Rue Recap: Project Runway All Stars (and Stripes)


Welcome back, Project Runway fans! Last week, the designers created ready-to-wear looks (and tried to impress Elie Tahari in the process). This week, in a tribute to the U.S. armed forces, the Final Four were each paired with a female veteran who needed a dress for a special event:

Joshua: Army veteran Captain Leslie Nicole Smith. She lost a leg while deployed, and asked for a fun, girly dress she could wear with heels to a military event.

Anthony Ryan: Air Force veteran Officer Donna Barrios. She needed a strapless dress for her 40th birthday party, and wanted to hide her curves.

Emilio: Navy veteran Petty Officer Lisa Dalhouse. She was hoping for a colorful, short number to wear to her friend’s Las Vegas bachelorette party.

Uli: Marine veteran Corporal Jessica Lord. Corporal Lord tasked Uli to design a purple “Uli dress” – and since it’s for a wedding, no white allowed.

Print and color challenged some of the designers: Joshua resorted to dye (though he wasn’t very familiar with it), and Uli found that purple prints were mysteriously elusive at Mood. The others struggled with fit – Emilio sewed an entirely new bodice, and Anthony Ryan had trouble balancing his own aesthetic with his client’s desire to cover her body.

But everyone was a star on the runway. Uli’s silhouette and high-low hemline were perfect for Corporal Lord to wear to a wedding, and Captain Smith (along with her service dog, Isaac) strutted confidently in Joshua’s strategically placed cheetah print. Officer Barrios loved Anthony Ryan’s ombre halter dress, but Carolyn and Georgina disagreed. And the judges thought Emilio’s look would have to be cleaned up before Petty Officer Dalhouse wore it to Vegas.

The judging results would have surprised me if I’d heard about them before watching the episode. Who are you most excited to see next week?

Talk to you then. Auf Wiedersehen for now.

By Jess Huckins, Staff Writer

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January 4, 2013

Rue Recap: An All-Star, Ready-to-Wear Runway


Hi there, Project Runway fans! Last week, the designers faced off in Roaring Twenties style. This week, it was all about creating a ready-to-wear, affordable look for the wider market.

I love ready-to-wear challenges. This show is, at its core, about jump-starting the careers of up-and-comers – and there’s no better way to prepare for a life in fashion than by designing for the everyday consumer.

The designers headed to Elie Tahari’s 5th Avenue design studio, where they met with Carolyn and Elie himself. Carolyn explained that they needed to keep the price point between $500 and $700. Elie added that the winner would have his or her work manufactured and sold in his stores and online, and profits would benefit Save the Garment Center.

The stress in the workroom was intense – typical for this point in the show. Uli picked white fabric for the fifth time (and fretted about it), Joshua struggled with his zipper, Emilio ditched his colorblocking without having a great backup plan, and Ivy refused to take hints from Elie regarding her dress’s length (even after Joanna called her a “lazy designer” for suggesting that customers could have it hemmed themselves).

I was disappointed in Emilio’s runway look – he should have kept some of the colorblocking – but Isaac was right to say, “I won’t let Emilio go this week. I will lie down on the runway.” Joshua’s color was wonderful, but the dress was the epitome of awkward between the saggy chest and bunched rear. Ivy picked a great fabric with spectacular movement, but the length killed it.

On the I’d-actually-wear-it end of things, Anthony Ryan’s dress looked comfortable and flattering (I love vertical-striped patterns), and I adored Uli’s color, detailing, and length. I doubted her fabric in the workroom, but on the runway it looked sleek and modern – nothing like a “potato sack,” as Emilio called it – and the touch of fringe on the sleeves made it 100% Uli.

My pick for the Final Three (assuming they go with that method this season): Uli, Anthony Ryan, and Emilio. How about you?

We’ll find out soon. For now, auf Wiedersehen.

By Jess Huckins, Staff Writer

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December 28, 2012

Rue Recap: Project Runway’s Flapper Face Off


Hello again, Project Runway fans! Last week, the designers celebrated Christmas in New York (literally). This week, they faced off in crafting fashion from the the 1920s – the days of flappers, Prohibition, and speakeasies.

Host Carolyn Murphy had each designer select a card: Emilio and Joshua got an afternoon garden party, Ivy and Anthony Ryan picked the after-hours speakeasy, and Uli and Laura Kathleen wound up with an evening social soiree. The task? Create a ‘20s-style design for the assigned event – and make sure it’s better than their opponent’s.

