Last night was the season premiere of Project Runway All Stars and frankly after a couple of completely disappointing seasons of regular Project Runway they had to do something to save this mess of a show.

To prove they are serious about fashion, Lifetime is bringing back some of the big guns of seasons pasts. I have to admit I was slightly disappointed that most of the “all stars” were from the Lifetime seasons of the show instead of the infinitely more talent soaked Bravo seasons, but at least Anthony Williams and Mondo Guerro returned! I am SO excited for another season of Mondo’s fantastical clothes and Anthony’s amazing one liners. Loves it!


An all new show means an all new hostess, American covergirl Angela Lindvall — luckily the gynecological length skirts remain the same. There are also new judges in the form of Georgina Chapman — designer and co-founder of Marchesa known for ruffly and bespangled designs. She also happens to be the wife of PR producer Harvey Weinstein — funny how that works! Also on the panel is Isaac Mizrahi – QVC and reality personality, oh and designer. Ok — I actually love Isaac’s New York line and his fashion documentary UnZipped is one of my favorite movies.

After we meet up with the designers and learn about the glorious $500,000 prize suite, Angela announces the designers should whip out the look they carted with them which represents their growth as a designer since appearing on the show. The designers will show their look in an impromptu fashion show for the judges. They have 30 minutes to fit their models, whom are backstage at the amazing Limelight. And Go!

There really were a ton of different and incredible perspectives and some of these guys really have challenged themselves and improved drastically.

By the way: Did I mention there will be no immunity for PR All Stars. They are not cutting these super sewers any slack.

After the 5 minute fashion show the designers disembark to their new temporary home at Flatotel. Upon their arrival they are greeted with a video of Giancarlo Giammetti – Valentino’s longtime partner AND Valentino in all his oranges. A hush for the master of the great red dress fell upon the room as the designers held their breath listening to his words of inspiration and wisdom. So sweet. And amazing.

The next day the designers meet Angela at the 99¢ store and surprises the designers with the dreaded Unconventional Materials challenge. They are given $100 dollar billz to gather materials to make an outfit inspired by what the look they showed in the mini fashion show. The designers tear through the store and grab anything remotely similar to fabric.

April and Michael both purchase the same exact material — mop heads — which has Michael worried that April’s will far surpass his in the construction department.

After looting the dollar store the designers head back to the workroom where, surprise! they get the benefit of the Neiman Marcus accessory wall and a phenomenal workroom. Angela announces the designer’s mentor will be Marie Claire Editor-in-Chief Joanna Coles.

Joanna cruises the workroom and has a very crisp and direct demeanor — very different from Tim Gunn. Joanna offers little warnings to the designers and mostly encourages them to just keep working. SIDE NOTE: Mondo’s one earring ala Suddenly Seeking Susan was just no. It was distractingly awful and I usually adore his obscure outfits.

There was a surprising lack of workroom drama, which I suppose speaks to the professionalism and preparedness of the contestants. No one really had a freak out moment (yet!) except for poor old Austin Scarlett, who experienced a glue gun gone wild that melted the plastic on his dress. After a minor panic attack Austin was able to seamlessly patch the hole and no one was the wiser.

The guest judge for this challenge was Senior VP of Neiman Marcus, Ken Downing.

Ok, let’s trash discuss some looks!

Austin: Ohhh… hmmmm… showercurtain-y. I actually really liked the plastic overlay and the bright color, but that odd peplum detail jutting out so vertically was distracting; although the brillo pad “jewels” were really neat. The shoulder appendages also looked haphazard. The Valley Of The Dolls/Rosemary’s Baby shape with the empire waist and the short skirt was very cute, but yeah, the bird wings conically exploding from the waist was a big no. Also, the cut outs and the low cut front and back? It was all a little much and it gave the whiff of eau de figure skating costume.

Kara: I was not a fan of the color combo or the Star Trek Voyager belt, but I liked the bustier and the wrap skirt particularly since the wrap is a signature of Kara’s. All in all, the proportions looked good and it was flattering, but the details were a bit meh.

Kenley: Napkins. Barbie. Bad. Silly and contrived. Baby shower colors.

Anthony: I love the color, but it was a little uninspired and the gold things on her boobs made me think her insides were exploding or a snake was wrapping around her neck chocking her — they were just really oddly strewn on there and I hate the collar. Something was very off about that gold element. Also, too short and tight. Paging Heidi Klum!

