Sunday, November 25, 2012

Project Runway All-Stars, Season Deux, Episode 4: A Picture in a Newspaper Full of Pictures

Greetings, Project Runway All-Stars Fans...all six of you left.

This week was not the most exciting episode I've ever watched.  In fact, I think I fell asleep during judging even though I was in the Chat Room!

This week was the FIRST LARGEST INTERACTIVE CHALLENGE IN PROJECT RUNWAY HISTORY.   USA Today asked Project Runway fans to tweet pictures into the show.  Designers got to choose the pictures as inspiration for their piece.   Extra special prize: the winning look will be featured in the newspaper.

Or as someone in the Chatroom said, "Your picture will be run in a newspaper full of pictures.

I have three thoughts about this.

1. These inspiration challenges never bode well and this episode was no different.

2. No one sent in a picture of poo, or if you did, it was edited out or the designers chose not to use it.

3. This wasn't a very interactive challenge.  The folks who tweeted the pictures didn't get to attend the show or anything...or maybe I slept through the part where Carolyn explained what the picture tweeters got for all their trouble.

Oh, I have a fourth thought.... I'm surprised that somehow, this didn't turn into a promotion for one of those picture services that make it easy to post on Twitter.  Or maybe I slept through that part, too.

And now for this week's edition of "What is Carolyn Murphy wearing?"

Clearly, she chose this picture...

Well done, Carolyn!

Before we dive in to the garments, let's have a word about our judges.

The judge to the left of Isaac is 16-year-old Tavi Gevinson, aka, "The Style Rookie."  Now let's just ignore the fact that just the other day, I wore a dress to work that was older than she is.  Of course, I ripped those huge 90's shoulder pads out before I did...  She was not a bad judge.  She zeroed in on the strengths and weaknesses of each garment without once opining on whether or not she would wear it.  To that end, she was one of the best judges so far this season.  As for her outfit...I had no idea that Holly Hobbie was in style.  But then, I'm not a globe-trotting, 16-year-old fashion blogger, either, so what do I know?


"I chose this beautiful picture of the sun above the clouds because it reminds me of the flowy dresses I like to make."

Yeah...that's an Uli dress.  I guess it evokes clouds and stuff.  It's pretty expected fare from Uli, so it really didn't catch the judges' eyes.....NEXT....


"Really, nothing says 'Kayne' like a picture of tacky, vintage jewelry..."

So Kayne designed a dress for a woman who would wear such tacky, vintage jewelry.  Frankly, I'm not seeing one bit of the picture in this dress.  I also can't recall why he inserted the lace in the back.  I want to rip it out.


"I chose this picture because this dude looks way cooler than me."
Well, Caz-a-no-va, anyone with a stylist, a rack of designer clothes and professional lighting can look pretty cool.  The fact that you look cool on a fashion competition show after days with little THAT'S amazing.

This is another, completely wearable and chic out from Casanova.   Pants!  Separates!  I wanted nothing to do with him during his season, but in All-Stars, he is consistently churning out good stuff.  Nothing earth shattering enough to catch the judges attention, however and it's yet another outfit with a keyhole back, but I'm liking what I'm seeing.

Laura Kathleen

"It's a picture of water dropping into a dirty pond.  I win automatically!"

Well, maybe not.  And she worked so hard on dying the fabric too.  I just expected to see some representation of the concentric circles that make the picture so dynamic.  This dress simply looks like the model walked through the pond after the picture was taken.  It's not the most flattering dress, either.  Fortunately for for Laura Kathleen, there were more egregious examples this week.


Lite Brite!
I've got to stop calling him Josh so I'm correcting myself because this week, the Joshua McKinley we all know and love went back to his colorful wheelhouse.

This should have been Joshua's picture.  No, really.  It should have been.  He actually chose a picture of two colorful electrical outlets, which ended up having nothing to do with the outfit that resulted.

So let's pretend he chose the weather map.  I want to like the angular nature of the high pressure system over the flowing low pressure system that is creeping slowly down from Canada, but the skirt is way too short on one side.  I know that is supposed to represent the strong heat dome that is trapping the cold north of the Great Lakes, but on an outfit, it just messes up the proportions.

