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.
Instead of doing a normal recap of this week's episode, I thought I would channel my inner David Letterman and do a Top 10 list (in no particular order) of Episode 9's highlights (and lowlights):
10. Two words: Elie Tahari. Did anyone else form a mini-crush on the designer after the episode? He's adorable. Not to mention that his story of how he made it was inspiring and I'm pretty sure if you were to look in your closet, you would find that you own at least one thing by him. I know I do. (Or several dozen.)
9. Elie's fabric floor. It was like Mood on crack.
8. Joshua's pink and yellow shorts.
7. Meeting Anthony Ryan's boyfriend, Matthew. He skipped Beer Thursday at work to talk to AR. Now that's love.
6. Uli's love affair with white. I feel like it's one of those "If it ain't broke don't fix it" kind of things. She knows what she likes and what she's good at. I'm glad she didn't have enough money for the vest because I think the clean simplicity of her dress is what made it stand out in the sea of color.
5. Ivy's fabric. Ugh! I hate that she didn't listen to Elie's criticism to make the dress shorter. She could have had something beautiful walk the runwaythe fabric could have done all the talking. A shorter dress would have screamed Elie Tahari and fit perfectly with his designs. I do respect her integrity as a designer, but there has to be some sort of compromise.
4. "It looks like she has a dump in her butt." Poor Joshua. The guy never wins a challenge. At least he realizes that he has issues with editing. (Ahem, the zipper.)
3. Stacy Keibler as a guest judge. I certainly hope George Clooney tuned in to this week's episode!
2. Casanova's (virtual) return! He's like a mini-budha with his words of wisdom to Ivy.
1. I'm starting to believe that it's Anthony Ryan's fashion world and we're just lemmings gracing the catwalk. I mean, is there a challenge the guy hasn't won?!
Bonusthis episode's takeaway value: All love, no fear.
What was your favorite moment from Episode 9?
I know for yall it's cons, but for me, the only pro to seeing one of my favorite designers go home on "Project Runway All Stars," is that it means I get to call them up on the telephone and talk to them about life (Elisa), boys (Anthony), how hot they are (Rami) and clothes, duh (all, definitely Mila). So when Ange announced it was Jerell's time, I put some PJs on, popped some popcorn and got ready to gossip with the designer. Enjoy our sesh!
Lisa: What was your first thought when you heard Pharrell Williams was the guest judge?
Jerell: I really like Pharrell. I think he is extremely talented and I think he single-handedly changed the way people dress in the hip-hop community. He kind of ushered in this change to pastels and all these Easter colors which you know you’re hanging out on the wrong side of the track, it makes it a little more enjoyable, it makes it a little safer, when everyone’s dressed like Easter Sunday.
So true! Did you think you would do well with this challenge? Did you think your aesthetic would line up with Pharrell's?
I did think I would do well with this challenge, not that I’ve ever worked with lights or anything like that, but I’m pretty comfortable working outside of the box. I’ve kind of allowed myself the creative freedom to throw myself at anything. I think maybe for some other designers, they have these very strong ideas of who they are and what they do and this is what it is and I think for me, I’m a lot more flexible in my ability to just go with the flow and have fun.
And in your exit interview, you said that you thought you did the best in terms of working with the actual lights.
I really liked the way I incorporated the lights, more than most of the other outfits. I did think that Austin’s dress was gorgeous but it still looked like Christmas lights sitting on top of a dress and it was kind of the challenge to incorporate these lights. I just don’t feel that in most of the cases, lights were incorporated harmoniously. I think that my downfall was certainly that long-*ss black skirt but I never design things specifically for the blacklight and my intention was to control what the eye saw And also the sandals were super regrettable and I know better than strappy sandals and stockings but we all know that’s gross.. So, did it quite work? Not like I expected clearly but hey, it was what it was.
But I liked the movement of mine. I liked that you had these controlled points of light that didn’t have all these jumper cables and color-packs and all this sh*t everywhere.
I think it’s safe to say that throughout the competition, you’ve exuded a certain (high) level of confidence. Is that the true Jerell or are you panicking on the inside?
No, it really is my approach to life in general. First of all, I think there’s nothing wrong or right in fashion, it’s all a matter of opinion and taste and you just have to create the pieces that inspire you and you like. So that’s really what I do and there are going to be people who love it and there are going to be people who totally don’t love it and there’s not a single designer that’s alive today or ever was alive that everyone loved. If you’re a minimalist, maybe it’s Calvin Klein or maybe you like Prada and you don’t like Calvin Klein. It’s like a form of art, you get to paint what you want to paint, create what you want to create and the audience that appreciates it is going to gravitate toward it.
