Fourteen of the most talented designers in "Project Runway" history are competing for runway gold when "Project Runway All Stars" Season 4 premieres on Thursday, October 30 at 9/8c! With guidance from mentor Zanna Roberts Rassi, the returning designers must lay it all on the runway to impress host Alyssa Milano and judges Isaac Mizrahi and Georgina Chapman.
This season's highlights include a surprise visit to London for a challenge featuring British royalty, a collaboration with Broadway's "Wicked The Musical" and the first-ever wedding ceremony live on the runway. Guest judges for this season include: Laverne Cox of "Orange is the New Black," Emmy winner Debra Messing, "Modern Family's" Ariel Winter, Academy Award® winner Mira Sorvino, singer Nicole Scherzinger, Emmy nominated host Cat Deeley, reality stars Snooki and JWoww, celebrity photographer Nigel Barker, QVC® Program Host Lisa Robertson and many others. Designers appearing this season include Betsey Johnson, Michael Bastian, Elie Tahari and Ivanka Trump, and special appearances by Project Runway judges Nina Garcia and Zac Posen.
Drum roll please....the designers competing in "Project Runway All Stars" Season 4 are:
Samantha Black (Brooklyn, NY) – Season 11, 7th Place – Samantha has been working on her line Sammy B Designs, and taking business classes at Macy’s Business Program. Samantha was recently named "designer to watch" by both Essence and Ebony magazines.
Helen Castillo (Union City, NJ) – Season 12, 5th Place - Helen has been struggling to make a name for herself, although she has had some success and celebrity interest. She designed a Grammy® dress for Mary Lambert and mainly makes custom dresses for the everyday woman.
Fabio Costa (New York, NY) – Season 10, Runner Up – Fabio narrowly missed his chance to win his season, but was so inspired that he and his design partner went straight to work creating their own androgynous and minimalist line called NotEqual. He is ready to come back to the runway and this time isn’t walking away without the win.
Gunnar Deatherage (Louisville, KY) – Season 10, 8th Place - Recently the creative director of NFocus Magazine, Gunnar’s days are spent styling, overseeing photo shoots and working on his designs at night for his line, Deatherage Designs.
Justin LeBlanc (Raleigh, NC) – Season 12, 3rd Place - Justin returned to being a full time professor after season 12 and recently completed his Spring/Summer Collection, which will be debuted at the end of August at the Contemporary Art Museum. And on top of all of that, he is also working on a Fall/Winter 2015/2016 collection with a theme based on his definition of love without boundaries.
Michelle Lesniak (Portland,OR) – Season 11, Winner - Michelle returned to Portland after her successful run on "Runway" where she is currently in the process of opening her own boutique. Dedicated to local manufacturing and ethical business practices, she is undoubtedly playing a key role in shaping and growing the Portland fashion industry.
Benjamin Mach (New York, NY/Sydney, Australia) – Season 11, 11th Place - His made-to-order Benjamin Mach label launched February 2014, merging luxurious fabrics with a modern design.
Chris March (New York, NY) – Season 4, 4th Place - Chris continues to build his business, Chris March Designs, designing for stars like Madonna, Prince and Lady Gaga. He recently formed an exclusive partnership with Target to design costumes and wigs for Halloween season.
Patricia Michaels (Albuquerque, NM) - Season 11, Runner Up - Patricia returned to Albuquerque where she has been building a new studio and working on a ready-to-wear collection. On the side, she booked back-to-back fashion shows all over the country and is working on a short film with her son.
Kate Pankoke (Chicago, IL) – Season 11, 9th Place/Season 12, 6th Place - Third time’s a charm for Kate, who will stop at nothing to be the next big designer. She now has her own bridal line and a new collection launching in October. Her fascination with princesses has led her to design wedding dresses that enable every woman to feel like royalty on their special day.
