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Project Runway All Stars season 5



Hello darlings.  I hope 2016 is off to a marvelous start for all y’all.  Project Runway All Stars season 5 starts tomorrow night.  I’m not sure if I’ll be interested enough to watch, let alone blog about it - - the line-up is decidedly sub-stellar.  Here’s the list, courtesy of my man on the street, the darling Jeff:


Layana Aguilar, season 11
Asha Daniels, Under the Gunn, a.k.a. season 12.5
Sam Donovan, Under the Gunn, a.k.a. season 12.5
Daniel Franco, seasons 1 and 2
Ken Laurence, season 12
Valerie Mayen, season 8
Emily Payne, season 13
Mitchell Perry, season 13
Alexander Pope, season 12
Dom Streater (winner), season 12
Kini Zamora, season 13
Stella Zotis, season 5
Fade Zu Grau, season 13


Literally the ONLY designer who interests me is Stella Zotis, and she just might be enough!  She’s the tough rock and roll broad who was so into leathah in season 5.  She is the BOMB.  I predict she’ll have nothing but bile and contempt for her fellow designers, and in many cases they will deserve it!


I shudder at the idea of Alexander Pope and Ken Laurence being in the same room together.  You’ll remember their titanic hair-pull over Ken ironing in the doorway, and Alexander knocking over the iron.  Ken’s uncontained rage got him kicked off the show!  Surprised that he’s back.  Maybe he’s being medicated.


My blog (if I do one) will be on my actual blog!  Which might be new to some of you:


Divamensch dot blogspot dot com


I spell it out that way because I’ve heard that sometimes emails with weblinks in them go directly to spam.  So anyway, please check out my blog.  You can read all about three vacations (Montreal last spring, a Viking River Cruise last fall, and Australia just a few weeks ago) and read a review of every damn show I’ve seen in the last year.  Gorge on it!


I’ll be in touch…

LOVE, Chris

Project Runway All Stars season 5, episode 1

A note to those of you who are not Project Runway fans: I am rabid for this show, have seen every episode, and have written a column about every episode since season 9 in 2011.  Please feel free to ignore my weekly post about it.


To my fellow Project Runway fans: I know I said I might not be writing about this season, the line-up of designers didn't seem so enticing, but hey, I have turned the beat around.











I knew that Stella Zotis would be a big draw for me, I adore her.  But I hadn't noticed that Valerie Mayen from season 8 and Layana Aguilar from season 11 were part of the group, and I love both these women.  Viva Latinas!  Richard and I saw Layana at the Duane Reade down by West 4th Street not long after her season went off the air.  She was great with child and couldn't have been prettier.


What on earth was Alyssa Milano wearing at the start of the episode?  Something from the Little House on the Prairie schoolmarm collection?  Ay Dios mio.  Another highlight from the start of the episode: it was 9:06 and we got our first sob story: Mitchell said, "My parents were addicts..."  I think 9:06 is a little early in the season to be trotting out a story like that.


Daniel sliced off the tip of his finger within five minutes, and the set medic jumped to life.  I could tell by his bright-eyed eagerness that he was hearing Shirley Bassey singing "Once in a lifetime" in his head:












One more note about Daniel: Zanna told him not to mention his injury to the judges.  Was there anyone in the audience who doubted that he WOULD bring it up with the judges?


A question, a comment, and a quote:



Alyssa mentioned twice that this is "the toughest All Star season so far."  What makes it so tough?  Please explain.



Alexander has what Richard refers to as "10 to 2 eyebrows".  Look at the photo below and visualize the hands on a clock.



Sam wins the prize for funniest quote of the episode: he said that Kini "sews like a warlock."


On to the runway:



Glad to see my peeps Layana and Valerie on the top.  I thought Layana had a top vs. bottom thing going on - - the bottom was cool, the top looked cheap.  Snaps to Valerie for her first ever win.  The dress was so much more effective without the jacket, it worries me that she didn't see that.  The dress was beautifully made, very distinctive, and very Valerie.  She's set the bar high for herself, winning the first challenge - - of course that also puts a target on her back...


