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Project Runway All Stars Goes Medieval On Your Ass (And Those Of Its Models)

The designers get two whole days for a quasi-historical couture challenge. Your editors discuss which of them baroque bad.

Our Players

Hello, I'm East Coast Editor Sarah D. Bunting.
Hello, I'm West Coast Editor Tara Ariano.

The Talk

However else I feel about the week's "make a modern-baroque gown" challenge -- and I feel pretty good; they got two days! -- one of my favorite things is that it's the perfect era for Alyssa Milano to tweak to her own style. She had such covetable accessories going all episode, and dressing in homage to that style really suits her for some reason; I think she's just got a good vintage-y face for it. Now you talk for a minute while I go source that necklace she had on at Medieval Times.

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Lifetime

I agree! Her look on the runway, with the crown of braids, was straight out of a centuries-old oil painting, and while as a fellow short stack I am usually opposed to a full-length skirt, there's an exception to every rule, and that rich chocolate gown of hers was it.

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Lifetime

(I was also expecting to find out that, corporate non-synergy be damned, this was going to turn out to be a tie-in with The CW's Reign, since that show is about 85% making modern dresses look sort of historical MINUS THE PART WHERE PEOPLE ARE SLEEVELESS IN THEIR DRAFTY CASTLES ALL THE TIME AS IF.) If it were the Reign challenge, Valerie would have won: that blue number just needed to have its cleavage sewn up a little and it could jump right onto Mary, Queen Of Scots.

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Lifetime

...I hated that dress. I didn't understand the praise for it at all, least of all the workmanship; I'm beyond tired of the color, the shape is boring, and it looked cheap. Don't get it AT all.

Oh, it wasn't my favourite either: it just looked like it walked the line between historical and modern like the looks on that show do. My favourite was in the bottom. Poor Layana! I thought her mustard gown was interesting, referential, perfectly made, and beautiful on the runway, so I was very sad it got her so close to getting the boot.

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Lifetime

Me too! I think the lights of the runway must show the gowns differently from what we see, because that didn't read brown to me at all, so the strong objections to it didn't make sense to me. That, or I'm very weirdly color-blind? But I would wear that for sure; I knew she'd get clocked for not quite meeting the challenge brief, but I loved the Michelle Lesniak...itude of that one. And they really just could not keep Mitchell around anymore after he sent that no-llage down the runway. Oo-fah.

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Lifetime

(Co-signed on the colour of Layana's underskirt; that looked like dark wine to me, and a great compliment to the mustard of her tunic.) On Mitchell: good god, finally. Nothing about that garment read baroque to me, and I was so delighted when they called attention to his zipper "fix" at the back. I've seen better patching on flat tires. But what about the winner, your pal Ken? I didn't particularly love that look, but I appreciated it from an artistic perspective and I wasn't surprised that it won. I might have liked it better had the wings of the cape been tapered into points; hanging all blunt like they did looked weird to me. But the drama of it! Good for Ken making his very first franchise win on something so striking and unique.

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Lifetime

It was the best option among the top finishers, in my opinion; she DID look like a tall glass of wine, he was right. I agree on the cape wings, which looked like he'd attached bell bottoms to the shoulders, but that's a minor point. And while you could argue that his fabric did most of the work for him, that was much truer of Sam's, which I liked okay, except for the pearl edging. Something about it said Skinemax to me. Did you like that one?

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Lifetime

I feel like an old lady saying it AGAIN, but I would have liked Sam's a lot better had it been lined. I guess the "baroque" part of the challenge brief was met in terms of the amount of work he did...moving the flowers around? But I would have liked to see more volume to the skirt. And not her legs. Through it. But speaking of not quite nailing the assigned historical period: Alexander. That thing was pure Victorian. All it was missing was a bustle.

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Lifetime

That's so funny: I thought it was more NINETEEN-fifties. I liked all the elements separately, but together, they gave me Mamie Eisenhower Breaks Bad.

But: well made. I think they grade more generously in that regard because it's not like they give the designers access to research materials (other than the trip to Medieval Times, which I'm sure was extremely educational). I mean, yes, fashion designers should have a general sense of the dominant trends of past historical periods, but if they're not allowed to go to the library, there's going to be flailing. Even if you do give them double the normal length of time to work on their projects -- which, to be honest, I didn't really see in the finished products. Did they strike you as being much better constructed?

No, not especially. A couple of designers -- Ken; Asha -- might have benefited from the extra time, but I was surprised at how many of the fabrics looked cheap as they walked. I've forgotten the monetary budget, but no amount of days in a row was going to make Asha or Emily's textiles look any less Bachelor-cocktail-attire or Donna Martin dance outfit, respectively.

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Lifetime

...Oh, Emily. That was so vulllllllgar.

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Lifetime

Well, you're making me consult the screener because once again I don't even remember what Emily did.

My notes: "Where's the sex swing?"

Oooookay, right. I don't even understand what hers was made of, but that skirt looked like a black garbage bag when it walked. And maybe the bodice was supposed to remind us of Cate Blanchett's Oscar dress the year she was nominated for Elizabeth -- and it did, but...like, the call girl version. Who haven't we mentioned? Just Dom's, which looked like it should have been riding into Studio 54 on a white horse...

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Lifetime

...and Kini's human lampshade.

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Lifetime

Yeah, I had "sexy Halloween faerie" for Dom's, which I guess is technically answering the challenge? I loved Kini's color combinations, but that umbrella skirt needs to go on sabbatical for like five years.

But: even with some very weird choices from all the designers, the crappiness of Mitchell's can't be denied -- nor can the fact that if they'd decided AGAIN not to cut him, there would have been riots in the streets from everyone watching this season. So...you, me, and possibly Ken's mom.

Ken's mom would literally cut him.

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