Welcome to the second Project Runway: All-Stars! Thirteen designers from previous seasons descend on New York City to vie for the crown. In case you haven’t heard, the returnees are Wendy Pepper (S1), Andrae Gonzalo (S2), Kayne Gillespie (S3), Suede Baum (S5), Althea Harper (S6), Emilio Sosa (S7), Peach Carr (S8), Casanova (S8), Ivy Higa (S8), Anthony Ryan Auld (S9), Laura Kathleen, (S9), and Joshua McKinley (S9). As I said in an earlier article, I don’t think all of the listed contestants quality as All-Stars. Early outs like Peach (11th place!) especially don’t strike me as All-Stars material.
We get the usual shots of the designers arriving and getting together. Most of their DR’s have to do with how they should have won or at least gotten further in their respective seasons. Wendy Pepper tells us that she’s here to “right the great wrong of Season One,” namely her failure to win. So far the show sounds like Project Runway: Redemption Island, minus the island, of course. Many of these designers feel like they have something to prove.
As the designers get together and size each other up, Casanova and Ivy are shocked to see each other. Casanova works for Ivy these days and is understandably horrified to discover that he’s competing against his boss. Whoops. Uli tells us that she thinks Emilio and Althea will be her chief competition. Other designers are astounded to find the infamous Wendy Pepper in their midst, and one of the guys likens her to a “Disney villain.”
Eventually, the designers make their way to the runway, where they are met by the model Carolyn Murphy, who is this season’s host. She tells them this will be the “toughest All-Stars ever” and immediately sets out to prove her point by telling the designers there will be no immunity. An off week can therefore get a designer sent home, even if they’d won the previous challenge.
Carolyn then describes the massive prize package. The more usual prizes include a spread in Marie Claire, a sewing/embroidery studio from Brother and $150,000 in cash. In addition, the winning designer will get a one-year stint at Marie Claire as a contributing editor, all-expense paid trips to Fashion Weeks around the world, office space from Hewlett Packard for one year, an HP technology suite, and a private label capsule collection with Nine West, who also provide the goodies for the show’s accessory wall. The complete package is worth 3/4 of a million dollars.
Carolyn then sends the designers to meet with Joanna Coles, who will be reprising her role as mentor. Joanna tells them that their first challenge will be a team challenge. Cue the moans, groans, and eye-rolls. Joanna then draws Kayne and Joshua’s names out of a black velvet bag and invites Kayne to start a school-yard pick’em, which ends with Wendy being left till last. Kayne’s team has Uli, Casanova, Ivy, Anthony Ryan, Althea, and Wendy. Joshua gets Peach, Andrae, Suede, Laura, and Emilio.
Joanna then tells the teams that there will be no team captain. Each team will be responsible for a mini-collection inspired by an “attitude,” like “confident” or “provocative.” Each designer will be responsible for an outfit within the collection, and the looks have to be cohesive. Each designer will have a budget of $250.00 to spend at Mood.
The two teams then caucus. Joanna has helpfully provided a bulletin board with a list of words describing attitudes. Kayne’s team chooses “confident” as their theme and decide to use leather and lace as their predominant materials. Joshua’s team chooses “bold” and decide to use a lot of black and royal blue in their looks. Then it’s off to Mood, where the designers track down their desired materials. After quickly checking out their new workroom, the designers get to work. Wendy tells us that she thinks Althea is a “Miss Bossypants.”
Joanna then comes in to make her rounds, starting with the folks on Team Bold. She notes that Peach seems to be doubting herself, and Peach admits she’s an athletic gear designer who specializes in tennis clothes. (What is Peach doing here, then? Project Runway has had only one or two sports-themed challenges that I can remember.)
Over on Team Confident, Joanna nixes Anthony Ryan’s bowtie and says Uli’s studs remind her of a stegosaurus. She tells Ivy that she was almost afraid to meet her because she’d been such a raging bitch during her season. Ivy then tells Joanna about her business and money woes, which had gotten bad enough to cause her to volunteer at a soup kitchen so she could have access to the food. Joanna also tells the folks on Team Confident that the combination of black leather and lace immediately make her think “hooker.”
After the critiques and the models’ fittings, the designer check out their penthouse apartments. They find the usual champagne there and Joshua toasts Wendy for being one of the designers who paved the way in the first season. He also seems to be acknowledging her status as a fellow villain for he adds, “Bitch to bitch.”
