Project Runway All-Stars Season 2: Episode 12 – Finale: Go Big or Go Home

Jeff Salisbury: "Patron Saint of Mediocrity"

Jeff Salisbury: “Patron Saint of Mediocrity”

I wonder if the president of Lifetime has an etching of Antonio Salieri in her office.

Finale Judges are Liv Tyler and Margherita Missoni, which is unfortunate timing since her uncle’s plane went missing a week and a half ago. But this was all filmed long ago, of course. Georgina Chapman is now Gorgeous, and Isaac is still One of The Most Famous Names in Fashion. Notice neither of them have ever been described as “talented,” “innovative,” “hard-working,” “inspiring,” they’re just pretty and famous. Because what else matters to Lifetime? They’re still kicking themselves for missing out on Honey Boo Boo. But at least they’ve got Dance Moms. I’ve developed a very quick trigger finger on the remote control, thanks to those promos.

Help! I Need Somebody:

The three finalists can pick an assistant from the eliminated designers, someone who’ll help them out for a couple of days.

Anthony Ryan chooses Joshua, who… refuses? “I love you, I love you, but I’m just too tired.” It’s surprising – the last eliminated is a natural choice, and they’re friends – but I get it, too. He probably is tired. And still smarting from his elimination. I seem to recall some Top Chef contestants who weren’t enthusiastic about participating in someone else’s bid for the grand prize. AR’s second pick is Kane, and that works out just fine.

Uli decides on Casanova, who spends a lot of time sleeping on the couch in the lounge because “Designing is like sex, I have to be in the mood… I’m still on vacation.” Uli takes it in stride: “He’s like a baby, he functions for a while then falls asleep; I have to work around that.”

Emilio picks Althea because she got all the way to the finals of her season so she knows what it’s like; they do a lot of true collaboration and discussion of ideas. It’s interesting so few All Stars made it to the finales of their seasons. Most, if not all, showed collections, though; they just weren’t televised finalists.

The PRAS2 finale challenge:

Four days, $3000, 90 minutes in Mood, make anything you want, as many pieces as you want, any theme, any music, any kind of show. Sounds like something a thoughtful, creative person could run with, right?

Uli wants to do Winter Wonderland, because she’s done well with white and ivory this season. What? Shoot for the moon, and that’s what you come up with, doing the same thing you’ve been doing all season? She’s never been big on concept, but she delivers on execution. Casanova sees her tool box on the floor; he thought it was her daughter’s lunch box for child care. He created a whole little story there, didn’t he, considering Uli doesn’t have a daughter. She’s working with fake furs in addition to white; she calls it her Sasquatch Collection at one point, and at another, thinks it looks like Yeti in a box. She explains the concept to Joanna on an early walkthrough, who likes the two things she can see; it’s coherent, and she understands the girl, but a runway show needs at least one spectacular piece. Joanna keeps prompting her to bring in The Wall. Uli finally gets it: behind the wall there was no freedom or creativity, so now she’s in her happy place. Which has nothing to do with Winter Wonderland or the collection, but Lifetime has their narrative.

Anthony Ryan chooses a theme of The Line Between Dark and Light. Which means the same colorblocking he’s been doing: “They’ve loved what I’ve done so far, so I’m going to do more of the same.” Joanna noticed the graphic qualities of the pieces under construction from afar; he explains he’s taking something innocent and creating chaos within it. Really? Where is that, exactly? Of course, it really means cancer, though the word is never used; his narrative is assumed. But it doesn’t matter, because he has another narrative: he doesn’t have the resources to continue working at this if he doesn’t win.