I thought Ken's dress was a snooze.  Well made, and I suppose it did communicate his vision as a designer, but not so special.



I would have put Stella in the top over Ken.  Her dress was just as polished and so much more distinctive.  It had a sophisticated mix of tough, sexy, classy, and effortless.  I expect good work for her this season - - no Dracula capes, please!



Asha was a snooze, she needs to step it up.  But at least her dress wasn't an epic fail, like Daniel and Mitchell.  Oy and double oy!  I'm with the judges: who do you send home - - the one who made something sloppy, dull, and lifeless, or the one who made something that was a disaster of taste and construction?  But unlike the judges, I would NOT go the route of keeping them both.  I would have sent them both home.  The first episode, and I'm already angry with the judges.


LOVE, Chris

Project Runway All Stars season 5, episode 2

I'm happy that Alvin Ailey got some screen time, but they didn't really have much to do with the challenge, did they?  They should have done a double-header: dance costumes for the women of the ensemble, for a dance with a wind machine.  Now that would have been marvelous.


My thought when the designers were sketching and headed to Mood: notify the UN, global chiffon shortage!


I had a case of chronic eyeroll over the hair-pull between Sam and Mitchell.  Seems that Sam said some unkind things about Mitchell on his blog, during Mitchell's PR season.  Two words to these boys: GROW UP!  Here's how to handle the situation:


MITCHELL: What you said on your blog really hurt my feelings.

SAM: I'm sorry you were insulted.  But you open yourself up to this kind of thing when you put yourself on television.


Sam said the second part, but left out the crucial first part.  Or at least we didn't see it.  There was no resolution to this, which to me means two things:


1. We will be saddled with this all season, or until one of them goes home.

2. They will be put together on a team challenge (courtesy of the non-random button bag).


On to the runway:



Kini's dress had great potential, especially with the hand-dyeing, but I agree with Isaac, the lace on the top was tacky.  I wasn't bothered by the belt, maybe a red belt would have been smarter than black.  Valerie's dress was marvelous, so much better on the runway than it looked on the dress form.  She was smart to do away with the pleating in her original idea.


Bravo to Sam - - who knew that he was so talented?  That dress was full-on gorgeous.  Brilliant use of the print, a dazzling way with the wind, a whole look, a whole experience.  Keep your eye on him.



Clearly Fade deserved to go home, that outfit was a total failure.  Fell flat, flat as a pancake.  I'll miss him, but his talent does not live up to his charm.


I'm conflicted about the other two on the bottom.  Neither one was good, but I would've put my adored Stella in the bottom over either of them.  Her outfit did not fulfill the challenge at all, it had virtually no movement in the wind.  Mitchell and Emily both were good with the wind, it was everything else that went south.


LOVE, Chris


PS: You might have noticed I can't make a blog entry without including a photo or delightful and/or schlocky youtube video.  Here's one that's delightful, hold the schlock: Toots Thielemans whistling and playing the guitar, a darling little jazz waltz called "Bluesette".










Project Runway All Stars season 5, episode 3

Twice Alyssa used the phrase "super group" to describe the country band Little Big Town.  What, precisely, is a super group?  I was curious, so I Googled it:


A supergroup is a music group whose members are already successful as solo artists or as part of other groups or well known in other musical professions. Usually used in the context of rock and pop music, the term has been applied to other musical genres such as The Three Tenors in opera.

Nice that the Three Tenors are still getting some love, after all these years.


It was a team challenge, they were making red carpet outfits for the two women in the group.  The women have very different styles, so it was an "opposites attract" challenge.  Each designer was to make one outfit that would contrast with the outfit made by the other designer on the team.  So the only way it was a team challenge was in the concept: the looks didn't have to be cohesive with each other, they only had to communicate some kind of "opposite" vibe.


