Designers are off to the Zoo

Alyssa hit the runway with a bang, as she strutted out having her own “Britney Spears” moment with a yellow albino python. The snake was of course a way to introduce the challenge! The designers were to find inspiration from a zoo animal, to create a look for a wild night out. The judges would be looking for a runway look that would stand out, attract the most attention.

With that, the designers were off to Turtle Back Zoo, racing to find their 1st choice animal inspiration, because each designer had to pick a different animal. The jaguar was a top choice, and then also an owl?? Each designer seemed good with their final selection, especially Juli who was fond of her “cheeky” monkey.

Sketching was done, and it was time for Mood, shopping with a $200 budget for this 1-day challenge. Anne came in later for her check-in critiques. She really was getting each designer to talk out their process. She mentioned no trashiness or going to the renaissance fair, and encouraged a couple to create a WOW factor. She and Django didn’t see eye to eye again, especially over the color green.

Django is very much not a fan of Anne’s critiques! Model fittings were next and Sean was kind of bouncing around 2 different looks. Day 1 was filled with hard work, but the morning of the runway brought some drama! Dmitry is known for his use of cutouts. Irina mentioned to him about some similarities seen in Michelle’s look. Anthony Ryan then made Michelle aware of this chatter. Michelle called Dmitry out and he deflected. But later, we saw Biddell also point out the similarities. I am not that immersed in knowing Dmitry’s work offhand, so I only saw the similarity when seeing the comparisons on the show. The judges also made mention of this, so clearly it was not just a minor issue.

Drama aside, I was ready for the runway! This week’s guest judges were supermodel Joan Smalls and actress Peyton List. Production clearly wanted some more Dmitry/Michelle time/drama on the runway. Otherwise, I don’t see how Cynthia’s super sexy leather look or Biddell’s mixed media, shimmery look didn’t make the cut.

A few other quick mentions — I definitely saw Anya’s bird inspiration, but I don’t think her prints worked together within her separates; Christina’s alligator look was pretty literal, and the sleeves, as well as the back were pretty cool, but the front was just so blah. I didn’t agree with the judges top 3 looks at all, but I do agree that Michelle, despite the drama, deserved the win.

Her porcupine inspiration look really did look like a WOW dress. She selected an eye-catching print, included some great details in the look, it really stood out. Joan Smalls’ comment on this being very visual was spot on. Dmitry’s look also made the top, and while not horrible, I still felt he was included so that the comparison drama could continue with Michelle. It was different, I will admit that, but I don’t know if it stood out in the best way.

And then Anthony Ryan rounded out the top 3. I didn’t hate his look, I just saw it more as a day or brunch look than a wild night out. It was a great look, but I don’t think it fit the challenge description. As for the bottom 3, it seemed kind of obvious that Django would land there. I was surprised he wasn’t bottom 2, especially over Sean. Django really didn’t capture a lion in this look; it was very much underwhelming. I don’t see Django doing well here because of that fact his work is going to have a hard time standing out amongst these other super talented designers.

With Sean being in the bottom 2 with Juli, it was kind of like the writing on the wall that it would be Juli going. Sean did capture the giraffe in his look, but I didn’t see this for a wild night out, and the plaid print fell flat. I liked the idea, but with the plaid print, and his styling choices, the look read far too casual.

For me, it was very much time for Juli to make her exit. I get that she is a commercial designer, but that generally doesn’t fare well on this show. This look was far too basic and not flattering. And she did attempt to try and do more than basic, and that attempt went horribly awry. Her leaving now reaffirms my point that Seth Aaron should have stayed over her!


Underwear for Outerwear Designs

This week’s runway began with a sexy bang, awaiting designers saw models walk out in sexy lingerie. Alyssa soon joined to lay out the challenge details. The designers were tasked to create outerwear from underwear by transforming corsets into high fashion looks. Each designer would be given a standard corset to use, completely with the ability to re-design, but the corset had to be fully visible in the silhouette of the final look.

The stakes were high for this week’s runway. As Alyssa was going over the challenge details, head designer for AdoreMe.com, Helen Mears, also joined the designers. Adore Me is an online e-commere site for women’s lingerie, sexy looks for women without sacrificing comfort. Helen announced that the winning look would be sold in a limited edition on AdoreMe.com and that the designer would be awarded $10,000.

With the details laid out, the designers were off to Mood with a $200 budget for this 1-day challenge. Afterwards, the designers were back to the workroom to begin cutting away, although Michelle accidentally cut her finger instead — YIKES!!

Anne soon came by for her check-ins. She began with a history on the use of corsets in high fashion looks, so making it clear there should be no excuses in the work done for this challenge. She was enjoying some of what she saw, but cautioned others on certain elements of their looks. Some needed a push, while others were doing that themselves, such as Irina. I am glad to hear that during Anne’s consultation with Anya that Anya realized her fabrics can’t do all the work for her! Django probably got the toughest critique and really just hoped he could make the runway critiques this week.

When the models came in, Jasper was back to his normal antics of working on his model’s walk and running around the workroom. Also after the model fittings, a couple of designers were doubting their work, Dmitry and Cynthia. As the day tolled away we saw some designer shade being tossed around — with Jasper for gluing lace onto his garment; Jasper calling out Cynthia for not using her corset in what he thought was the right way; and Biddell telling Dmitry that this was not his best work.

