Project Runway All Stars Season 7

Episode One

Thanks to my dear friend Frank for telling me that PRAS was on! I was totally out of the loop on this one. The PR brand has been scattered to the three corners of the globe:

Lifetime is currently airing Project Runway All Stars
Bravo is ramping up for Project Runway season 17 (I’ve seen commercials)
Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn are moving to Amazon with a new show

Needless to say, I’ll be watching all three.

I was relieved to see that PRAS is only an hour long. Thank you! The contestants are a mixture of winners of previous PR and/or PRAS seasons on the American show:

Anthony Ryan, winner PRAS 2
Anya, winner season 9
Michelle, winner season 11
Dmitry, winner season 10 and PRAS season 4
Irina, winner season 6
Seth Aaron, winner season 7 and PRAS season 3

And winners of PR in other countries:

Christina from Australia
Sunny from Canada
Django from Netherlands
Cynthia from Brazil
Jasper from UK
Biddell from Canada

The prizes are pretty spectacular: JC Penney will produce a limited edition version of the winning look every week, and Southwest Airlines will give $5000 to each week’s winner.

The first challenge: create high fashion look inspired by your country of origin. The challenge was announced in Battery Park, overlooking the Statue of Liberty, and they were brought to the workroom in a shameless plug for Lyft.

Anthony Ryan’s grandmother died three days before the show started. Of course I feel bad for him, but it seems a little cheap to turn on the water works at minute 7 in the first episode.

Cynthia appeared to have repurposed an old lace tablecloth for her dress. In her talk-to-the-camera moment, she said, “I see my garment on the model for the the first time and it looks…amazing.” That wasn’t the word I was expecting! Michelle described the dress as “thoughtful” and “virginal.” Oh really.

Irina made a polarizing red dress made of individual red petals or feathers. She felt it captured the strength and spirit of women from her home country of Georgia, but Michelle said this: “Apparently Irina’s from Georgia, but I feel like she’s from a Chick-fil-A.”

Guest judge Debra Messing made her entrance on the runway, something I don’t believe I’ve seen before.

ON THE TOP
Biddell: judges liked it but had plenty of criticism.
Dmitry: crazy for the cutouts and the craft of the garment.
Irina: “incredible runway appeal.” Isaac thought the cashmere looked flat (I didn’t know it was cashmere, I thought it was felt).

IN THE MIDDLE
I agree with the top, but i would have put Jasper, Django, or Michelle in the bottom instead of Anya.

ON THE BOTTOM
Anya: pretty dress, but not enough.
Cynthia: thought the ruffles were badly placed.
Anthony Ryan: a lot going on, not harmonious. He cried on the runway and, when asked, mentioned the death of his grandma. He had better not bring this up again!

Dmitry was the winner. I thought Irina would have had it, but Isaac didn’t like it at all (the judges all agreed on Dmitry). They gave Cynthia a pass and couldn’t decide between Anthony Ryan or Anya as the loser. Clearly, if you use the “which would you rather wear” litmus test, Anya’s is the stronger garment. But I think they were put off by Anthony Ryan’s personal situation so they didn’t eliminate either of them. The first episode and they’re already crapping out!

And they ended the episode by bringing out two additional designers:

Juli from Australia
Sean, winner season 13

What the heck? Why weren’t they there in the beginning? Were their flights canceled? Why this surprise?

 

Episode Two

The episode started with Georgina coming out on the runway and introducing Magic Box, which supports education for the poorest young people in India. The challenge: design a dress for a graduation party. The winning design would be sold on ebay with the profits going to Magic Box.

Dmitry, as winner of the last challenge, was given a mortar board full of tassels in pair of colors. He had first choice and passed out tassels to the other designers. Not everyone was wild for the colors they got.

The workroom visit from Anne Fulenwider was delightful. She met Juli, the new girl, and said, “It’s feeling a little tacky. And could really tank.” Thank you for your truth!

