Project Runway All Stars Season 2: Episode 11 – Couture De France

Right off the bat, Blondie inflicts herself on the French language. If we don’t have the national and political will to restrict assault weapons and high-capacity magazines while our children get shot down en masse, at least we can pass a law that makes it illegal to use French words unless you pass a pronunciation test. I doubt the NRA would have a problem with that.

Then she sends the designers to Paris.

Anthony Ryan: “I need a couch to jump on.”

Joshua: “I’m like a straight guy at a baseball game.”

They meet Valentino designers and see Valentino clothing josh in tankand go to a fantastic fabric shop, with a fantastic budget to match. They go to a Valentino fashion show. At least Joshua had the sense not to wear his leopard tank top to show; or maybe the producers made him change. I think he actually looks better than Anthony Ryan, though actual fashionistas will probably disagree. Uli and Emilio blow them both out of the water, in terms of class. Joanna tells them it’s about dreams and magical thinking.

Then they come back after this less-than-24-hour trip, and in their exhausted state, design haute couture for Cynthia Rowley, Isaac Mizrahi, and The Exquisite Georgina Chapman (she seems to have been recently promoted from The Beautiful) to senselessly admire before giving Uli one more hoop to jump through. I was seriously worried about my blood pressure for those ten minutes; in your heart, you knew they might. But they didn’t.

Why would they make this a show whose success is measured as, they didn’t do the worst possible thing?

Who’s Haute:

Emilio starts with fabric and heads for a ball gown. It’s red. In photos it looks kind of orange, but on my TV it looked red. Really, really red. Joanna sees Valentino red. She loves the appliques but advises him to keep an eye on them because they could overwhelm the red. Emilio takes her advice and the final result has no appliques at all. It’s a lot of red. Yes, it’s dramatic and striking and has an interesting shape with the pleats in the back; but isn’t it just too much fabric? Floor length, long sleeves, high neck, high back – it’s a dowager dress, something you’d wear to a coronation. Or maybe a charity ball. Where do people wear these things anyway? Is this what the Academy Awards red carpet is going to look like? Aminat seemed to have some trouble walking, but that might’ve been how she was asked to walk. Emilio tells the judges he noticed a lot of transparency and austere necks and long sleeves in Paris, and that the fabric looks like brocade but it’s actually very light. Isaac and Cynthia get up to have a feel. They love the fabric Isaac loves the dress, the slightly high waist, but thinks it should’ve been five inches shorter to show just a bit of ankle. There – see, it is too much fabric. Georgina finds it elegant and is glad to see beautiful execution, especially in light of how they slammed him for execution last week. Cynthia notes it’s very strong in its simplicity; it’s all about the fabric. Well, if you’re using $3000+ of fabric, why not. Blondie says something someone told her to say to give the impression that she’s relevant. In fact, I wondered at one point if she’s taping her comments after the runway show, off a script.

Anthony Ryan is thinking sheer, lining, motion, different. He goes for fabrics that aren’t necessarily in his comfort zone, like black, and is drawn to texture. Joanna comes through just as his gut is telling him he has to throw it out and start over, and Joanna would never get between a man and his gut, but just in case he’s wondering she likes the bodice. It’s driving me nuts that he’s wearing a hat that turns him into the guy from “To The Boy With The Blue Knit Cap” episode of L&O:CI because it really depresses me that I’m able to make that connection. By the time he’s done, he thinks his model looks like Tarzan the Warrior Princess. Or maybe it was a Warrior Princess from Tarzan, because Tarzan was neither a warrior nor a princess. Maybe in person; on my TV I saw a sparkly black gown but it’s actually black lace over a nude lining with two different patterns of open weave. Again, high neck, long sleeves. Georgina can’t see where the lining begins and ends, and AR tells her, “There is no lining.” Well, there’s something covering the openwork over her erogenous zones, whether you call it a lining or not is up to you. Isaac loves how the side panels are controlled, that it’s not siren-y but sexy in a brand new way. Cynthia loves that the negative space on the waist looks like a beautiful shadow. You lost me there, Cynthia. Blondie thinks the dress should breathe a little more; I think it if breathed any more it’d pass out from hyperventilation. But everyone ignores her so it’s all good.

