Well, it’s been a rough, weird week for the myLifetime.com team. Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy walloped NYC and the surrounding area but good, and while our group is extremely fortunate to be safe and sound, many of us have gone the past few days without power or an accessible route to the office. Kim has been busy dealing with fallout from the storm (don’t worry&$151;she’s totally fine) so I’m stepping in to recap this week’s ‘70s-themed episode. I hope those of you in Sandy’s path made it out unscathed!
I’m a late-‘80s baby. My understanding of the fashion of the ‘70s is limited to John Travolta’s white polyester suit on the poster for “Saturday Night Fever” and the loud patterns and ill-fitting fabrics that clothed the casts of shows I watched obsessively in re-runs as a kid, like “All in the Family” and “Taxi”. Which is to say that I don’t quite see the allure of a ‘70s-based challenge. Can disco garb be classy? I have my doubts.
Carolyn presents the designers with the challenge parameters at a Nine West showroom: They’ll create a modernized disco party outfit inspired by a shoe from the brand’s collection. The designers grab their heels of choice and start sketching, then make an uneventful trip to Mood. (For a better look at their shoe picks, check out our Rate the Runway slideshow.)
Back in the workroom, the group seems to be in good spirits. The designers compliment each other’s fabrics, chat about garment structure, and bond over stories from home with not a bit of drama to be seen. Wendy Pepper, season one’s notorious villain, becomes automatic besties with Suede, and even sings his praises in a confessional. The designers still throw some shade at each other’s outfits, and of course Joanna dampens the mood a bit when she comes around for her first critique, but to be honest, I prefer a workroom filled with relatively upbeat designers.
Pause for a disco dance break! Back at the apartment, the gang is treated to a video pep talk from Karl Lagerfeld himself. Well, as peppy a talk as Lagerfeld can give.
The designers seemed pleased with their looks as the models walked the runway, but I was underwhelmed. A lot of great individual ideas - Emilio’s color palette, Althea’s bodicecouldn’t compensate for the scattershot quality of the runway show. If I’d come in late to the episode, I doubt I could tell you what the challenge was based on the designers’ final products. I was surprised that no one called them out as a group for their inconsistency.
Kayne’s chevron pants and glam top matched my idea of ‘70s garb the best, but I agree with the judges that Ivy’s green-and-gold number and Uli’s white minidress were the strongest looks. I think they succeeded primarily because they looked modern and party-appropriate in a way that, say, Joshua’s teal pantsuit did not. Ivy and Uli also did a great job having their shoes complement their outfits and vice versa. I suspect the lack of beading on the back of Ivy’s dress may have given Uli the edge in the voting, but to my eye both looks were stellar.
On the other end of the scale was Wendy. Her prints-and-chains combination looked cheap to me - a shame, given how classy and graphic her black-and-white heel was. I wish she’d stayed more in the realm of “tuxedo” and done less with the dismal chains. Andrae, meanwhile, should have listened to Joanna and ditched that embarrassing jacket when he had the chance. Of course, that would have necessitated an overhaul of the boring top-and-skirt combo underneath. He was spared by the judges, but I was torn about Wendy’s elimination given the blandness of Andrae’s contribution. Neither of these looks was “All Star” quality, but which is a worse offense: A look that only works (and even then, just barely) when one of the key pieces is removed, or a look that doesn’t work but that shows some enthusiasm and a hint at a wider vision?
I look forward to hearing your thoughts. For those of you who lived through the ‘70s: How did these looks stack up? Am I being too harsh in my assessment of the decade’s fashion? (Probably.) Who do you think best met the challenge requirements?
Sweet P's done it all; "Project Runway," Lifetime's "Project Runway All-Star Challenge" and now, "Project Runway All Stars." When I called to chat, she was taking a break from working on a Wes Anderson commercial pretty, well, sweet! Read on to find out which of her "PR" experiences was her favorite, who she wants to win this season and what her new career path is.
Lisa: So you’ve done "Project Runway," "All Stars" and you were even on the "All-Star Challenge" that aired on Lifetime before Season 6. How were your experiences different and similar across the three different shows?
Well, I should try and put this in a nice way, right (laughs)? My first season was great but the "All-Star Challenge" was really cool because there were only eight of us? And we were only there for one week and we had the chance to win $100,000 so it was definitely where our odds were better. My experience was really good because I was Top 3 and received accolades from Diane Von Furstenberg. It was cool, she really understood me and that was great.
On this season, honestly it’s kind of sad for me. I never would’ve expected to go second! I feel like I was sacrificed too soon, I definitely feel like I’m a better designer than some of the people who stayed.
Well, I feel like April’s dress definitely should have sent her home and so does everybody that I’ve spoken to. It was a mess! And also, the challenge was a ball gown. I think if people Google what a ball gown is, they'd see that there was really only three or four ball gowns [made in last week's challenge]. The rest was evening-wear which was not really what we understood the challenge to be. Mila’s dress no offense, I really like her, but I do not think that was a dress you would wear to the opera at all. My experience with ["All Stars"], while it was fun, because I met a lot of people I really like and now have become very good friends with, I felt like I was cheated.
