Project Runway All Stars Blog

Season 3, Episode 9: Eye On the Bottom Line

By laurareineke 01/03/2014 04:52AM GMT

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.