Who’s Naute:

Uli wants to do a long dress with a little train, something loud and out there. Joanna loves the front on the mannikin; it’s dramatic. But she thinks the rest looks like skin: “like a gladiator alligator meets a Sicilian widow.” I love that phrase so much I’m not even going to try to parse it out (I can’t believe Simone9155 already created the gladiator alligator seen above; now all we need is to integrate the Sicilian widow). Uli’s struggling with the lining; she doesn’t like it, but “I can’t send her down the runway with her goods showing.” Not on the level of Peach’s “good china” but it’ll do. The lining of the skirt doesn’t bother me, but I hate her use of illusion fabric on the bodice. Cynthia finds it an interesting mix of textures but doesn’t like the lining at all; she felt like she was seeing something she shouldn’t be seeing. Georgina pipes in that there should’ve been a better way to resolve the issue, like a short. Please, please, no, no more shorts! Isaac thinks it looks expensive but not couture. He doesn’t explain exactly what “Couture” looks like, though, so I’m just living on what was said the last time Uli saw Paris in S3.

Joshua, Joshua, Joshua. What are we going to do with Joshua? He goes into this incredibly expensive fabric shop and comes out with black lace and somethingjoshua dress that looks like the children’s bedding. Let me say that it’s a very interesting idea to meld elegant lace with funk, and someone like Mondo, or Uli, could maybe pull it off. Joshua does not pull it off. Funny thing is, I liked the bodice on his mannikin at one point – I even wrote it in my notes, ” Joshua I like what he’s doing”. That was sans flowers, though. Joanna warned him she couldn’t see it, but he didn’t listen. He tells the judges he was inspired by the greenery in Paris. You went to Valentino and you came away with trees? Isaac tries, he really does: couture is an experiment, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, and guess which one this is. He likes the lace and he sort of likes the print skirt but not together. Georgina thinks the scale of the floral is off; if it were exaggerated it might be better. Cynthia finds it ill-fitting at the shoulders. Blondie wisely observes something about the skirt is off, but it’s a brave combo and she likes it. There it is.


Anthony Ryan wins, of course. I wonder if, in real time, he was beginning to be just the slightest bit embarrassed at this point. Emilio is safe.

Uli and Joshua, on the other hand, well, the judges want to wring ten more minutes of nonsense out of a mostly nonsensical season. So they have a face-off: in one hour, they must deconstruct and reconstruct their garments using leftover fabric, which will be brought to them on the runway, because it seems checkout time on the workroom was at 11am. No sewing machine, no work table. And, by the way, no mannikin: the models get to be stripped and pinned.

Who thought this up? Alexander McQueen. Really? And PR thought they’d steal the idea because…

I kind of like the idea of having the lowest rated designers (and I’ll even agree with that rating in this case) “fix” their designs, but why not give them either the time or the materials – pick one – to do it properly? Not to mention that back in the lounge, Emilio an Anthony Ryan are wondering what the hell is taking so long; nobody’s told them there’s another showdown taking place.

Uli compares it to The Hunger Games – either you or your friend is going to end up dead. She takes the nude lining nobody liked and makes a dress out of it, then makes a jacket from the gold and black fabrics. To me it screams “Chris March Got Eliminated The First Time For This.” PR liked it so much, they left it out of their Rate the Runway pics, but you can see it over at TLo’s (thank you, TLo). I will forever appreciate Cynthia Rowley for her observation: “It’s a hilarious f*#& you to all of us, making the whole dress out of the lining we hated.” I wonder if that’s what Uli was thinking. Wouldn’t you just love it if it were? Isaac calls it entirely different, influential and fabulous. Yeah, yeah.

Joshua doesn’t think so grandly. See, I was channeling Fabio, thinking he could turn it upside down. But instead he just cuts it down to size, reverses the bodice back-to-front, and calls it a ready-to-wear look for Nine West. And here’s where I got scared, because dang if it didn’t look cute. Georgina’s shocked at what an extraordinary job he did; there’s a lightness to it now. Isaac thinks he got closer to the original intent to marry lace and print. Cynthia calls it pretty and fresh. I agree. It’s not perfect, but allowing for the time and the conditions, it’s terrific – and it’s a vast improvement over his first effort, which I can’t say for Uli.