It was soon time for the runway! This week’s guest judges were designer Rebecca Minkoff and model Olivia Culpo. This was just a so-so runway for me. There were a few amazing looks, some looks that had amazing details, but certainly a few underwhelming looks. The judges’ top and bottom 3 were mostly what I had on my list, but I don’t see how Anya was not in the bottom. Her look was a hot mess and so poorly constructed! Django might have had a little too much going on, but at least his look didn’t have construction issues.

And then my one change in the top would have been including Juli. I still think Juli should have been out last week, this look doesn’t wow me enough to change my mind. But that is all in the past, and looking at the present, I did like this look top to bottom. Whereas with Dmitry’s look, his top did have a wow factor, but the pants kind of felt like a throwaway. A few other quick mentions — Michelle’s look felt like PJs to me; I didn’t care for Sean’s plaid and I thought the fit was a little too baggy to read sexy; I don’t see why Biddell was jumping on Dmitry about his best work because his work this week was certainly not his, way too safe!; I didn’t love Anthony’s work, but I was at least intrigued.

The win did come down to Irina and Christina, which was 100% the right call. I loved what Cynthia created. It was effortlessly beautiful, simplicity and minimalism at its best. But while Irina’s look was perhaps a little too sexy for me, I think she deserved the win of the week for creating just so much more and doing it so well. The jacket she designed was so fierce, such a bold, great color, and was really amazing. Perhaps AdoreMe.com could more easily sell what Christina created than Irina, but my choice would have been Irina for the win. Both talented ladies however knocked it out of the park this week, leaps and bounds above the rest.

As mentioned above, I would have traded Django for Anya in the bottom 3. Django’s look was not the best, but it wasn’t the worst, so I was glad he did not land in the bottom 2, which was between Jasper and Cynthia. I legit thought it was Cynthia going. Her look left no impact on me. I didn’t get her color choices and it was just a very sloppy look. And then just for fun, she created a Kentucky Derby-esque hat, which really hurt the look versus help.

But ultimately it was Jasper who was eliminated. I really didn’t care which of the 2 left. I don’t think either had done much to stake their claim to stay. Jasper has created nothing but super commercial looks, not really high fashion at all. This look definitely read slutty, not sexy. The fit was just way off and the lace was applied so poorly. You could tell he glued it and didn’t sew it, not that this would have made a huge difference in helping the overall final quality of the look.

Next week looks super exciting though — can’t wait!!

All-Star Designers Step Up!

I was not impressed last week with the All-Star designers’ dual color challenge. However, this week was a major turnaround, and a truly outstanding runway! The ever-popular unconventional materials challenge definitely made the designers step up their game.

The designers all met at the Southwest Airlines terminal, appearing as if they might be going on a trip. Once Alyssa greeted them on board the plane, they quickly knew a challenge was awaiting, not a destination. This was the week for the always popular unconventional materials challenge. All the materials were in the baggage claim, all flight related — tags, coffee cups, reflectors, air sickness bags, and more! The designers would have 2 days to create a look for modern-day travel.

On top of winning $5000, the week’s winner would also receive a vacation to any destination Southwest Airlines flies too, for the winner and a companion. The winning designer would also get to partner with a non-profit group affiliated with Southwest, Re-Threaded, and would serve as a consultant on upcycling, all for women empowerment.

The designers had 5 minutes to collect materials and then it was off to the workroom. Everyone quickly began figuring out their goal for the challenge. I think the global winners of Project Runway had the most trouble at the onset here, maybe not being as familiar with this type of challenge. Jasper mentioned during his season of Project Runway, there was no unconventional materials challenge.

The 2nd day of work soon arrived, and Django began by starting over on his design. Anne came by for her check-ins, urging some to do more, or saying some might be going in the wrong direction. She did have some positives — Hey, I love pockets too! As the end of the day approached however, many designers still had quite a bit to do!

The morning of provided its usual frantic moments, although it seemed Jasper had finally finished his work craziness and was soon focused a bit much on his model’s walk for the runway. I was getting very excited to see this runway, as I’m sure were the judges, including 2 guest judges — award winning journalist Tamron Hall and supermodel Martha Hunt.

As I mentioned in my introduction, I absolutely loved this runway! I had so many faves, and picking a top 3 was hard! I guess what it came down to was who not only made a great look, but one that was also fitting to the challenge theme of a modern day travel look.

I did love what Michelle created, but I think my top 3 would have included Cynthia. I loved her use of color, and she got a great fit for her model despite the type of materials she was using. But I guess with Michelle, she also had a striking color, and the reflectors created that extra pop of intrigue for the runway. However, I did find Cynthia’s look a bit more suitable for travel, and with Michelle, I felt a bit more of a red carpet or cocktail vibe. Nonetheless, both did excellent work!

A few other shout-outs, Django and Evan first. I loved these looks, but they definitely read more upscale than travel. Christina and Anthony Ryan both went a bit more of a sportier route, which was nice to see, but I don’t believe there work was quite as polished as some of the others.

The top 2 was without a shadow of a doubt Irina & Jasper. This was a tough call and it really could have gone either way. I am a huge Irina fan, so I am very happy for her win, and given she was on the bottom last week, this was a great turnaround to see for her.

