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Project Runway All-Stars 2: Off to Paris

Last week on Project Runway, the designers had to create outfits for female veterans who were attending special occasions like weddings and 40th birthday parties.  Joshua had a rare good week and won, while Anthony Ryan had a rare bad week and joined Emilio in the bottom.  Nobody was sent home, though.

On the runway, Carolyn informs the designers that there are only three spots in the final, so somebody will be going home this week.  She then spells out the challenge:  Make a couture gown.  Such gowns are known for their details and lush fabrics.  To get the fabrics, they will jet to Paris and pick them up at Janssens & Janssens at the Rue D’Anjou, which is one of the most respected couture fabric stores in the world.  The designers will also enjoy a private tour of House of Valentino, an exclusive maker of haute couture fashions.  There, they will see how it’s done.

After hurriedly packing, the designers fly to Paris.  They then go to the House of Valentino, which appears to have had the same interior designer as Versailles.  The ceilings appear to be about 15 or 20 feet high and there are chandeliers.  It’s definitely not your typical workplace.  Joanna greets them and then introduces them to Valentino’s head designers, Pierpaolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri.  They take the contestants on a tour of the premises and they note how the workers do things like select fabrics for their creations.  (I noticed how the people at Valentino worked in teams, with four or five of them working on a single dress.)

After the tour, Piccioli and Chiuri give the designers invitations to one of their couture runway shows.  Afterwards, the designers enjoy an evening dinner aboard a boat drifting down the Seine River.

The next morning, the designers go to the Eiffel Tower to sketch.  Joshua decides to make a dress that will marry black and white to color.  Anthony Ryan decides to make a long, sheer gown.  Emilio decides to make a ball gown, while Uli decides upon a dress with a train.

The designers then go to Janssens & Janssens, where they will have a budget of 3000 Euros, which is roughly equal to 4000 dollars.  Anthony Ryan selects a black fabric, while Emilio chooses a rich red fabric.  Taste-impaired Joshua selects a multi-colored floral print, which is probably the ugliest thing Janssens & Janssens was selling that day.  It also looks like something that could have been bought at Mood.  After that, it was time to go to the Valentino Couture Show.  Joanna reminds the designers of what Chiuri and Piccioli had told them during the tour:  Couture is a dream.

Back at New York, reality sets in and the designers get to work.  Joshua starts work on a black and silver bodice and Uli works on a metallic top.  Anthony Ryan hates his first dress and scraps it.

Joanna comes in to make her rounds.  She starts with Emilio.  She loves the fabric he’s chosen and urges him not to overdo the decorations, as that could detract from that wonderful red fabric.  She’s less thrilled with Joshua’s work and tells him that the gaudy flower print doesn’t look couture.

Then the models come in to try on their frocks.  Uli’s dress turns out to be too big, and Emilio decides to add sleeves to his look.

On the day of the runway show, the designers get back to work.  Emilio regrets his decision to make sleeves, as that’s put him behind.  The models come in, and they visit hair and make-up before getting dressed.

On the runway, Carolyn talks a bit more about Paris, and then she introduces the guest judge, designer Cynthia Rowley.

Joshua is up first.  He made a long-sleeved black and silver shirt with a V-necked collar and a plunging back.  He paired that with a long skirt made of a multi-colored floral print.  Anthony Ryan made a long-sleeved black gown.

Uli made a bronze halter with a yoke collar and paired it with a long black skirt.  Emilio made a long-sleeved red gown.

The designers then have to face the judges, who start with Emilio.  The fabric looks like a heavy brocade, but is actually quite light.  Emilio invites the judges to touch it, which they do.  Isaac loves the dress, particularly the long sleeves and high waist, but wonders how it would look if it was five inches shorter.  Georgina calls it beautiful and elegant.  Cynthia says it’s both strong and simple, while Carolyn thinks it’s beautiful.

The judges also like Anthony Ryan’s dress.  Georgina calls it divine, and Isaac likes the silhouette.  Cynthia says it’s beautiful and Carolyn thinks it’s elegant.

Uli is up next.  Cynthia likes the mix of textures, but doesn’t like the fact that the nude lining was visible.  Georgina agrees and calls the lining “distracting.”  Carolyn thinks the shape in the back looks like a blob.  Isaac thinks the dress looks expensive, but doesn’t think it looks like couture.  He thinks it looks a “very expensive ready-to-wear dress.”

Last up is Joshua.  Isaac appreciates his willingness to experiment– but adds this particular experiment was not successful.  Georgina thinks the dress would have worked better with a larger print.  Cynthia thinks the top is ill-fitting, while Carolyn thinks the skirt’s shape if off.

The judges have their chat.  They applaud Emilio’s choice of fabric and the details in Anthony Ryan’s look.  They didn’t like the visible lining in Uli’s dress, and Joshua’s dress simply did not work.

The judges then announce the winner:  Anthony Ryan.  Emilio is safe and will join him in the finals.  Uli and Joshua are in the bottom.

Carolyn then says that the judges want “to see something more from them.”  They must face one more challenge:  deconstruct their gowns and reinvent their looks– within one hour.  This idiocy must have been planned in advance, since Uli has been a much stronger competitor than Joshua all season long.  It should have been obvious that Uli was the one who deserved to go to the finals.

In any case, Joshua just shortens his skirt so that it’s knee-length and flips the bodice backwards.  Uli makes a look mostly made out of the lining the judges disliked, which Cynthia calls a “hilarious f@ck you” to the judges.

In the end, the judges give Uli her rightful place in the finals, and Joshua is sent home.

Next week:  The Final Three face their last challenge.  They have to make a mini-collection in four days.

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