The designers pair up to create looks inspired by food and wine

By Ernest Macias
January 18, 2018 at 10:02 PM EST
Lifetime
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“Perfect Pairings” kicks off with the designers, dressed in their best, arriving at New York City’s Daniel restaurant for a fine dining experience. The dinner tables are set for two, so the All Stars pair up, and Anthony and Kimberly end up sitting together. “Yes, we on a date. The new lesbian couple,”Anthony jokes.

Host Alyssa walks in (looking fashion as hell, might I add), guarded by Daniel’s executive chef Jean François Bruel and head sommelier Raj Vaidya. She tells the designers that they’re about to be treated to a fine dining experience “like no other,” and obviously everyone’s so excited that they forget they’re participating in Project Runway and there’s no such thing as pure enjoyment. Anyway, the designers are going to enjoy dishes expertly paired with a wine complement (obviously, the inspiration for the episode title).

Alyssa then reveals that whoever the designers chose as their dinner companion is also their “perfect pairing” for this week’s pairs challenge. Cue some eye rolls, smiles, and one or two scared faces. The designers are paired up as follows:

  • Merline and Candice: white asparagus and 2011 Gruner Veltliner
  • Anthony and Kimberly: lamb chop and Syrah
  • Melissa and Ari: citrus cured hamachi and Chablis
  • Ken and Fabio: guinea hen duo and Pinot Noir
  • Char and Stanley: lobster and rosé of Pinot Noir
  • Joshua and Amanda: black sea bass and 2013 chardonnay
  • Helen and Edmond: minted pea soup and Chenin Blanc

The challenge: to create elegant looks that complement each other, inspired by the dish or the wine in the pairing they were served. They have one day to complete their designs. The winning pair gets to return to Daniel for a full five-star dining experience.

Alyssa then drops a grenade: The losing pair will get eliminated. Bam! First double elimination of the season. The designers are scared, and Fabio simply says, “Really? Really Alyssa?”

Alyssa is enjoying the moment. Feeding off the nerves and anxiety the designers are exuding, she exits the room with a beautiful and shady “Good luck you guys, and bon appetite.” Personally, it’s my favorite Alyssa moment thus far.

The designers get to eating. As they are all treated to exquisite and beautifully plated dishes, Jean-Francois Bruel and Raj Vaidya explain to the designers why the wine is paired with the dish. Time to sketch.

Melissa is inspired by her “bight and colorful” hamachi and decides to create a top-dress fusion with “elegant” pants. Her “Perfect Pairing,” Ari, decides to make a cocktail dress based on her wine, which makes her “feel happy, and I feel like it’s a bright day.” Same Ari, same.

Time to head to Mood for some shopping. The designers have 30 minutes and a total budget of $400 per pair.

Ken was inspired by the clean lines of his dish (guinea hen duo) and lands on a floor-length gown with a plunging neckline and “these over-exaggerated hips.” Fabio goes with an “elegant” cocktail dress over tailored pants, totally inspired by his Pinot Noir’s “restrained lightness.” Anthony and Kimberly are struggling to find each other inside Mood, but when they finally meet up, they decide to create complementary looks out of a “stunning” blue fabric inspired by their bold lamb chop dish and Syrah pairing.

Once inside the workroom, some pairings seem to be enjoying the challenge more than others. Anthony and Kimberly are in sync, but Merline and Candice are on different ends of the spectrum when it comes to design aesthetic and are failing to communicate with each other. This pair is struggling, and I am so worried for Candice, but she feels confident — sort of.

“I can pick up the direction that I know Merline’s going to go in,” says Candice during her confessional. “Actually you know what? That’s bulls—. I’m not quite sure where this is going.”

Finally, it’s time for mentor and Marie Claire editor-in-chief Anne Fulenwider to give some feedback and yet another fashion history lesson, this time focusing on collaborations, because DUH. Anne talks about some iconic collaborators in the industry, like Dolce & Gabbana, Mary-Kate and Ashley of The Row, and, of course, Valentino’s creative directors, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli. No pressure at all for the designers.

Moving on to her feedback: Anne is “interested” in how Ari’s pearl beads are going to work out. (Honestly, I think Anne wasn’t into the beads; neither was designer Fabio.) She tells Char and Stanley that their fabric color choice (a pinkish rosé tone) is very literal, given that they had lobster paired with rosé, but nonetheless she loves the fabric and thinks it’s a nice pairing. She tells Joshua and Amanda, who describe their black fabric choice as “safe,” that the F-word “is not something we like to hear in Project Runway All Stars.” I literally gasped when she called them out. As for Merline and Candice, who are clearly not on the same team, Anne reminds them that having the same colors doesn’t necessarily translate to a “good pairing” — and that they could both go home if one look is weak.