Jay Sario (New York, NY) – Season 7, 4th Place - After his original season, Jay moved from Hawaii to New York, where he currently works as a full-time visual merchandiser for Calvin Klein North America and freelances on the side. His recent passion is bridal wear.
Dmitry Sholokhov (New York, NY) – Season 10, Winner - After winning Season 10 of "Runway," Dmitry created his own brand "Dmitry Sholokhov" and show his collection in Moscow. He has an exclusive collection for Lord & Taylor. He believes that the greatest thing he took away from Runway was all of the accolades and critiques he received from the panel of expert judges.
Alexadria von Bromssen (San Mateo, CA) – Season 12, Runner Up - Last year, Alexandria returned to San Mateo, where she manages her own clothing line, owns a designer boutique and runs a sewing camp for kids called Camp Couture. She is most proud of designing a modern and edgy wedding dress made from recycled fabrics and vintage lace.
Sonjia Williams (Woodside, NY) – Season 10, 5th Place - "Project Runway" really helped Sonjia understand more about the fashion business and what it takes to succeed. She currently has a collection with Anabelle NY and her clothes are available in Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue. She is also working on her own solo line, Something by Sonjia.
The winner of "Project Runway All Stars" will be given the ultimate in prize packaging, which includes the chance to create their own capsule collection with QVC and appear during QVC’s Spring Fashion Week programming; a fashion spread in Marie Claire and a position at the magazine as Contributing Editor for one year; CHI Haircare will send the winner to stay in a luxury spa resort as a special guest at their International conference in Cancun, Mexico, plus product and staff for entire year of runway shows; from Mary Kay, an entire year’s worth of beauty products for their fashion shows and professional makeup artist services for their debut show; a cash prize of $150,000 and a complete custom sewing studio to launch the winning line from Brother Sewing and Embroidery.
Who are you most excited to see back on the runway?
A big congrats to Alyssa Milano! Today, the "Project Runway All Stars" host and her husband, David Bugliari, welcomed daughter Elizabella Dylan Bugliari. Weighing in at 7 pounds, 7 ounces and 19.5 inches long, Elizabella joins the couple's other child, son Milo, 3. Mommy and baby are doing wonderfully," her rep says.
Congratulations to the entire Bugliari family! Leave your well wishes below!
Fresh off the heels of his debut collection for QVC, "Project Runway" and "Project Runway All Stars" winner Seth Aaron Henderson is back to launch his new label, SA by Seth Aaron, with an all-new collection this September. Inspired by vintage '20s looks and '50s rocker chic, the line will feature structured silhouettes and intricate detailing in figure-flattering designs meant for all shapes and sizes.
You can get a peek at the items (some of which are available now!) below and over at QVC.com. Be sure to tune in to catch Seth Aaron present the looks himself on Monday, September 8 and Monday, September 15 at 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. EST. Items will be available for purchase on QVC.com and the QVC apps while supplies last.
Since moving his business to Nashville, "Project Runway All Stars" Season 2 contestant Johnathan Kayne has quickly established himself as a red carpet designer in the region, and people are taking note. ZUSS Media and Country Weekly Magazine have named him their red carpet fashion correspondent for all major country music award shows. See him in action on the red carpetand check out all the celebrities and nominees he'll dress for the eventat the 49th annual ACM Awards on April 6th. Congrats, Kayne!
Love "Project Runway"? Then you must check out "Project Runway: Under the Gunn"! The newest Lifetime show combines the best parts of "Runway"talented new designers, crazy challenges, fierce judging, and of course, Tim Gunn! With a new framework that utilizes former "Runway" contestants Anya Ayoung-Chee, Mondo Guerra and Nick Verreos as mentors, "Under the Gunn" is a fresh, fun spin on the workroom. You can catch up on the latest episodes here and browse exclusive clips here. "Project Runway: Under the Gunn" airs Thursdays at 9.8c.
Congratulations! Big victory for you. Second big victory, really. How does it feel?