Irina’s dress generated the most discussion. Michelle called it “quinceñera meets prostitute.” Sean said it was “straight out of some hooker fairy tale.” Anthony Ryan flinched when he saw it and, “Girl, what is that. Boobs out, coochie up. Like Slutty Barbie.”

I love Scott Patric, the makeup guru. He’s hunkalicious!

The guest judges are Sofia Carson (pop star, actor?) and Keira Chaplin (model, activist, granddaughter).

ON THE TOP
Seth Aaron: the judges all loved it, except Georgina, who thought there was too much going on.
Anthony Ryan: they loved the spirit of the outfit and Isaac gave him a top score for doing better than anyone else with the color aspect of the challenge.Sean: the judges loved the handcrafted aspect, but Isaac thought it was a little motherly.

IN THE MIDDLE

I liked Biddell’s dress a lot. I always love a dress with pockets.

ON THE BOTTOM
Sunny: the judges loved the dress, but didn’t think it fulfilled the challenge. His colors were yellow and blue and he made a yellow dress with a blue brooch on the back shoulder. Georgina described it as a “finger up,” and demonstrated the meaning of that expression with a gesture.
Christina: Georgina thought it was matronly and cheap looking.
Irina: Georgina was concerned that she could see the model’s crotch. We heard the words “quinceñera” and “slutty princess.”

Anthony Ryan was the winner. What a way to redeem himself. Sunny was sent home. He said the sweetest thing: “There’s a lot of great designers here, and I don’t feel terrible losing to them.”

Episode Three

The designers were brought to an airport in deepest, darkest Long Island. They were put on a Southwest airplane, where they were tasked with using old leather seat fabric and other flight-related detritus to make an outfit and accessory. There was some kind of charity-related business in there, I didn’t bother to write it down. They went to baggage claim, where they rummaged through a lot of craptastic junk.

 

Confusion, drama, and false bravado in the workroom. As usual.

 

Guest judges: journalist Tamron Hall and model Martha Hunt.

 

ON THE TOP

Michelle: Georgina said it feels like a real dress. Irina: Georgina, “I love the snappy proportions.” Isaac: “I’m sorry, I don’t like this dress. I ADORE this dress!” Jasper: loved it. Isaac thought it looked like a bimbo (in a good way), but Kamron said it looked like Michelle Obama!

 

ON THE BOTTOM

Seth Aaron: Georgina, “I want to like this more than I do.” Karmron said it looked like a “reluctant dominatrix.” Sean and Juli: mixed reviews from the judges. They thought Sean’s was witty but missed the mark, and Juli played it too safe and the dress was ill-fitting.

 

The winner was Irina. The loser was Seth Aaron. He’s very talented but he really tanked this week.

Episode Four

Adore Me dot com! Allegedly one of the fastest growing fashion start-ups in the world, and yet has any of us heard of it? The challenge was to design a look that visibly incorporated a corset. The designers had varying degrees of freak-out.

Michelle took the drama award in the workroom - - she injured her fingers and required medical attention, but it was almost like the producers didn’t really think it was viable drama because they didn’t explain what had happened or show that it had any impact on her process. Hm. In other news, Michelle and Dima called out Jasper (to the camera, not to him, of course) for glueing the lace to his dress. But why would they be given glue to use if it wasn’t allowed? And it’s the finished product that will be evaluated by the judges, not the process. If the judges don’t notice or care that he had used glue, then who cares.

Guest judges: Olivia Culpo, who has a world-wide fan base as a social influencer. Sounds like a load o’ hooey to me! My mom has a world-wide fan base as a social influencer. I’m serious. And designer Rebecca Minkoff, who I think I recognize from being a guest judge in a previous season?

ON THE TOP
Christina: the judges loved it, but for me, it was a brilliant idea, brilliant design, but I couldn’t overlook the flaws in the construction. Dmitry: the judges liked him taking such a chance. They had a few quibbles, but liked it. Irina: they liked her original take. Weren’t so wild for the lace mask or leggings.

IN THE MIDDLE
I liked Michelle’s look, she used the corset in a breezy way, that was unusual.

