Saturday, January 28, 2012

Project Runway All Stars, Episode 4: Tasteless

I'd like to begin with a little story. A trip down Memory Lane, if you will...

Last year, Bravo did an all-star season of Top Chef featuring some of the best cheftestants in the show's history: Richard Blais, Carla Hall, Casey Thompson, etc. It was wonderful getting to see our favorite chefs back in the kitchen again, running around Whole Foods like crazy people, stressing about Restaurant Wars and even canoodling with guest stars like Elmo and Cookie Monster. Unfortunately, toward the end of the season it became a little tiring. Why? Because the production became so obsessed with making the challenges insanely difficult and non-conducive to creating delicious food that all of the results ended up being fairly haphazard and the chefs kept getting more disappointed with their product (for a few weeks there was a brief Blais Suicide Watch around my apartment). Top Chef All-Stars was at its absolute best when they gave the chefs the opportunity (and time) to produce top notch work. After all, these were all stars—ultimately, their top-notch work is entertainment in itself.

Now, does that anecdote and its moral remind you of anything? Me, too. So before I dry heave at the thought of chocolate gelato with cayenne pepper, let's take a look at last night's episode of Project Runway All Stars...

Challenge: This week, the designers were told it was all about TASTE and were instructed to create a tasteful outfit inspired by the colors and flavors of gelato, provided by L'Arte del Gelato (because the Project Runway product placement team likes to leave no stone unturned). The designers each selected a flavor of delicious L'Arte del Gelato gelato (do you think I can get a sponsorship going here?) and were ready to go, when New Heidi and guest judge Diane von Furstenberg dropped a big ol' bomb on them: they only had six hours until the runway show. THE FASTEST CHALLENGE IN PROJECT RUNWAY HISTORY!!!

Let's put the brakes on for a moment and remember the lesson learned from Top Chef All-Stars: let them do what they do best. Now, I'm not saying it's not entertaining to watch a bunch of designers dart around like madmen, but a six-hour challenge is something you save for the beginning of a normal season—an excellent way to trim the fat and separate the weak from the strong. It just isn't something I'm interested in seeing the All Stars do. I want to see them in a two-day challenge with a $500 budget and a challenge prompt of "show us your best." Maybe that's coming up soon and I'm jumping the gun here, but watching these talented designers gluegun together dresses is not my idea of ALL STAR.

"This has nothing to do with being a talented designer. This has something to do with being a fast seamstress." Amen, Anthony. Amen.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled recap...

In the Workroom:
  • For the sake of time, a Mini Mood is set up in the lounge. Unfortunately, there is no Mini Swatch.
  • "White woman is flipping out back there, honey!" What did we do in a world before Anthony Williams?
  • Joanna calls Michael "the envy of every designer in the room," but I cannot imagine that's true.
  • Austin uses a glue gun and I cry a little inside.

The Judges: Isaac was back on the block this week, and joining the panel were guest judges Diane von Furstenberg and supermodel Miranda Kerr. Right before the runway, they announced Miranda would be wearing the winning design at a fashion industry event. I'm not sure why the designers weren't told this beforehand—wouldn't it have been helpful to know the client they were designing for? Le sigh.

Top Three:
  • Michael (Grapefruit) - I cannot believe this was in the Top Three. It looked like a tacked-together nightgown! The fabric color did not look like grapefruit at all and was way too shiny.
  • Mila (Milk and Sour Cherries) - Poorly-chosen accessories and construction issues aside—six hours, afterall—this was an incredibly chic look. I loved the color combinations and the layering; the whole effect was very "Mila" but in a colorful, cheery way. Best of all, the inspiration of the milk and cherries was immediately obvious.
  • Mondo (Cantaloupe) - There may have been some grumbling that Mondo "only" made a caftan, but it was one helluva caftan. The colors, which shouldn't have worked, totally pulled together into an elegant, flattering ensemble. That green printed was an inspired choice, and the belt really brought the entire look together. He was my choice for the win.

Bottom Three:
  • Anthony (Green Tea) - Thank god he didn't go for some silly Asian kimono-inspired look for the green tea flavor—you know that in the wrong hands that's where this would've gone. The idea of portraying a melting ice cream cone was creative and unique, but the outcome just looked way too overwrought. The top had way too many details, but the skirt was a very cool idea. This may have been an overall miss for Anthony, but I love that he has been experimenting beyond his normal strapless shiny dress aesthetic.
  • April (Blueberries) - Her biggest achievement this week was in the color of her garment. The layering was absolutely beautiful and different for her. Unfortunately, the construction of the skirt was a total disaster, and the bust line was not particularly flattering—especially when repeated in the back. Perhaps with some more time she would've been more successful, but the end result looked unfinished and messy.
  • Kara (Chocolate with Cayenne Pepper) - First of all, her flavor makes me gag a little bit. Her idea to represent the layers of flavor was cool, but it got entirely too literal and ending up looking like a ragged maternity dress. 

Honorable Mention: This challenge was right up Kenley's alley, and while it was a little simple, she played up the purpose of the challenge: invoke the spirit of the flavor and make it look good. Her passionfruit look was impeccably tailored and cute as a button.

Dishonorable Mention: What in the hell was Rami thinking this week? There were about 30 different shades of green in his look, and not one of them went together. And though we all know Rami for his meticulate attention to detail, this dress look slapped together.

And the winner is: Michael. Again. And I just can't deal.

Auf Wiedersehen to: April. Sad face. I always liked April, but she seemed a little over her head in the land of All Stars.

So let's all just forget this episode ever happened, m'kay? It was too frustrating and disheartening to spend any more time thinking about. Fingers crossed for next week.

[Image Source: Lifetime] 

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