I went there to win twice. The thing is, people always ask, "What are you gonna do with all your prizes?" Money comes and goes, deals come and go, but titles are forever. [Laughs] That was my number one goal: to win twice. I'm a huge competitor. That's what meant the most to me, to have two titles. Secondly, it's about business now. It's not about having the public know who I am; they already know that. It’s about building the business. So that's my main agenda: take me to the next level. Which QVC has helped me do.
This season had three winners return to compete, and that wasn't the case with previous editions of "All Stars." Did that change your outlook or strategy going into the competition?
When we [first arrive for filming], we don't know who's going to be there. I didn't know till the day of that Jeffrey and Irina were there.
Did you have an inkling, though?
No, because the producers are really good. They say, "We're going to up the game for 'All Stars.' We're going to bring you back and not tell anybody you’re coming." And so I had no clue until I walked out and saw them and I thought, "Oh, crap." But "All Stars" is different. I get asked if Jeffrey or Irina or I had an advantage but the entire cast is phenomenal and capable of winning. It's not like a regular season where you can eliminate three quarters of the cast in the first episode because they don't have what it takes. This cast, everybody has what it takes. So the game was upped. I had no advantage.
Three designers! Six looks each! Four days! We've reached the finale of the third season of "Project Runway All Stars," which means it's crunch time. Alyssa informs our trio that they'll be drawing inspiration for their final collections from their countries of origin: Elena from Ukraine, Korto from Liberia, Seth Aaron from Spain. And they'll do it in none other than the center of global politics, the United Nations headquarters in NYC.
The finalists chat with the delegates from their countries and do their sketching inside the UN building. For their time in the workroom, they get special help from their old pals Viktor, Christopher and Jeffrey. They also get a last-minute twist: Alyssa pops back in to announce that their collections must include a seventh look, at least half of which must be made from scarves they've been provided. Viktor has to talk Elena off the ledge after this little curveball, but she pulls it together.
The runway show takes place back at UN headquarters, which is pretty cool. Our guest judges are TV and magazine personality Gayle King and designer/"Project Runway" judge Zac Posen.
A vaguely otherworldly-looking collection, comprised of pieces that incorporate all of Elena's trademarks: Bold shoulders, color-blocking, mixed textures, interesting colors (in this case, greys, black, lavender, and pale yellow). Isaac likes the use of leather from knee to hem on Elena's pants. "Those are great pants if they fit," he says, "but they don't fit." Georgina also tempers praise with criticism, admiring Elena's bubble skirts but noting they might've better kept their shape if the fabric had been backed. Alyssa's issueand one that I hadn't thought of before but actually agree withis that Elena spends so much time on the design and construction of the top halves of her looks that the bottom halves often come across as an afterthought. She also brings up Elena's propensity for sticking with the same basic silhouette as a downside when presenting a collection. Elena takes it all in stride. No tears! She lands in third place.
Inspired by Korto's homeland of Liberia, her collection focuses on bright yellow prints interspersed with all-white ensembles. There's lots of love from the panel for Korto's golden opening gown, as well as her pieces' flexible wearability. "Korto allows a woman to be and to breathe," Georgina says, but then admits that this collection is a "bit of a mess," both in design and in construction. Isaac and Zac point out problems with tailoring. Isaac thinks even the structured pieces would look better without the belts. In the end, Korto is declared runner-up, and not for the first time: She came in second during her original season AND during the "All-Star Challenge" special in 2009.
Seth Aaron: Spain
A "very modern, very clean" collection (in Seth Aaron's words) based on a bright yellow, red, and gold color scheme. Georgina praises Seth Aaron's confidence with draping and color, and Gayle admires the back of Seth Aaron's opening look. "To me, the whole thing is a styling disaster," Isaac says, "but the clothes are great." Zac nitpicks the length of the pants in the collection but then he and Isaac geek over the arm hole detail in the short white dress. Plus Seth Aaron's scarf look gets the best reviews of the three finalists'. He's declared the winner! Making him the first "Runway" alum to claim the title for a regular season as well as a season of "All Stars."
