Friday, January 13, 2012

Project Runway All-Stars: A Little Night Music

Three cheers for "Project Runway All Stars." I was worried that last week was a fluke, making it about the designs instead of the designers' drama. But once again, "Project Runway: All Stars" delivered with great dresses, great designers and just a little bit of cattiness in the sewing room.

This week's challenge was to capture the high-end glamor of a night at the opera. The guest judges? Mark Badgley and James Mischka, of Badgley Mischka. They told the designers to "indulge your fantasies" to create a couture gown. They are given $350 and one day to turn it around.

Everybody's sights were on Austin Scarlett, of course, because his talent for couture ballgowns is well-documented. He knew this, of course, and was extra nervous.

After the 30 minutes of sketching, the designers headed off to Mood, where there was a little bit of drama between Michael and April again. Both designers had decided to do a red dress, and Michael immediately freaked out a little bit. April thought he was being ridiculous, which, let's face it, he kind of was. "Who the (bleep) cares? If you want to do red, do (bleeping) red!" she said. But Michael didn't want to have a similar dress to April again this week - they both had mop-head dresses last week - so he switched to a black matte jersey.

When they get back to the workroom, "everybody is swallowing their keys," Kara says, meaning they all shut up and designed their gowns. As much as I love a little reality show drama, it was a refreshing change from the constant, open bitchiness last season.

Joanna walks in for her consultation, and I'm once again struck by her great critiques. She knows exactly what to say - she gives a boost to Austin, who is feeling the pressure of being the one to beat on the challenge; she questions April's hand-dyed ombre; she warns Anthony that his dress could go too bridal, and warns Kara against letting her dress go too bridesmaid. She even asks Michael if he's going to put cups in his dress so that the bodice doesn't slide around. "Nobody wants a nip-slip at the opera. That's tacky," Jerell noted.

Most of the designers are happily working, although Kara is starting to melt a bit under the pressure. Mondo says he sees her as the weakest designer because she spends too much time doubting herself.

After a quick sleep and a couple of frantic hours of fittings, hair and makeup, it's time for the runway!

You can see all the runway looks here, but here are my notes.

    •    Kenley - Big pink fluffy skirt with a layered pink-with-polka-dots top. Screams "Barbie."
    •    Gordana - Purple gown with net on the top half. It's a flapper-style gown, with 20s styling. It's on trend, but I think it goes a little too literal.
    •    Rami - Red gown with complicated bodice and drop-waist. It is the start of a great idea, but it doesn't lay right and looks sort of messy.
    •    Mila - One-shoulder slinky black gown with sequins across it. I like it, but it doesn't really scream opera. It's well-made and nice, though, even though I don't like the asymmetrical hem.
    •    Sweet P - Bright sherbet orange bodice with wild print skirt. If it were made better, I would love it for a day event because I actually like the colors, but not so much for the opera. Also, the bodice doesn't fit right and is rather ugly.
    •    Mondo - Silver knee-length dress with a little cape and a mod neckline. I think it's very Mondo and very mod, and I think it looks gorgeous.
    •    Jerell - Floofy top going straight down to the floor. It's like '60s maternity wear. The blah color of the dress doesn't help either.
    •    Kara - Springy curtain fabric in a super basic silhouette. It might work for a garden party, but it's definitely NOT an opera dress. There's not enough drama and it's actually not constructed terribly well, either.
    •    Anthony - Drapy white dress with a plunging neckline. It's very soft and feminine, but styling, with leather gloves, weird little jeweled belt and black clutch, give it an edge. It's different, but I really dig it.
    •    Austin - Gold, with little black tulle. It has a sort of art deco feel, but it's very modern and absolutely stunning. Love it!
    •    April - Red gown with black ombre at the bottom. Definitely not the best, with quite a few fit problems. The dyed ombre also doesn't really work with the red. It's just kind of a depressing dress.
    •    Michael - High necked black gown with feathers and jewels, but with a super low back. I love all the detailing, and I can definitely see a star wearing it.

The top three are Anthony, Austin and Michael.

Anthony: Isaac Mizrahi loves the plunging V and they way he used white, while the host, Angela Lindvall, likes the toughness the gloves bring. However, Mark Badgley thinks he was a bit too heavy-handed on the accessories.

Michael: Isaac thought the dress was "shockingly perfect," and would be perfect for Kim Kardashian at the opera. Angela though it was "super sexy," and Georgina Chapman loved that he used matte jersey.

Austin: Everybody agreed it was classic, well-made and refined. Austin was the winner (although Michael was a close second).

The bottom three were April, Sweet P and Kara.

April: Mark Badgley and James Mischka both hated red and black together. Angela complimented the cut, but everybody agreed that the ombre dyeing was a bad choice. James Mischka thought it looked like she had been standing in an oil slick.

Kara: Isaac said that, since the dress was so simple, it needed to be utterly perfect and it wasn't. Mischka didn't like the bow on the back, and Georgina didn't think it was Kara's dress. However, Badgley loved the dress.

Sweet P: Isaac thought it was a bad prom dress, and Badgley thought it looked like the skirt was from a dirndl. They also all agreed that the bodice screamed old granny swimsuit top. Even though they liked Sweet P and her bold use of color, in the end, Sweet P was out.

I think they made the right decisions all around, or at least mostly right decision. I probably would have put Mondo in the top over Anthony, but just barely, and I really didn't like Jerell's dress, but these are quibbles. The right person won, and though I would have been happy with either Sweet P or April going home, Sweet P was probably the right choice because April obviously took a bigger risk.

Next week ... cocktail dresses for Miss Piggy!

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