Project Runway All Stars Has A Ball With Its Latest Challenge

The competition throws designers a curveball with the season's first unconventional materials challenge. Who knocks it out of the park?

Our Players

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

The Talk

Tara, you will have to trust me when I tell you that, at the beginning of this episode, I said out loud to my screen, "Stanley's still here?" So needless to say his victory in the unconventional materials challenge was a surprise -- as was how much I enjoyed the episode overall! I tend not to feature the UM episodes, because I feel like the judging mandate is inconsistent and the challenge in its inception isn't super-relevant to the stated brief of the show...but watching slo-mo Ken in the bouncy castle was delightful!

And also how many times people had to say "balls" in 42 minutes. I am five.

You know who else enjoyed saying "balls" 500 times? Ms. Alyssa Milano.

I didn't necessarily think Stanley had already gotten cut; we're still early enough in the season that I frequently forget which ones we even started with, probably including some of the ones who've won challenges already. Since you mentioned him, though: Stanley's look was cool, and I actually saw the Audrey Hepburn inspiration -- not always the case when they cite their sources.

HOWEVER, (a) Fabio was straight robbed, and (b) if Heidi were here he would have definitely won on the grounds that she would absolutely want to wear his dress.

That back zipper alone, with the well done.

And you're right, Heidi would have given that the win, and it's probably why the look didn't win here, that it was juuuuust a little too short. But I guess I'm just into zippers this week, because I was disappointed Char didn't end up in the discussion. I adored that pairing of the zipper and the front ruffle in her top.

Char did such a good job making the unconventional material look conventional in a good way -- someone says "It looks like leather" when her model comes out, and it's true! -- but I think some of the fine detail in her design wasn't necessarily that visible when it walked, so she was only safe and didn't get the extra scrutiny/appreciation of a critique. At the other end of the visibility spectrum, though? JOSHUA. WHAT THE HELL. I realize there was a lot of wack shit this week, but I'm sorry, his stripper look is safe?

I am certain Helen ended up in the bottom on a tip from producers that she would bring her stank attitude to the post-runway discussion, because to me her dress was not worse than his.

Well, I'll give Joshua this: the look was very him. With all that that implies, alas. Maybe the creativity with the baseball stitching cancelled out the...nudity? Still, that one or Merline's should have beaten Helen's easily in a race to the bottom.

Anthony's "Helen's work, fine; Helen herself, nah" talking-head pretty much sums up what was going on there, in my opinion, and I don't disagree, as you well know. The bitchy apple-polishing during judging for not using hot glue was a terrible look, the crying when she got called out on it even worse. But the dress was fine. Yeah, we've seen that neckline from her before, but when Edmond is sending Beach Barbarella down the runway, it's hard to see her landing in the bottom as anything but personality-driven.

I can see calling out designers for using hot glue any other time, but it's the unconventional materials challenge, and you had a day. Just because Helen went with balls (hee) that were thin enough for her to sew like fabric doesn't mean everyone else couldn't get more ambitious and go for thick balls (hee hee) such that turning them into garments would demonstrate more ingenuity -- which takes me back to your citation of Edmond, whose look was basically the shitty version of Fabio's. Or, if I'm being kind, trampy She-Ra. Also twins: Anthony...

...and Candice.

He must have been very relieved that it was hers that ended up in the bottom, not that there would have been any doubt once he saw her model's saggy ass. Extremely righteous elimination this week, and I know you won't have been sorry to see her go.

I am a little sorry, because the dress SHE had on at the runway was '94 adorable. ("Ninety-fourable"?) Candice is also more limited than I think the show is able to admit, if that makes any sense. She has great style -- I mean, if you like that kind of thing; certainly she's committed to it -- but we've seen before that, as here, she struggles in an innovative Plan B situation, and that's really what PR tests.

And which she kind of admitted in her exit remarks, sniffing that all this proves is that she can't make a dress out of balls. Yeah, that's...the judges' point.

Heh, yeah. I wish we'd seen more of the judges' discussion overall, though, especially since Le Miz seemed inclined to send Helen home just on the basis of the unearned shade, but then it felt like they felt like they "couldn't," although historically PR judges will auf boring over ugly. And THEN Helen's late to the elimination because she's too busy crying, and Milano's " anyway, back to business like grown-ups" attitude when Helen finally deigned to join them was everything, but she seemed like she wished she'd booted Helen instead in that moment. And I kind of agree. 1) Don't come for Fabio, little girl. 2) It's not like Ken won't serve us some rage realness at some point; we don't need more drama. ...Tara, I still hate her so much.

All of her bullshit was just own goal after own goal! It was clear from the tone of the judging that even though Helen was in the bottom, she wasn't going to be the one going home, so lashing out at the other designers in a fit of pique is such poor form. I get the impulse -- I am also petty -- but save it for your interviews. If you make it through judging, as she does, now the next time you're getting critiqued against someone you just shit on, that shit very well could come back on you, and I hope it does. And probably so does Isaac, judging by the knowing look that met Amanda's obsequious "I appreciate the feedback."

It's hard to believe she hasn't figured any of this out yet, but she really doesn't seem to have, and she really seemed to think her hiccupy apology at the end had any meaning when she absolutely was trying to single people out -- without actually doing it, or thinking she'd get pushback from adults. It wasn't cute in her original season and it's wearing more and more poorly the older she gets. Toughen up, Elvira, dang.

Given that next week's challenge revolves around superheroes in some way, it very well could be her last stand. I'm not sure Helen's area is "hero." Or "super."

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