I also want to like the black banding representing the stationary front, but the closures in the front combined with the graphic pattern of the colors move it into Pocahontas territory.  The judges graciously said there was too much going on, including another cut-out back, but sometimes the weather is like that.


"I have a pretty butterfly, which represents my attitude about life..."
Constant metamorphosis?  I took that exact same picture this summer when I went to a park and caught newly hatched monarchs drying off their wings before their first flight.  I didn't send my picture to USA Today, however.  Perhaps I should have.  Ivy could have chosen my picture.  I could have been a contender!

Of course, the snarky denizens of the chatroom let loose with a hearty round of "butterfly...of course she's pick a butterfly...."  I love the chat room.  But how was the outfit?

This was actually one of my favorites.  I thought the top was a bit too throwaway, but Ivy put a lot of thought into the skirt.  The inserts spread out like wings, appropriately.  I think she should have made the top out of the same center fabric as the skirt for a more cohesive look, but that's just me.  Who do I think I am?  Some sort of 16-year-old fashion blogger?


"This is the Paris Train Station, or something like that.  My husband and I got married in a place like this.  I'm going to make something...architectural, yeah, architectural!"
I see opulent columns, wrought iron grill work and lacy leaded glass.  How would Althea interpret all of that?

"The jacket is long in the back and short in the front and the pants are.....draped."
But the puke-y fabric color?
"That's sepia."

I guess you could say that this was the best view of the outfit.   Even so, the proportions are way off in the back as the incredibly long jacket is paired up with awkwardly cropped pants.  She should have been given the boot this week, but her flub completely surprised the judges and there was way worse to come!


"Who is this sad woman in the picture?  Why are you so sad?  Are you sad like Andre, who has decided to talk about himself in third person now that Suede is gone from the competition?"
This was the challenge where Andre gave up fashion designing for social work.  You see, in life, Andre really wants to make people happy.

"This is part of my new 'color therapy' line for QVC.  Keep the yellow close to your face for a sunny glow.  It will perk up your disposition." 
And be sure to wear a dress so tight you can barely move, too.  Right?  The more he explained, the less he made sense.

Maybe if all sad girls dressed like cheap tramps, they'd feel better.  Way better if they just take off the jacket you made and ignore it altogether, too.  Whatever.... Andre seemed lost on All-Stars.  He never connected with the judges and his outfits showed no creative growth from his season.  Given that he was on one of the earlier seasons, that would have left a tremendous amount of time for creative growth.  We saw none of it here, alas.  Good bye, Andre!


"I chose a picture of a little girl in a grey and yellow dress...but that doesn't make me creepy!"
No, it doesn't, Emilio.  It makes you almost a genius!

He took a child-like, grey dress trimmed in yellow and transformed it into an exuberant dress for a very dynamic woman.  The yellow lining was clever.  I know the tent top was supposed to evoke the little girl's dress, but the transition between the top and bottom seems a bit abrupt in the front.  He was designing on the fly and with a one-day challenge, there was certainly no time to resolve that.

My take on why this didn't win is that when we have these sorts of "inspiration" challenges, the judges don't want anything too derivative.   They want to see the inspiration in surprising ways, not obvious ones.  So while this was a very brilliant update of a child's look for a modern woman, it was not an inspirational one....for the judges anyway.

Emilio still remains one of the designers to watch this season, which makes me very happy.  When a former Project Runway designer shows growth and improvement, that is something we can all cheer.

Anthony Ryan

"This ain't my first rodeo.  I know how to pick a winning inspiration picture."
Strong graphic used judiciously on a design you are already comfortable making = Project Runway design success!

There are no emotional statements.  No big risks.  There is a beautifully proportioned, well made outfit that takes just the right amount of graphic inspiration from the design.

At the end of the day, the USA Today folks do not want to embarrass themselves.  They want a pretty, well-designed dress matched up with a clever picture.  Congrats to Anthony Ryan.  A picture of your dress will show up in a newspaper full of pictures!

See you next week for another challenge involving ballroom gowns.  No, make that gowns with ball room.  I believe we may have another drag queen challenge.  At least I certainly hope so!

See you then!


  1. Thank you, Laura. I'll have to up my number to seven people watching! ;)

  2. A bit late to the party, but just caught this episode on Hulu... Great review! I'll be coming back.