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Project Runway All Stars Season 4, Episode 9: “Sketching with Sharks”

Jay designs an outfit based on this photo he took of a Russell's lionfish at the Long Island Aquarium.

For the second week in a row, the All Stars challenge revolves around water. In this case, the designers meet at the Long Island Aquarium where they are asked to create an avant-garde look, inspired by an underwater life form. At first, they are told that $150 and two days will be provided for this challenge. But, if one designer agrees to sketch in the shark tank, Alyssa will increase each designers’ budget by $100. With that, Helen’s hand immediately shoots into the air. “If I can buy more fabric, I’ll risk my life for that,” Helen says.

This week’s guest judge was singer and fashion designer Nicole Scherzinger. Helen, Dmitry, and Michelle had the highest scores, while Justin, Fabio, and Jay were in the bottom. When it came to Helen’s design, Isaac couldn’t care less that it didn’t remind him of a shark. It was clear that the dress told a story, and was chic and classy. Dmitry’s design also strayed away from the challenge. The design itself wasn’t so over-the-top, but the judges knew his thought process made it a truly avant-garde piece. As for Michelle’s design, the judges had mixed feelings about her work. Nicole thought her design was very well-balanced, but Isaac was a bit off-put by the structure.

On the other hand, Justin’s design was critiqued for not being avant-garde enough. Nicole summed it up by saying that she liked all of the ideas, but they didn’t work together as planned. Fabio’s taste was mostly questioned as a result of his color choice. And last, but not least, Jay’s combination of vinyl and chiffon confused the judges, and his overall design could’ve used some more editing. The result: Justin was eliminated and Dmitry was given his first win.

On to the designs…

The top:

Dmitry’s winning design, inspired by a seahorse:

Dmitry's winning design

Helen’s design, inspired by a sand tiger shark:

Helen's design

Michelle’s design, inspired by a flamboyant cuttlefish:

Michelle's design

The bottom:

Justin’s losing design, inspired by a yellow scroll coral:

Justin's losing design

Fabio’s design, inspired by a red bubble-tip anemone:

Fabio's design

Jay’s design, inspired by a Russell’s lionfish:

Jay's design

The only safe look:

Sonjia’s design, inspired by a red-bellied piranha:

Sonjia's design

Would anyone have guessed that this would’ve been Justin’s final week? I couldn’t believe the judges chose to release him after his successful win last week. I really don’t think his design was that bad. I was also surprised by the judge’s reaction to Helen’s look. Her design looked just like her ruffle dress from Episode 3, which the judges hated. I just don’t understand their rationale.

Did you think Dmitry’s design was considered avant-garde? What did you think of Michelle’s creation? Was Justin’s your least favorite? Please share your thoughts below!


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  1. glow101010 | | #1

    i can always bet that if i love or hate something, the judges feel exactly opposite. i guess i just dont know high fashion haha.

    Helens was awful. Michelles was awful, Jays was awful.

    I was surprised that we didnt hear from the judges about Sonja's design being cut too short in the back. im sure they did and that was just edited out. the camera could have very easily changed the angle, you know, like they do, to show that there is a wardrobe malfunction. but like i said, i think it happened and just got edited out.

    Justin did not deserve to go home for this design. i thought it was good enough to stay in the competition!

    I have grown to love Demitri and altho i dont find that his piece this week was very avant gard (nothing ever strikes me as avant gard unless it looks completely bizarre!), i was impressed with the way it looked on the runway.

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