Friday, January 6, 2012

What "Project Runway: All Stars" Did Right

(Spoiler alert: I will talk about what went down on Thursday's "Project Runway: All Stars." If you haven't watched, *cough*Kel*cough*, read at your own risk!)

Thursday night was the premiere of the long-awaited "Project Runway: All Stars," and it was, hands-down, the best episode "Project Runway" we've had in ages. The right person won. A right person went home ... though it's not who I would have sent home. It was fun and funny.

First of all, it was great to see some of my favorite designers back. I am hardcore rooting for Mondo, since he got mega-robbed when Wretched Gretchen won his season. But I forgot how much I love people like Kara Janx, Austin Scarlett, Michael Costello and, especially, Anthony Williams. Their personalities are wonderful, but what's great is that they also have the talent to back it up. That was something that was largely missing last season.

Secondly, I really dug the new judging panel of Isaac Mizrahi and Georgina Chapman. It's not that I don't love the dream team of Michael Kors and Nina Garcia, but it's really nice to have a change. Dare I say that the Kors/Garcia pairing has gotten a bit stale? Maybe Mizrahi/Chapman should judge for a couple of seasons before Kors/Garcia comes back.

I also loved Joanna Coles as the mentor. Yes, I miss Tim Gunn and his signature demand to "make it work," but Coles had some really sharp criticisms and questions. Maybe she and Gunn could tag-team or something. I hope she keeps it up this season.

Host Angela Lindvall, I can take or leave. Too many times I felt like she was trying to imitate Heidi Klum rather than make this hosting gig her own. She even did Heidi's little chirpy "Hello!" complete with a little wave like Heidi does. It comes across as a bit inauthentic, whereas I'm pretty sure Heidi is just doin' her thang.

OK, so Thursday's episode. After a little mini-fashion show showcasing a recent design by each designer, it was time for the main event! And it was a personal favorite of mine, the unconventional materials challenge, otherwise known as the "make random shit into a dress" challenge. This time, they went to the 99 cent store, and they had to make a dress inspired by their recent creation they showed off.

You can check out all the designs on Lifetime's website, but here are the highlights:
  • Anthony uses a purple plastic material and gold safety pins to make a halter-dress. The plastic material looks sort of nasty, but the use of safety pins was pretty clever, especially since it doesn't look like safety pins from the runway. Anthony is safe.
  • April makes a fringy gown out of black & white mop heads. It has a neat look when her model walks down the runway, but I would have loved to have seen her do something a little bit more exciting with it, whether adding some color to the gown or styling it with some colorful shoes. April is safe.
  • Austin uses plastic and steel wool to make a little cocktail dress. It looks kind of messy, which is probably partially because he melted part of his plastic dress, but I like the idea of it. The steel wool is a great accent, but the flowery things on the hips aren't terribly flattering. Austin is safe.
  • Elisa makes some crazy hot pants, a painted little top and a cape thing. It is seriously crazypants, but that's Elisa's aesthetic. Still, it is not terribly well-made, and it's sort of weirdly complicated in its simplicity. Elisa is in the bottom three.
  • Gordana makes a little layered dress out of streamers and adds a bunch of sparkly, tacky crap to the neckline and the streamers. Without the tacky crap it would have been a great dress, and it moves very well, but the sparkly stuff is a bit too much for the look. Gordana is in the bottom three.
  • Jerell makes a flowy blueish-gray dress with an asymmetrical hem out of handkerchiefs. It is a gorgeous dress that moves nicely and fits well, but I don't like that he didn't really embrace the spirit of the challenge, which is to make shit into a dress. Still, it's very nice, and Jerell is in the top three.
  • Kara makes a little sleeveless top out of salmon-colored mop heads and a skirt out of some kind of tablecloth, maybe. It's a cute outfit, and I like the little silver belt, but it doesn't have a great "wow" factor to me. Kara is safe.
  • Kenley makes a dress out of bath mats with a little loofa hairpiece. I don't like the styling, but I love the texture that the bath mats give to the dress. It's pretty dang simple, but I'm good with simple. Also, hair loofa is cute!  I probably would have put her in the top three, but she is just safe.
  • Michael makes a drapey-looking dress from the same mop heads as April used, and I actually think I like his dress just a teeny bit better. Still, I would have liked a little pop of color somewhere. Michael is safe.
  • Mila makes a sort of mod little plastic dress with a sort of legging thing made of material and netting patched together. I was initially a little turned off because it looked a little ragged, but as her model walked the runway I started to really dig the neat leg things, and I love the graphic print on the dress. Mila is safe.
  • Mondo makes a gorgeous little black dress and a fascinator out of garbage bags, canvas strips and cheap little cowboy hats. It is an absolutely gorgeous dress, and it is perfectly constructed. The fascinator just pulls the whole outfit together. Mondo is in the top three. (Mondo, by the way, wears THE MOST ADORABLE outfit on the runway, complete with little shorts and a straw porkpie hat. Mondo, I love you.)
  • Rami makes a flawlessly constructed architectural skirt and jacket-looking thing. It was made out of some kind of plaid-looking plastic thing and Christmas garland. It was an impressive piece of design and construction. Rami is in the top three.
  • Sweet P makes a horrific color-blocked layered skirt out of washclothes, with a halter made out of belts. I like the belts, but the dress itself hurts my eyes and kind of makes me nauseated. Sweet P is in the bottom three.
The race for winner comes down to Rami and Mondo, and although Mondo is my favorite contestant, Rami deserved the win.

From the bottom three, Gordana gets through with a stern talking-to about not overdesigning and editing herself, and it's down to Crazypants Hotpants Ensemble by Elisa and Uglyass Washcloth Dress by Sweet P. Although I probably would have sent Sweet P home, Elisa also was a fine choice for elimination. She wasn't going to last long anyway, but I did love her crazypants personality, especially when she talked about how people pay to have her spit on their clothes and "bless them." Elisa, you will be missed.

What did you think of "Project Runway: All Stars?" Are we back to awesomeness, or was this just a bright spot in a sea of "blah" episodes?

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