Interesting that they gave Sam (winner of the previous episode) the task of choosing the teams.  Nice to give the button bag a break, and you know how I hate the 3rd grade choosing teams process of elimination thing, where poor Ashley was the last person chosen (but she won the whole season, bitches!).


So many great lines in this episode: Sam described Valerie and Stella as being "bubble gum and tar."  And Stella was getting fed up with Valernie, she said, "There's gotta be a chill pill for this broad."  Oh, that SENT me, I love the word "broad" and use it as often as I can.  I understand that it's a politically charged word, so I use it carefully.


And Kini did about 50% of the work and a good portion of the design on Sam's outfit, which led Alexander to say, "I like Kini's, I mean SAM'S look."  Ha!



Kini and Sam were on the top, and I was surprised that Kini didn't mention that he had done so much of the work.  It was unfortunate that the judges were in love with "Sam's" look and not so in love with Kini's.  I agree that Kini's looked beautiful in movement, but a little shapeless when it was just standing there.  Plus it had a strong pageant vibe to me.  I was anticipating that Kini would tell the judges that he was responsible for much of what Sam had done, but he was smart and stayed silent.  But here's how I would have handled it (not that anyone asked): I, as Kini, would have said to Sam, "Now Sam, if we end up on the top, and the judges like your outfit, I'd like you to tell them how much I did."  Or is that pushy?


Asha and Alexander were the winners.  I didn't think Asha's outfit was very red carpet, but maybe the sequins show up better in person.  Maybe she should have used a more filmy kind of lace, but then maybe that would be too bridal?  Maybe this time I'll be lucky?  Maybe this time he'll stay?  Maybe this time, for the first time, love won't hurry away?  I loved Alexander's gown, that was supreme.  Totally red carpet ready, call the photographers, get her a pair of shoes.



I was surprised to see Stella and Valerie on the bottom, especially when they appeared to be the grumpiest pair, but didn't talk about that during the judging.  I might have put either Ken and Dam (neither outfit looked "red carpet" to me) or Layana (sloppy) and Emily (yawn) on the bottom instead.  Valerie's pantsuit was marvo - - a few tweaks would help it, but it was generally sharp and effortless.  My biggest issue with Stella's outfit was the oh-so-tacky underside of the pleather coming through in the skirt.  Oh that was ugly.  And I thought the slit was too high, but Isaac seemed to like that.  And the bodice was beautifully fitted, you have to admit.


Daniel and Mitchell, on the bottom again!  I don't think Sam had this in mind when he put them together, but it really was very considerate to the other designers - - they're clearly the bottom of the barrel, and pairing either of them with another designer would have brought THAT person down, so better off having them together.  Talk about the lesser of two evils: both dresses were disasters of taste and construction.  But yes, Daniel's was the more epic failure.


I was amused by what he said in his post-auf interview: "I do have a business at home."  Amway?


LOVE, Chris

Project Runway All Stars season 5, episode 4

Ah, the unconventional materials challenge.  Not the most fascinating episode, not the strongest work we've seen, but you know me, I'm a PR completist, I have to write about it.  I will be brief.


Valerie's dress looked promising from the beginning, that swab-as-fringe idea was cute.  And Stella was in trouble from the beginning.  Those hoses were awful.  I knew she would be on the bottom, but was even more sure that MITCHELL would be on the bottom and sent home!  Oh that dress was so hideous!  I wrote in my notes: "When was the last time someone was sent home in the middle of episode?"



Ken's dress was gorgeous, that faux patent leather thing was stunning.  But yes, the bodice was not good, it didn't look comfortable and didn't look pretty.  You know how I feel about Valerie, that dress was cute.  And Sam is the winner.  That jacket was very high fashion, and the on-the-fly dress underneath was good.  You know that Kini is going to have a seizure soon, with Sam doing so well...