And Jasper’s look was deserving of all the accolades too. He seemed so crazed during this challenge, and I thought we were in store for a disaster. But that was clearly not the case! I loved his color palette, and he really did create a super chic, high fashion travel look.

The bottom 3 made sense, although I did not like seeing Sean there! It was clear as the judges discussed though that he would not be going anywhere. There were really on 2 poor looks this week, and that was the bottom 2, Juli & Seth Aaron. I can see why with Sean’s look it created some discussion, but I was happy to hear this look had some positives mentioned. I thought it was a colorful look, perfect for travel!

A lot of times in a bottom 2 scenario, we see someone who did too much, and one who did too little, usually with the one doing too little going home. For Juli and Seth Aaron, I guess you could say both did too little. Seth Aaron made a dress from seat belts and that is exactly what it looked like. And Juli made a super safe, very basic look, that had 0 wow factor.

I guess what saved Juli was that her dress was at least wearable. However, I have only seen “safe” looks from her, where as Seth Aaron was just in the top last week. And at least with this challenge, Seth Aaron showed some attempts of trying. I think he should have stayed over Juli. But since she is not out, hopefully we see her step it up next week because safe is not what needs to come down the runway!

The All-Stars are Graduating

With no designers being eliminated last week, and 2 new designers coming on board, this week was sure to be an interesting challenge! Georgina joined Alyssa on the runway to lay out the challenge details.

Georgina first introduced a charity she works for in India, Magic Bus. Also joining these 2 lovely ladies on stage was a student of the Magic Bus program, Parvati Pujari. Parvati was the first person in her family to graduate high school, and she is now close to being finished with her Masters. This led to the theme of the week — GRADUATION!

Each designer would create a sophisticated party look that could be worn for a graduation celebration. It could be spring or summer. The winning look would be up for auction on eBay, with the proceeds going to Magic Bus. Since Dmitry won last week, he was able to choose his colors first and he assigned colors for everyone else.

Since this all was laid out right after last week’s runway, this challenge began on the next day, with the sketch session at Mood. This would be a 1-day challenge, with a budget of $150. As work began, we saw some instant complaints about color palettes for some, while others were quickly working away with their more appealing color combos.

Anne soon came in for her check-ins, with positives for some, but for others, she had more of a harsh take. She pointed out some tacky looks and to not fall into the skating costume realm. Probably her most choice words were to remind the designers that last week nobody went home, but that this week, someone was absolutely being eliminated.

Evan finished up his day with an early nap since his look was completed. But many designers still had lots to do and that spilled over into the next morning. It was nice to see some camaraderie amongst the designers in the workroom. The runway came quickly, and guest judges this week were actress Sofia Carson, and model/activist Kiera Chaplin.

I understood the judges’ assessment of the top and the bottom. I hated seeing Irina in the bottom just because I do love her as a designer, and her work. But I think a few others lucked out that Sunny didn’t adhere to the challenge guidelines. A few of the safe looks read matronly to me, so hopefully we don’t continue to see that trend. I still don’t think Anya did a huge step up from her work last week, and she would have been in the bottom on my list. I love Jasper, especially with his model ways in the workroom, but I haven’t yet connected with his work. And I ‘ve heard lots of impressive comments on Juli, but her work this week did not match those positive statements.

But enough on the negative, let’s transition to the top 3 and the positive work for the week. This was absolutely the top 3. My winner would have been Sean, I think had this work been a shorter length, maybe Isaac would have jumped on board. From what I heard, it seemed as if Isaac kept this from being the winning look. But Sean’s work was AMAZING in this purple & white color combo!!

I do agree that Anthony Ryan was leaps and bounds better than his work last week. I almost felt that might have been why they gave him the win, but nonetheless, kudos on making those 2 colors (blue & orange) work, and creating a youthful, celebratory look.

Seth Aaron rounded out the top 3. I liked his look, not loved though. I wish I had seen more of the red wine color he was given. All of the white, in the lace overlay format he used, kind of read doily to me?? The look didn’t knock my socks off and I think the judges felt the same. It was in the top though because it was a good look, just not a winning look.

As for the bottom 3, let’s start with Christina. I was surprised given how much I loved her work last week. She has lots of great ideas and that was her downfall here. She had too much going on in this red & navy look. The work she was doing didn’t connect and the look read way too mature for a graduation theme.

The bottom 2 consisted of Irina and Sunny. I was so happy Irina stayed. It would be a shame to lose her so early on! I understood what the judges said for her. I think had she done this look in a one-length dress or not had the front part so short, she would have been safe.

It is a shame to see such a beautiful look be in the bottom and to send a designer home, but each week there is a challenge, and the designers must follow the guidelines. I would understand a bit more had Sunny at least understood what he did wrong, but I don’t think he did. Even while waiting for the judges to deliberate, he discussed about the guidelines mentioning nothing of equal proportions. He clearly didn’t listen to the judges because they said nothing about the color combos being equal in usage, just that you had to use both colors. If he had maybe, deep in the skirt or bodice, used one blue overlay, he would have been fine. I actually don’t think using a little blue would have made the look horrible at all. It’s just a shame he didn’t even try!