Emilio does Urban Plantation: Working Women in America from Aunt Jemima (real name Nancy Green, a storyteller from Chicago) to Rosie the Riveter, rooted in the male-style clothing women wore in the 40s, inspired by the first model of beauty he knew – his mother, who worked in a factory – and accented with Dorothy Dandridge. See what happens when someone thinks, when someone brings a brain and a heart and a soul to the process? At that point I figured Emilio knew the fix was in, and he knew it wasn’t for him, so he decided, the hell with this, I’m showing myself through my work to the world beyond Lifetime. Maybe someone in the audience from the fashion industry got it. He picks a red, white and blue print because it’s an American collection, but he doesn’t pick a print that screams 4th of July – it’s more like orange and electric blue and yellow and white, so it’s more subliminal than overt. I love Emilio. He has nothing on a manikin by Joanna’s walkthrough, so they talk concept; it’s the first time she’s heard this kind of thing in PR, and it’s really exciting. I’m betting some Lifetime Ladies are scared. Emilio struggles with time, and ends up cutting corners – no linings, no shoulder pads – to get one jacket completed.

The Runway Show:

Emilio: His show comes complete with a drummer behind the shadow screen, which I love beyond all measure. The clothes, not so much. Even I could tell his first look was the wrong first look. Everything I know about fashion shows, I learned from Project Runway, and it’s supposed to be a wow look that makes you curious to see more. This is a pretty but ordinary dress from The Limited. My least-favorite look is the print pantsuit; it’s just too much print. But my favorite look is the print jacket; the print grew on me, and in small doses, I like it fine. I’m not into jumpsuits (and the model is scary-skinny), but they seem to be popular. All the judges praise his collection for POV, Isaac acknowledges the political aspect (notice that only when you use black women as a muse is it political; if white women are your standard, that’s, well, the way it’s supposed to be), and then come the blows: Missoni sees a specific woman, but not much experimentation. Isaac and Georgina think some looks are too junior.

Anthony Ryan does what he does: horizontal lines, graphic color blocks. A lot of it was very likeable, such as the opening gown; my favorite of his looks was the yellow-and-black skirt with black tunic. I didn’t like his more flirty shapes and at least one dress looked poorly fitted. The judges are blown away, of course, though no one likes his final gown, and Missoni thinks he’s trying to please too many people. I smell a Lifetime winner there.

Uli: The Winter Wonderland was made up of very pretty clothes in white and silver with touches of fur and beads. Her gown with shawl was gorgeous; uncharacteristically for me, I very much liked the faux fur vest (but didn’t Rachel Zoe cover that territory pretty thoroughly?) and the dress with the faux fur neckline. Her closing look was my least favorite; it looked like early-60s-hostess-gown-on-a-bad-drama. The judges love the textures and POV, Missoni in particular liked the fairy tale quality and the hair and makeup (fashion designers do love their ugly). Georgina isn’t sure it’s wise to rely so heavily on faux furs; it gets inexpensive.

Does it really matter what the judges say? Because, even though I kept the faith until the very end, it happens just as you knew it would:

Anthony Ryan wins.

It’s been a rough couple of days for competitive reality TV. First Kristen on TC, now this. Though nothing here should’ve been a surprise, I was still surprised. Because hope runs deep. I’m taking “I told you so’s” now, as I promised.

Back in Episode 1, when Anthony Ryan won, I said: “…it’s Anthony Ryan. Really? This is not off to a good start, aesthetically.” And so we close the circle on All Stars. I’m with Swatch on this one.

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5 responses to “Project Runway All-Stars Season 2: Episode 12 – Finale: Go Big or Go Home

  1. No I Told You So’s from me. I was really hoping beyond hope as well for an Uli win but such is the state of scripted “reality” television.

    The big disappointment of course is the complete denigration of a once smart product. Project Runway was the cultured, intelligent person’s reality escape. A place where creativity was honestly celebrated and the design process revealed in new and inspirational ways. That show is gone, long gone.

    We are left now with a sad shell of its former self that has become even worse than just another tired retread to waste an hour away with on the couch. Its not enough that they just phone the production in or cast character over talent. No, they now actively insult the intelligence of their viewership and from that there will be no recovery.

    • You are a gentleman; I’m not sure if it’d worked out the other way I would’ve been able to resist crowing. ;)

      I’m dubious about the upcoming “team” season, but at least Heidi will be back (I seriously think Blondie, whose name I’ve never actually remembered, added a dentist’s-drill undercurrent). Everything has a lifespan, though.

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