ON THE BOTTOM
Jasper: Rebecca MInkoff took issue with his theme, and what she said was so perfect, I’m going to quote it in full - - “I think the concept of ‘Behind every great man there’s a great woman’ is really outdated. There’s just a great woman. And I think your design represents the outdatedness of that sentiment.” Preach! Cynthia: speaking of going to church, that hat was such a disaster. Django: too much going on, confusing.

The winner was Christina, which surprised me. Did the judges not see the problems with her dress? And the auf was Jasper. Another surprise. Cynthia got a pass with that damn hat. 

 

Episode Five

Alyssa made her entrance with an albino python draped over her shoulders. No thank you! The designers were sent to the Turtle Back Zoo. Their challenge was to create a runway look to draw the most attention on a “wild night out,” and they needed to be inspired by an animal they saw at the zoo. These are the animals they chose, or at least ended up with:

 

Cynthia: jaguar

Christina: alligator

Anthony Ryan: owl

Michelle: porcupine

Irina: wallaby

Anya: budgie (cute little bird)

Dmitry: rhea (similar to an ostrich)

Django: lion

Biddell: antelope

Sean Kelly: giraffe

Juli: gibbon - - and being an Aussie, she described it as a “cheeky monkey”, and she repeated that THREE TIMES

 

Workroom drama: Irina talked with Dmitry about Michelle copying one of his designs from a previous season. But Michelle, blew her heart, said, “Hey, if you have something to say, say it to my face.” Dmitry denied that there was a problem, and Michelle said that she’d been using that technique for ten years. Hm, I don't think we've heard the end of this...

 

The guest judges were Disney star Peyton List and supermodel Joan Smalls. Yawn. Could we get some guest judges I actually know? Am I asking for the moon here, people?

 

ON THE TOP

Anthony Ryan: cool mix of fabrics, beautiful vibe.  Dmitry: they thought it was reminiscent of a previous dress, but liked it overall. Isaac said that he thought Michelle’s dress was the Dmitry dress, but I wonder if someone tipped him off. Michelle: the judges were crazy for it.

 

ON THE BOTTOM

Sean Kelly: they liked the concept but hated the shiny fabric. Juli: lots of problems. Alyssa put it best when she said everything that you want to try and minimize, as a woman, is accentuated in this dress. Django: so cheap and awful, and of course the judges hated the green.

 

The winner was Michelle. Her design was the strongest but of course we’ve got maximum drama going forward. Juli was sent home. That dress really was awful, though Django's giant green diaper was also pretty awful. I think they kept Django because he's more interesting from a TV perspective.

Episode Six

Their challenge was to do a red carpet metallic look inspired by the Butter London makeup line. Michelle and Dima made up early in the episode over her allegedly copying his technique in the previous episode.

Anne is so marvelous, she cracks me up with her truth. She described Dima’s look as “old lady in Vegas.” This is what she said about Django’s look: “I’m picturing a Bel Air hostess, who’s 75 years old, floating around her pool in a muumuu.” I think those two ladies need to get together, they should meet up in the middle, in Barstow - - I’m sure they’d have a great time! (Thanks to Google Maps for showing me the midpoint between Vegas and Bel Air.)

Anya was way behind in the construction of her garment so three designers helped her out. I love it when that happens, it’s so touching.

Biddell said, anticipating the judges’s reaction, “I’d like to see them try to dis this dress.” Oh child, you do not tempt fate like that.

The guest judges were the wonderful Wendy Williams, ? NASCAR superstar Danica Patrick, and ? Victoria’s Secret supermodel Lily Aldridge.. I’m just going to stop complaining about not knowing who the judges are. OK, maybe I won’t stop. Plus, three guest judges? Is that excessive?

ON THE TOP
Sean: I’m surprised that the judges didn’t call him out for doing fringe again. Irina: wow, that is one killer gown. The fabric is fabulous and the shape is stunning, and it looks great from every angle. Biddell: stunning, elegant.

ON THE BOTTOM
Anya: of course they didn’t like it, it was awful. Django: how can something be both mumsy and trashy? Michelle: too much going on, none of it working together. All three losers were worthy of an auf, I was curious to see who would be sent home.