Here’s where I got scared: Joshua’s remake is clearly miles above Uli’s. Could they actually cut her and leave him in, making Wendy Pepper sneaking past Austin at the last minute a distant second in terms of atrocity?


Joshua bites the dust, showing the producers still know the value of “this far, and no farther.” My blood pressure goes back down to a normal range. I really don’t know what I’d have done if it’d gone the other way. I’m relieved I didn’t have to find out. That’s the most I can hope for from PR these days: to be relieved.

Next Week:

Put this puppy to bed with a 4-day mini-collection.

I know everyone thinks Anthony Ryan, with all his inexplicable wins, is the designated winner, but I still think it’s Uli. If the retail component weren’t involved, I’d go with Emilio and his Tony Award panache, but I don’t think he’s enough of a Lifetime-viewer fan favorite to generate sales of either Nine West garments (a far more Uli market) or magazine sales. I think Anthony Ryan is a decoy, the way Christopher was last season. But be patient – only one more week before you can all laugh at me and tell me, “I told you so.” Personally, I have very little stake in the matter. I’d like to see Emilio take it; I think he’s the one with the most breadth. But I recognize that’s a longshot, and I’m fine with either of the two.

Then a week later we get to start all over again with PR11, The Team Season (let the drama begin). I didn’t know Ed Begley, Jr. was a designer.

5 responses to “Project Runway All Stars Season 2: Episode 11 – Couture De France

  1. “I still think it’s Uli”. A couple of points on this front. There is a school of thought that says Lifetime would not award a Bravo designer the big prize. They take care of their talent and exploit the Bravo leftovers. (Daniel Vosovic winning the All Star Challenge does not count because there were only Bravo designers who could play)

    The other reason some are convinced that this is set up for AR is how the whole Fan Favorite voting went down in S9. If you recall, AR led the fan favorite voting all the way up until the final day when Anya incredibly made up a huge deficit. There were allegations at the time that she had supporters set up robo-voting on her behalf to get the extra 10G. Even if the theory was false, it looked bad.

    I would also point to AR’s overly enthusiastic presence on Twitter since this was filmed. He was asked to guest tweet throughout PR10 and was everywhere with Lifetime online. He tweets with glee. He tweets like won the whole thing.

    This is a make up, just like with Mondo only less transparent. I will be shocked if it goes any other way.

    • I’m not saying it doesn’t look that way. Especially the Bravo thing, which MoHub also pointed out to me last week (I’d forgotten. Sigh). I’m just trying to prop up the concept of substance. I just love a lost cause – and substance in the entertainment industry, the fashion industry, is as lost as it gets. 😉

  2. Tbone—

    You’ve said everything I’ve been thinking, but I’d like to add one more theory to the mix. I truly believe Uli would have gone to the finale over Josh no matter what she put out in the head-to-head because Lifetime wanted to make sure a Bravo designer was in the final three as a last sop to the old-school viewers.

    I suspect that once season 11 ends, and there are more Lifetime than Bravo seasons, Lifetime will dispense with acknowledging that the first five seasons ever happened, hoping that the majority of current viewers will not have seen the Bravo run.

  3. I don’t think all designers are gifted angels; there seems to be a typical assortment
    of nice and not so nice, with varying degrees of talent – but I continue to be
    surprised at the way they are treated and disposed of.
    The format of the show has watered down everyone’s abilities to the level of who
    can glue the fastest, and since the they can also be edited to look like any kind of
    fool the producers want them to be; I am wondering how any designers are
    attracted to participate at all.
    There should have been 4 amazing looks this week; without any fit or construction
    issues (or taste issues, Josh). Not another speed contest.
    It kind of kills that the finale is set up to be more of the same; I will miss the full
    line-up of carefully made designs with enough of a collection to really show-off
    a designer’s talents and particular point of view.
    I would have thought this was a vehicle for Emilio to get his second chance;
    but he seems to be not entirely present for some of the challenges, or out of sync
    with the pace this time around.
    Although I still have hopes; Im convinced the ultra-short prep time is designed to
    handicap both Emilio and Uli who’s designs are generally more time intensive
    than AR’s.

    • I wish everyone had more time, at least once in a while – like for this challenge, or for the final collections. Not even time to construct, necessarily – time to rethink, and edit.

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