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Another Project Runway All-Stars Already?!

Has Lifetime lost its collective mind?!  They’re premiering another Project Runway:  All-Stars on Oct. 25.  The first All-Stars, which resulted in Mondo Guerra winning, had premiered on Jan. 5, 2012.  Carolyn Murphy will replace Angela Lindval as the host, while Isaac Mizrahi and Georgina Chapman will return as judges, and Joanna Coles will play mentor.  So far, so good.  Isaac and Joanna in particular had done good jobs with their respective roles.

The problem is the cast:  Wendy Pepper (S1, 3rd place), Andrae Gonzalo (S2, 6th place), Uli Herzner (2nd place), Kayne Gillaspie (S3, 5th place), Althea Harper (S6, 2nd place), Emilio Sosa (S7, 2nd place), Peach Carr (S8, 11th place), Casanova (S8, 10th place), Ivy Higa (S8, 8th place), Anthony Ryan Auld (S9, 7th place), Laura Kathleen (S9, 5th place), Joshua McKinley (S9, 2nd place).

See the problem?  In my not-so-humble opinion, someone called an “All-Star” should be extraordinarily good at their craft.  In this context, an All-Star designer should be somebody who had either made the finals or just missed them.  In other words, they should not have finished any lower than fifth place.  The first Project Runway:  All-Stars had met this criterion:  Everybody except Elisa Jimenez (S4) had come in fifth place or higher.

In All-Stars 2, we’ve got five designers who all finished below that.  All three of the Season 8 designers had placed blow fifth place in their season.  Andrae and Anthony Ryan had also finished below fifth place.  Likable as some of these people might be, they are not All-Stars material.  (And why are there so many designers from Season 8, anyway?  They’d used up all the good or interesting ones in the first All-Stars!)

Seriously, the talent pool is simply not deep enough to have two All-Stars shows in one year.  Project Runway is or should be about skill and creativity, not “big” personalities.  Casting people because of their personalities might work on shows like Survivor or Big Brother, but it shouldn’t happen on a show supposedly intended to find the best new fashion designer.  The fact that the casting department seems to like designers with obnoxious personalities only makes it worse.  Does anybody really want to see Ivy or Joshua again? They were insufferable enough the first time around, thank you very much.

Another related problem is the fact that these people supposedly earn their living as designers, which means some Project Runway alumnae doubtless had other commitments that kept them from being on All-Stars.  Where all the winners, for example?  They’re probably working.  Project Runway gave them a leg-up and they’ve moved on since then.  Why are Peach and Casanova back?  Probably because people like Jillian Lewis (S4, 3rd place) and Korto Momolu (S5, 2nd place) said “No, thanks.”   Why are Wendy, Ivy, and Joshua back?  Probably because nobody sane wants to hire them or otherwise work with them.  I’ll grant you that Joshua did place second in his season, so he is a legitimate contender.  That doesn’t change the fact that he acted like a complete jackass during his stint on the show.

The designers’ likely commitment issues may explain why so many of the contestants are from the later seasons.  The designers from the later seasons have had less time to establish their careers and may therefore feel more need for the exposure that Project Runway can give them.  They may therefore be more available or at least more willing to come back for another shot.  The first season, by contrast, wrapped up in February 2005– over seven years ago.  Most designers from the first season are probably either established designers with a niche and corresponding clientele, or they couldn’t make a go of it and have moved on to something else.  In any case, they are probably not willing or able to participate in All-Stars.

On top of all that, having two All-Stars in one year cheapens All-Stars.  The first All-Stars, for all its flaws, felt special.  One of the prizes, for instance, was an internship at Marie Claire.  The guest judges were mostly people within the fashion industry, as opposed to the usual actresses.  The smaller than usual cast made it seem as if the chosen designers were truly an elite group.  All-Stars 2 doesn’t feel special at all.  It feels more like Lifetime is trying to cash in on the success of the first  All-Stars by cranking out another as quick as they can.

It is simply too soon for another Project Runway:  All-Stars.

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