What was Asha thinking?  That dress was just plain peculiar.  I don't know why Alex was on the bottom - - his dress wasn't the greatest thing ever, but it was beautifully fitted and interesting to look at.  I have no idea why Mitchell wasn't in the bottom.  Did the judges all take a nap when his dress was on the runway?


Stella - - I love that Stella.  But yes, she deserved to go home with her Forever 21 outfit (bless Isaac for pinning the tail so resolutely on that stinky donkey).  And her explanation that she had made something better: who cares?  She should have stuck to her guns.  Then, if she had been sent home, at least it would have been with something she believed in instead of something just plain dull.


LOVE, Chris

Project Runway All Stars season 5, episode 5

Naturalist?  A term I had not heard before.  I'll just make one funny comment about the designers working with people not wearing clothes: Asha took measurements on her model, and yet the camera did not capture her taking his inseam...


Two good quotes this week.  Mitchell: "I don't know how to dress for the cold, I wear tank tops and Speedos."  Translation: "I'm a complete moron and have no imagination or training."


And Alexander re: Mitchell: "You can't go with frilly crazy crap everywhere with a man."  Mitchell did not go in that direction, but the sweater vest had a strong Casual Corner vibe.  Which is the perfect segue into this timeless clip from *The Devil Wears Prada*:

OK, back to the show.



Why did they have four on the top and two on the bottom?  I don't think we've seen that before.  The only time I can remember they did anything but an even split between the top and bottom was a challenge in season 8, the Marie Claire billboard challenge.  They left six designers on the runway, as usual, and then surprised everyone by saying that Gretchen was the winner and the rest were on the bottom.  So that was a nice bit of drama.  But four and two?  It just doesn't make sense.


Here are my notes about the four designers on top.  Sam: fine.  Kini: whole lotta look.  Dom: girly jacket.  And Emily, the winner: love it.  That was gorgeous.  Isaac wishes for more volume in the cape, but would a naturalist really want more volume?  That outfit looked fab on her.



Sam and Valerie on the bottom - - and they were both given another change, neither was sent home.  This is the second time this season that they've pulled this, and I will not stand for it!  The expression "one day you're in, the next day you're out" has no meaning anymore.  I roll my eyes, I shake my fist at the sky.


The snippiness towards Sam in the green room, that whole "maybe we should all flirt with the judges" mishegas - - please.  Maybe they could bring in Robert Plotkin or Logan for a tutorial on flirting with the judges.


LOVE, Chris

Project Runway All Stars season 5, episode 6

My first and most pressing question: what does Medieval Times have to do with the Baroque style?  Medieval, Baroque - - not the same thing.  But then how could they do a medieval challenge, who even knows what that looks like.  And what kind of wacko tie-in could they do for Baroque?


The workroom drama with Sam felt manufactured for me.  It's not that I don't believe those designers can be bitter and snippy, Lord knows they can - - it just felt a little scripted.  But Sam's reaction felt genuine.  He needs to pull an Ashley and give them what for by WINNING THE SEASON.


Guest judge Coco Rocha made me think of one of the funniest jokes by the late Joan Rivers on Fashion Police.


JOAN: OK, play along with me here.  Knock knock.

AUDIENCE: Who's there?

JOAN: Coco.

AUDIENCE: Coco who?

JOAN: Coco Rocha.

AUDIENCE: Coco Rocha who?

JOAN: And then just go on from there.  I have no idea who this girl is or why I should care.


Too funny.  Clearly the divine Miss Rivers had not seen season one of The Face.  I had the rare honor of seeing Coco Rocha in person - - at Dress Shoe Warehouse in Brooklyn, of all places.  I was going to a show at BAM and had some time to waste, so I went to DSW.  And there was La Rocha.  At first I didn't quite believe it was her.  What would Coco Rocha, supermodel assoluta, be doing at DSW in Brooklyn?  But who else would look like her, be eight feet tall, and be wearing a turquoise fur jacket?


