Lifetime

Project Runway All Stars Pays Tribute To Prints

And when it comes time to decide who's not going to make it to the finale, the judges are all, 'Let's go crazy!'

Our Players

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

The Talk

I really liked the challenge in this episode -- the designers created their own prints, then had to make a print-on-print look -- because it seemed, for once, pertinent to real-world design concerns. And I really liked the runway design-for-your-life face-off at the end, even though I seldom agree with the judges on the outcomes of those, and didn't here either. The episode as a piece of well-built television completely succeeded for me...but the judging, and some of the judges' attire, did not. Too much runway boob for day, Milano. What did you think of the brief in "Prince Of Prints"? Or were you too busy kvelling at Sam and Ken making peace? (jk.)

I like the idea of this challenge, and I definitely agree that Dom was the clear winner. I was even prepared to hate her hand-painted coat, but I did like the way her naive, streaky-looking stripes offset the sharp ones in the print she designed.

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Lifetime

But for the 5000th time this season, I have to comment on how much better this challenge could have been if they had more time. Even Dom's print design -- while interesting and cool -- looked so first thought when we saw it on its own, which makes sense because from challenge announcement to going to Mood to shop for supplemental fabric and materials, how much time elapsed? Two hours? I think she was, as usual, very strategic about the way she used her time and didn't try to get too precious with her idea because she knew she wouldn't have time to do well with something more complex. But I really hated all three of the other original prints.

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Lifetime

I didn't hate them in theory, but in practice, Sam's gave me a headache from trying to get it to "focus," Ken's is Banana Republic '04, and I...don't even remember much about Kini's except that GIANT THREAD hanging off one level of the skirt that was driving me apeshit every time the light caught it. Oh, and the fit was amazing. I could have looked at that model's butt all day.

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Lifetime

The fit on Kini's was gorgeous, no question. But that print! Sarah! Maybe it's just because I live in Hawaii and some variation on a Polynesian-looking leaf or flower or fucking pineapple has to appear not just on every garment but on, like, gas station logos? But even deconstructed, it just felt like such a cliche, even at the idea stage...

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Lifetime

...and seeing it up close, that navy was total Ross Town to me. Calling Ken's Banana Republican also seems overly generous; to me it was like a print you'd see on scrubs for morticians.

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Lifetime

..really hated this one, bro.

And about as well-fit, too. That neckline was...neither. That shit should have gone home, in my opinion, because regardless of how you feel about Sam's obsession with jumpsuits and white mesh -- I'm not pro, I wouldn't say, but there's something about his monomaniacal return to the same fabrics and shapes that's fascinating even if it's not successful outcome-wise -- at least it's interesting. At least it gave guest judge Nina Garcia something to say, to get angry at.

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Lifetime

Ken just choked.

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Lifetime

Ken choked, and knew it. I am, admittedly, not a fashion designer --though I am a passionate print-on-print proponent; I would dress like Mindy Lahiri every day if I...well, were rich, I guess -- but I don't understand how Ken, who is a fashion designer, could be so stymied by this challenge. Even if it's not really your aesthetic, being able to work with prints seems like a pretty obvious thing you should be able to handle. I can't actually disagree with you that Ken's look was worse than Sam's. BUT. I also don't know how Sam can congratulate himself for having really pushed himself to do something different this time when it's a jumpsuit...again...and neoprene mesh...AGAIN. And his print was, to me, not only the ugliest one but the most literal interpretation of the brief.

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Lifetime

"Something with phones? Pixels!" Bye.

Totally. Like, what made that print interesting isn't what HE thinks made it interesting, because he takes one very literal step into the challenge each time. Yet at the same time Sam seems to force the judges to think about their emotional responses to the designs, versus the relative quality, and how much that counts. Or so they tell themselves when they're saving him for the umpteenth time -- but then this time, they didn't, and I was surprised they didn't come down on the side of "took a risk but it came out lumpy and too short" instead of "well made, but safe and didn't change much." Did that go the way you thought it would? Or...should have?

Before I get to the runway showdown, a word about how we got there. Obviously, someone, at some point, decided they were going to have designers take apart previous designs of the season to make something new, on a very short timeline, ON THE RUNWAY (which they've done a variation of before), and the season's almost over so this had to be the week. But you don't get to have Alyssa say "for the first time" the judges couldn't make up their minds when TWO PREVIOUS EPISODES this season ended in NO ONE GOING HOME.

Okay: so what happens is, there are two boxes on the runway, each containing the winning and losing look from the same previous challenge, and Sam and Ken, both in the bottom, have to take the looks they're assigned and combine them into a new look, in an hour. Ken gets the baroque couture challenge, which he won. All he really does is cut a gown into a short dress and use some fabric from Mitchell's monstrosity for trim. It's not especially surprising or innovative...

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Lifetime

...but boy, I sure had no doubt he'd done the right thing when time was called and we got an eyeful of what Sam came up with. I know he got the looks from the fairy tale challenge, but like, that's no excuse to try to make his girl a hunchback. Making a bodice...the back? With boob cups? I can't. If Sam had somehow survived this, I would have kicked in my TV, for real.

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Lifetime

I agree with you that Alyssa's "for the first time this season" should not have survived post when Sam, who is part of this showdown, was a beneficiary when it happened previously, because come on, show. I...do not agree that Sam should have gone home. Well: not here. Ken played it smart, no question, and Sam's is not wearable, also no question, and neither of them belongs here when Emily exists, also ALSO no question, BUT this is a design competition, and under the circumstances, both generally (they get no time to do anything, derfy challenges, etc.) and here specifically, Sam is more watchable and more of a designer, in my opinion. I dress, as I have said many times, like the vice principal of the Wes Anderson Middle School, so said opinion is worth what you've paid for it, but in terms of both creativity and making good TV, I'd rather see the one with some balls get through, and that isn't Ken, bless his angry heart.

...I guess we're getting divorced. I'll always love you.

I certainly would have rather seen Emily both in this week's challenge and getting to make a capsule collection for the finale. I guess Sam is better TV? In theory, his ready-to-wear aesthetic is more interesting than a parade of gowns, and loosed from the challenge strictures he always ignores anyway, I suppose it's possible we would have gotten a better sense of who he is as a designer if he'd gotten through this elimination. But given the construction problems we've seen from him on virtually every challenge this season, I'm not sure how well he'd have been able to create eight looks in four days. If nothing else, Ken's runway look -- safe though it was -- at least shows he knows how to rein in ambitious ideas to fit the available time.

Anyway: all that is probably moot since I feel like now there's no way Dom doesn't win. What do you think?

Candy-bet time! I think Kini wins, because I think the franchise wants to make it up to him, and I will stake some Harbor Sweets on it -- but a Dom win wouldn't shock me either, and would be the just result. Not that THAT matters.

I don't see Kini winning after all the qualifications the judges have included in their critiques this season, but maybe that's just an underdog-triumph edit. But you know I'm never going to turn down a candy bet. Candy is too important.

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