The face-off format created plenty of drama in the workroom – especially when the Ivy we remember and love (to hate) gave Anthony Ryan’s look a five out of ten, when he rated hers a seven or eight. And in a direct attack on Uli’s aesthetic, Laura Kathleen quipped, “I’ll combat trims and feathers with fur.”

The runway roared with flapper style – and since we’re down to six, all the designs were up for critique. The judges split them into high and low scores based on the match-ups – Emilio, Anthony Ryan, and Uli scored high, while Joshua, Ivy, and Laura Kathleen (two of which were this episode’s biggest trash-talkers – oh, the irony) scored low.

Emilio’s dress was smart and ladylike, but I agree with judge Georgina Chapman in that it lacked personality. Uli’s design was my personal favorite this week – between the movement of the fringe and the shawl, it was beautiful and original. And Anthony Ryan’s feathered capelet helped the design feel powerful and striking while remaining feminine and fun.

The use of color on the back of Joshua’s dress was remarkable, but the front – between the brooch and the simple style – wasn’t interesting enough. Ivy picked a gorgeous, expensive fabric – and then went on to create a heavy dress with a poorly executed feather trim. Laura Kathleen’s fur and imperfect trousers fell flat with the judges, though they appreciated the whimsical nature of her outfit.

And then there were five. Auf Wiedersehen – until next week, anyway.

By Jess Huckins, Staff Writer

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December 21, 2012

Rue Recap: A Project Runway Christmas


Hello again, Project Runway fans. Last week, the designers crafted eco-friendly looks for the red carpet. This time, it’s every viewer’s favorite drama-filled episode: the unconventional-materials challenge.

The designers joined host Carolyn Murphy at the South Street Seaport, where they met one of the most sought-after jewelers of his generation, Fawaz Gruosi, and learned that the challenge winner would receive a de GRISOGONO watch. Also, the designs had to be crafted from materials found at “Christmas in New York,” the largest year-round holiday shop in the city.

Of course, the designs couldn’t look “Christmassy” – a surefire way to challenge people who primarily have tinsel, tree skirts, and ribbon to work with.

The runway had some pleasant surprises beneath the holiday trappings, but several designs were gift receipt–worthy. Joshua’s shorts made me cringe – and the judges (including guest Kylie Minogue) noted that no one wants to see a model’s privates on the runway. Casanova’s dress was pretty enough, but it did not look unconventional. And poor Ivy just can’t seem to get away from this yellow/gold motif, no matter how many times it doesn’t work for her.

Laura Kathleen, Anthony Ryan, and Uli all had similar designs, but they were the looks holiday partygoers would be excited to unwrap. Isaac Mizrahi (whose shoes and bags are on Rue today) noticed Uli’s signature style in her dress, and said that the mix was “like magic.” Anthony Ryan’s look was perhaps a tad too Christmassy with the snowflake embellishments, but it had “a sense of relief and cleanliness” (as noted by Georgina Chapman). The pockets on Laura Kathleen’s dress worked well, but the droplets seemed big and the shape a touch boxy.

Do you think the judges sent the right person packing?

More next week. Until then – auf Wiedersehen.

By Jess Huckins, Staff Writer

Which of the three similar garments was your favorite? Share in the comments below or tweet us at @ruelala

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December 14, 2012

Rue Recap: Project Runway Goes Green (for Red)


Welcome back, Project Runway fans! Last week, the designers took on androgynous looks for women and men, and this week, it’s all about the environment – and the red carpet.

When host Carolyn Murphy met the designers atop New York’s High Line park – in and of itself a masterful example of recycling brilliance – she shared three major pieces of information: the designs would be created from AirDye fabrics and trims recycled from previous challenges, Carolyn Murphy herself would wear the winning look on the red carpet, and finally, the guest judge was the legendary Diane von Furstenberg (cue the celebration – and nerves).

One of my favorite moments in the workroom was Casanova and Emilio gossiping in Spanish, and the other designers snarking that they couldn’t wait to read the subtitles – hope no one (especially Uli) was too offended last night!

One downside to knowing the guest judge’s identity before the runway show is the All Stars seemed to be designing specifically to impress her – many of the silhouettes were reminiscent of DVF’s style.

Nevertheless, several designers pulled out impressive looks this week. I loved Casanova’s dress – the neckline, print, and silhouette were all gorgeous. Laura Kathleen’s palazzo-pant jumper was a fresh take on a red-carpet look, and it really helped her outfit stand out. Uli made great use of her recycled material with a feather trim, and Anthony Ryan’s flowy fabric and deep-V neckline made for a refreshing addition to the bunch (despite showing a peek of the model’s panties).

