Project Runway All Stars premiere recap: 'Rookies vs. Vets'
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Look what’s back to fill our fashion reality void: Project Runway All Stars. Host Alyssa Milano meets half of the 16 All Star contestants at New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium (home of the New York Jets and New York Giants) to kick off Project Runway’s “biggest season yet” — and anyone who’s ever seen an episode of this show should know that a shocking surprise is coming. Cue the dramatic entrance of the eight returning All Stars. Jaws dropped and wigs were snatched.
The eight All Stars vets are joined by eight more familiar faces from Project Runway who are new to the All Stars scene. Meet the designers hoping to win the crown of Project Runway All-Stars season 6.
All Stars Rookies
Kimberly Goldson from season 9
Stanley Hudson from season 11
Amanda Valentine from season 13
Char Glover from season 13
Kelly Dempsey from season 14
Edmond Newton from season 14
Candice Cuoco from season 14
Merline Labissiere from season 14
All Stars Veterans
Anthony Williams from season 7, All Stars season 1
Joshua McKinley from season 9, All Stars season 2
Casanova from season 8, All Stars season 2
Ari South from season 8, All Stars season 3
Melissa Fleis from season 10, All Stars season 3
Fabio Costa from season 10, All Stars season 4
Helen Castillo from season 12, All Stars season 4
Ken Laurence from season 12, All Stars season 5
Alyssa proceeds to introduce the designers to their new mentor — Marie Claire’s editor-in-chief Anne Fulenwider — and veteran designer Ken is quick to remember that their new mentor “read him to filth” during his All Stars season 5 finale. Ken hopes Fulenwider is nicer this time around — I guess no one told him this ain’t Project Nice Comments.
After the rookie designers’ shock has settled, Alyssa goes on to reveal the first challenge using an on-the-nose sports pun, which you’ve already guessed if you know the concept of this season: rookies versus veterans. More jaws drop and a gasp can be heard when the designers realize it’s a team challenge. If there’s one thing designers on Project Runway hate, and I love, it’s a team challenge. Welcome to All Stars, baby.
But fret not, the teams will go away after the first week. Everything is smooth sailing so far, but don’t get too comfortable yet. The designer teams must create a fierce spring or fall collection. Alyssa explains that the winning design will be chosen from the winning collection and the eliminated design from the losing collection. Oh, but wait, there’s a twist: The teams have one day and a budget of $1,000. Told you not to get too comfortable.
And did I mention there’s still $500 up for grabs and the first pick on spring or fall? The teams go head to head in a quick-stitch relay race — all of a sudden Project Runway is into, like, sports? — and the vets, showing off their knowledge of the game, win the $500 and choose spring for their collection. The teams start sketching and come up with fierce themes — the vets: clothes for a woman who is going to Art Basel in Miami; the rookies: a modern-day take on ’70s fashion. Then they all head to Mood for some shopping.
Here’s where Ken delivered my favorite confessional line: “I see a lot of of my team members with stuff in their baskets that we did not discuss, but to be nice I’m just gonna say — there is some tacky s— in these baskets.” Would it really be All Stars without some shade? I don’t think so honey. The designers then get to the workroom, and we’re introduced to the accessory wall sponsor, Intermix.
They all spend some time admiring and gushing over their workroom, as if they haven’t seen one before (some three or four times). The edit quickly draws lines between vets and rookies. Finally, the designers get to work on their garments and start describing what they’re making. Ken and Helen are using the same fabric — not a good thing since Helen is “compromising” for the collection’s sake. Casanova tries to explain what he’s making, and honestly I still have no idea what it is.
New mentor Anne makes a fabulous and powerful entrance into the workroom and quickly tears apart everyone’s designs — she did not come to make friends. “I’m here to push you to be best that you can possibly be,” she says. I love this woman already.
Anne gets to the rookies and continues to provide candid feedback, using phrases like “prom dress-y,” “’70s kitchen vibes,” and “frumpy.” Before leaving, she tells all the designers they are playing it too safe. This woman wants FIERCE looks, so these designers have to step it up.
The next day, some of the designers are having time issues, while others realize their design needs, well, some design elements. The vets, feeling a little too cocky, have a lot to say about the rookies’ collection. The models arrive and get their hair and makeup done in the Rodial salon, and out the door we go to meet Alyssa on the new and remodeled runway — which looks more like a spaceship. (Recap continues on page 2)
Alyssa introduces the season 6 All Stars to the judges, Georgina Chapman and Isaac Mizrahi. Our guest judge is Project Runway All Stars alum and Beyoncé designer Michael Costello. The host also announces the winner’s prize, which includes 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 seriously don’t know how Alyssa manages to say all that in one breath.
The looks make it the down the runway, and Alyssa announces that the rookies’ fall collection wins (take that, vets!). Edmond, Char, Merline, Helen, Casanova and Ken have the highest and lowest looks.
Edmond made an olive green evening gown with a deep plunging neckline and squiggly design. Georgina loves the “easy glam” of the dress but says she thought the shoulders “were a little football.” Guest judge Michael points out the “obvious” construction issues, but Alyssa absolutely loves the dress because “it’s unexpected.”
Char created a beautiful little ’70s-inspired half cape-half dress. It’s Isaac’s favorite creation, but Georgina says she found the wide sleeves “so problematic.” Alyssa calls it a happy mistake.
Merline delivered a modern dress that almost looks straight out of Black Mirror. Isaac says he thought it was “marvelous.” Alyssa thinks the armor-like sleeves make the look “so sexy,” but Georgina points out the poor execution, and Michael — with a sly nod — agrees with her.
Helen made a decent dress — “good,” in the words of Georgina, but plain boring. That’s all. This is All Stars, Helen — get to work!
Casanova created two pieces, and according to Georgina, he lacks taste. Isaac thinks the white leather top is “nicely made,” and Michael agrees with him. But Georgina thinks there’s no excuse for lack of taste — especially being a veteran All Star.
Ken wanted to pay homage to feminism, but his power suit with exposed midriff almost made Isaac “cringe.” Georgina sees his vision, kind of, and Michael thinks his pants look like maternity jeans with the elastic band on the waist. Ouch.
Winner: Merline, who made her architecture professors proud.
Out: Casanova, who made a bad joke about being given a second chance. This is not a game, Casanova.
This season should be interesting; the vets started off strong but a little too much confidence turned their collection into a fashion faux pas.
Let me know your thoughts about “Vets vs. Rookies” and what you think of All Stars season 6 so far. Sound off below!