You were in the bottom the first episode and out the second, what do you think was off for you this time on "Runway"?
The judging can go however they want it to go and I don’t know if it’s that the judges don’t really know us or our stuff. On my first challenge they weren’t happy I used wash clothes because it’s fabric, but then Jerell used scarves, which are fabric (and much easier to work with). I feel like he’s more of a character, he talks sh*t about people. I don’t, so I’m not maybe as fascinating to watch on TV.
What is it like watching the episodes and hearing what Jerell said about you or your designs?
Oh, it’s so weird. I think he’s catty so I don’t really care. He’s not someone I would ever hang out with, to be honest with you. I don’t like his clothes. Last week, his dress was awful, we all thought he’d be in the bottom. We called it maternity poop. It made the model look so fat and it was brown. It was so ugly!
You're such a recognizable name and face of "Project Runway"! Do people often recognize you from the show(s)?
Oh my God, I’m working on this commercial and this lady came up to me yesterday on set actually and she’s like, “I know you from somewhere, what’s your name?” And I’m like, “Sweet P...” And she’s like, “Oh my God, you don’t understand!” And she hugs me really hard and says, “I totally love you, and you’re one of the best on there and you’re a nice person!”
A lot of times when people think they know me, especially on set, people come up and say, “Oh, what was that job we worked on together?” I know I’ve never worked with them! Usually, someone I’m with will say I was on "Project Runway." Most of the actors on this [commercial] were embarrassed because they’re like “Oh, I thought I knew you and worked with you,” and I’m like, “But, you kind of do know me.” That’s where it’s interesting, they kind of do know me and what’s nice is they like me, you know?
Do you have any regrets for doing "All Stars," are you happy that you did it?
I’m still happy I did it because I got really close with Kara, Kenley and Austin and that was really worth it. Gordana is a really, really nice person as well. So that’s part of it, you know, I always like to walk away from it and take the positives. To win, it would have been crazy for me because I did just change careers. I don’t really want to be in that business anymore and if I won that prize, I would have felt obligated to do a line again and honestly I’m not really interested in doing that anymore.
When did you last put out a fashion line?
I didn’t put out my own line, but I worked for two companies in 2010 where we designed for Forever 21 and other major retailers; Macy’s Nordstrom’s, Windsor. I did lines for them and I’m talking about cranking out three racks of clothing a month.
It’s interesting because on the show there’s only a few of us who have actually worked in the industry selling clothes. Kara sells her stuff, Gordana sells her own stuff, but she has her own store. I’m talking bigger, like selling through major retailers, and it seems like Kara and I are really the only designers with that experience on the show. It’s interesting because you see more "student-y" kind of stuff, very fresh. Things that are on the runway aren’t necessarily things that would really make it in this business. Selling one dress to Kim Kardashian is not necessarily the same as selling a dress to 20,000 girls. And that’s what I’m used to doing. I’ve worked in this business for 20 years and I’m so programmed into what really sells and what women buy.
You said that you quit doing fashion about a year ago. What are you doing now?
I was talking to my husband and I was like, “What am going to do where I can make the same money and I’m still be in the world of fashion?” I didn’t want to do wardrobe anymore because it’s really back-breaking work and my husband said, “What about makeup?” I was like “BOOM! Oh, that’ll be great!” I got out of school at the end of January 2011 and I started working in March. I did Roman Coppola’s next film, I’m working on a Wes Anderson commercial. I definitely feel like it’s a good career choice. I love bringing beauty to the face and I love being somewhere new all the time, being really close with people. I really get close with my actors, especially for a film because you spend a lot of time with them and they sort of feel like family.
Did you get your hands a little dirty in the L’Oreal room for the two challenges you were on "All Stars" for?
No, but I talked a lot to Scott and the other makeup artists a lot. It’s funny because some of the contestants would say they didn’t like their hair or makeup and I would always ask, “Were you specific with what you were talking about?” because I feel like they’re a great team, they know what they’re doing and if you’re specific, you get what you want.
On this week's episode, the designers are creating a look for Miss Piggy what would you have created for her?
I would probably do some kind of smashing red carpet look for sure! I’d do something playful but I don’t know her that well, to be honest with you! I never watched Sesame Street because it was after my time but that’s the only reason I’m not into her because I didn’t grow up with it.
So the million dollar question, who do you want to see win?
I would want someone I love to win, so I would love to see Kenley win. I would love to see Kara I feel like Kara and I have a really close aesthetic, I’d like to see her win but I feel like her stuff is too "sellable," so I don’t think she has a chance. Austin is somebody I would like to see win. And, I could see Mondo winning; I loved his line on his season. I’m surprised someone didn’t snap him up and do a collection, you know, like Mondo for Target or Mondo for Forever 21 because he’s very junior.
I know you guys already had this figured out by reading a little bit about my interest in muscles and teen pop culture, but I am very classy! So a “night at the opera” challenge is where my tastebuds reside — why, just recently I rocked a last-minute black tie event with a $37 dress purchased four hours earlier at Loehmann’s, so…
Unfortunately I couldn’t pencil in a day of “PRAS” judging, so I suggested my good friends Mark Badgley and James Mischka for the job. The adorable couple — “partners in life and business,” according to their Wikipedia page (deal with it!) — announce the challenge, and the designers feel the pressure. Except Michael Costello, who is a big fan of the type of opera that we’re all a big fan of.
