Barbara Nitke / Lifetime

Project Runway All Stars Strips Down For Naturists In The Latest 'Real People' Challenge

Which designers show their ass? Your editors discuss!

Our Players

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

The Talk

This week on All Stars, it's the real people challenge, but this time the twist is that the models are...naturists. I can't believe I'm about to say this about a practice that I personally consider rather smurfy, but here goes: did it strike you that the very premise of the brief -- designing winter wear for people who prefer not to wear clothing at all -- was kind of hostile to the models? ...Okay, bye, I'll let myself out.

Hee! I didn't think it was hostile to them -- they could choose not to be there, after all -- but if anything, the challenge brief could have stressed more that, since generally these people prefer to, um, hang out, the priority is comfort, versus getting too design-y. I wouldn't have minded a few looks that emphasized how easy it was to take them off, either.

Oh, good point -- or maybe clothes that easily converted to makeshift furniture covers for when they're spending time in common areas and being polite about keeping their pubes to themselves. (We all remember the titular David Sedaris story in Naked, about the nudist colony? The towels?) But you're right, the models did choose to do it, and it's not like they don't have to wear clothes when they're mixing with us fabrics or whatever word they have for us. The other twist was that half the models were men, which normally leads to all kinds of whining and panic, but I guess this crew really is a bunch of all stars because the men were all well turned out. Note for future generations of Runway contestants: track pants.

I think the only people more surprised than I was that we didn't have some kind of pants-tastrophe during this challenge were the editors! But with that said, while it's nice that Mitchell didn't flail himself out of the competition -- and after all the gnashing of teeth about how he's never seen snow, we knew he'd likely be fine, if not the winner -- I felt his look was overpraised. Not bad, and it's very NYC-audition as a look, but I'm not sure this wasn't in the top because he managed to put something at all competently menswear on his model.

Lifetime

Lifetime

I agree. I was into the sweater/scarf situation, but that coat, with the buckles, felt a little My First Steampunk to me. (I was also irritated by all the designers -- Mitchell wasn't the only one, just the whiniest -- complaining about having no concept of winter. Unless you're only planning to do resort wear, maybe learn how weather works?) Meanwhile, almost as if she found a way through time and space to have read us last week...here comes Emily with the win. And well deserved, I thought! That look was adorable.

Lifetime

Lifetime

I was pleased she won too; the coat did look expensive, but also comfortable. To Zanna's point in the workroom that a woman's winter coat is basically her most important piece 4-6 months a year, I would have no problem rocking that all season. And the under-dress looked very soft, too. Outerwear and layering is totally Emily's wheelhouse; I'm glad we got to visit her there. But I am a bit less impressed that Layana was merely safe. THAT JACKET. I even liked the jumpsuit, and you know how I feel about those. (In case you're new here: I feel "nope.")

Lifetime

Lifetime

I did watch that walk and hear your name in my head. Everything about it is you. Let me ask you this, though: Ken's "androgynous" look, a.k.a. womenswear. Was he honouring his model's wishes to eschew aggressive masculinity, or just punting on actually constructing menswear?

Lifetime

Lifetime

I'm going to punt on that question and say "both"? ...But seriously, folks: I admire that he sent the PRAS equivalent of a 1982 Benson & Hedges ad down the runway on a dude, and I liked the sweater...and I get the feeling that particular model's "thing" is performatively not caring about masculine/feminine "labels." Again, smurfy, but handy for Ken. Meanwhile, it's handy for Kini that these judges haven't seen his shtick before, because I feel like we've seen that identical look from him at least three times before. I'd still wear the coat, but he may want to branch out textiles-wise.

Lifetime

Lifetime

A winter coat in an aloha print might have been surprising and fun. You see them on kids all the time -- why not adults? And now, since we've put it off long enough...the bottom two. I have to speak up for my girlfriend Valerie: yes, she wrapped her model in layers and layers of stuff. Yes, the pants kind of looked like jammies. But she wanted to be comfy and cozy, and she was!

Lifetime

Lifetime

I would have had zero problem with that going home based on the execution, but I didn't get all the comments slagging it in the workroom. Yes, the "waist" was no good, and the pants were...I don't even know what that was. Pearl River Mart $5 pajama bottoms, basically. But the idea was there, and I liked the sleeve and the mix of prints inside the hood. She should sit in the corner for styling it with sandals, though. Still, they couldn't justify sending that home over Sam...

Lifetime

Lifetime

...so they saved them both. What did you think of that decision -- an actually legitimate "well, we like you both and your models were satisfied" tie? or an excuse to stir shit among the designers? Because we know which way Alexander's voting. [fffffft ROWR]

I think it happens rarely that someone goes home immediately after a win -- even if the boot would be deserved -- because it makes the judges look like morons for having awarded a win the previous challenge, and as you say, Valerie's wasn't worse than Sam's, AND they'd already set a precedent of just plain NOT eliminating people IN THE SEASON PREMIERE, which is far more unforgivable than doing it in the middle of the season when people have had a chance to build up some trust in their visions. And it certainly wouldn't surprise me to learn that a producer pulled a bunch of designers out for interviews when Valerie and Sam were on the runway and brought up last week's "flirt" accusation to see if any of them would say something when Sam returned.

I'm sure you're right. I'm also sure that "open Ken, insert resentment" is its own notecard on the story board.

Anyway: eliminating no one is total bullshit and makes the hour feel like a waste of my time once; twice in the first five episodes of the same season is completely unconscionable, and better mean there's an episode on the horizon in which they cut four or more of them at once.

I could not agree more; this season isn't going to end until next January at this rate. Although I would settle for their eliminating Daniel Franco in absentia each week instead.

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