Lifetime

Whose Fashion Career Will Best Survive Project Runway All Stars Season 5?

After so many wrong calls this season, did the judges get it right? Your editors discuss!

Our Players

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

The Talk

Let's get one of my chief complaints out of the way before we begin: why is Debra Messing? I simply don't understand why she's always a judge on Runway, and for what seems like every finale. That ratchet weave alone should disqualify her from the protections of the Hague, never mind telling people what's fashionable.

Lifetime

Lifetime

And girl bye with the studied glaring during the collections. We know you're only drawing horsies on your card, so do it somewhere else. HATE HUH.

As you know, so do I, and I fail to see how starring on a cop show NO ONE YOU KNOW watches qualifies her to judge fashion. The challenge wasn't to design a collection of sensible women's dress pants with four-way stretch. Stow it, Messing, your days of dressing like you might be a gay guy's best friends ended over a decade ago! NOW YOU'RE MOMCOP COPMOM.

Maybe she's the one telling Alyssa Milano the rules of geometry do not exist when it comes to her own fashion narrative. I say this without judgment, because I too have a gut -- a couple, if we're being honest -- but the view from the side for that runway gown was incorrect.

Lifetime

Lifetime

Em. Pire. Waists. You are too cute to be doing this to yourself.

It's really true. Admittedly, not everyone can pull off the space empress look like the beautiful Georgina Chapman, but the other ladies don't have to make it so easy for her to outshine them.

Lifetime

Lifetime

OMG, Chapman's earrings were always. Flash Gatsby. She's fabulous. ...Anyway, so I guess we should talk about the actual result? Which I didn't think was fabulous, exactly -- and I like Dom and her designs a lot, and this isn't exactly a surprise, except it kind of was based on the way the judges were talking about her eight-look collection versus Kini's. And I would have chosen Kini's myself. What did you think? (I would ask what you thought of the throw-in "twist" of a single men's-look requirement, but the judging blew by it, mostly, and I'm fine doing the same.)

Yeah, no one cares about men's fashion, INCLUDING MEN, so this show can't make me. I will never stop stanning for Dom so I was both pleased by and agreed with her win. I thought her hand-painted prints were very cool (and though the judges weren't feeling the plaid, I definitely was); that seemed to me a smart way for her to reassert her mastery of prints and keep her collection on brand while also working within the very tight time restrictions.

Lifetime

Lifetime

I loved the progression of her show and the way the looks were grouped. Her stripey ribbon trim was pure Taranip. I agreed with everyone -- particularly the very...um..."direct" (mean) Marie Claire editor Anne Fulenwider -- that the kimono jacket was the weakest look, but I thought the collection generally was great.

Lifetime

Lifetime

My thing with Kini is this: if he had said that his inspiration was New York in the '80s, his collection would have made so much more sense and seemed so much smarter to me -- because he was doing new things with those shapes and silhouettes, so calling out its reference while showing how he was pushing it forward would have been wise.

Lifetime

Lifetime

But I don't think he understands that that's what he's doing. I think he stumbled into a good critique because the judges imposed a narrative on it that he doesn't necessarily intend.

I agree that Kini needs to have a better grasp of his own referents, and that's the difference between him and Emily: that urban-'80s-ness is informed and intentional, and his is more secondhand and accidental. And there's nothing wrong with the secondhand part, but he does need to own it more.

Lifetime

Lifetime

As for Dom's: look, I'd wear almost every look that walked. She knows how to get in some Bunting kitchen with all those pockets, and I like the prints...but her reliance on them, particularly when neither of them was exactly a great leap forward visually, had begun to feel precious to me. Like, her "dominance" in prints kind of only means working with them; I didn't see much here, either in the silhouettes or the prints themselves, that I could necessarily have identified as her. Again, mostly I liked her looks a lot, aside from the Duckie-in-Pretty In Pink "mens"-wear. I don't know if I see the creativity the judges do. But it wasn't boring, unlike one collection I might name. And will name. Ken's. Ken's was boring as hell.

Ken's was BORING AS HELL! Nothing is safer than black...with the possible exception of cream, and he fell back on both of them. If not for that (quite lovely) final gown, he did nothing at all memorable -- and boy, Anne was right to call him out for his "Cruella DeVil collars" too.

Lifetime

Lifetime

That plus some metal Bauble Bar belts aren't an aesthetic. I know he's self-taught, and he's certainly come a long way, but there are a lot of other axed designers whose collections I would have far rather seen. Emily's! Alexander's!

My notes on Ken's, variously: "boring"; "nice, but eh"; "cute, z"; "z"; "gallerina in second-tier city." I even thought the last look, while gorgeous, was far too simple given the understatedness of the rest of the collection.

Lifetime

Lifetime

And I am legit mad we didn't get to see Emily's.

So would we say there was...a point to this season? Not that I didn't enjoy watching it, but now three times out of five a past winner has won again as an All Star. I was in the tank for Dom from the start, but her talent has already been affirmed by this franchise once; if I were another contestant I'd be like, "YEAH, GOT IT," you know? If it were me, I'd quit casting winners. At least for a couple of cycles.

Or cast nothing BUT winners! I'd watch that. But the larger problem isn't really who's on it; it's the time constraints. The whole franchise needs to be revamped so it's a longer-form competition that gives the designers more time to work on each challenge; ties the challenge more relevantly to design, versus Red fucking Robin or whatever the hell rando sponsor is underwriting the week; and de-gimmicks the process. I know that will never happen, because it doesn't fit with the way TV is made now, except it...could, on a streaming property or premium cable, but in its Lifetime iteration, the best upgrade we should probably let ourselves hope for is Zanna getting ze boot. She adds nuuuuhhhhthing. Joanna Coles was great; bring her back. Or Siriano; he knows what he's talking about and has cute turnout.

The time constraint is definitely the biggest problem -- and not just here, but on the original, too. The designers who are strategic and have a shot at going far in the competition end up designing to the deadline, which chokes actual invention and ambition -- and the ones who do try to splash out end up seeming like wackos because they can't execute their vision in what is functionally around twelve hours of actual construction time. Zanna kept referring to the "months" that the designers had been together for this season, and it shocked me every time. Virtually every challenge was just two days of shooting. How did that not fit in like three weeks?

I agree about Zanna as a mentor, too, though I was amused by all the ways she found to say things backstage that sounded complimentary but were actually empty of meaning. "Drama!" "It's definitely you!" "Those are clothes, all right!"

Can you imagine Fulenwider backstage? Literal withering would happen.

Thank God for her in this episode, truly. All the judges were competing with each other to give the most thorough tongue baths in order to justify this being the final three, and Fulenwider's all, "Those look like yoga pants, Ken, get the fuck out of here."

Lifetime

Lifetime

She was the best.

I guess we should get the fuck out of here. Any other parting thoughts, besides an invitation for Emily to send us a video of her clothes walking a runway?

Just that Lifetime really needs to unpinch a penny if this show is going to continue. Three-day challenges! If Face Off can do it, Runway can too.

Yeah, on that tip: if we come back to the Big Lots accessory wall, I am the outest.

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