I digress.  Nice that they brought in Marchesa co-founder Keren Craig as the other guest judge.  She should come back more often.



I thought Valerie's dress was dull.  The faux corsetting detail was nice, but the whole thing was a yawn.  Sam's dress was pretty, but what did it have to do with the Baroque style?  And yes, he does owe a thank you to Dom for suggesting he use the flowers on the lace to bask the model's naughty bits.  My guess is he did thank her, and they didn't film it (or include it).


Ken's dress was gorgeous, beautifully fitted, and high drama, but again, what does it have to do with the Baroque style?



I would have put Kini on the bottom instead of Layana.  Yes, Layana's dress was not attractive, but more than any of the others, it really captured the Baroque vibe.  And Kini's dress was awful: the top was Anna Mae Wong and the skirt was a rehash of his umbrella skirt trick.  Alex's dress was misfire.  Not awful, but not good.


Let's face it: Mitchell is not an all star!  Clearly he was filler and was lucky to get as far as he did.  That dress was a horror.  It was bad to begin with, but then when the zipper blew out, he should have just gone home.


LOVE, Chris

Project Runway All Stars season 5, episode 7

Wow, this was one of the most inventive challenges I've ever seen on the show.  The producers were really earning their money on this episode.  Here's what happened:



The designers met Alyssa at Mood.  Which is unusual.  She had a stack of envelopes, and each designer chose an envelope, starting with Ken, who won the previous challenge.  He passed out the remaining envelopes to the other designers.  They opened them up, and each had a card with the fabric type they would be using for the challenge: denim, lightweight cotton, linen, upholstery, etc. Their challenge is to create an evening resort wear look. Alyssa said GO and they flew around the store buying fabric.



They got back to the workroom, and there was Alyssa again!  Which felt like a bad sign.  The twist was they would have to exchange their fabric for another designer's fabric.  YOWZA.  I thought maybe they would just pass their bag to the person on their right, but no, it had to be more convoluted than that.  They started with Ken - - this time he really did have an advantage as winner of the last challenge.  He had first pick of whose fabric he wanted to take.  Then that person chose next, and so on, until we were left with Sam and Kini, who traded bags.  They despise each other, so of course they were grumpy about that.


Emily seemed to be in the most trouble.  She was at the biggest disadvantage, being stuck with upholstery fabric, and it looked like she was making a dress for a girl from the steno pool, circa 1962.  If I had been her, I would have made a cute little halter top and dressy shorts from the burlappy fabric and used the five yards of sheer polka dot fabric to make a knee-length caftan to go over it.



Ken's dress was good, but I thought the fabric was too heavy for that design.  I loved Sam's dress, he really pulled the rabbit out of the hat on that one.


We all knew Dom would win, right?  Sharp outfit - - she did a killer job with the skirt, those stripes were immaculately done.  The blouse was great, and Isaac was right about the black stripes in the waist, that really held the look together.  I also agree with Isaac that the necklace was a little much.



Why wasn't Kini on the bottom?  I thought his dress was one of the worst, for sure.  It was mumsy in the extreme, what I call mumsissimo.  I would have put him on the bottom instead of Layana.  I'm sure it burned his shorts that he was stuck with Sam's ugly fabric, and burned him further that Sam was such a smash with HIS chosen fabric.


I would have sent Emily home instead of Valerie or Layana, and not because I like Valerie and Layana so much.  Emily's look was bulky and drab, and the skirt was just plain weird.  Layana's pantsuit wasn't so bad, though again I'm going to agree with Isaac: it would have been more sharp (and more "resort") with flats.


I will miss Valerie, but that outfit was wonky, especially the turban.  Blech.  So many elements made that outfit look cheap: the turban, the pockets, the turquoise necklace.  It was a big misfire.