I was surprised that Sean won, I was hoping Irina would win. Anya was sent home. I think they felt that Michelle was at least trying to do something different, Anya’s outfit was just a throwaway.
 

Episode Seven

They started the episode on the stage of the Broadway musical *Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.* I’ve gotten used to PR plugging products, but why plug a show that has closed? This was an avant garde challenge - - they had to invent something unusual, unexpected, etc. They were each given a chocolate bar, and the winner of the golden ticket got an extra $100 to spend at Mood. So there!

Why are the designers always so nutty for Neoprene? They got to the workroom and Michelle told us that in addition to Mood, they were also able to source materials from a dollar store, an electronics shop, and a building supplier.  She got a big roll of carpet padding, because why not?

Anne was surprisingly encouraging in her workroom critiques. Though she did say to Sean, “What made you go for red and black zebra-striped leather?” Yes, I know that’s just a question, but the point of view behind the question was loud and clear. I also love what she said to Django: “That’s gonna be some apron.” He sealed his fate at this moment:

ANNE: Your invention does not sound like something we’ve never seen before. I think you need to be a little more concerned. I think you need to think about how you’re going to win this challenge.
DJANGO: [under his breath] Whatever.

Oh sweet Jesus, I wanted him to be sent home at that moment! He then pumped up himself by going around the workroom and questioning the work of other designers. Hm, very crafty. maybe that was the innovation in his project.

The guest judges were Anna Camp and Andrew Rannells. Love me some Rannells!

ON THE TOP
Christina: the judges loved the design, the concept, and the execution. Anthony Ryan: Anna Camp loved the “cartoony” aspect, they all loved the playful spirit. Michelle: they loved the vibe, loved the autism story behind it, Isaac called the underdress “the dress of the season.” I really appreciated that it was avant garde but also very wearable.

ON THE BOTTOM
Django: they hated it as much as I did. Isaac hit the nail on the head: “It was neither avant garde, nor an epic fail, it was just BAD.” Irina: the judges were split, some of them hated it, some were fine with it. Sean Kelly: Isaac said, “It doesn’t look avant garde, it looks junior.”

I was surprised that Anthony Ryan was the winner, I was sure Michelle would win. All three in the top were extraordinary. Thank God Django was sent home.

Episode Eight
They started the challenge at JC Penny, their retail partner this season. The challenge: they were to choose three daytime separates and transform them into an evening look. Two of the three had to be chosen from the two garments a model was wearing in the store, and they could choose whatever they wanted for the third. The model they chose would also be the model they’d work with. I liked the creativity of this challenge a lot.

Did you know Liz Claiborne was at JCP? I did not. Good for her. Yes, I’m aware that Ms. Claiborne herself is currently dead. I’m still happy that she’s at JCP.

Sean was using a mix of bold prints, and Michelle encouraged him to “channel his inner Anya.” Oh, isn’t that sweet.

Anne was impressed that the sleeves of Irina’s top were made from the buttoned-up bodice of her sourced shirt. That really was a genius idea. Anne pointed out to Cynthia that she was in trouble making a jacket out of a jacket. Oh, it burns. A number of the designers had trouble with the evening aspect of the challenge.

The guest judges were - - thank you - - Vanessa Williams! and supermodel Jasmine Tookes.

ON THE TOP
Irina: as expected, the judges loved the transformation of the placket in the sleeves. Georgina and Jasmine had problems with the puffed sleeve. Michelle: Isaac thought it would look better back-to-front, but they generally liked it. Biddell: really, he was in the top? I liked the outfit but dear me, that turban just ruined it. But the mix of fabrics was most inventive of everyone.

ON THE BOTTOM
Christina: V Williams said she wouldn’t be caught dead salsa dancing in those pants. I would, if I were paid. Cynthia: oh so bad. They liked the dress underneath but the jacket over it was horrid. I thought it was very *Maude* - - you know how I love *Maude,* but not in this context. Sean: the judges had a lot of good things to say, but the final flounce on the bottom was not good.

