Fresh off the heels of a Project Runway, season 10, we get Project Runway All-Stars, Season 2! Looking over the cast, it's not immediately apparent that every competitor on here meets the definition of an "all-star". I'm not saying they're all losers, but the ratio of Elisas to Mondos is not what one would hope. But hey -- people change, and underdogs emerge, and I'll have plenty of opportunities to snipe at these poor souls based on their work over the next few weeks.
So let's use the first episode to give a bit of a preview! The theme of last night's episode was people claiming they have more range than the one signature thing they're known for (e.g., Uli's flowing print dresses, Kayne's pageant wear), and then doing something that is scarcely different at all. The results were decidedly mixed, but some people definitely inspired more confidence than others.
Althea: Althea manages to beat even Wendy Pepper in the "bears no physical resemblance to her original appearance" competition. Based on past performance she is one of the stronger designers, and I think this look bore that out -- it was interesting, unique, and very sexy. Front was much better than the back, though.
Andrae: So, what's been happening to Andrae? I actually didn't hate this look -- it was a little garbled and sloppy, but there was a neat concept in there. I liked the crossing blue sashes, both on their own and as a cohesive tie to the rest of the collection. I would have been sad if he had gone home.
Anthony Ryan: A sleeper this season, I think. He made some beautiful clothes his season, and really I think left before his moment. This piece was very well-done -- simple and classic in the front, with a unexpected sexy pop in the back. I really liked it a lot, and have no complaints of it being given the win.
Casanova: Playing with fire, I think. Casanova was known on his season for extremely tight, often tacky pieces. This was an extremely tight leather dress that wasn't tacky at all and was actually quite nice. So good job! But it still raises a big alarm bell for me going forward. I don't have the confidence that if he keeps using those materials and that shape, he'll be able to thread the needle again.
Emilio: Another front-runner (I thought he should have won his season). I thought his dress was very cool. The bare midriff thing is a bit played out, but I thought the way he did it was novel and unexpected, which is doubly impressive given (a) the dress is pretty simple and (b) bra + sheer fabric over model's stomach = all of Season 10's Dmitry's fashion week collection.
Ivy: She's poised for a redemption arc. We'll see if that lasts. I thought the concept behind Ivy's look was really cool, which is fortunate for her, because an off-white base and dark circular splotches is universal language for "cow". It's forgiven this time because it was cool and innovative, but be more careful.
Joshua: I remember liking this look more on the runway. Looking at the photos -- I don't know. It looks pretty messy and I'm not sure what the idea is behind it. Fabric just seems gushing out from random spots without thought. The more I see of it, the less I like. And I thought Joshua was pretty hit-or-miss on his own season too. This makes me think he'll be exiting earlier than one might expect.
Kayne: Kayne wanted us to know that he doesn't just do pageant wear. He also can do swimsuits, and jewelry, and apparently he can do Goth pageant wear too. The lace top and the trailing gown and the pants and the neck -- if there were ever a time we needed Michael Kors on the show instead of Isaac Mizrahi to exclaim "it's a lot of look", this was it. Of course, we'd always be far better off if Isaac Mizrahi was replaced as a judge by Michael Kors. Or Michael Costello. Or Michael Vick.
Laura Kathleen: I didn't see what the judges saw in her in her season. I don't see it this time either. A boring top that maybe has a bit of architecture to it, mixed with a boring dress that has no interesting qualities at all. Best of the worst collection? Really? I guess I'm in for another 8 weeks of being utterly baffled by her continued success.
Peach: No, Peach doesn't got it. Look, Peach seems really nice. Everyone seems to like Peach. I like Peach. But I never saw anything in her own season that remotely impressed me. She finished 11th -- that's in the bottom half, not "all-star". This piece was sloppily made and not remotely bold. It also wasn't really ambitious -- if a garment like this is going to overwhelm you ... I mean, just how narrow is your range? She had to go after this.
Suede: This didn't look quite as wretched on the runway as it did in the workroom. I'm not saying it was good, but the skirt at least read a little more interesting as it walked, though I still wasn't wild about how it moved. Maybe it was interesting in how it didn't move? Anyway, the most interesting thing about Suede is the evolution of his signature third-person speech. When he talks to the camera, it's all "Suede is doing...." When he talks to Joanna Coles, or the judges? "I" "I" "I". Heh.
Uli: Uli, famous for flowing dresses with great prints, takes a step in a completely new direction by giving us a flowing dress without any print at all. Bold (or was it confident?)! Anyway, the dress was nice enough, and the stuff around the neck (well, really around the chest -- the stuff holding the dress up) was kind of interesting, but if the goal was demonstrate range or creativity, it did neither. Still, Uli is capable of such gorgeous clothes that I still think she has a great shot this season.
Wendy: "The word that springs to mind is hooker." I don't remember if it was Wendy to whom Joanna said that, but if not, it fits. Yikes.