Sunday, January 13, 2013

Project Runway All-Stars, Season Deux: Paris Déjà vu

Bonjour Project Runway All-Stars de téléspectateurs!

I don't know about you, but this week gave me a big case of déjà vu.  Back in Season 3, Episode 9, the designers went to Paris with Tim Gunn.  Uli was one of the designers that went.  I wonder which trip was better....

There was that beautiful boat ride down the Seine where they had the runway show for guest judge, Catherine Malandrino...

But oh...those dresses....
"Our one-day couture dresses are pretty fugly, don't you think?"
In retrospect, the trip and the experience was far better than the result.  Yes, we were introduced to Tisues Reine, but mostly through Jeffery's audacious choice of cotton tablecloth fabric for his couture gown.  Who could forget Vincent Libretti and his glue gun seams on his upholstery fabric?  One thing you could forget was Uli's entry in that episode (it's off to the left hand side above) because it wasn't worth remembering.

So Uli gets a re-do!  

This time, the designers get two days in Paris to gather fabric and inspiration.  Extra time for the designers to think and absorb made a big difference in the final result.  

They had a lovely dinner.

The got to visit the House of Valentino to talk with their couturiers.

The got to check out the collection.

They got to see the actual couture runway show, too.

Then, they got an afternoon in Paris to wander about and sketch their designs.

How cute is that picture of Emilio?  Seriously.

Lifetime also gave them a generous budget of € 3,000  (about $3,100) to spend at some fabric store I've never heard of and can't find on the Internet, Jansing & Jansing?  Jenson & Jenson?  Jensen?  Jensign?  Jansign?  Ginseng?  I spent the better part of an hour punching every variation on that name I could think of into the Google and came up blank.  Fancy Parisian couture fabric shop hoping to get some fame from silly American TV show?  You are out of luck.  C'est domage.  

The designers were whisked back to New York, sleeping on the plane and given another 24 hours to....make some couture!  This time, I have to admit, the results were much better and each designer had a better grasp of what was current in fashion, as well.  Let's see how our amateur couturiers did.


Joanna talked him out of fugging up his beautiful fabric.

"Those appliques are beneath you, Emilio.  See if you can't sell this nasty fabric to Anthony Ryan.  He's all out now that he threw out his first garment."
Actually, there's no evidence that the black, floral, sequined lace changed hands.  It simply vanished from the picture, leaving a brilliant dress.

The back trained out but had body enough to flow and not drag across the floor.  This was the only dress that I thought had a neat and clean hemline.  Oh...Isaac spouted some nonsense about how Emilio should have raised the hem, but he was just making a lame excuse to award the win to his inevitable winner.....

Anthony Ryan

Was this dress better than Emilio's?  It will be hard to see from these pictures...BECAUSE IT'S BLACK...THANK YOU VERY MUCH.  He worked harder on it, that's for sure.  He struggled with it more, completely tossing out his first attempt.  Can't deny that.  But the final visual result, to me, had no greater impact than Emilio's.  Furthermore, there was a little puddle of hem at the bottom that awkwardly collected at the feet of the model on the runway.

 I would have given Emilio the win this week.  They're both going to the finals, but I have to say that the Project Runway All-Stars franchise is not ingratiating itself with the fans by constantly favoring one designer.  Season 1 was all-Mondo and the biggest disappointment was that Mondo was head and shoulders better than most designers on that season.  Season 2 is all Anthony Ryan and the biggest disappointment this season is that there are a handful of episodes where that favoring is not warranted. 


Uli made her biggest impact this season with baroque style embellishments.  However, when we're talking about couture, we are assuming perfection and thoughtfulness.  

Joanna cautioned that this could seem too slapped together haphazardly. 

Make no mistake...had she managed to produce this garment back in Season 3, the producers would have thought she stole fabric and the judges would have declared her a time traveler from the future and a genius.  But it's six years later.  We're already expecting amazing from Uli.  It's not that the front is all that bad, although it is completely safe and expected.  The belt across the waist interrupts the flow of the gold from the bodice to the skirt, but the biggest problem is with the back.