In a situation like “PRAS,” it’s almost like this amazing day camp experience, you don’t have to worry about what’s going on in real life, you’re there to create your art and that’s such a fun thing. And of course there’s the prize money and the cameras and “Oh, what are they going to think!?” I think maybe some of the other designers have a hard time just being in that moment where for me I’m like, “Nah, okay so we’re going to beg for people’s clothes off the streets and now I’m going to take this stinky shirt and I have to make something cute with it!” That’s where my head is. Not, “What are they going to think, how are they going to react?!”
There’s been a lot of debate about Heidi, Michael and Nina vs. Georgina, Isaac and Angela. Where do you stand in that argument and Joanna vs. Tim?
I really enjoyed this new batch of judges. I have a lot of respect for the original judges as well but it was great having a fresh set of eyes. I mean honestly, like from watching Season 9, the original batch is getting slightly over it. Like, “we’ve seen that, we’ve seen this,” whereas this batch I felt this excitement from them, like they were all excited and wanted to engage.
As far as Joanna vs. Tim: I love Tim, I have so much respect for Tim. I was shocked on my original season to see how genuine he really is. It wasn’t just for the cameras, he cared. He wanted to see you do the best work you could do, which I thought was amazing. However, there was this Tim Gunn curse. If he came around loving what you were doing, then you might want to change some sh*t up because normally what he liked and what the judges liked weren’t quite the same thing.
For Joanna, having her there, she brought a woman’s perspective, which was refreshing, and I think that she helped us look at the clothes in a [new] way. Especially being a gay male designer. For us, it is, like the fantasy of the overall thing, whereas she is also looking at it from a very practical standpoint. She has breasts, she wants a bra. I have to confess I’ve never had to wear a bra a day in my life.
Well, the girls are small they’re perky, but they’re small! So yeah. Also I think she dressed fantastic. I loved all her outfits and she was fun. I really have a lot of respect for her.
In Mila’s exit interview, she talked about the cliques that formed, but from watching, I don’t really know where you fall into them. You seem like you kind of floated with everyone and hung out with everyone. Did you have your own crew on “All Stars”?
I got along with most everyone. Honestly, I will make myself laugh in my studio by myself because that’s just what I am. But I really loved Anthony, he was like my roommate there, he was funny. Rami is cool, he was kind of crazy; he’s like no-nonsense at the beginning when he’s trying to figure out if he can pull it off so he doesn’t want to put up with you until he’s got it figured out. Me and Michael, we would do this thing where we would talk like these two old Jewish women who had it all and lost it and we would go on for hours and hours and hours talking about working at Radioshack and remember when we walked back from the Hamptons.
What about poor Kenley? She puts on such a good face but I feel like she was the punching bag in the workroom!
No! I have to say, she was so pleasant to be around. She was super cool, we got along really well. I have my little jabs and shit and she was just rolling with it and having fun. I’m proud of her because coming off of our original season, I don’t think she was aware of how she came across and I think going into this, she was mindful of what she would say and girl is still loud as f*** but she managed to find her filter and for her, that’s important.
What do you have planned now after All Stars?
Well, I just launched my lower price point line because during the original season, there was a disconnect. I just didn’t have any product that was available at a price point that was attainable. The line is called Catastrophe: Jerell Scott for Everyday Consumption and it’s available on jerell-scott.com. Most women aren’t size 2 or 4, 5’11” models. Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, and want to find things that express their personality that they are comfortable in. That was my objective, to create these pieces that definitely fit into that.
Also one of my big pet peeves is when you spend a lot of money on something and then you go to a party and someone has the same thing on makes me sick! So I’m doing very limited runs so you don’t really have to worry about spending $2000 on this dress or this top and the chances of you running into somebody else wearing the same thing are very slim. I hate when you think you are just the cutest thing and then it’s like, who wore it better, b*tch? Who invited you to the party?!
The question I originally ended these interviews with was the obvious, “who do you want to win?” but you all have been evading the question so instead we’ll do word association; I’ll name the last four designers and then you’re going to tell me the first thing that comes to mind... Mondo?
Michael: Ready-to-wear… has-been-worn.
Austin: Upper East Side cotillion!
Well, I know you’re working on your lines but I think we’d all like to see you back on TV. Maybe a little red carpet correspondence or something?
That is definitely something I am wide open to! I think the world needs a little more me!
A wise man once said: "After the show, it's the after party." That man (R. Kelly) may not have been directly referring to "Project Runway All Stars" and "After the Runway," but he might as well have been!
Tonight, tune in to an all-new "After the Runway" at 10/9c when Isaac Mizrahi and Joanna Coles grill the designers post-PRAS. Special guest stars, (like the sassy divo himself, Anthony Williams, Angela Lindvall and more) will be stopping by each episode.
If you could switch places with Isaac Mizrahi or Joanna Coles for the night, what questions would you ask the designers?