LOVE, Chris

Project Runway All Stars season 5, episode 8

Another not-so-thrilling episode, a definite step down from the week before.  Plus two things I'd rather not see again:


1. A *Finding Neverland* plug.  I know that Georgina's husband Harvey Weinstein is producer of Project Runway and also of *Finding Neverland*, but come on, enough already.  We were pummeled with this show last season, need we see it again?  Tacky.


2. The Sam and Kini drama is getting tiresome, no?  And it sounded quite scripted in this episode.  Of course they'll end up in a team challenge before the season is over, and the fur will fly.  Kini is at a disadvantage: his hair is long enough for Sam to grab.


They were assigned fairy tale characters, but the designers' stories had next to nothing to do with the characters.  For example, Layana had this idea that Belle of *Beauty and the Beast* would be taken by her husband to a polo match in Argentina.  Say what?  Isaac got the real zinger, saying that her dress would be the LAST thing one should wear at a polo match in Argentina.



Dom's outfit was very cute and distinctive, but had nothing to do with Tinkerbell.  Asha's dress was OK, but didn't read Rapunzel to me.  I don't know why she won.  I would have given the win to Kini, his Alice in Wonderland dress was fab.  Full of fantasy, and the little white collar and little white socks grounded its Alice-ness.



How convenient that Sam would be on the bottom, with Kini on the top.  And of course Kini had to grasp the riding crop and beat, beat, beat that dead horse.  Yawn.  Another yawn for Sam's dress, it was real crafty.


I would have sent Layana home.  That dress was bordering on ugly.  Alexander's dress was not well fitted in the booty, and didn't have the dewiness needed for Cinderella, but it wasn't as bad as Layana's.


My Project Runway Fatigue Syndrome is kicking in early this year...


LOVE, Chris

Project Runway All Stars season 5, episode 9

Athleisure?  Another made-up word that I cannot support.  Reminds me of a previous PR season where they were trotting out the word "advertorial."  Makes me throw up in my mouth just a little.


I need to modify one of the lines on the episode: Alyssa said, "The winning design will be modified, manufactured, and sold as part of the Alyssa Milano Touch collection."  What she should have said was, "The winning design will be modified, manufactured, APPROPRIATED and sold..."  Like my old friend Aaron Neville used to say, tell it like it is.

The Ken disappearance - - what was up with that.  More manufactured drama.


What was up with Alyssa's look on the runway?  The false eyelashes, the ear-bobs, the weird blouse.  It was what Tim Gunn would call "a whole lotta look."



Dom's look was kinda cool, and yes, the extra panel in the skirt would be smarter with a zipper.  Those snaps were cumbersome.  I thought Asha's look was a little too cutesie, I would have put Emily in the top over her, I like the architectural lines of Emily's outfit.


Hoorah for Kini and his win.  Maybe he'll be a little less cranky now, but I'm not holding my breath.  The jacket was pretty damn cool, and yes, the team branding will be fab.  The jeans were a bit of a throwaway.



Funny how Sam's outfit split the judges.  It was very cute, but not really appropriate to the challenge.  I was sure Ken would be sent home, his outfit was quite sloppy and rushed.  At least Layana's had a lot of work on display - - too much work, it turns out.


I asked myself: who do I want to win?  My answer: I really don't care.  This is a PR first.


LOVE, Chris

Project Runway All Stars season 5, episode 10

If I had a quarter for every time someone used the term "badass" in this episode...  My hunch is that anyone who is truly badass would never be using that word.  Please refer me to someone badass, and I will report on this hunch.


The n: Philanthropy woman is "badass yet sophisticated" - - sounds like a young red wine.


I had three questions in my notes, from early in the episode:


Sam: What is badass about seersucker?

Ken: Tomato bisque AGAIN?

Kini: You're toning down the lime chiffon Hammer pants with a lemon meringue jacket?