Project Runway Winners’ Season

Project Runway All-Stars is back, one last time on Lifetime, and this go round, the show decided to pull out all of the stops. This is the first ever all winners season, with winners from the US version of the show, but also winners from across the world, from the global counterparts of the Project Runway franchise. Let’s call it as the show is, a World Championship!!

Alyssa Milano is back as the host, with Isaac Mizrahi and Georgina Chapman joining again as the judges. JC Penney will be sponsoring this season’s accessory wall. Additionally, the winning design for each week, will be sold in a limited edition online thru JC Penney. Another perk for the weekly winner, a $5000 cash prize, courtesy of Southwest Airlines.

Alyssa met with the designers on Governor’s Island, looking right at the Statue of Liberty. Their first task, to let us discover more about each designer, specifically their roots. Each designer would create a high fashion look inspired by the culture of the designer’s country of origin. Lyft was providing travel services to Mood, where the budget this week was $200. And there would not be much downtime as this was a 1-day challenge.

With not much time to spare, the designers were eager to begin work in their very impressive workroom, and of course the even more impressive Brother sewing room. The designers were also looking forward to their first mentor sessions with returning mentor, Anne Fulenwider, Editor-in-Chief of Marie Claire. Anne was not holding back! She urged designers to step it up, and to not go for a disney princess or school marm.

Anne also brought in a special guest, Anne Wojcicki, CEO & Co-Founder of 23 & Me. This was a fun surprise for the designers, where they each received kits to learn more about their DNA history. But no time for too much surprise fun, as looks were being quickly created, and the first runway was right around the corner.

Sponsors for the runway day will include Butter London, makeup & nail studio, and then for hair, Umberto Beverly Hills salon. This is of course worth repeating closer to the end of the show, but here are the very amazing prizes for this season’s winner —

  • Creation of a JC Penney capsule collection
  • Photospread in Marie Claire
  • Guest editor position for 1 year with Marie Claire
  • Inspiring trip for 2 to London, courtesty of Butter London, as well as the chance to create a signature nail color for the brand
  • A selection of Brother sewing machines, valued at $40,000
  • And for further brand development, a $100,000 cash prize

This week’s guest judge was the phenomenal actress Debra Messing. This was a standout first runway. Choosing a top and bottom 3 I found to be very difficult. With a couple of exceptions, for the most part I agreed with the judges. I do have a few quick mentions. For Jasper, this was a pretty look, but it read very much off the rack for me. I think Seth Aaron focused a bit too much on styling, versus the creation of his look. Styling should compliment or amplify the look, but not overtake or overshadow it. For Michelle, I loved the sparkle, but the look didn’t go anywhere for me, the rest kind of fell flat. And then for Django, this seemed like a hodge podge of fabrics that lacked a connective thread.

I thought Christina did a great job on a modern blazer creation. This look was sexy, but also chic, with lots of great design elements, including a pop of surprise on the back.

I also really loved Sunny’s black dress, a well-made, quality LBD, but with that pop of gold on the neckline, I was in love!

For the judges, let’s start with the top 3. I wasn’t super clear that Biddell was even in the top 3, but the judges eventually noted some positives. I didn’t get top 3 here. Other than volume, the look didn’t offer much. It was too on the nose for the inspiration and bordered costume more than a high fashion look.

I was happy Irina made the top 3. She didn’t rest on her laurels, and put forth so much effort with this first look. I don’t know that the hood was needed, but I loved the detail, the volume, the bold color — the look definitely read for a bold, confident woman.

And finally, the well-deserved winner, Dmitry. The cultural inspiration was immensely present. There was a lot to grab the eye here, prints, silhouette, and sheer areas, but it was not too much, and it all connected. As a maxidress fan, I would wear this in a heartbeat.

For the bottom 3, let’s start with Cynthia. I don’t believe this was a bottom-worthy creation. She styled the look perfectly. And yes, the lace felt a bit mismatched to me as the judges pointed out, but if this had been executed a tad better, this look would have been awesome.

As we later found out, no elimination occurred this week. Had there been one though, it would have been Anthony Ryan or Anya cut. My gut is saying it would have been Anthony Ryan though. He clearly wasn’t in the best headspace with his grandmother recently passing. He knew it too though, this was a very bad look. I can’t think of much to say that would be super positive. I didn’t see direction or concept, but what I couldn’t get past the most were the technical issues.

I was surprised that Anya was in the bottom 3, not so much because of her look, but just because she received such rave reviews the season she won, and I don’t recall her creating much more than what she did here. I get that she has a great eye for prints, and can create a very wearable dress. But this is a design competition, where each week, you have to create and sew incredible looks. For someone who can’t sew, Project Runway is not the show for them. She skated by her season and didn’t deserve the win if you ask me. We will see if the criticism here calls for her to step it up somehow, or breakdown.

Even though there was no elimination, the end of the show did hold a surprise. Two new designers would be joining the group, Sean Kelly & Juli Grbac. I guess since there was no elimination this week, it’s not too unfair these designers got to skip the first task! I’m guessing we will be in for a couple of double eliminations. And we of course saw a preview of the season, which looks dramatic, with lots of great guest judges and a few top models who might be walking on some of the runways?

