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.
Happy Holidays, "PRAS" fans! I can't think of a better gift than a Christmas-themed episode of "All Stars"! (Okay, and maybe a new pair of Louboutins…I hope Santa reads this blog!)
Let's count the number of Christmas cliches I can use in one blog. And go!
The episode started out with the remaining designers meeting Carolyn Murphy and Fawaz Gruosi, founder and president of de Grisogono, at the South Street Sea Port. They were then told that the winner of this challenge would score a de Grisogono watch. Their faces lit up like kids on Christmas morning. (That's one cliche!)
The designers were then briefed that in order to win the present (Two!), they would have to survive the unconventional challenge. Dun dun duuuuuun! Their task? To create a look from material found at a Christmas store…but the look can't appear as if it came from a Christmas store!
Fun Fact: This episode was taped in the middle of the summer during a crazy heat wave in NYC, so I found it hysterical that in the beginning of the episode the designers were running into a Christmas store in shorts and tank tops!
As the designers started working on their designs, many of them had a "WTF" look on their faces. I can't say I blame them. Casanova had the best line. He said with all the silver and gold he can make a piñata. I die.
Speaking of Casanovathe poor guy had such a hard time conceptualizing his design! He made a total of four dresses! His final look consisted of scraps from the other designers. It was nice that they other designers let him use their leftovers. You know what they say…bros before ho, ho, hos. (Get it? I love cliches.)
I can only imagine how hard (and fun) it must be for Joanna Coles to give constructive criticism on the unconventional designs. On one hand, i.e. talking to Emilio, it's like, "You're just going to use ribbon?" But on the other hand, i.e. chatting with Anthony Ryan, it's like, "Who knew you could pull that off with ornaments? You've been a very good boy." (Zing!)
On runway day, I was totally fan girling that Kylie Minogue and La La Anthony were the judges. I felt like it all goes back to my teen yearsI used to watch La La on "TRL" every day after school and "Can't Get You Out of My Head," was on the countdown forever.
The designs were innovative to say the least. I'll even agree with Carolyn when she said that the designers were able to prove that they can "think outside the box." Whether their designs topped the naughty or nice list is up for debate.
Anthony Ryan: From a distance you definitely couldn't tell that the dress was made from ornaments. I didn't love the disco ball-esque tiles on the bottom and top of the dress, but overall I thought he did a good job at masking the fact that everything came from a holiday story (not surprisingly).
Ivy: I actually really liked Ivy's for some reason. I'm normally one of her bigger critics, but this dress drew me in. It was fun, retro and flirty the way it moved down the runway.
Joshua: What happens when Madonna falls into a Christmas tree? This look. I didn't like itat all. The craftsmanship on the top portion was great, but it was all too costumey for me. And the hot pants looked like a diaper. I think he should have been eliminated this week.
Uli: This win was a long time coming for Uli. I loved that her dress had simpler sides so it wasn't completely glitter and sparkle in your face at all times. Good job.
Emilio: I feel like instead of getting better each week, Emilio keeps declining. His dress looks straight out of an episode of The Jetsons. Step it up, man! You're much better than that!
Casanova: I think with all the problems he had in the workroom, Casanova was able to pull off something decent. Was it a strong look? Not really. Did I think it was grounds for elimination? No.
Laura Kathleen: Like Uli's dress, I liked that it was slightly subdued than the other dresses. At first I didn't think the model looked fat, but when Isaac Mizrahi pointed it out, I had to agree.
Everybody's doing a brand new dance now! Iconic pop singer Kylie Minogue is joining Carolyn Murphy, Isaac Mizrahi and Georgina Chapman on the judges panel for this week's episode...the unconventional challenge! (TV personality La La Anthony is also sitting on the panel!) In the episode, the seven remaining designers play naughty or nice when the challenge brings them to a Christmas décor emporium.
Besides judging on "PRAS," Kylie's been busy celebrating her 25th year in the music industry. Her latest release, "The Abbey Road Sessions," includes her classics "Can’t Get You Out Of My Head," "Loco-Motion," "I Should Be So Lucky" and "All The Lovers." Watch the trailer for "The Abbey Road Sessions":
We were happy to ride the emotional rollercoaster along with Kara Janx on "PRAS," but now that the ride has finished, we're hoping the Season 2 vet will just, like, invite us over for a home-cooked family meal or something! After her teary Episode 7 departure, Kara turned on that ol' Southern [African] charm and discussed her friendships on the show, her business persona and which man in her life drops her legendary "Project Runway" "pee pee" line on command.
Do you watch every week?
Oh, of course, of course. I’m completely addicted and hooked. I want to see what went down for sure!
How do you feel about the way you were portrayed this time around?
I look like I’m panicking constantly and for the most part, I am. But a lot of that is my process, a lot of that is sort of how I deal with my creative energy. I anticipate having some self-doubt it’s like, “panic, panic, make beautiful clothes, panic, panic.” I’m so professional and I have such a strong business persona but… it’s very bizarre. It’s also just the difference from my regular life, being in a reality TV format. It’s just a different environment and I handle different things obviously in different ways, so no surprise there.
You mentioned your business persona, and other designers have talked about how you are one of the more successful of the All Stars you actually sell clothing at Neiman Marcus, is that correct?