Other designers, though, were green with envy (or seeing red – whichever you prefer). Emilio’s unfinished hem was just plain sad, especially since the gown’s color looked stunning on his model. Althea’s fabric – something she had no control over this episode, and described by DVF as “Marie Antoinette meets Frederick’s of Hollywood” – was the worst part, though she also tried to do far too much with the design. And Ivy’s gold number? Definitely not red carpet–ready.

What say you? Did the right person go home?

Auf Wiedersehen – until next week, anyway.

By Jess Huckins, Staff Writer 

Did the best design win? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us at @ruelala

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December 7, 2012

Rue Recap: Project Runway & All-Star Androgyny


Hello again, Project Runway fans! We skipped a week due to Thanksgiving, but last time we saw the designers finding inspiration from viewer-provided photographs. This episode had them taking on avante-garde designs – with an androgynous twist.

While the designers were working on their innovative, epicene looks, judge Georgina Chapman visited the workroom with a surprise in tow – a group of male models. In response to the designers’ horror at thinking they had to modify their current looks, Georgina explained: They were to create a corresponding design for their male model to accompany the first look down the runway.

Mentor Joanna Coles delivered one of her classic pep talks: “When you think you can’t go any further, push yourselves a little further.” Thank you, Joanna, really.  We needed that. (Anyone else with me in that we respect her, but dearly miss Tim Gunn?)

The addition of the male models – a Project Runway first – made for a very interesting runway. Kayne’s look (complete with paper eyebrows) was reminiscent of Willy Wonka (in a houndstooth factory). The horror on Laura Kathleen’s face was palpable when Isaac Mizrahi said her textiles looked inexpensive, and Althea’s styling seemed Tim Burton–esque.

Though Anthony Ryan’s design felt similar to last week’s banded dress, his use of textiles was lovely. Emilio’s mirrored hats and open-backed vests were perfectly androgynous, and Uli’s (female) look was something I would love to wear myself. Casanova’s golden armor design, though beautiful, fell a bit short of the androgyny mark.

What did you think, Runway fans? Did you agree with the judges’ choices?

See you next week. Until then – auf Wiedersehen.

By Jess Huckins, Staff Writer 

Did the right person go home? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us at @ruelala

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November 30, 2012

Rue Recap: Project Runway All Stars Get the Picture

Welcome back, Project Runway fans! Last week was all about creating wearable art, but this week the art did the inspiring – in the form of fan-provided (a PR first!) photography.

Sandra Micek, marketing VP for USA TODAY, joined Joanna Coles in the workroom to give the designers their assignment: select an inspiring fan photograph and parlay it into a runway look.  These kinds of challenges are great for divining which designtestants really do have industry potential, because rather than making a dress out of fruit or matching outfits to pets, they get to create something that’s entirely true to their own style aesthetic.

The photograph selections ranged from a spray-painted gas meter (Joshua’s pick) and a train station (Althea’s) to a butterfly (Ivy’s) and a forlorn-looking young woman wearing a headband (Andrae’s). Andrae began chatting with his photograph like the subject was his friend and kindred spirit, and Joanna wondered if his work was “bonkers or brilliant” (I’m betting on the former).

Parts of the runway were close to picture-perfect, between Ivy’s flowy sheer skirt, Laura Kathleen’s hand-dyed gown, and the banded back of Anthony Ryan’s dress. There was also Casanova’s look, which I’d snatch up in a flash (sans hat).

But some designers just weren’t ready for their close-up. Joshua’s dress was reminiscent of Rainbow Brite, and Casanova’s assessment of Kayne’s as fitting for “a Parisian prostitute with a chicken on her head” seemed pretty spot-on. Not to mention Emilio’s yellow-and-grey number  (which host-judge Carolyn Murphy noted would make her “look like a Chinese lantern”) and Andrae’s mix-and-match zippered panels.

Next week is Thanksgiving, which means no new Runway. So, until the end of November – auf Wiedersehen.

By Jess Huckins, Staff Writer 

Did the designers’ looks inspire or disappoint? Tell us in the comments below or tweet us @ruelala

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November 16, 2012

Rue Recap: Project Runway All Stars’ Glam Graffiti

Welcome back, Project Runway fans! Last week, the designers turned the beat around and brought disco back in a Nine West challenge. This week, they’re tasked to create their own patterns with spray paint – that is, design “aerosol art” on fabric that they then must incorporate into their garments.

The designers are given a crate of spray paint and seven yards of either white cotton or chiffon to create their patterns. Althea is “excited to be artistic and create a print,” but Laura Kathleen is disappointed that she’s “not wearing the appropriate attire to be spray-painting,” because her “s***’s expensive.” Kayne remarks that Laura Kathleen is getting on everyone’s “last gay nerve.” We all knew the familial feeling in the workroom wouldn’t last.

