Saturday, April 9, 2016

Project Runway All Stars SE5 E09: "A Touch of Style"

Project Runway All Stars recap

Many things to discuss.

One thing this season seems to be doing very well is highlighting New York City. I've seen all of the previous incarnations of PR, and remember more than I'd like to admit. Where my high school French is hiding in my brain, no idea, but say "Viktor", or "the challenge with the stilts", or bring up the time the designers were sent to the worst fake restaurant and then ripped the furnishings apart for the unconventional challenge, I can call up these images. I think my nephew has green eyes, but that, I need to check. Sometimes NYC has played a significant role in an episode, sometimes it was shoehorned in, and one time the misguided location change to Los Angeles happened. Why did that seem, so off putting, aside from the reduced presence of Nina and Michael? Just did. But lesson learned, they moved back home and all was forgiven.

This season just seems to be hitting some lovely New York notes, like visiting the Alvin Ailey studios and today, going to Coney Island. I think we went there before, also for an unconventional, but this time they visit the ballpark home of the Brooklyn Cyclones. Nothing more charming than minor league baseball, and a lovely location, good spirits and a tie in with Alyssa's very well known line of "athleisure wear" make it a nice start.


Athleisure wear, the new business casual. Is this a thing? Not only a thing, we will be told later by Zanna Rossi Roberts, but one of the biggest trends at the moment. Oh now I feel stupid. In fact, I might even be participating in this trend as I type this, without knowing that for once, I am fashion forward. Let me check...  nope Couch Casual seems to be my style tonight. But it's the NEXT big thing and you heard it here first. I am the Olivia Pope of wine drinking ensembles.

So the remaining seven put away their meager hopes of this being a day for fun and rides and go into the green and sunny field where they meet not only Alyssa, but their models.

A note on that before I forget - notice the models have switched up almost if not every week? I haven't been paying close attention to many but the odd-looking in real life blonde African American girl (my apologies if that is not her background) and the impossibly willowy dark skinned goddess with the beauty mark on her upper lip stand out. I recall she was Kini's "Alice Through the Looking Glass", and that girl can WALK. Alexander was sent home last week for his Cinderella, but his model stood out with her cute short hair and flawless - as flawless as a sent home look can be - styling by HBM and the hair guy. Tonight, she'll walk for Sam, so she didn't get cut. Surely having constant models for each designer is a nice way to make it easier, a streamlining concession for time? I shall go back and see who has been switched up, but I'm sure Odd Blonde has walked for a few of the gang.

Touch this

Alyssa has a fashion line - who knew?  - called Touch, and a quick search shows she also has the domain Well played, Milano. She tells the designers that she came upon this idea when she went to the merch store at a game and could find nothing feminine (used to be so true, thank you for the girl cut tees, manufacturers) or fashion forward (err, not the point of a Red Sox jersey, Alyssa). So she got to work designing and now she shows off the models wearing... basic cotton blend looking tees and casual pants. Really, it looked like Lands End on a good day. So without confessing that her line needs help, Alyssa tells them to got into the athleisure trend and the winning design will feature in her line.

Later on the runway she will clarify, the winning design will be MODIFIED and mass produced for sale on her site and wherever else her stuff is hawked. Now I'm not in the US, so maybe it is omnipresnt at boutiques or Nordstrom's or, err, Kohl's? You tell me. But she could use some pizazz if this what she has to show.

Get sketching.

Asha has the clever idea to making a skirt that looks like a baseball jersey wrapped around the waist, and a top playing on a sports bra;  Ken is going hoodie with red and black piping – it’s someone’s team colors, he muses - Layana is up for this and goes big with multiple-pieced textured leggings as the main attraction; Emily is doing cool urban white; Dom is doing a Jil Sander ish dress (okay, hmmm, a dress) with a detachable skirt that goes from maxi to knee length, and Kini is doing a cool swing coat over jeans, the coat color-blocked with white mesh, and speaking of mesh, Sam is going to do a cheerleader-style skirt that his sketch shows is not cheerleader at all, and it’s a dress, and he’s using the same mermaid in a net fabric that he used last week and Kini is using this week. Kini who may or may not have thought of that before he chose his textiles, confesses, maybe I’ll show him how it’s done.

The Producers salivate in the background.


Zanna visits - will she be impressed

ermmm... not really? 