Yes I do, thank you. Going into the show, my agenda has always been to translate that into more grand equity. For me, it equals sales. It’s how you market yourself. It’s a direct reflection of your business and how you sort of yield the results of the show with the consequences of the show. For me, it’s always been a business consequence. I work really hard, I’m part of that hamster wheel of showing collections to the retailers in that shuffle and it’s really been good for me because that’s really my niche, that commercial space.
On “All Stars,” you talked a lot about your family and we can see what an influence they are in your work and life. I don’t think you seemed “panicked” on the show, but more “emotional.”
That’s a much better word for panicked, you’re right, I’m very emotional by nature. I’m very passionate, I’m very outspoken and I’m just sort of an open book. My family is everything to me as it would be to any mother and I go on the show in the best interest for my family, you know what I mean? You leave your kids and go on a show and it’s such a natural thing to miss them and not be at your peak.
On Season 2, I had nothing to lose and I had no personal attachments on the home front and now I have a great husband and beautiful kids and that’s a massive priority for me so if that’s how I went through the show, so be it. For me, it’s important that my kids know I have integrity and that I work really hard and I do what I do with the utmost passion.
What do they think when they watch the show. Or, are they allowed to watch the show?
They’re allowed to watch a little, they watch the recorded version. I think every time they watch it, my little boy laughs and says “snip your pee pee!” My daughter loves Miss Piggy, every time she sees me, she’s like “I always think it’s cool you were with Miss Piggy!” They know mommy was on a TV show and mommy’s on TV… it’s a very normal thing. Very normal. (laughs)
So they quote your iconic “Project Runway” line?
Right because of the commercials, you know in the beginning, now my son just sees and he’s just like “snip your pee pee!” and he just finds it really sort of cute and humorous.
That’s so cute!
It’s so cute. They’re tiny you know? They take it at face value, so it’s nothing. Well, it’s not nothing, it’s just like, “Oh, kids, mommy’s on TV.”
Well, you seem emotional but you also just seem like a mother and that really came across this season. You seemed kind of like the glue that held some of the people in the workroom together.
That’s very complimentary and I love that. I just feel I had some tactic relationships. There was no hidden agenda or malice so I feel like if they asked for advice or if they needed some kind of emotional console, I was there. I didn’t want to be the mother hen and by no means did I set out to do it, but we had such strong bonds and strong friendships. I’m always so gracious to be in that contemporary environment with similar minds. If you go and get those opportunities to be one of the people who are nice about design and competition and all these things, so I definitely like to think that I love them and they love me, so that’s nice.
I heard that you, Rami and Anthony were the Kardashians?
Yeah, my sisters! We were the ‘Dashes. We were our own little family and we loved that because it was our way of leaving that working place and just being our own little thing. It was hilarious, you can imagine how hilarious it was, especially with Anthony. I was Kourtney, you know, I was the one with the kids and the ponytails. I was quite happily Kourtney.
Yes, that’s a good one. Rami said he didn’t know why he was Kim.
He has the physique of Kim! He’s Kim! Like, how do you not know that?! Rami has the physique of Kim, Anthony has the physique of Khloe and I have the psychic of Kourtney. It’s obvious!
You also seemed really close with Kenley.
Kenley and I were best, best buddies. I like that she is just an open book, she’s so emotional and we really sort of connected. We both find each other completely hilarious and we just really enjoyed the experience. We went through the journey together. Watching last night reminded me of our special journey together. We were there for each other and we encouraged each other and picked each other up when we were down and, you know, you need that. She’s just a great girl with a lot of fantastic energy and I think sometimes she gets a bad rep and I just adore her, I just absolutely adore her.
Did you know that Mila was so perturbed by your relationship with Kenley? Watching the show, she talks about it almost every episode; did that come across in person?
Well, everybody has their ideal workspace and I think that everyone has to adjust and insert themselves into the environment that they’re in and I don’t know that Mila wants two girls running around, or that she wants a symbiotic, co-dependent type relationship. I don’t mean we were co-dependent, I just think that’s sort of how we are in our lives. I always say that the TV is a direct reflection of who you are in your life. In my season, I had Santino who was loud and crazy and would sing 24/7 but it was funny too and you just got to sit back and look at the situation and accept it so you can really embrace it. It’s difficult for everyone. Everybody works differently.
Next episode, the designers are creating looks based on flags. What country’s flag would you choose as inspiration?
Oh, I think that’s obvious. I would definitely go with the South African flag, for sure and I know its culture and its history and its change.
Do you have an idea of what you might do?
No, no, no, no! I’m not even going there, it’s always funny because whenever I watch seasons before I even knew I was going to be on “All Stars,” I would be like, I can’t believe I did that! Or, I don’t know how they do it! And when I went back I’m like, “I’m going to do it anyway!” But I’m actually not going to try and do it because I don’t know that anyone could give me a challenge again.
Who would you want to win this season now that you’re out of the running?
You know, I’m going to tell you that everyone can and may the best man win but obviously I’m rooting for my peeps, Kenley and Austin. It’s an exceptional challenge, you know, Mondo, Kenley, Austin, just very exceptional. And not easy.