The next day, the designers get back to work. Both teams start off by doing a quick status check to make sure nobody is horribly behind. Anthony Ryan tells us that he thinks Uli and Emilio are threats. The models come in for their fitting, and Andrae realizes he’s behind after all, and asks one of his fellows for help. Emilio notes this and comments that Andrae is bad at time management.
On the runway, Carolyn welcomes the designers and introduces the judges. The regular judges are Georgina Chapman and Isaac Mizrahi, who had both served on the first All-Stars. The two guest judges are Rachel Roy, a fashion designer, and Mondo Guerra, the winner of the first All-Stars.
Team Bold is up first. They could also be called “Team Bruise” or “Team Black and Blue,” as they used black and royal blue for all of their looks. Emilio made a snug, knee-length blue dress with a cut-out in the front. A strategically placed black bandeau is the only thing saving the model from indecency.
Peach made a very basic little black dress. She tried to make it interesting by making the long sleeves two-toned. It doesn’t work.
Andrae made a basic black mini-skirt– and then added a ridiculously elaborate top. The base appears to be a simple halter-top. Andrae then put a sheer black top with short sleeves over it. Over that, he added a length of blue fabric that looped over the model’s neck and appeared to be sewn into the sides of the outfit.
Suede made a black and blue mini-skirt that seems to consist of handkerchiefs sewn together. He also made a black top with plastic epaulets decorating the shoulders. Laura made a long black skirt and a sleeveless blue top. Joshua made billowy pants and a halter-top.
Team Confident is next, beginning with Ivy’s black leather shorts and creamy white jacket. She made elbow patches out of black lace and put more black lace on the jacket’s sides.
Althea made a knee-length dress with a slit up the front. It has neither sleeves nor shoulders. She also made a long vest out of black lace. Casanova made a black leather skirt with a bustier top. He added a vest made of black leather, plus leggings.
Anthony Ryan’s look consists of skinny white pants and a sleeveless black top with a white collar and white shoulders. The back of the shirt is the most surprising part, as it’s made of black lace. Wendy made a (very) little black dress with a bustier and a bare back.
Kayne made a black jumpsuit with a corset-like bustier. He also made a backless black dress out of some sheer, gauzy material. Said dress has long sleeves and a train. Uli made a draped white dress with a black yoke.
After the show, Carolyn announces that Team Confident won the competition, and that the winning designer will come from their ranks. The season’s first casualty will come from Team Bold. Anthony Ryan, Ivy, and Casanova had the highest scores, while Andrae, Peach, and Suede, have the lowest scores. Carolyn then adds that Laura had had the highest score of anybody on Team Bold– and could have been the winning designer if she’d been on Team Confident.
The judges then start with Casanova, who tells them it would take a confident person to wear a dress made of black leather. Heh. Isaac loves the tights and Mondo thinks he took a risk by “mixing tones.” It was a risk that paid off. The judges think the outfit looks expensive, but needs a longer skirt.
Ivy wanted to make her version of an executive’s power suit. Both Rachel and Georgina love the jacket, and Georgina notes that jackets are difficult to make properly, so a good one gets points in her book. Isaac does not like the shorts, and Carolyn would have liked the jacket better without the lace cutouts.
Anthony Ryan wanted to surprise the judges. Georgina did find the lacy back of his top surprising. Rachel praises his look as both cool and wearable. Isaac likes the skinny pants look, but adds the fit around the crotch needs work.
Suede wanted to use bold shapes in his look. Mondo says he doesn’t like napkins on a skirt. He thinks it’s sloppy. Georgina thinks it looks like two dresses in one.
Peach basically apologizes for her look and explains she designs tennis outfits. I repeat, why did she agree to be on the show? Isaac thinks the sleeves are poorly fitted, and Rachel jokes that she should have used some of Suede’s napkins to liven it up.
The judges are simply confused by Andrae’s look, even by such minor details as how one would put it on. Georgina points out that if he has to explain his design, there’s a problem. The look is both messy and complicated.
After their deliberation, Carolyn then announce the judges’ decision. Casanova is in, and Anthony Ryan is the winner. Ivy and Suede are in, leaving Andrae and Peach in the bottom. Andrae is in, so Peach is out.
Upcoming weeks: There will be a show on or near a battleship, and the designers go to Paris.