PRAS — The Finale

It’s been a great season! But sadly, we are coming to a close on this standout season. We have our final 3, and as we learned at the end of the previous episode, the final 3 designers now had to create a 7-piece collection, again, making their mark in fashion history.

We started off with Day 3 of the 5-day challenge. The designers were excited to have some helpers over the next few final days. Helen was back to help Fabio, Candice for Anthony, and Amanda for Stanley. Plans were immediately made, figuring out what needed to be done and who was doing what. And of course, planning for the newly needed 7th look.

(Anthony Williams)

As the episode progressed, we got to see flashbacks and the journeys of the final 3. Stanley came in 3rd during his season. But with the not freshest ideas, he was not the winner. He has done far better on this season. Anthony didn’t make it far on either of his previous seasons and was left wondering had he learned enough for “third times a charm.” But he clearly has surpassed expectations. And finally with Fabio, he was recalling being cut right before the finale in his all-stars season. But again, such a different story with him on this go round.

Getting back to Day 3 of the work, Anne was also there for a visit. For Fabio, she focused on his color story, stating the need to infuse color. With Stanley, she questioned where was the standout piece(s), the drama. The colors were all so muted. And finally, with Anthony, she started off fully impressed. But as Anthony talked about painting, prints, ostrich feathers, etc., she worried about edits. All in all, she told 2 designers they need to amp up and one to reign it in some.

(Fabio)

By the end of Day 3, Fabio and Stanley were looking good on time, lots completed. Day 4 started off with the additional trip to Mood. Each designer was allocated an additional $250 for their budget. Model fittings had to be done. And we also saw Anthony scrapping lots of completed work. While he was tossing, the other 2 were making lists on final details. Anthony was clearly having time management issues, but Fabio and Stanley were able to take some time to themselves, have a nice quick dinner!

(Stanley — Shoutout for Umberto BH on the gorgeous ponytail here!)

It was soon enough the final day. Stanley had 1 look to do and some final finishings, hems, zippers, etc. Anthony was finally beginning his painting work, very Pollock-esque. Glad he scrapped the feathers too! The helpers left with 1 hour to complete the day. But luckily for them, as time wound down, they were able to enjoy a celebration with cake and champagne!

(Anthony — Love the Intermix heels here!)

The guest judges for the final runway were actress Catherine Zeta-Jones and designer Zac Posen. And with so much to see and discuss, the final critiques were done individually.

(Anthony)

I could not have been more pleased with Anthony being named as this season’s winner. I usually critique/recap winners first, but I will start with my least fave first, Fabio.

Fabio focused on the concept of time, merging the past, present and future. I loved his music — accordions! I still missed the bird top with his signature look, but I thought the yellow mixed in nicely with the creme and navy blue color palette. But with lots of oversized bottoms and long short looks, Fabio lost me. The judges raved over the jumpsuit, but I didn’t care for it. This was very RTW, but the drama was missing for a final runway. I also didn’t like the oversized sleeves. Too much repetition of silhouettes in that regard. The weaving on the white skirt was a pretty cool part of this collection. And the final printed look was a great ending, but more amp was needed throughout. I felt underwhelmed. I love that Fabio has a clear vision for his girl, but if you don’t fit that mold/aesthetic, this work is a hard sell.

Moving onto Stanley, a valiant effort, but I was not a fan from start to finish. His take was on a bold, modern, yet classic American woman. His vision read thru, but his collection read very heavy for me. On top of heavy fabrics, he made use of hard embellishments. I loved the embellishments, but not the fabric choices. The button look, the 1st look, I mean that was sublime. But starting off so strong, I never got back to that climactic point. The 2nd look, the mod mini-dress, it was super cute, but I agreed with the judges that it didn’t fit the best with the rest. The red look the judges loved, but I was not a huge fan. The nude/tan look would have been great if not in a suede fabric. And back to his final black and white look, still not my fave. I didn’t think his collection was super cohesive either. There were some great details, but I didn’t see everything come together. Zac was right in noting a regal quality to his work, very sharp. Stanley probably made the best overall quality of work, but even the judges seemed focus on only a few pieces.

But congrats again to the winner, Anthony, very well-deserved. I think he had the clearest vision, able to articulate well each time, if Audrey Hepburn had lived long enough to become Rihanna. I didn’t love the bodice on the 1st look, but loved the paint work. The polka dots on the 2nd look were super cute and chic. The 2-piece pants look was utterly amazing. The overlay piece, it was okay, very reminiscent of Kentaro. Probably a tie on my 2 least faves with that look and the next one in the black dress. I mean it was a great black dress, but I am thinking he knocked out something like this for the sake of time. The judges loved it. I thought the jumpsuit was a great way to use the print he chose more than once. And obviously seeing it in the final gown, that was just the best way to end his standout collection.

Anthony’s collection was maybe the least cohesive in some ways, I didn’t get the jump from the black/white pieces to that of the print. But I actually didn’t care. He showcased some amazing work here and I think he created the most pieces that the most women would want to wear. Fabio to the most extent, but even Stanley somewhat too, they have more limited client bases. Anthony designs for all! I get where the judges came from in questioning some of his fabric choices. And this print was definitely a hit or miss. Luckily most of the judges fount it to be a hit. But with his collection, there was just so much to discuss, so much to rave about. The eye could gravitate all over the place.