The zipper piece is not so over-the-top asymmetrical to be obviously intentional.  It's just a uneven enough to give you the impression that she rushed the construction of the back.  This season, the designers overexposed the exposed zipper.  By the time the judges saw this embellished dress with the funky zipper, they had seen it one too many times.  

The lace skirt puddles on the floor without purpose while a slip underneath hangs free.  Instead of attaching it to the lace, like a facing fabric, she chose to keep the lining separate so it had it's own movement underneath the lace skirt.  While I did think that Georgina Chapman and Cynthia Rowley overly fixated on the lining, I have to admit that he effect was kind of sloppy.


Joshua experimented and failed.

"Don't you think this fabric is just a little too informal for what you are trying to do?"
Joanna, that's the whole point!  By now you should know that nobody tells Joshua what to do.  He's designing for himself now!

"Observe the clash of fussy couture lace with a common floral. It's like Les Miserables. It is the best of fabrics with the worst of fabrics..."

"I dreamed a dream of haute couture...of hope so high and fabrics pretty....I dreamed of style that would endure...and not a dress that was a pity..."

Oh, we know what he was trying to do.  Others have tried this same approach and failed spectacularly, taking starlets down with them.

Rose Byrne in Christine Alcalay.

No, Joshua, that sort of experimentation takes a lot of trial and error.  Since you had no time for trial, we only got to see the error.   

First of all, the easiest way to juxtapose the two fabrics is to do it at the waistline.  I do give him props, however, for using the lace to dictate some shape to the waistline, rather than cutting it straight across.  Second, I have to agree with Georgina Chapman that the scale of the floral on the skirt is just too small to compete with the metallic doo-dads on the lace above.  Third, if he had chosen a less metallic lace and something more airy and open, I think he would have had a real chance to make it to the final, even with the Holly Hobbie floral print.  

Given all that feedback from the judges, both Uli and Joshua were given a second chance to fix their garments.  Lifetime even dove into their warehouse and pulled out the digital clock from 24-Hour Catwalk.

All that we needed was Alexa Chung.

" MINUTE CATWALK!  Designers, using just the materials you either have on the model or purchased in Paris, we want you to recreate this look. You have sixty minutes and a chatty host who will ask you questions!" 
I really do miss Alexa and her incessant questions. 

I'm sure she would have asked Uli if she had a plan for the final dress or was just going to cut off metallic doo-dads until she got the look she wanted. 

She would have asked Joshua if he was going to re-think the use of that floral.

It turned out like this....

Joshua simply cut the hem short on the gown and created a standard skirt.  He then dismantled the lace bodice, removed the sleeves and lining, opened the neckline and tucked it into the skirt.  The effect is more like a woman who is intentionally mixing two, disparate pieces in her wardrobe rather than a designer who cleverly blended two pieces together.  What you do see here is evidence that the original dress would have looked so much better with a simpler, more open lace and lighter lining.  

Let's take a closer look at Uli's dress.

From the lace and metallics, she constructed a jacket.  She used the lining to make the dress.  It was a completely different look and a bit cheeky given that the judges hated the lining so much.  It was also quite a strategic move since she already knew that Joshua was completely committed to the lace on his dress.  She kept the fabrics apart in two separate garments and blended them together as layers.  

I don't think this look worked as well as the judges did, but it worked well enough for Uli to continue on.  Earth to Uli:  please let us see no more of those embellished metallic breastplates in the final collection.

So Joshua is out and next week features the final mini-collections.  See you then!

1 comment:

  1. I stumbled upon this blog while I was looking for the name of that fabric store in Paris and ended up reading (and loving) the whole entry. Anyway, I DID eventually find it. The website is in French, and I eventually found it by searching in French. Hahah Not a great website (it's under construction) but that's it.