I'll admit that of the three collections, Elena's was actually my favorite. All the things I harped on about her work this season were incorporated to great effect here, and her vision and aesthetic are so much clearer to me than either Korto's or Seth Aaron's. But what do you think? Are you happy Seth Aaron won? How much does it bum you out that Korto came in second place AGAIN? Of all the finale looks, which stuck out the most? Let me know in the comments! And thanks for reading and commenting all season!
Happy 2014, "All Stars" fans! We're back in the workroom for a Ready-to-Wear-focused challenge with our final four designers, Christopher, Seth Aaron, Korto and Elena.
The designers will have two full days (TWO FULL DAYS, hallelujah) to create a look for Michelle Smith's New York-based fashion label Milly. The looks must use Michelle's custom fabrics and retail for $400. The winning design will be sold to Milly's clientele, with profits supporting the charity Save the Garment Center.
In the Fashion District the designers meet with Michelle Smith, who outlines her line's edgy, feminine, "urban tribal" vibe. The fabric offerings seem to suit our remaining designers quite well, actually; Korto gravitates toward a loud colorful print while Elena snags a bunch of neon, and Christopher grabs vegan stretch leather, leaving Seth Aaron to go for polka dots. I'm happy that this particular brand-focused challenge won't infringe too much on the designers' ability to convey their personal aesthetics. "Remember that this will be on the runway," Michelle warns during her critique. "I have to be captivated."
An interesting aspect of this challenge is the constraint of meeting a retail price point, which means designing with the intention of keeping production costs low. Christopher bumps into a problem with this when he attempts to include two separate zippers in his black-and-white look. Seth Aaron and Elena remind him patiently that double the zippers means double the number of production lines, skyrocketing the cost. Christopher frowns and tries to find a cheaper workaround. Part of finding success in fashion is approaching creativity with a bit of a businessman's sensibility, Christopher![Insert Tim Gunn "Make it work!" clip here.]
Our guest judges are Michelle Smith, Kristin Chenoweth, and Nick Cannon.
Seth Aaron - A graphic black, white, and hot pink sleeveless dress with a flared circle skirt. The judges are split on the viability of the hot pink ruffle down the center, and Georgina questions exactly how commercial it could be, but it gives them a lot to like and a lot to talk about. Seth wins, securing his place in the season finale.
Elena - A sleek body-con dress with Elena's signature elaborate structured shoulder, subtle pale-lime-and-white color blocking, and a full-length zipper up the front. (You can zoom in on her smart juxtaposing of mesh and leather here.) Isaac digs the color scheme ("It's like chamomile ice cream") but Georgina says she would've preferred a matte white zipper or no zipper at all. Regardless, the panel is impressed. Elena's safe.
Christopher - A black and white leather dress with a tribal-print detachable sarong skirt. Michelle and Isaac both poo-poo the puffiness of the draped bodice, though everyone seems to appreciate the hard-and-soft combo Christopher was going for by including the sarong.
Korto - A relatively plain belted V-neck racerback dress in a striped print, edged around the top with black leather. "The Democrat in the back and the Republican in the front," Kristin says, and the rest of the panel agrees that the front is a little too conservative for the vibrancy of the back.
As if being in the bottom wasn't bad enough, Korto and Christopher are tasked with creating a brand new look from one or more of their previous "All Stars" designs. A remix, if you will. I'm not convinced this extra challenge is necessary! I'm confident the judges could have made their decision without putting both designers through the extra strain! But I do not make the rules. Christopher's remixed look is a one-shoulder blouse and belted skirt. Korto's is a drapey peplum top and a pencil skirt with a front zipper. The judges are charitable toward both (thank goodness; any further critique would have been even more unfair than the fact that they had to remix new looks to begin with), but ultimately decide that Korto's is good enough to advance her to the finale. That means Christopher's out.