The judges had a hard time in deliberations. But the right decision was made. I felt like Isaac was saying if you want to show nod to the past, you would go with Stanley, for the future, it’s Fabio, but for the now it’s Anthony. In fashion, no one is looking backwards. And really, Fabio’s work is not that futuristic. I see work like his style all the time. HAPPY FOR THE WIN FOR ANTHONY!

 

PRAS — Nearing the End!

Almost the end time for Project Runway All-Stars and with that, the final 4 were off to this next challenge. The went to D.C., visiting the Smithsonian, house of over 3 million artifacts, all with national significance. I think deep down this final 4 thought all 4 would show for this “final” challenge, a 6-piece collection, making their own mark in American fashion history. However, the designers were surprised to learn that there would be one last “challenge in a challenge” to truly determine the finalists.

Of course first, what seemed to be a total waste of efforts, all 4 designers were of to Mood, but not just any Mood, the Mood warehouse, to shop thru Lord knows how many fabric options, with a $2000 budget. They learned this would be a 1-week challenge.Prior to shopping, the designers did their sketching at the Smithsonian, looking thru iconic pieces showcased there, using the past to make their mark in the future. Also completed in this day were all of the model castings. And again, this was all 4 designers, who finally landed back in the workroom, for the 1st day of work, doing lots of prep-work, drawing patterns, draping, organizing, etc.

But Day 2 hosted the big surprise, with Alyssa there 1st thing, toting the phrase “expect the unexpected.” The designers learned there would be an exclusive presentation before what they thought was the final runway. Each designer would showcase what they considered to be their signature look, a representation of their full collection. They would also receive input to steer work on their full collection. This left 1 day to finish, really for most, a full start on this look.

Anne came by later for her check-ins. She could feel the tension, feeling all the nerves. She reminded each designer to make certain they had a clear vision for their collection to best execute this one look being shown. So with a lot of work on day 1, certainly out the window for 1 designer, I am still amazed at another complete waste we found in this episode.

After the runway, the designers learned of another challenge, having nothing to do with this final 6-piece collection, just a fun surprise I am sure added for dramatic effect. I think a decision could have been made without this extra runway, but leave it to Project Runway to do all they could with drama.

The basics of this challenge was that the designers were shown to a backspace at their work studio, at Skylight Clarkson. As Skylight is the hottest venue to re-invent space, the designers learned they would be re-purposing fabric. Their were bins of all of the discarded fabrics from the eliminated designers this season. And another surprise, they only had 1 hour to work! We’ve seen this setup when judges can’t decide between 2 designers, but to make all 4 do this, REALLY?? With 2 runways, this was a lot to take in. Guest judges Dita Von Teese and Zanna Roberts Rossi had their work cut out for them! Lots of work in recapping too, so in critiquing each designer I will do both pieces at the same time.

SHOUT-OUT — Rodial & Umberto BH

I wasn’t in love with Stanley’s signature piece, but I didn’t hate it either. He did really create such a sexy look for the 2nd runway, it was clear he was making the final. He has excelled all season, so was certainly deserving of a final spot. Stanley’s signature take was on classic styles/icons, such as Jackie O. But with this black and white throwback piece, I was intrigued, but not in love.

It felt unfinished to me with the skirt, which I later read was intentional, but it took away from Stanley’s normal work quality in creating superb finishings. The bodice was gorgeous, very Blair Waldorf-esque, of which I am a huge fan. The collar was a little large, but good to know it was removable.

With his 2nd look, I really loved his use of mixed media. The color block effect was gorgeous! It was a very sexy look that I would rock any day. He was super quick thinking on his feet. The judges noted this look felt disjointed from Stanley’s normal repertoire of work, but it was still a top notch look nonetheless.

Fabio’s signature look, inspired by his grandma, was not fully received by the judges. They loved the skirt, but not so much the printed top, minus Isaac. I was actually the opposite. This top was super stunning in my opinion. The skirt was too long for me. Even with some critique for him, I still don’t think the judges were eliminating Fabio and they certainly loved his 2nd look even more.

I would have been fine had Fabio been eliminated and Ken got to show, but again, I knew the judges were keeping Fabio, especially after their gush-session on this 2nd look. I wasn’t a fan of Fabio in previous seasons, but I really liked his work this season. However, these 2 pieces were kind of a nod to the Fabio of old and the long shorts or skirts look, boy chic, very streetwear, just not my personal aesthetic.

Anthony and Ken seemed to be the final 2 for either chopping block. But having Anthony go would have been such a shame. His first look, conveying his take on if Audrey Hepburn had lived long enough to become Rihanna, was gorgeous in many ways, but not an A+ knockout situation. I loved the color. Royal blue is my favorite. But with the fabric choice, it read very heavy to me.

I did like his 1st look over the 2nd creation though. Asymmetry is not my favorite silhouette. The glam was there, as always. But again, I wished for a different fabric and color, but also the silhouette.

But with Anthony safe, this unfortunately did leave Ken out. I would have loved to see his entire collection. I wonder how it would have fared amongst the final 3. I hated he had to waste the initial efforts. But Ken did a great job this season. His final piece was based on a Harriet Tubman lace bow tie and handkerchief. But I think he got a little lost in the concept on this signature look. I liked the gold accents, but I was not sure about the sash/train.

