yes, she says — they hate it. Isaac gives the perfect and, really, only critique we need to know: “It looks like nothing.”
While telling her inspiration story, Valerie gets choked up because the moment she chose means so much to her. She talks about when a friend loaned her money to buy an industrial sewing machine and how she tested it out by stitching shapes over and over. That’s reminiscent on the look here, a look that the judges love (although Isaac hates the jacket). Alyssa thinks the fact that it’s a shorts romper is cute, and Georgina loves that she can see Valerie as a designer in it.
Oh, Mitchell. His inspiration is actually quite sweet — he grew up in a bad home environment, so he escaped to fantasy videogames and began drawing the characters new costumes — but his design execution is really rough. Georgina gives the most bizarre critique I’ve ever heard: “This shouldn’t work together… [pause], and unfortunately here it doesn’t, but there’s an idea here.” But the critiques get even worse when Dmitry says, “I don’t quite understand it, and I don’t think it’s fashion.” He doesn’t pull any punches!
Winner: Valerie, who gets her first-ever Project Runway win
Out: No one! Alyssa said the judges decided they didn’t get to see either of the designers in these looks, which is code for, we’re not ready to send either of you home, so they both can stay, which Sam says is “bulls—.” See what I said? Sound bite machine.
What did you guys think of the All Stars premiere? Are you missing Junior already? (I’ll be honest — I kind of am.) Share your thoughts below, or find me on Twitter @RealDaleneR.