How on earth did Sam get on the top?  The judges astound me.  I would have put Dom or Ken in the top over him.  Please.  Kini was very smart to ditch the jacket, I loved those pants and the jacket just got in the way.  The jacket would look real cool with a white T-shirt and jeans.  Which I'm sure he could whip up in eight minutes.  Ding!


Emily is surprising me this season with her distinctive designs.  She gets stronger every week.  She might make it to the final three.  Very cool, sexy yet restrained (which sounds like a white Zinfandel).



I agree that the pants were too long, and the belt looked a little wonky, but it was a hell of a lot better than Sam's overgrown romper, his slapdash seersucker silliness.  Dom's dress showed a lot of potential but oo Lawdy, that slit was way too high!


Asha - - her dress was cute but too complicated.  I'm sure she was happy to have a little more exposure by being on All Stars.  Best wishes to her.


LOVE, Chris

Project Runway All Stars season 5, episode 11

I think it would have been helpful to start the episode with a concise definition of "avant garde," because clearly the designers had differing views of what that means.  Plus they should have been more clear to us, as the viewers, that their designs needed to inspired by artwork in the gallery.  That wasn't made clear to me, and the judges definitely had that in their checklist.


$400 and two days: you'd think they all would have done better work, no?


It was great to have one guest judge - - but then who would you pair with the immortal Boy George?  He did a great job, let's bring him back.  Maybe as a finale judge in a coming season.  BTW Isaac had the funniest comment during the judging: "Who knows what the hell we're talking about."



Kini's look was only avant garde by the addition of the black jumpsuit and mask.  That pink and black gown was rather ordinary and cliche, and screamed 80s like a banshee.  Like Siouxsee and the Banshees!  One more thing about Kini's dress: it reminded me very much of something Boy George's mentor Leigh Bowery would wear.  Here's a clip of Bowery from the documentary *Wigstock* - - don't say I didn't warn you:


Delightful!  And Lady Bunny even uses the term avant garde, bless her heart.


Dom's outfit was my mom's favorite (I'm in Wisconsin visiting my mom, we watched the show together).  I thought it was well made but didn't go far enough.


Ken was clearly the winner.  That outfit had drama and impact.  My mom and I both were bothered by the sliver of skin peeking out at the back of the neck, that seemed to be a mistake - - and we were thrilled that Georgina noticed it.  How hard would it have been for him to put a collar in the back of the jacket and tuck it up under the hood?



Sam, Sam, Sam.  His dress had nothing to do with his inspiration, plus I thought it was lumpy and odd.  I don't know that Isaac saw in that dress that he chose it has his favorite.


Emily's dress was not avant garde, it was something that Norma Kamali might have designed in 1982.  And then she would have dumbed it down a bit for the Spiegel catalog.  I'm sorry to see her go, she did very strong work this season.


Do you remember midway through the episode they were interviewing Ken?  He was talking trash about Sam and saying that he wasn't going to say anything to him because he didn't want to be a bully.  I rolled my little eyes because I knew this meant that he wouldn't make it through the episode without totally going off on Sam.


I have a few things to say about this.  First, it doesn't matter how hard you work in the workroom or what kind of construction techniques you use, the judges react to what they see on the runway.  Obviously they like what Sam is doing, and they have every right to like it.  Second, why should Ken or any other designer care?  I tell myself it's a competition, they should be keeping their eye on the others, but really mostly concerned about their own work and doing their best.  But then I remind myself that it's also a reality series, and they have to amp up the drama.  And third, I applaud Sam for not rising to the bait.  The best way to deal with a bully is to walk away, right?


I wonder if they're building him up as an underdog, a la Ashley.  The problem he's not the strongest designer of the four.  We shall see!


LOVE, Chris

Project Runway All Stars season 5, episode 12

One thing I noticed about the designers: Dom is the only one who's liked by the other three.  Ken, Sam, and Kini all have some kind of animosity going on.  On that subject, it was nice to see Sam and Ken make nice, amusing to hear Ken make a non-apology.  If Sam falls for that, he really is a dimwit.