I was amazed that Biddell was the winner. When he was chosen to be in the final six at the start of the judging, I was sure he was going to be in the bottom three. Oy. And Cynthia was sent home.

Episode Nine

The challenge - - gender-neutral, high fashion streetwear. Their models were male, female, or non-binary, and the designers designed and shopped for their models without knowing who they would be. Very forward thinking, PR! They were told their model’s measurements, that’s it. Their musings to the camera were very intriguing, the streetwear aspect of the challenge seemed as promising as the gender neutral aspect.

Anne, as usual, was merciless in her workroom critique. I love that there’s never any wondering what she’s thinking or where she stands. And oh wow, the models were all super sexy! Such a treat to see something besides the tall lanky female model.

Ha, it cracked me up that Irina finished her look early so she decided to use her extra fabric to make a dress for herself! And she used Christina’s machine and stayed there and did not move! Oh, that shade is frosty.

What was with Georgina’s hair. Loved Isaac’s shirt. The guest judge was Asia Kate Dillon of *Orange Is the New Black.*

I was disappointed that Biddell was the one designer who was safe - - his was one of my favorites, I wanted him to be on the top. 


ON THE TOP
Michelle: they loved the vibe, loved the wearability, loved the mix of colors and prints. Anthony Ryan: they loved the grooviness, and of course Isaac had to say he had an unfair advantage with the super hot model! Thank you Isaac! But Alyssa pointed out that the silhouette was too similar from the previous week. Christina: this was such a strong design, the proportions were so delicious.  Asia loved the peek of skin down the middle. 


ON THE BOTTOM
Sean Kelly: they thought the pinstripe was a little tired, and the bondage element was a little gimmicky. Irina: Isaac liked nothing about it, Alyssa and Asia liked it. Dmitry: they liked aspects of it but thought it was overall a misfire. Alyssa made an interesting point, that it would be a winner in a different fabric - - the silver fabric was so Space Age. And Isaac really hated the buttons.

The winner was Christina - - I was so happy about that, it was such a marvelous look. And Sean Kelly was sent home. \

Episode Ten

First off, thanks to my dear friend Frank for alerting me to the premiere of Project Runway on Bravo this coming week! Check your local listings, looks like for the first time ever, I’ll be doing double duty next week - - PRAS on Lifetime and PR on Bravo! Jeez, all that AND my day job.

We’re down to the final six. And who knows, maybe they’ll go full weenie and they’ll ALL be in the finale! Hopefully not. The episode started with the designers going into the green room and sitting down to watch something on the telly. Alyssa came on, pretending she was reading a Project Runway news bulletin. Do you think the designers had to be told to laugh at this, and coached on their laughing? Did they have to do multiple takes?

Then, one by one, they were put in front of a green screen and given a “live via satellite” report on weather conditions from another part of the world. And this time I really think the laughter was real, because the designers were so adorably amateur. They were rained on, snowed on, blown away. I felt especially bad for Irina, you know she spends a lot of time on her hair. LOVE that she put her hair up in a towel, that was so *Valley of the Dolls.*

But what is the challenge, you ask? To design a resort wear look that could make the transition from one type of weather to another. And they’re given locations and conditions: ski slope from snow to sun, Mykonos in the sun and wind, Palm Springs at a coffee bar in a tsunami, etc.

Guest judges: Cynthia Errivo and designer Seem Acra.

ON THE TOP
Irina: they were mixed but came out on top. They liked the mix of fabrics, liked the ease of the transformation, but weren’t all sold on the colors.

Michelle: they loved the wacky mix of fabrics and thought the transformation was exceptional. Georgina described it as “an odd idea that shouldn’t have worked.”

Dmitry: the proportions were wrong, though Isaac liked the dress. I loved Acra’s face when Dmitry was doing his explanation. I would describe her expression as “scrutable.” But Georgina said that of everything they had seen that day, those were the pieces she would buy if she saw them in a store.

