'C'est la vie, Project Runway'
Credit: Lifetime

The fourth episode of Project Runway All Stars begins with all the designers sitting down on the runway and enjoying a cute entrance from host Alyssa Milano.

“Yas, power stance!” shouts Anthony.

Alyssa tells the designers that she’s sending them on an inspirational trip to a castle in the countryside. Everyone gets really excited, especially Merline (who’s like a little too excited). The challenge is to design a ballgown for a modern-day princess. Everything the designers need to make the dress will be found inside the castle, which means something’s up and the designers know it.

Plot twist! It’s a bouncy castle filled with balls. The designers have to literally make a BALLgown. A gown made out of balls. I’m screaming. You’re screaming. The designers are screaming.

The designers have five minutes to grab as many balls as they can, and it quickly turns into the Hunger Games inside the bouncy castle. The slow-mo edit is super fun, showing some of the designers jumping, falling, and even diving for balls.

“How many times are we going to say ‘balls’ today?” asked Fabio, echoing my thoughts.

As you might’ve figured out by now, this is the scary, fun, fearless, unconventional challenge. Historically these challenges bring out both the best and worst in the designers — in both their creations and their personalities. Candice admits she’s not “a rainbow gal,” but she fell in love with a rainbow ball that resembles petals once it’s pulled apart, and she’s inspired to “hot glue the hell out of a gown.” As for Helen, who won season 12’s unconventional challenge, the fashion element is what matters, so she decides to create a textile that resembles fabric — she’s ambitious, and I like her a lot. Everyone is inspired, especially Stanley, who is going balls to the wall with his kaleidoscope-inspired column gown.

Unfortunately, not all the designers are having a ball. Helen starts to get lost in her head about her design and struggles with her material. Anthony’s material is “stunning” but not that great to work with — it keeps ripping and working against him.

Now it’s time for the mentorship of Marie Claire editor-in-chief Anne Fulenwider. Sadly, there’s no fashion history lesson this time around, but she does inform the designers that despite this being an unconventional challenge, she’s still expecting fashion and “runway-ready looks.”

Anne reminds Candice that she was in the bottom two last week, but the designer has moved on and seems unfazed by it. Anne warns her to avoid making a “Halloween” look, given her bright choice of material. As for Amanda, she tells Anne she is making a “psychedelic” princess dress? I don’t know; Amanda seems a little lost. Which Anne clearly notices. She then tells Kimberly, who’s using cotton balls, that her design is giving her “My Little Pony convention” vibes, but whatever, “it’s your vision, you go with it.” Joshua thinks the cotton balls were just a trick designed to fool the designers and Kimberly fell for it.

Overall, Anne isn’t very happy with what she’s seeing in the workroom because the designers did not “grab enough balls.” Before leaving the workroom, she pushes the designers to be creative and think outside the ball…I mean box.

Then things get a little awkward courtesy of Helen, who tells everyone that using glue guns to finish their unconventional looks “is a cop-out” and she is not about that. Helen’s comments do not sit well with Anthony, and he calls her out — straight up — and says that he has an appreciation for what Helen is trying to do but not for Helen herself. GASP.

“Girl, lady, listen, shut up,” says Anthony in response to Helen’s hot-glue-gun comment.

When the models arrive, not one of the designers is ready for the fitting. Things are looking grim, and I am so pumped to see these designers put their magic hands and creative brains to work and deliver on the runway. Project Runway All Stars is exciting once again!

The morning of the runway, everyone has a million things to do before sending the models to the Umberto Hair Salon and Rodial Glam Room. There’s a lot of cutting and gluing and some Yoga ball sewing, but the designers pull through in time to dress their models. (Recap continues on page 2)

Before we see the former balls strut down the runway, Alyssa throws another power stance — I believe it’s a ploy to distract us all from the array of earrings and chains her wardrobe person forced her to wear. She then welcomes back regular judges Georgina Chapman and Isaac Mizrahi and introduces this week’s guest judge: critically acclaimed country music sweetheart Kacey Musgraves.