The models come in for their fitting, and Ken and Fabio are on track for a successful runway. I’m rooting for these two designers, and I demand a real life collaboration ASAP. Anthony is not feeling Helen and Edmond’s designs and describes them in a hilarious — and, might I add precise — fashion, saying, “It look like a tampon and blood, like right before they come together. That’s what they look like individually.” I LOVE Anthony so much. Regardless, Helen and Edmond are proud of their looks, and that’s all that matters to me.

Ari and Melissa are struggling because Melissa’s pants don’t fit her model, so she decides to scrap her ENTIRE look and make something new. At this point I have so much anxiety, and I’m starting to worry about this pairing, even more so than I am about Merline and Candice. It’s like they forgot about the pairing challenge.

The next day Ken runs through a long list of to-dos, but he is confident about his and Fabio’s designs. Anthony runs into a little issue with his fabulous dress and has to sew his model into the design because he’s out of time. Ari and Melissa…oh my god, they are spiraling and that’s that.

After the models head to the Umberto Beverly Hills salon and the Rodial glam room (YAS), it’s time to hit the runway! But wait, before that, everyone borrows accessories from the Intermix accessory wall. The edit shows the designers throwing shade and praising each other’s designs, but it’s mostly shade. (Recap continues on page 2)

Alyssa announces the Project Runway All Stars seasons 6 multiple prizes, which include — in case you forgot — a fashion spread and contributing editor position at Marie Claire, a trip to London, a Rodial makeup and skincare supply for their fashion show “and beyond,” accessories from Intermix for their first fashion show, a complete sewing and crafting studio from Brother, and $100,000.

I think they fired the old wardrobe person and hired a new one for Alyssa because this week she is serving fashion looks and I’m here for it. We love a well-dressed host. Our guest judge, along with regular season 6 judges Georgina Chapman and Isaac Mizrahi, is EGOT winner and icon Whoopi Goldberg and her fabulous shoe collection.

The designs hit the catwalk in pairs, and it is a fascinating runway. Seeing the looks side by side under the bright lights, it is clear which pairs actually worked together. For the judges, Ken and Fabio, Anthony and Kimberly, Ari and Melissa, and Merline and Candice were the best and the worst pairings.

Project Runway All Stars
Lifetime

Anthony and Kimberly tell the judges about the inspiration behind their blue-tinted creations. Isaac thinks Kimberly’s look is one size too big. Whoopi tells her that she “knows” she could wear this look “no matter what size.” Isaac thinks the pair “killed it.” Georgina compliments Anthony’s use of colors, and Whoopi tells him that his dress is one of those pieces “you wish you could wear” on the red carpet.

Project Runway All Stars
Lifetime

Merline and Candice explain their asparagus- and wine-inspired looks. Isaac tells them that their designs remind him of mushrooms (!!!) and Georgina tells Marline she is upset with her: She loves the idea of her dress but it is “just very bothersome to look at.” Whoopi thinks both designs are theatrical. Alyssa tells Candice that sending pants down the runway with “those hems” is unacceptable.

Project Runway All Stars
Lifetime

Melissa and Ari try to articulate their “textured, layered, light, and sensual” looks. Georgina tells Melissa that her dress “felt like nothing.” Whoopi adds that the dress looks like she could’ve made it, because it’s a box with a belt around the waist. Georgina drags Ari’s dress and has a real issue with the model’s belly button showing. She also calls it borderline “slutty.” Whoopi and Isaac loved the back of Ari’s dress, but the front — not so much.

Project Runway All Stars
Lifetime

Ken and Fabio explain their food and wine inspirations in a very eloquent and artistic manner. Isaac likes their designs because “it actually felt like a pairing,” unlike the other groups. Whoopi loved both of the designs because women of all sizes can wear them and feel good in them, even going so far as to say, “I just saw all my granddaughters in these pieces.” Georgina loved the lace over the pants in Fabio’s design. Alyssa was shocked at what Ken and Fabio created out of the challenge.

Winner: Ken and Fabio. This pair slays.

Out: Melissa and Ari, for being a little too tacky

I feel bad for Ari because she really tried to make a pretty dress and her vision just didn’t come to life. Do you agree with the judges? Let me know your thoughts about “Perfect Pairings” and what you think of All Stars season 6 so far. Sound off below!

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