Zanna’s critiques, on the other hand, do cause some panic. After announcing that this a trendy trend, she has to, bless her, sort of finetune it for the seven, pointing out that athleisure should go from casual rah rah go team to out for the evening. In this case, it must be runway ready. She doesn't like Emily's cowl neckline, ok, I get that. She loves Dom's futuristic looking man dress, not sure I get that (for this challenge), she spins Sam's dress form to show a flirty dress that is mesh over... something (Neoprene?) in the front and almost all black lace in the back. Two different outfits, she says. Does she add, and neither of them would be ATH or Leisure? FFS, lace? Sam, btw, is the cast's and his own fave for this challenge. This is his dojo and he is throwing stars.

We shall see.

Zanna's worried that both Kini and Layana are leaning too “sporty” and less athleisure, a hard to evaluate distinction til she mentions, this shouldn't go to the gym. That does seem to clear it up, the ATH in athleisure isn't the wearer, this girl is watching not participating. Okay, useful advice. Layana's legging are not a concern for her, or her admiring codesigners, they would never go to Zumba. Ken has little to show ZRR, so she prods him to work hard, and off she goes.

Look who's back

As the night goes on, Formerly Angry Ken, as I was prepared to rename him, skips back into his old ways. Kind of. Ken has his idea in place, but not the constructed piece, so he can't fit his model. He seems a bit tense for a while but it builds up and then takes an incorrectly sewn shoulder seam, a silly but harmless mistake if you have a lot of time, to set him off.

A recurring theme in these recaps has been, will, and if so when, will we see the old Ken. Now, I don't mind a bit of snarkiness, and Ken has been involved in the Kini/Sam drama as mostly an observer, but Ken's rage on his original season was scary. As in, I felt equally scared for him as well as the people he was engaging with. What was going on beneath the tuxedo tattoo? His triggers were hard to predict and he seethed with hate and anger that could not be good for him. So back to this week and here it comes as Ken tosses his hoodie to the table and says he has had it. He storms out.

Except, he doesn't really lose it. Lose it in a fed up, tired tired tired, can't do this any more, freak out way. Yes. He walks out, past startled floor runners in the hallway, and, followed by cameras, out to the street, where he hails a cab wearing sunglasses at night. So he can, so he can, watch the pressure cooking in the rear view mirror and get away from all of this nonsense.

But let's talk about what he didn't do. He didn't yell, he didn't blame anyone or pick a fight, he didn't give nasty parting words, he just said, I'm done, and left.

End of. And considering his past responses to pressure, this was controlled and within the parameters of what we might do. Sometimes I wonder why more of the various cast members don't, with the lack of sleep, etc. For this guy, I suspect he has gotten some help with his issues, and surely Lifetime wouldn't have him back if he hadn't. So good for Ken. Not good that he left, but the way he handled it.

Project Runway All Stars recap
Ken is ferrrrustated, and gets the hell out.

But is he gone for good?

The designers are stunned, but, hey work to be done so on they go, Layana sewing endless bright blue pieces together for her possibly kick ass leggings and Sam revising his not-for-this-challenge look into something better but also not right.

The next morning, no Ken. In All Stars we don't get to see much if any hotel time, so what was said? Does he room with Sam and Kini? Did he go elsewhere to sleep?

Ken then reappears, a new man. New ish. He brushes away the concerns he receives in a friendly way and goes back to his look. Fast. He does note that the others were about to pick over his remaining fabrics, and I think gives Layana some leather he isn't using. Who (aside from Stella) would have time to sew leather at this point? He's good with his look, does a last-minute addition of black pockets, and seems at peace. Not Dalai Lama peace, but for Ken, content.

Sam has finished his changes and Layana, finally done with the leggings, changes up her top into something fancier. A plain white shirt won't do.

Runway Time

Guest judge this week is Kristin Cavallari, who designs something or other as it seems everyone from a successful docu-soap does, and who spends a lot of time at games as she is married to Bears QB Jay Cutler. She seems nice and young-matronly. Isaac is dressed in his knitting circle casual to suit the theme and does a sheepish "go team" to the group. Not the "hello fairies" from last week but cute.

Safe: Emily. Remember, she has won one, but she always seems safe, although her designs are anything but.