What a treat to see the four previous All Stars winners.  Dmitry is such a darling, I could listen to him talk for hours.


All four designers used black and white as the basis of their fabric designs.  Wouldn't it be great to have a challenge where they're prevented from using black or white?



Kini's outfit was well-made and definitely looked like him, but all it needed was a big white picture hat and it would be perfect for Alexis Carrington walking into the courtroom, capping off season one of *Dynasty.*


We all knew Dom would win, right?  She had this in the bag, she has such a great way with prints.  The jacket was divine, and I loved her fabric design.



I can see why the judges were conflicted.  Ken's fabric design was dull in the extreme, and there was nothing jazzy about his outfit.  The challenge was not to design something for lunch.  And then Sam's outfit was so shapeless and shlubby, I would call it shlubbissimo.  Plus they were kind enough to give us totals on the show, which I did not write down: but he has done many jumpsuits this season, and used neoprene mesh many times.  Clearly he's either very limited or doesn't concern himself with showing something new.


I'd have a hard time choosing a loser from those two, but Sam gets the edge because his original fabric has more zip, it fulfills the Otterbox part of the challenge so much better than Ken's.  But the judges do a classic PR twist, and have the two of them duke it out, making them combine two previous looks in an hour.


Ken was the clear winner of the second round.  He didn't completely reimagine the design, and didn't hardly use any of the second dress, but his look was sharp, well made, full of attitude, and completely wearable.  Sam's outfit was a sloppy mess - - Richard noticed the uneven hem on the skirt, we were shocked the judges didn't call him out for that.  And any points he gets for using a bodice on the back of the jacket should be taken away because it just plain looks stupid.


I'm just thrilled that they're not copping out and sending four designers to the finale.


LOVE, Chris

Project Runway All Stars, season 5, finale

Oy, I have to say it's a relief to have this season over.  It was a bit of a slog, no?  Or is it just me?  A quick recap on the challenge: they have three days to make eight looks, an hour at Mood, $3000 to spend.  Their inspiration is New York City, and their curve ball is they had one male model thrown in with the seven females.  It was fun to see the casting, I miss the interaction with the models like they had in the early PR days...


Zanna's critique was very intense, I think she felt like this was her last chance to get some valuable screen time.  After this episode, she'll be trolling around for the occasional appearance on E!  I did a slight eyeroll when Dom's hand-painted fabric fell onto the floor while it was drying.  Is it possible that a PR PA walked by and just happened to bump into the supporting dress form?  Or am I too hateful and jaded?


The three designers got help from three auf'd designers: Dom got Alexander, Kini got Asha, and Ken got Layana.  They had that extra help for 18 hours.


I was waiting for one final twist, which we did not get.  I thought maybe they'd have to make one more look in the cab on their way to the show - - but then the finale runway show was in the same old drab PR soundstage!  Jeez, is there no event space in the five boroughs that is up for some free exposure.  How about the Grand Prospect Hall, a divine faux Baroque wedding mill in Brooklyn?

I tried to talk Richard into having our wedding there, but he would have none of it.


A few notes on the collections:



The judges were nutso for the first dress: I thought the fabric was cool but the dress itself was too shapeless, especially for a first look.  I loved the last looks, and thought the man's shirt was too smocky.



His clothes are SLIM but beautifully tailored.  The man's look was a throwaway.  I love the yellows, and he certainly was cohesive.



The opening looks were too ordinary.  He was trying to tell a color story, going from black and white to bold color, but he needed some oomph at the start.  The man's look was fabulous, easily the best of the three.  My fave look of his was the blue dress, that long skirt was so chic.


The final results: Dom is the winner, then Kini, then Ken.  I was afraid that Ken would be chosen as the winner, his collection was very strong, but I didn't want him to win because he's such a monster.  I'm glad Dom won, she's a talented designer and such a nice person.


LOVE, Chris

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