Mila: This is pure Mila. I swear she has made this look a 1,000 times. Ok, she has an aesthetic but I think she actually made this same look for a PR challenge of yore. I do think it was excellently constructed and very chic though. Nice attention to detail Mila just a little too expected.

Michael: It’s too big and hangs on the model. I liked the idea, but the construction was too heavy and unfitted. I really like the cut out in the back and the way the bodice is draped and the configuration of the neckline — had he been able to fit this better or dye the mops I think it would have been terrific.

April: She actually DID use the mops better. Although I think the skirt was too long and fringe-y, the fit was impeccable and I like how she seamlessly constructed the bodice. I think whatever tulle detail was at the shoulder was interesting.

Top 3:

CONGRATULATIONS Rami: Rami used laundry bags, tinsel and umbrella lining. The execution was amazing and the judges called it editorial and that he made the materials his “bitch.” Very Balenciaga inspired shape and print and extremely high fashion. Shockingly so given the materials. I actually like it better than the original look and the proportions are good with the wacky shapes. I DO think the shoulder detail was a little too high, but I liked the intentionally over the top-ness of it. This was an incredibly strong showing. J’adore!

Jerell: This is chic and whimsical. I loved the mixing of patterns and I liked the detail with the straps and at the neckline — particularly the beading. I think it’s a leeetle high waisted, but over all a good style and an easily wearable piece. Frankly, it’s what Anya’s beach dresses could have been were she capable of sewing skills. The judges found this very wearable and loved the details at the straps, they also thought it was on trend.

Mondo: My immediate reaction was that I hated the material, but I suppose their options were limited. I loved the belt and I think the shape was fun and totally Mondo. The execution was amazing and the proportions were so flattering. On second glance I really liked the quirkiness of this and I think it is an intensely wearable look, although a little juvenile. Mondo used binders, electrical tape and trash bags. The judges called this flawlessly executed and want to see it in a real fabric. They also praised his sense of proportions and loved the modern edge and fascinator.

Bottom 3:

Sweet P: Well, it certainly was bright, but it looked droopy and thrown together even from the TV. I liked the belts or whatnot used as straps, but the mariachi skirt was a no and the fabrication was cheap as hell. It’s bad enough that it was a washcloth, but a cheap and flimsy washcloth with bad execution made it a terrible mess. Too costumey.

Isaac called it ragged and unresolved and I agree – very unfinished. Ken thought it made the model look bigger and the execution was imprecise. Poor fabric choice, indeed and it definitely lacked purpose.

Gordana: Hmmmm… This definitely has some positives, the flapping not being one of them. I love the shoulder detail and the neckline, but I think the dress has too much volume particularly for such an undefined tunic shape. The movement was too extreme — I think If she could have somehow weighed the paper down a bit it would have worked a little more. Isaac liked the texture, but Georgina thought there were too many details and it was over-designed. I was surprised they liked the streamers cause I thought they looked floppy and junior department.

GOOD BYE Elisa: Well, there are aspects I appreciate (I know, I know) — like the different patterns, the florals and the colors. It was kind of a Galliano mixing of prints. HOWEVER, the wings with the hotpant bathing suit combo are ridiculous. The writing on the “wings” was intriguing, but really those things were distracting and did nothing to enhance the outfit. I think she too literally derived from her original look to her detriment. It would have been much stronger without the paper table cloth flaps.

Elisa apparently used sacred geometry and a path of 360 to bring meaning to her dress. Whatever — the cut out at the hip was too much. The judges surprisingly liked this based on spirit and the story behind it, but thought she did too much explaining and the design should speak for itself. Ken knew this would be laughed out of Neiman’s, but I applaud the judges for not discounting the garment based on projected revenue and it was well constructed with a great fit. Angela expressed concern about Elisa’s designs being “up to par” and after that I knew her fate was sealed. Good-bye kooky spitting lady!

Really, I don’t think she ever had much of a chance. The weird designers — the really weird artsy ones — never last because, frankly, they aren’t sellable to a mainstream audience and Project Runway is ALLLL about the main stream. Sadly, nothing Elisa made would do well in any Neiman Marcus/Marie Claire capacity because her aesthetic doesn’t fit theirs’. Like Ken said — nobody wants a 20 minute story to go with a dress that should sell itself on the racks or in a photograph.


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