Project Runway All Stars recap
Swingy and smart from the back, too

Tops: Kini, Dom and Sam? Asha?
Bottoms: Layana, Ken and Sam? Asha? Bit of a split on those two. Asha's too literal and Georgina doesn't like the buttons down the front of the skirt, but it is pointed out to her that baseball jerseys do have those visible buttons. It does look sloppy though.

Sam gets undeserved praise for putting a girl in a lacy dress. Someone did point out that Sam will likely suck up to Isaac by using flats. Well, it worked. I think I'd like this dress if the challenge was sightseeing in Paris, maybe? But this is too dressy, too cutesy, too much

Winner, Kini for his awesome coat. The judges even liked the length of his basic jeans.

Two good things that didn't go together.
Loser: Layana. The cool last minute top she made did not go with her leggings, style or color-wise, so taste issues and being on the bottom forever caught up with the sweet Brazilian.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Project Runway All Stars S5 E08: "Once Upon a Runway"

Project Runway All Stars S05E8
Cheerful Alyssa Milano caught not smiling - see, it is all in the editing!

Once Upon a Runway...

Let the wordplay begin.

In the Land of Lifetime, life is not a fairy tale for these designers – budget cuts keep them to a very tight schedule (one day challenges are the rule now) and I’m sure their accommodations are not five-star. The Cinderella moment will only come from one of them, and if you ask Dom, not that we did, she might tell you the “ball” that is winning PR only lasts until midnight. Sometimes your glass Manolos crack and you have to come back to the workroom and try to win all over again.

So only one person will come out of this arduous design marathon the winner, and her name is… Laura Michelle Kelly. Yes, the smiley British actress is back again – you might remember her from this episode and from this episode of PR Junior oh and seen commenting a few times in the Juniors finale as well, like the editor is in love with her. In the PR All Stars kingdom of Manhattan there is only one musical playing, and it is Finding Neverland. You’ll be surprised to know one of the NY producers is Harvey Weinstein, Mr. Georgina Chapman. Hmm. Go figure.

LMK meets the group  - now down to eight - with either pregnant or recycling her maternity wear host Alyssa Milano at a bookstore. Alyssa tells them they will be creating a modern runway look for a classic female character from literature. I instantly love this idea. Imagine the possibilities of dressing a modern day Anna Karenina, a Holly Golightly, a Becky Thatcher, a Carrie White. Okay, I jumped to the conclusion that they were talking proper literature, but of course they were aiming for fairy tales. After a brief dramatic character description of each, LMK handed out the following “clients”:

Dom got Tinkerbell (small and sassy, she calls her)

Sam got (and is) the Little Mermaid (the depressing Dane H.C. Andersen’s depressing tales for depressing Danish children)

Emily, Snow Queen (see above)

Kini got Alice, of Wonderland and Looking Glass fame

Asha got Rapunzel

Ken, Snow White

Layana, Belle (she says as she split her upbringing between the country and the city, living with her dad, she’s comfortable with whats' going on in Belle’s head. This does not speak well of Layana’s dad.)

And Alexander is handed Cinderella (which he loves as they are both tall, blonde princesses. I do get a kick of of Alex.)

And we're off to Mood

Project Runway All Stars recap
Hang in there, buddy!
Alyssa excitedly sends them off to Mood, extra kiss-blowy as after last week, now she knows where the store is, and when they get there we see our fave canine sidekick Swatch. Worryingly he doesn’t move too much, and the designers are encouraged not to step on him. Horrors! Can you even imagine? Good thing Sam doesn't trod his loafer on Swatch's paw, because he is already persona non grata.

All in all the designers seem happy with their assignments and extremely unhappy with Sam. The men, mostly. Emily is so chill she's probably never had a white-hot design-related grudge. It starts to kick off in the rarely-seen breakroom as they all shovel down their lunch. Snipe snipe snipe, Sam and Kini, one upping each other. Squabbles are great, if only to see Dom’s adorable reactions. She should have been a child actress on Family Matters or on an ad next to other kids digging into yummy breakfast cereal. Good thing Asha is not taking sides; we see this episode that she is working with some gold glittery goin-out nails. They are at least an inch long. How can anyone function with nails that long? 

