Project Runway All Stars: Season 5, Episode 2: “Let it Flow”
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The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York City set the scene for this episode. Show host Alyssa Milano told the Project Runway All Stars contestants gathered there that fashion and dance rely heavily on technique, form, and movement. This episode’s challenge was to create elegant and dramatic designs that showcase how fabric can move on the body and through the air. Alyssa revealed that there would be a wind machine on the runway to help give the garments an extra element of movement. With 30 minutes to spend at Mood Designer Fabrics in Manhattan’s Garment District and only 10 hours to produce a garment, the designers got to work.
After watching Project Runway: Junior, I was surprised by the designers’ attitudes. On the Junior series, there were no fights, no cattiness, and no swearing. All Stars’ adult designers, however, did not show the same level of maturity. The argument between Sam and Mitchell appeared trivial and unnecessary. Sadly, passive-aggressiveness and swearing (bleeped for the TV audience) are behaviors we may have to get used to again.
With about 7 hours remaining, the designers were paid a visit by Marie Claire Senior Fashion Editor Zanna Roberts Rassi. Zanna, the All Stars mentor, didn’t hesitate to level harsh critiques. In the workroom, she found something to pick apart in each design. Her main concern was the way the dresses would behave with the wind. She even pulled out the wind machine to test how a couple of the garments moved. Zanna warned the designers that they were playing it too safe and that they needed to step it up.
Sam’s dress impressed the four judges immensely, mainly because of his inspiration for it. He explained that he envisioned a woman driving a convertible in the Italian countryside and getting out of the car with her dress flowing elegantly behind her. He said his focus was on making the outfit for that scenario a reality.
Fäde’s garment was criticized as matronly by the judges. Fäde’s fellow designers also had criticized the design in the workroom for being too boring and too old. The design really was not bad, but Fäde should have followed the challenge more closely and given the gold dress movement.
The top two:
Kini’s dress was a shot in the dark. His dip-dye technique was risky and could have ended badly for him if it had not been done carefully. He did, however, complete the process without mistakes, and the result was gorgeous. The contrast of the yellow and the orange-red ombré looked like fire trailing behind the dress with the wind machine on it. The judges applauded his risk-taking but criticized the black belt and cheap-looking lace top. If he had spent as much time on the top of the garment as he did on the bottom, he could have won this challenge easily.
Valerie’s design was criticized by the other contestants while in the workroom as looking too “prom-y.” That is not the vibe I got from this eye-catching, interesting gown. Judges even pointed out that Valerie was the only designer who focused on making the skirt flow. The others focused on adding some sort of cape or long train to their dresses.
The bottom two:
Alexander’s lace dress featured a cape that worked wonders with the wind machine. The dress itself, however, was odd–and not in a good way. It appeared as though it was trying hard to be edgy while remaining beautiful, and the combination did not work well.
Emily’s shorts were heavily criticized in this design. In addition, her use of a nude bandeau bra underneath the caftan was considered sloppy and unattractive by the judges. The caftan was praised, and I agree. It was beautiful.
The remaining designs:
Daniel’s design was simple and genuinely wearable. Even if the judges tried, there wouldn’t be much to pick apart in this garment. It was a plain shift with an edgy style. It flowed well and followed the rules of the challenge.
Ken’s dress made it through without any critique from the judges. It was surprising that he was not in the bottom, though. The dress did not flow well: The only place there was movement was the sleeves. However, he should be applauded for his ability to create a design that stood out. Though I found the color unappealing, it gave the garment life. Further, Ken was the only designer who focused on the movement of sleeves in this manner.
Layana’s dress was stunning. I loved this dress and wondered why it did not make it to the top three. The chiffon moved effortlessly and beautifully. The royal blue made the dress pop and gave the illusion of water, as Layana pointed out during the runway show.
Stella’s edgy dress did not have much movement, but it included elements not used by any other designer for this challenge–namely chains and leather. This is most likely what kept it out of the bottom. Stella seems to enjoy designs that incorporate black fabric, chains, and leather. Let’s hope we can see her break out and do something different in future episodes.
Asha’s dress looked the most street ready of all the designs. Without the chiffon train, the nude-and-black dress easily could become a garment someone could wear for a night out. The train had a good flow, and the dress fit the model beautifully.
Mitchell’s dress was anything but impressive. The lengths of chiffon hanging off various sections of the dress look odd, as if they were a last-minute attempt at making the dress have an element of kinetic energy.
Dom’s garment incorporated some unusual pieces, but it all came together well. This design did not strike me as a standout, but it certainly was well constructed and interesting.
Do you think Fäde deserved to go home, or do you think another contestant should have? Let us know in the comment section below. Tune into Project Runway All Stars on Lifetime on Thursdays at 9/8 central.
Guest judge Vanessa Hudgens
Judges Isaac Mizrahi, Georgina Chapman, Alyssa Milano and guest judge Vanessa Hudgens
Contestant Daniel works on his design.