We're finale-bound with Seth Aaron, Elena, and Korto. How do you feel about the final three? Do you think Seth Aaron's look best matched the Milly aesthetic? Would you have preferred to see Christopher advance to the final round? Who do you think will come out on top? Let me know in the comments.
Well, well, well, look who it is! I'm THRILLED to see Nina Garcia, who's always been one of my favorite parts of the "Runway" universe, back to participate in an "All Stars" challenge. I can hear the Nina haters gasping in horror, but seriously, I think she's fabulous. She struts on to the runway to inform the remaining designersKorto, Seth Aaron, Viktor, Elena, and Christopherthat five of StyleHaul's top vloggers (with a combined audience of over 6 million people, no big deal) will be flown in to act as the inspiration and models for our designers' looks this week. The looks have to incorporate the 2014 Pantone Color of the Year (a dusty pink-ish purple called Radiant Orchid) and should be indicative of what the designers think will be a top fashion trend next year.
The gang pairs up with their vloggers (all of whom are bubbly, excited, and game for anything. No divas! What a relief) for consultations, and then the work begins. Viktor flounders a bit with incorporating his personal aesthetic into his garment and Elena struggles to fit her work on a super petite model. Meanwhile, Christopher rebels against including the Pantone color in his design, opting instead for an Army green shade, relegating the Pantone color to an accessory.
Our guest judges are Nina (sitting in for Georgina), most revered "Runway" alum Christian Siriano, and designer Francisco Costa.
Korto - A sleek white pantsuit with foldover detailing on the vest that shows off a pop of the Pantone color underneath. Korto explains that she chose white to get away from the "color on crack" trends of the past few seasons. The panel rags on the choice of accessories, but the vest gets very war praise from everyone, and Francisco is very appreciative of Korto's decision to make pants in a challenge in which everyone else made skirts. Korto's our winner.
Seth Aaron - A very Elena-like black belted sheath dress with leather shoulder accents and seamed Radiant Orchid color-blocking. "It's not a lasting image," Isaac says. "What's the trend?" Francisco asks. Consensus: well made, confidently worn, but nothing new. Still, Seth Aaron is safe.
Elena - A super-structured geometric pink/black/white peplum jacket over a tight black miniskirt. This reads a lot more...constricting, I guess, on the runway than it did in the workroom, and Christian and Nina both comment on the strictness of the shape of the coat. But Elena's work with texture is praised, especially by Nina, who didn't see much of that from the designer during her original season. Elena's safe.
Christopher - A moss green lacey belted trench dress that Christopher calls "new vintage Paris soft military," a wordy description that actually does help clarify the whole look, to me and to Isaac. Nina and Christopher side-eye each other over the lace's debated resemblance to seaweed. Alyssa's offended (and I can't blame her) that Christopher's only effort to incorporate the Pantone color was by adding it as a clutch. He's in the bottom...but he's safe.
Viktor - A white leather jacket over a strapless black dress; the black fabric is torn and shredded a bit to reveal the Pantone color layered underneath. For Nina and Isaac, the jacket muddles the proportions of the whole look, but the panel likes the fabric technique on the dress. Unfortunately, that's not enough to keep him around: Viktor is out.
I'm not sure how to feel about the judging this week. For all of the flaws of Viktor's look, it was still more visually interesting and forward-thinking to me than Seth Aaron's dress. But I'm also much more curious to see Seth Aaron's final collection than Viktor's, and as we hurtle toward the season finale, that has to be a consideration beyond what the designers offer up in each challenge. Seth Aaron could very well be eliminated before he gets there, but I wonder if that was on the judges' minds at all this week.
What do you think? Did you buy Christopher's elaborate explanation for his garment? Who do you think best incorporated the Pantone color? Was Viktor's elimination warranted? Let me know in the comments.