And with his 2nd look, the judges loved it, but it was not a saving grace for him. It was a basic black dress. It just didn’t seem enough compared to what everyone else did. And with a unresolved, misguided 1st look, there was no saving Ken for this go-round.

PRAS & Candy Crush!

This would be a week of fun-filled, color excitement, right? Especially given that Candy Crush was involved! The actual runway may have not showcased all of the fun and color Candy Crush has to offer, but it was a standout showing nonethless! Nina Garcia was joining the ranks this week, initially along with Alyssa, to lay out all of the details.

Each designer would be assigned a Candy Crush land to gain inspiration in order to create a resortwear look. Narrative designer, Yonna Ingolf, was also along to further elaborate. She also announced the prize for the week in that the winning designer would be able to work with Candy Crush for a future fashion collaboration.

Each designer played one level and the highest scores got to pick their land inspiration first.This would a 1-day challenge with a $200 Mood budget. As the designers got going with this challenge, beginning their work process, it was clear they were all designing to that of a pants look, some in jumpsuit form, others a pant/short.

The designers welcomed back to the fold this week their regular mentor, Anne Fulenwider. She offered to be the Nina whisperer since she knows what she likes and what she doesn’t. At the end of her sessions, she reminded the designers that resort is a state of mind — the looks should not be too fussy!

Nina would of course be on the panel to judge, but along with her, as a guest judge, was Kelly Osbourne.The designers also found out they would be going to DC next week for their challenge. So who just missed that opportunity?!?

Ken one the chance to pick his inspirational Candy Crush land first, choosing Brulee Bay for a beach resortwear look. And choosing first gave him what he wanted, as well as this week’s win! I was in love with this gorgeous marigold, strapless jumpsuit. The color popped. It read high-end, fashionably chic. It fit with beach resortwear perfectly. The judges had a few comments, nitpicking if you ask me, but overall there were positives and he deserved the win!

Fabio actually was able to pick his inspiration land right after Ken and go figure, what a coincidence, he came in 2nd in the rankings. I support this top 2 ranking! Fabio had Taffy Tropics, for a tropical resortwear feel. I think he hit the mark spot on.. The colors were great, color-blocking being an excellent choice. This was not the most perfectly constructed look, but the vision was there and I would rock this look any day.

Rodial Makeup/Glam SHOUTOUT!!

Actually, the rankings this week all came in exactly how the designers picked their inspirations. Stanley was safe, having chose his land third, selecting Lemonade Lakeside for a lake resortwear piece. He went with a print dress over a pant. The judges were right in that this look had too much going on. And it read heavy as well, which doesn’t comport to resort in my eyes. But he did a phenomenal job on creating a well-polished look. The print he chose was kind of hit or miss, but he took risks and got the reward of being safe.

Umberto BH, Hair look, SHOUTOUT!!

Coming down to Anthony and Edmond in the bottom, I was worried that Anthony might get cut. I am so glad that did not happen and if it had, it would have been the incorrect decision. Anthony created a gorgeous white, short look for his Savannah Safari resortwear piece. Was it the best he has done all season — no. But it was well made, certainly wearable, and really just looked great. It had such an ease about it and was quite chic.

Intermix SHOUTOUT for these uber cute wedges!

This meant Edmond was out. Edmond did well last week, but has certainly not been the most memorable designer all season. And he really did not do justice in creating a look for Marshmallow Mountain with a resort piece. I do think it skimmed the line more on athleticwear than resortwear. The crotch area was an eyesore, so glad this was pointed out. All in all, it was just his time.

Next week is going to be impossible if one more is indeed cut — can’t wait to see!

PRAS Designers Face-Off

The designers were off to the Hard Rock Cafe in Time Square, to meet Alyssa, but this would not be any fun dining NYC experience! Along with Alyssa was the VP of Merchandise Development for Hard Rock, Kitsy Phillips.This week, the designers were tasked with a first for PRAS, to create a dazzling performance outfit for the stage. The performance-wear creation was not the only challenge though. Each designer would face-off against another within a given musical genre. The lower score of each pair would be at risk for elimination.

To figure out the pairings and genres, the designers were left to the fate of a Jukebox! The face-offs were —

  • Anthony versus Ken for Pop
  • Helen versus Fabio for Country
  • Stanley versus Edmond for Rock

Kitsy then announced that the winning designer would create a new hard rock T-shirt, which would be sold at select Hard Rock Cafes. Additionally, the designer would be whisked away, all expenses paid, for a trip to the Hard Rock Hotel in Cancun! Naturally, everyone was ready to go for this 1-day challenge, starting with spending their $250 budget at Mood.

Anne Fulenwider was still away, so taking her place this week as guest mentor was designer Rebecca Minkoff. She did a fantastic job. She pointed out to the designers about making sure their looks were recognizable within their given genre. She also wanted to make sure each designer created a look that stood out.

Joining the judges this week was model Olivia Culpo. And now onto the runway to see who survived their face-off!?!

Overall, I loved this runway. I thought each pair really provided amazing looks. I had a hard time selecting my faves. The weakest pair was Helen and Fabio though. And although Edmond has not done very well this season, I did really love his look this week, and happy for his win so close to the end here.