ON THE BOTTOM
Anthony Ryan: Isaac made the valid point that she has one bare and freezing arm, which doesn’t work in the snow. Georgina thought the bottom of the skirt was a problem and Seem Acra thought he could have gone further. 

Biddell: they thought it had good elements but was a little underpowered. Biddell apologized, said he was tired, and Isaac and Acra jumped all over him - - “Never say you’re sorry! Kiss of death!”

Christina: they thought it was OK but a little expected. And ouch, Georgina called it a “Pucci knock-off.”

Michelle won - - you have to admit hers was the most daring. Christina was sent home. I guess Biddell didn’t respond to the kiss of death! It was hard watching Christina cry when she left, that’s always hard to see. 

Finale

The final four were brought to the Baccarat hotel, which Richard described as “very swanky.” They had to make six looks for their collections and had $3000 to spend. They went to the grand salon next door and did their model casting. I miss the good old days when the designers had hair-pulls over the models.

 

Biddell decided the theme of his collection had to have something to do with the way he felt through the PRAS process: paranoid, entitled, wiggy. Somehow this led to conspiracy theories, and his favorite conspiracy theory, that the Queen of England is a reptile. I did a rewind on that.  Wait a minute - - how did I not know about this? I Googled it, and the first source I found was Marie Claire.  Anne Fulenwider is the editor of the US magazine. Do you see the connection?

 

Irina was inspired by cubism and wanted to make a 3-D sculptural collection. Michelle’s reference was the 70s and the Neil Young album *Harvest Moon.* She said her collection would have 70s silhouettes and be called “Harvest Mood.”  Dmitry wanted to pull in the sketches he made when he was a kid and wanted to make an ambitious collection using faces looking at each other and sleeves that look like hair.

 

OK!  Sounded like four very different and wacky finale collections. The designers spent the rest of that first work day (of four) making things, talking trash, and flailing about.

 

The next day they met their helpers. Who predicted that they’d be previous PR designers? I did, twenty points for me. Michelle was given Sean Patrick Kelly, winner of season 13 - - Dmitry was given Erin Robertson, winner of season 15 - - naturally Biddell was paired with another foreigner (“ferner,” as we say in our house), Christina Exie, winner of season 4 of PR Australia - - and Irina was paired with the divine Mondo Guerra, winner of PRAS season 1.

 

Anne got things off to a strong start by asking Michelle if she could put on the coat she had made. Have I ever seen a mentor do that before? I don’t think so. She advised Irina to do one of her red dresses with pants instead, to gain some variety. Irina said, “That’s a good idea” and Anne said, “Thanks!” and laughed. Anne cracks me up. I want to run into her on the street, and unlike the time I ran into Joanna Coles on the street, I WILL talk with her.

 

At one point Mondo and Irina were in the sewing room - - excuse me, the BROTHER Sewing Room - - and he picked up on the fact that she was freaking. He asked her about it and she had a major meltdown, always hard to see from someone who’s so tough and confident. We found out later that she was upset about her mother’s fight with breast cancer.

 

Blah blah blah, drama in the workroom. And then the finale show! The guest judge was English actor Andrea Riseborough. I’m sure Alyssa had to practice how to pronounce her name. Correctly.

 

IRINA

Well made but underwhelming. The red and black cocktail dress was the strongest look. The rest, not so wow.

 

BIDDELL

Very high style and unusual, bordering on costume. The gown with the pailettes was out of this world.

 

MICHELLE

So glad she ditched her own afro wig. Love her dress. First dress was so sweet. The next too dresses were too similar. The orange pants outfit was fantastic. The green coat was super super super. The whole collection was daring and cohesive and something else.

 

DMITRY

The opening jacket was gorgeous. I hated the yellow dress with the flamenco ruffle. The spangled outfit was divine. The black lace dress was unsettling, but in a good way.

 

Here’s how I would have ranked them:

  1. Michelle

  2. Dmitry

  3. Biddell

  4. Irina

 

I had it right, except the bottom who were flipped. I was so pleased for Michelle, she’s such a talent.

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