When Project Runway All Stars Puts On A Superhero Challenge, Whose Looks Are Bulletproof?

It's a Justice League Of Their Own as the designers create superpowered superlooks. Which fly up, up, and away, and which get HULK SMASHed?

Our Players

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

The Talk

Indulge me as I lead into my comments on this week's COSMETICS PARTNER-SPONSORED superhero challenge by hearkening back to the wrestling challenge of late Season 4 of Project Runway (non-All Stars edition). In that one, the designers were each paired with a real WWE diva, got to know them and some of their moves, and each came up with a look that was both fashion-forward and functional. FLASH-FORWARD to this challenge, in which Rodial (is this, by the way, a brand you had heard of before this season? I hadn't) mines its product names to inspire the designers in creating superhero looks. Already this is putting a hat on a hat, but at the start of the episode I was willing to give the producers the benefit of the doubt, because as cynical as the Rodial product placement was, those product names -- like Snake, Dragon's Blood, and Magic Gel -- actually do lend themselves to superheroic powers. But the brief doesn't actually state that the resulting looks should be superhero-functional. I get that this isn't a costume contest (and also that you can't exactly pair the designers with...real superheroes to find out what attributes would make a superhero's garment practical in the field of superheroing), but the effect for me was kind of a shrug. Hey, a bunch of dresses -- just like every other week.

The brief felt ginned-up and tiresome to me, not to mention a trap the show sets for the designers: either the judges "can't see the inspiration" or it's "too costume." Just give them the product names and skip the secondary subtweeting at Marvel, which is never going to product-place anything on your now-budge reality show. And not for nothing, but there IS an actual superpower in that group: Merline's Killgrave-ian ability to convince the judges that her problem is over-intellectualizing garments, or however they talked themselves into keeping her around this week. I like Merline personally; I do think she has good ideas; her execution is and has been garbagio, and this look in particular was too Trek-y to justify saving her.

I mean, Amanda's sucked too,'s All Stars. Maybe just boot them both?

At the top of the episode, I predicted that its timing had fallen at exactly the right point in the season for it to be Merline's big redemption moment: she's accidentally been designing superhero-ish looks all along, which may be why she choked this time, having used up all her most fitting ideas earlier in the season. Amanda's would have probably made more sense for a Disney princess challenge (Marvel's parent and ALSO a brand that's not going to be interested in a product placement deal, uh duh), but they did give her Pink Diamond, and I could see it! Yeah, the fit was bad, but that leads me to my OTHER big problem with this challenge, which is that THEY ONLY HAD A DAY. Obviously time constraints are part of the game, but keeping them this tight just means you end up rewarding the players who are playing as opposed to trying to innovate. Fabio's (winning) look was fine...

...but Ken's was both more interesting and more superheroic, and furthermore I don't think it's fair to bitch that some of his ruffle edges were unfinished...

...when you also let Anthony handwave your question about what his dress structure was actually built on. Maybe it was just glued onto muslin! We don't know!!!

I loved Fabio's and was thrilled it won, but you know me and a layer-y pocket-y contraption (plus that overskirt fabric was really cool and unexpected). And I completely agree on the one-day foolishness; again: it's All Stars. If you don't have the operating budget to give them more time, cast fewer people -- there are still like forty designers left! Or, I don't know, be more liberal with the aufs? Because Edmond could have gone home too. "Elvira goes to the swim-up bar" is not going to cut it at this level, or shouldn't...

... although I guess if they're going to pass Joshua through on the basis that there...just are no words, maybe I don't understand what the show is about. (But I am GOING to get my title for Joshua's look into this discussion, and it is this: A Lady Never Tulles. Okay, carry on.)

Maybe this is the costume wanter in me talking, but Joshua's was one of the few that, for me, actually did evoke a couple of characters from superhero movies. ...Okay, actually supervillains -- January Jones's Emma Frost from X-Men: First Class, and Drew Barrymore as Sugar in Batman Forever -- but still, it worked for me on that basis.

Edmond, I thought, was trying to stay on topic with the cape, but I guess he spent most of his $150 wad on that material, forcing him to make do with that totally unrelated Studio 54 affair underneath. I also hate to agree with Helen, but Kimberly's blocky legwarmers and blush colour scheme truly was pure My Little Pony ("and no superhero is going to be able to fight in a tunic safety-pinned to her socks," she screamed into the uncaring void).

I forget who noted about Kimberly's during the runway that "Rihanna would totally wear that," which redeemed it somewhat for me. That, and I still use mitten clips, so I felt seen by Kimberly's garment (...hee), but man, that mumsy colorway killed it. I should also note that, if I saw Joshua's fabric on a bra on Bare Necessities, I would totally try it; it's cute for lingerie. But it didn't seem rull practical from a crime-fighting standpoint, hee. And speaking of semi-out-there takes on the challenge, let's circle back to Ken for a moment. How did you feel about the bald cap? Because I, like Alyssa Milano, did not even notice it. I was too taken with the sleeves, which had a lot of fluttery motion, but at the same time had a nice snug fit so they wouldn't be sliding around too much.

I noticed the bald cap, but I didn't find it as distracting as Georgina apparently did; I also loved how quickly she retracted her objection when Ken spoke up for the whole range of his potential customers, including the ones who, for whatever reason, don't have the same kind of mane as The Beautiful Georgina Chapman. (From the side, it did look like it might be kind of lumpy in the back, which I think is why we didn't get a clear shot of it from that angle.)

And not to be the superhero historian over here, but when Isaac said the bald look didn't "scream superhero," there are...actually a lot of bald characters in the lore. Professor X? Lex Luthor? Luke Cage? Nick Fury? Okay, the bald female characters are a little more obscure, but still: superhair is not a requirement for the genre.

Yeah, there must have been some kind of cheap-looking Galaxy Quest situation happening for Ken's model at the back; Lord knows she didn't look all that happy about the choice. But at least she wasn't wearing a hotel headboard from 1980s Key West. Helen.

I thought Helen's was a bit boring, but given that she was assigned 24 Carat Gold, I did like the liquid motion when it walked, and that the shade evoked gold without being (sigh) too literal.

After her shameful display last week, I suspect Helen was just trying to be safe and not risk post-runway scrutiny, so: if so, job done. I did kind of want Char to end up there so I could find out what the judges thought of her homage to Uli Herzner -- never a bad thing, in my opinion.

Nor mine! I liked Char's a lot. I suspect it was too simple to warrant the judges' commentary, but she put in some nice details, like at the neckline, and it looked well made, which has historically been an issue for her. That said, I don't see her in the finals this season. Any call at this point on who's going to the end?

After this week, and the "sister wives" storyline about their mutual respect (and aid), both Fabio and Anthony seem likely guesses. Other than those two: no idea! You?

I think all the "sister wives" are headed to the end, with Helen hanging around juuuuust long enough to maximize the drama/give us a villain (since Ken's outbursts seem to have subsided more or less permanently).

Here's how I feel about that probably very correct prediction:

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