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.
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.