All the ball-gowns bounce down the runway, and for one second I forget that these dresses were made out of deconstructed balls. It truly was a runway. Like I said earlier, unconventional challenges allow us to see the designers’ raw creativity — for better or worse. According to the scores and judges, the best and worst gowns belonged to Amanda, Fabio, Kimberly, Candice, Stanley, and Helen.

Credit: Lifetime

Amanda created a column dress that was not a ballgown for the Met Gala. Instead, she made am “experimental” dress for Cannes. I still don’t see her vision. Georgina loves the back of the dress, which features hacky sacks. Isaac thinks it’s a “great dress” but not a ballgown. Guest judge Kacey appreciates the “rudeness” of Amanda’s creation. Alyssa hates it, especially because it doesn’t fit the model at all.

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Project Runway All Stars
| Credit: Lifetime

Fabio, the artiste, used gold volleyballs to create a modern take on the Egyptian royal attire — and it worked. Isaac says that “for a short dress,” it truly feels elegant and mysterious. Georgina praises Fabio’s clever use of his textile and “sculpting” his model’s body. Kacey calls it a rich dress, in the context of wealth.

Credit: Lifetime

Kimberlyused beach balls to create a “young and fresh” dress, which Alyssa loves. The host compliments Kimberly’s ability to work her materials and create movement. Georgina adds that on the runway the dress was pretty, but once it stopped moving it lost its “panache.” She basically said the dress was ugly, okay.

Credit: Lifetime

Candice disappointed Georgina with her blob of plastic deflated balls. Georgina calls the design “unflattering.” Isaac is mad, but not at Candice — he’s mad at the dress.

Credit: Lifetime

Stanley worked his balls to create a chic, Audrey Hepburn-inspired look, and Georgina caught on. Isaac says he loves the shape of the dress. Kacey says it’s a smart dress: almost editorial but not quite.

Credit: Lifetime

Helen threw a lot of shade on the runway by saying that she “didn’t want to go the crafty route” and use glue for her unconventional challenge. Georgina appreciates her effort but calls her dress basic. Isaac agrees, saying that her dress “just wasn’t enough.” Cue Kacey Musgraves, who tells Helen that her color scheme reminded her of Best Buy. R.I.P. Helen.

So here’s where things get spicy. Helen is not taking her critique very well because she worked very hard on her Best Buy-looking textile. She claps back at the guest judge and manages to drag every single designer on the runway at the same time:

“Thank you, but there’s no way there’s like purple or orange going into this, looking like a clown dress. Again, I was more concerned with executing and fit. I just felt like it would be a cop-out to just, like, hot glue to muslin,” Helen says, reading everyone to filth.

Isaac, not one to stay quiet, screams, “Shade, shade!”

At this point I am gasping for air because this episode is so messy and Helen is a shady queen. I want more of this drama every week, please! Thankfully the cameras follow the designers back into the waiting room and it gets real in 0.2 seconds.

The designers, mainly Fabio, call out Helen for her Helen behavior, telling her that it was a “crappy” thing to do. Helen implodes and starts crying. She makes a dramatic exit while saying that she respects everyone as a designer. Do I believer her? I don’t know, but I do know that I enjoy the dramatic Real Housewives-esque music and shots of everyone’s faces. Bring on the Emmys; they’ve earned it.

But wait! There’s more. The judges call the designers back out to the runway to name this week’s winner and loser…but only five designers emerge from the back room. YES! Helen is throwing a fit and making everyone, including guest judge and critically acclaimed country music sweetheart Kacey Musgraves, wait for her to gather herself. Once she finally decides to appear, she looks sad and grumpy.

“Seriously,” adds Isaac.

“I’m just the host,” replies Alyssa with a shady shrug.

Winner: Stanley, for knowing how to make magic with a glue gun

Out: Candice, for making that ugly yellow frumpy yoga ball skirt

Maybe Helen should’ve gone home for acting out and being shady, but I respect and admire her passion. Plus, what an iconic line she delivered: “C’est la vie, Project Runway.

Do you agree with the judges? Let me know your thoughts about “Balls Out!” and what you think of All Stars season 6 so far. Sound off below!

Episode Recaps

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