Shout-outs All-Around — Rodial glam, Umberto BH for the wavy locks, killer black booties from Intermix

His look screamed Rock! A little cliche perhaps, but compared to Stanley, it fit the Rock mold very well. The leggings he made were cool and the vest was a great touch. He didn’t rest on his laurels, really pushing himself, creating a lot for his overall look.

Shout-Out — Umberto BH on the straight locks

Stanley lost out in the face-off, actually landing in the bottom 2, but was safe at the end of it all. His look wasn’t all that bad, it was just a little too polished for Rock. I liked the print he created, but it needed more edge.

Next up was Anthony and Ken. This was a hard choice!! I loved both, but if I had to choose, I would have gone with Anthony. His choice of royal blue is personally one of my favorite colors. His fringe work was amazing. There was a great deal of mixed media, so much to catch the eye.

The judges went with Ken for the top look of this pair, but both really did a standout job here. His sheer jumpsuit was stunning! The judges seemed to disagree about the coat and I sided on not liking it so much myself. I don’t think it was needed to make the look better.

Shout-out — Another standout hair look from Umberto BH

And finally, there is Fabio versus Helen. I don’t think either particularly did a great job for the country music genre. I didn’t love Helen’s look, but I think she was closer to the mark than Fabio on a performance look. I actually liked Fabio’s romper creation, but it didn’t fit the challenge. I could not see the judges getting rid of Fabio though, so sadly, it was Helen who was out this week.

Shout-outs — Umberto BH for all of the curls; Intermix for the sexy strappy heels

With Fabio’s look, my main issue, besides that it didn’t read country, was that I don’t think it was enough for a stage or performance look. And then with Helen, her silhouette was great, but the full on black sequin concept didn’t work. Had she made use of a print or design to put with the black, or maybe having used another color, it could have worked with more of an impact. But the solid black was not the right direction to go!

PRAS — Red Carpet Glam

This week was all about eveningwear and red carpet glam. The designers were invited to Zac Posen’s studio, a designer who is well known for a signature technique on the red carpet. Zac also allowed the designers to make use of his own personal fabrics! But on top of creating a gorgeous, glamorous look, the designers were also tasked to incorporate into their look a signature technique. This could be tailoring, pleating, etc..

Whatever the technique might be, it had to be clear and would be what the judges would focus on. Certainly a great deal to complete in only 1 day! Regular mentor Anne Fulenwider was away this week, so each designer would mentor one another. But first, it was back to the workroom, where really right off the bat, the designers were worried on time.

But time aside, the mentor sessions had to occur. Each designer drew a name from the infamous button bag, and that is who they would mentor. Not much excitement with this, except for Helen mentoring Stanley. It seemed as if everyone was watching! Everyone was also later watching as there was a little drama post runway between Stanley & Josh — retract the claws kiddies!

Joining Zac as a guest judge was actress Rosie Perez. To make this week even more huge in the stakes, there was a top prize in play. The winning designer would land a gig as wardrobe designer for the leading lady of a Lifetime original movie. Of this bunch, there was one safe designer, but I will offer my critique on all 7, basically because the judges’ safe designer, I would have placed her in the top 3!

I thought every designer could have stood to go a bit longer in length with their looks, but that aside, Helen’s burgundy toned number was gorgeous. And her technique of corset work was amazing. I don’t think it was my favorite look from her ever, but certainly a fantastic look.

Stanley was also in the top, although it certainly seemed he was getting some mixed reviews — not all positive. But it really came as no surprise that Stanley once again did a phenomenal job. His tailoring skills are always impeccable. I thought he chose a standout color. And the top bodice portion was stunning. Also, a great fit for his model, she looked amazing.

Fabio took a top spot with the judges, but I think for me, I would have placed him as safe. He did an excellent job with his pleating technique, but something about the final look here seemed dated to me. But I got what the judges said about this look being the “anti-red carpet” red carpet look.

Shout-outs — Gorgeous Umberto Beverly Hills updo & stunning Rodial glam

Rounding out the top 3, and receiving the well-deserved win was Anthony. I loved the silhouette here, and his technique of sculpting was above and beyond the best of the bunch. It was such a glamorous look. Zac noted the color being fresh, but I think that a different color would have made me love this look even more.

The bottom 3 was not surprising. Given Ken’s previous bouts with standout work, I knew he would not be in major jeopardy. But he knew this week, he did not perform his best. The whole side part of his gown, working on his technique of sculpting, it was a letdown.

I would have rather Josh stayed over Edmond, but I have a feeling Edmond will be out next. Edmond really has not done much by way of greatness throughout this competition. His pleating technique was not bad, but there were some issues in this piece. The judges, namely Alyssa, took issue with the floral pleated bodice. I actually didn’t mind this, but what bothered me was the pairing of this with the print, versus a solid red. And the exposed zipper, ahhhhhh, how tacky.

Shout-out — Gorgeous wavy locks from Umberto Beverly Hills

And this leaves once again Joshua out on this week’s challenge. I applauded him choosing an ambitious technique, in that of pintucking, and for that part, he did it oh so well. However, the judges were correct in their assessment that there was a lot going on for this look. It seemed as if there was a hodge-podge of elements all thrown together to make a piece that just didn’t work.