Happy premiere of “Project Runway All Stars,” humans of the Internet! Coming off the age-appropriate heels of “Project Runway: Junior,” in which we saw some seriously talented teens (Congratulations, Maya!), I’m expecting to be wowed by this group of veterans. Have they grown artistically since they last graced the small screen? How ’bout emotionally? For the sake of the former I hope the latter is true. That said, I’ve always appreciated a little drama.
For anyone out there who doesn’t watch the show as consistently as the rest of us (like my grandfather, who reads the blog only because I write it), let’s speed through the intros right quick. We have Daniel, who was last on “Project Runway” (twice!) when I was in high school; Stella, who is still taking her rock ‘n’ roll aggression out on cows everywhere; Valerie, who never won a challenge; Layana, who is now a mother; Dom, who is trying to prove her win wasn’t a fluke; Mitchell, who is trying to prove his loss was; Kini, who has the fastest-sewing hands on either side of the Mississippi; Emily, who is all about the streetwear; fäde, whose tiny glasses give him fashion superpowers; Sam and Asha, who hail from “Under the Gunn” and are super cute BFFs; and Alexander and Ken, who should never be roommates again, even if they claim to have squashed their beef.
After the guys and gals have had enough time to squeal with excitement over their mutual respect and admiration for one another, Alyssa Milano makes her grand entrance, reminding the designers that there is no immunity and delivering the instructions for their first task.
The Challenge: Use the moment in your life when you realized you were destined to become a designer as inspiration for your look.
Vague, oversimplified and seemingly easy – I’m excited to see how the designers interpret this one. With $200, time to sketch inside Mood, and one day to work, it’s as Dom says, “This is happening. This is real. Game time.”
As the designers sketch, we hear a little about what direction some of them are heading for this challenge. Layana is designing for a warrior woman, Mitchell is aiming for full fantasy, and Ken is going to be sure to add a piece he is “known for,” the peplum. Being known for peplums is kind of like being known for fanny packs. I mean, I guess it could work? But, like, why limit yourself?
After spending a little quality time with Swatch and grabbing some material, the designers make their way into the workroom and Daniel immediately cuts his finger. There is blood. It is disgusting.
Senior Fashion Editor of Marie Claire Zanna Roberts Rassi glides in, shining like a beacon of light beckoning us home. Everyone seems to be cranking out his or her look, for better or worse, apart from Daniel who may have lost his touch. (That’s a pun about his injured finger. I’m not great at puns. Sorry guys.)
On the runway we are reunited with Alyssa, Marchesa’s Georgina Chapman, and Isaac Mizrahi, who are joined this week by special guest Dmitry Sholokhov. Dmitry can sympathize all too well with the kids on the other side of the runway, as he won Season 4 of “All Stars.”
Layana: Inspired by her strong mother, it’s a lavender jumpsuit where the top looks like a shell of armor and the bottom is an over-sized drapey pant. The material on the top, which sort of looks like a marble statue came to life, is not Georgina’s fave, though she loves the overall look. As do the other judges. Judging by this garment, Layana’s mom must be a total badass.
Ken: Inspired by powerful women (sensing a theme?), it’s a hard-edged all-black power suit/dress with a feminine flair. He loses some points on originality because it’s still got a bit of a peplum, but Isaac calls him “the one to beat.” I’m unconvinced for now.
Valerie, the winner: Inspired by her experience with her first industrial machine practicing lines and shapes, it’s a flirty little white romper with geometric shapes of fabric creating a puzzle-like effect in pink, beige and black. Valerie also created a black jacket, which everyone agrees the look is strong enough without.
Asha: Inspired by the idea of modern-day African royalty, it’s a little black pleather dress with a cut-out midsection. Isaac calls it “off the rack” and Dmitry criticizes her for her reluctance to go “full leather.”
Daniel: Admitting he first designed a collection to impress the woman who would become his wife, Daniel explains that although what we’re looking at is a mid-calf iridescent blue dress, he meant for it to be a jacket. Zanna warned against using his scissor incident as an excuse, but Daniel Franco, being Daniel Franco, mentions that he couldn’t tailor the jacket he planned because of the injury. The judges are unimpressed.
Mitchell: Inspired by the fantasy video game costumes he sketched as a kid, it’s a long, frilly white skirt and a dark purple floral draped top. Unfortunately, the top looks a little sloppy. I’m not sure if the goal was asymmetry, but regardless, it’s not working.
So there it is. Valerie is finally a challenge winner. And it must be a day of firsts because the judges decide that they don’t know Mitchell or Daniel well enough to shoo them off the runway yet. Nobody goes home and everyone is happy. Except Sam, who is all sass about it.