It's a bit premature for me to start singing and dancing aggressively to "Final Countdown," but we've reached the point in the season when no designer is safe from final critique. This is where things start to kick into gear. ("Danger Zone" is actually a better song choice, now that I think about it. Karaoke, anyone?)
Our top sixIrina, Seth Aaron, Korto, Viktor, Christopher, and Elenacongregate to hear details about their next challenge. Elena lets out an endearing banshee shriek when Alyssa announces that they'll be flown by helicopter to QVC's studio in Westchester, PA, to meet with QVC program host Lisa Robertson.
Over the river and through the woods and the designers are in the lobby at QVC, where Lisa tells them they'll be designing red carpet looks for her to wear to the company's pre-Oscars gala. She stresses that the garment must look good on camera, in still photographs, and against a red carpet backdrop, AND that she have the ability to sit, stand, and move in it. "Easy!" Viktor fake-scoffs with a flick of his trusty fan. Isaac pops in to give some vague advice while they sketch ("Go for it"thanks, Isaac) and then the designers head back to NYC.
Things get real in the workroom when Viktor pulls aside Elena and Seth Aaron to tell them that he's HIV positive and has been for seven years. Viktor admits that he's only now comfortable with the idea of living more fully with his diagnosis, which means announcing it beyond the bubble of his relationship with his supportive partner. Viktor wrote an open letter on the topic that you can read here.
The trio gets back to work and Zanna arrives for critiques, which...don't go that well. Zanna announces that the work she's seen is not all-star quality, so the designers grimace collectively and hunker down to make their work more impressive.
Our guest judges are Lisa Robertson and Emmy-nominated actress Elisabeth Moss. Here we go:
Korto - A comfortable-looking, accessible empire-waist gown with a bright orange skirt (with pockets!), metallic sash and beige top draped asymmetrically in the back. The judging panel really likes this one, and Lisa notes that it's definitely a piece that would sell well to the average QVC customer. Korto gets the win.
Christopher - A navy mermaid gown with black leather trim, an elaborate navy tulle skirt and lots of chevron patterning on the bodice. Mondo calls the skirt "tortured" but this dress lands in the top of Elisabeth's and Lisa's scorecards for its attitude and good looks on the runway. It photographs less well than it looks in person is likely why Christopher is only safe this time around.
Seth Aaron - A short metallic gold number with a high-low V hem, black piping and thick black shoulder panels. Seth Aaron is confident, but the judges nitpick the hemline and the the fit on the bum. Elisabeth sticks up for it, citing the shininess and the length as things she likes in a red carpet look. Seth Aaron's safe.
Viktor - A slippery-looking olive green gown with elaborate bust cups and a train. Mondo jumps in to defend all the sorta-weird details that Isaac dislikes, including the (deeply unflattering, in my opinion) wing-like attachments running the front length of the skirt. Viktor's in the bottom, but he's safe.
Elena - A black and purple high-backed tank dress with ripped detailing along the sides and front. Elena made an effort to work with brocades instead of her usual neoprene, but the reptilian feel of the ripped fabric here is still very much in her wheelhouse, aesthetically. (That's a compliment! I like this dress a lot, though to my eye the proportions seem off.) No one hates it, but some of Elena's choices confuse the judges (Isaac calls it "dowdy, but good"), so she's in the bottom but she's safe.Irina - An elaborate leather-flower-flecked gown18 panels, boning, appliquethat photographs well but unfortunately reads WAY too "wedding" for a red carpet challenge. It doesn't help Irina's case that the fabric shows every flaw and that the dress rips up the side just before judging. The judges like the dramatic appeal of it, but everyone agrees that it would render its wearer practically immobile. And, again: too wedding. Irina's out.
Irina is the second contestant to get the boot after winning the previous challenge. Watch out, Korto!
How'd you feel about the parameters of this challenge? Whose look could you see on a red carpet? Whose look would you actually want to buy on QVC? And now that we're down to five designers, who do you expect will make it to the top? Let me know in the comments.