Can someone help me with Kara’s statement of the night/week/world? The camera cuts to her and she says, “Evening wear I can do. But it’s not my ‘pabboo’ moment. Whereas it’s Austin’s ‘pappoon.’” HELP! What do those words mean? I won’t even Google them spelled 500 ways, can you guys just let me know in the comments?
Everyone has their money on Austin, who understands that he must win in order to keep his King of Couture crown and sash earned in Season 1. (Although we all know I’ll be there, like a hybrid creepy stalker/beauty-pageant host with a bouquet of roses, either way.) Mondo admits that he saw an evening gown challenge coming and brings up a good point: Evening gowns without polka dots are not his forte, and this challenge is also not his “pabboo” moment. April answers my prayers from last week and says she’ll do a color this week for her gown. Unfortunately, that color is red/oxblood.
Mood is where the Great Red Debacle (As Seen In the Preview) of ’12 happens. AND IT IS TENSE. Michael is flustered by April’s choice to use red and feathers, so he ends up going with THE MOST GORGEOUS black matte jersey material ever, because surely no one else in this EVENING GOWN challenge is doing a black dress.
Back in the workroom, we see that April isn’t even doing a full oxblood dress, she’s actually dyeing part of the dress for an ombre effect, which has all of the designers concerned. I’m trying to visualize April’s ombre “corpse bride” opera dress and am wondering if this would have been a great time for her to do a dramatic black dress with maybe serious shoulders, sleeves and intricate details.
Joanna returns to the workroom, and I think we can all agree that the best part of her visit is when Austin overhears Rami say that he is his biggest competition in this challenge and I get to make a screengrab of this:
At the end of the day, the designers don’t sleep like in other seasons, but swill a glass or two of bubbly chased down with some self-doubt. Anthony suggests that instead of “couture” they be encouraged to make “really, really pumped-up prom dresses,” which may or may not be Foster the People’s new single feat. Anthony Williams.
Let's start with... The Middle: I know there are haters in the crowd, but unfortunately for y’all, I love things that Kenley creates. Her dress is a little prom, but “Pretty in Pink”/cool-edgy girl prom. Rami’s fuchsia frock, on the other hand, is what 16-year-old Lisa would have begged her mom to let her wear to prom. And not that I wasn’t a tastemaker at 16, but high school was a time when I wore more platforms and belly-baring shirts than Geri Halliwell at the height of her career.
I’m surprised that Gordana doesn’t make it to the top or bottom. I personally LOVE the flapper look and the sexy illusion skirt on her gown. (Heidi and the regular PR judges would be really into that styling, dontcha think?) I really like Mondo’s mod dress from the front, but think the bow/obi at the back looks a little tacky and costume-y.
I don’t hate Jerell’s dress, but the giant, pregnant, are-my-legs-moving-or-am-I-floating silhouette, which appears here and on Kara and Sweet P’s dresses, has got to stop. For all of Mila’s workroom jabs, her dress, although slinky and sexy, looks like something you could get at any department store. Don’t forget your color-blocking roots, girl!
The Top: Austin’s earlier comment about Michael’s dress being too much celebrity and not enough socialite feels truer the second someone mentions Kim Kardashian at the opera (also, don’t give that family any ideas!). Plus, Badgley & Mishka warned, “If you do a black dress, it should be the most dazzling black dress we’ve ever seen,” and I can’t imagine that that is it. Well-fitting, yes, but so is everything I own from American Apparel.
I am falling more in love with Anthony Williams and his crystal-encrusted accessorizing each day. And speaking of accessories, if he keeps making boobies look like that in dresses, he’s going to win this whole thang hands down!
The win goes to the lovely Austin Scarlett for a luscious SGD (Serious Gold Dress) that looked like liquid gold on his model. Beautiful, flattering, sexy — I imagine most women, myself included, would line up for a chance to wear that. Lopsided tulle or not. This week’s Austin Scarlett Haiku shall celebrate his win:
King of Couture crown
Rests upon his flaxen hair
Beneath the halo.
The Bottom: Kara is saved after she wins the judges over with the pockets in her comforter-cover couture, and thankfully, despite a sad top on an otherwise interesting dress, April makes it through.
I love Sweet P. I think she’s pretty and wears beautiful clothing, but unfortunately I haven’t liked either of her designs from this season. The things that become evident to me while I’m watching “Project Runway All Stars” are:
1) I love all of these designers!
2) Every week will be sad with one of our friends leaving.
3) It’s never a good idea to attend a “PRAS” viewing party when you have to write a blog about the show. Ah well, better luck next week!
P.S.: Miss Piggy next week!?!?!
Laura Bennett continues her "Project Runway All Stars" episode recapping over on LifetimeMoms! For Episode 2, Laura falls in love with the show all over again. Read her recap here to find out what she thought of the top, middle and bottom!
What kind of dress do you think Laura would have made in last night's challenge? A "Night at the Opera" seems right up her alley!