But Asha stays out of the fight and the kitties with the claws are the usual suspects for staying in: Kini, Sam, Alex and Ken. But wait: as the day goes on, it comes to light that Ken, who has been backing Kini up in the taking down of Sam, had no idea that Kini not only tailored Sam’s trousers in Episode 3’s challenge, he created the poufed organza neckline that the judges all loved so much. Ken is flabbergasted, which – considering Ken’s shaky grasp of the English language – leaves him all kinds of tongue-tied.

Zanna got the Memo

Zanna must know the theme this week, based on the little girl dress she's wearing. Her critiques don't say too much that we don't already know. She worries about Asha's finishing, tells Dom to sell her girl's story on the runway, and tells Layana she's seen too much of the same from her (not stating the obvious: color clashes) and, words of wisdom here: maybe try something different?
Project Runway All Stars recap
(Does not photograph well)

Kini tells Zanna that Alice is a naughty girl and gives her a dress with ladylike front and a surprise back of ruffles. I just adore this look and how he incorporates the story into his design, but the duality of Kini’s personality has left me cold. As noted above, this contest is a slog, people are tired and crammed together way too much, but. BUT. He seemed so nice on his original season, but this feud with Sam has gone on and on. If you’ve made your point, and you seem to have the support of the other stabby queens, then stop acting like a fourth grader and get to work.

Runway Time

Guest judges are singer – correction, she's listed as Singer/Songwriter - Kesha, with acid yellow hair, no bra and bad posture, and Fashion Police’s Brad Goreski. He looks dapper and has a bowtie and interesting eyeware. Georgina has her long hair down this week and Isaac greets the Final Eight with, "hello fairies!". I've never loved him more.
Project Runway All Stars E08 recap
Snow White wearing Ken Red

Safe are Emily and Ken. They both did unicolored pant outfits with nice tailoring. That’s not going to get you anywhere with these judges...


 …cause the judges want to see tight pants 
..while Rapunzel is trapped in
an Asha red tower
and ruffles, like Asha’s look for Rapunzel. It is very red, Isaac loves the fabric(s) but Georgina finds them a little too shiny. The look is styled with flipfloppedy sandals that Brad hates and Isaac dies over – so unexpected! And yes, it was expected that Asha’s model would have to have long, long, hair, a very long braid down her back. It hit below her bum, and probably used up all of the extensions in the ____________ Hair Salon. (So much for product placement, I cannot for the life of me remember who the sponsor is this season)

Dom: I loved the funkiness of the fabric mixing and the urban coolness of the cut (tight pants and a long tummy-baring coat that was almost skirtlike) but when she explained the cut out panels on the back were negative space to represent Tink’s wings, I clapped so hard that other fairies came back to life.  

Kini’s tea party dress was a little costumey for Isaac but Mizrahi also said it made him feel like he was at a fashion show. Kesha says it’s like a fashion mullet. 

Bottom three:

Sam had the Little Mermaid and put her in white netting with sparkly sea-toned rectangles saving her modesty. It looked like I could not only have thought it up, but executed it. It also seems to have uneven sleeves. The crop top doesn’t go over well either  - earlier in the Sam-slagging someone pointed out that his too-simple design of crop top and pencil skirt was what got Stella sent home. Isaac is not amused and does not want to see anymore of these half shirts.

Project Runway recap All Stars Ep 8
Layana forgets "Belle" means pretty
Layana who went from not liking her dress to loving it once the model slipped it on, explains that the Beast is taking his old lady to an Argentinean polo match. Not in that hideous yellow and pleated print mess, say the judges. Georgina notes a taste issue, and that the colors clash horribly. Kesha finds that "boring" – so not tacky enough?

Alexander’s Cinderella look was designated depressing and more of an evil stepmother look by Georgina, and the judges all agree that while to look is sophisticated – and I must say the model looked gorgeous - but old. 

Then the boys talk booty, with Brad saying snug assdesign is on trend, and this gown doesn’t have it, and
Project Runways All Stars recap Once Upon a Runway
Alexander's challenge to lose
Isaac, agreeing with Brad for once this session, chiming in that the back is actually off-putting in its gathers, and PS, the neckline is cheap. Slumpy Kesha tells him to be nice.

The winner: shockingly (from the edit and from my POV) Asha.

And going home is Alexander. He initially takes it like a small punch to the gut, “damn!” he says, but has a nice goodbye in the lounge, and notes that he needs to reevaluate the youthfulness of his designs. Aww, bye Alexander!

what did you think?