Joanna has a few notes about the taste level of various garments – not surprising, since several wearable art challenges throughout Project Runway’s run have devolved into catastrophic messes – but she leaves the workroom commenting on how “moved” she is by the designers’ work. High compliments, for sure.

Runway time. Carolyn Murphy hopes the garments will look equally appealing in an art gallery as on the runway, and our guest judges this week are Jeffrey Costello and Robert Tagliapietra.

Georgina Chapman says the proportions of Anthony Ryan’s dress are “dead-on,” but the judges question whether the print belongs in an art gallery. Laura Kathleen’s architectural hemline seems very artistic, but Jeffrey and Robert wish it went straight across. No one likes the waistline of Suede’s poofy polka-dot number. Emilio’s skirt suit looks like a glamorous sunset, and Isaac Mizrahi wished Ivy’s pop-art dress said “city” rather than “tenacity.” He also had to point out, while discussing Kayne’s dress, that this “isn’t Project Sample Room.”

What do you think, Runway fans? Was the show Met-worthy, or should the garments be sent to the MOBA?

By Jess Huckins, Staff Writer

Did the right person go home? Sound off in the comments below, or tweet us @ruelala.

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November 9, 2012

Rue Recap: Project Runway All Stars Boogie Down

Welcome back, Project Runway fans. Last week, we met our all-star designers and Teams Bold and Confident created mini collections. This time around, we’re cueing the mirror ball: the contestants must create a disco-party look based on Nine West’s line of 1970s-inspired shoes.

Workroom tensions run high, and Joanna doesn’t help. Between pegging the 70s as “the decade that fashion forgot,” calling Andrae’s material “pan-scrubbing fabric,” and telling Suede his look gave her “a case of white man’s overbite,” she had the designers less than inspired, though she is showing more personality and humor in her mentorship this season.

At least Kayne had the perfect recipe for lightening the mood: an end-of-day impromptu (and totally awkward) disco dance break.

On the runway, the looks were much better than I anticipated – like Casanova’s fuchsia stunner (particularly the back), which I hadn’t expected to enjoy. Emilio’s gown – though less disco and more black-tie – had lovely movement and drama, and I adored Kayne’s perfectly aligned chevron palazzo pants.

There were some misses, too. Wendy’s ensemble hit the disco nail on the head – but then just kept on hammering. And I’d never wear Andrae’s sheer jacket out of the house (or even out of the store).

What about you? Did you love the winner’s look? (Nine West does – it’ll be featured in a fall ad campaign.)

See you next week. And although Heidi is absent: auf Wiedersehen.

By Jess Huckins, Staff Writer 

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November 2, 2012

Rue Recap: Project Runway All Stars Season 2 Premiere

Well hello there, Project Runway fans! We’re but a week out from Dmitry’s win, and it’s already time to re-meet our second All Stars cast. Though this season doesn’t have the same purposeful, righting-a-wrong vibe as the first, it’s exciting to have some P-Way to kick back with on Thursday nights.

The designers were well-behaved in the workroom this week, but with a mix including Ivy Higa, Joshua McKinley, and the original Runway villainess, Wendy Pepper (who can officially be added to this video after last night), I wouldn’t expect the lovefest to last. Tim Gunn–replacement Joanna Coles held a schoolyard pick to decide teams (cue the groan chorus) for this week’s challenge: create a mini collection inspired by an attitude.

Emilio, Peach, Andrae, Suede, Laura Kathleen, and Joshua made up Team Bold, and Ivy, Althea, Casanova, Anthony Ryan, Wendy, Kayne, and Uli decided to call themselves Team Confident. (Did no one notice that “bold” and “confident” are basically same thing?)

Though Joanna wasn’t necessarily a fan (her one-liners included “When I think of lace and black leather, the word that comes to mind is hooker!” and “I’m thinking stegosaurus”), Confident’s collection clearly outshone Bold’s less-than-fresh, black-and-blue color story.

Ivy’s jacket was slimming, original, and gorgeous, though I agree that it would have paired better with lace shorts or Anthony Ryan’s stunning white pants. Overall, the runway show seemed underwhelming for an all-stars season, especially considering Emilio’s tube-top-and-jumper ensemble, Peach’s ill-fitting, two-tone sleeves, Wendy’s batwing bodice, and Suede’s breast-cup shoulders (though I liked his handkerchief skirt – its movement was lovely).

What did you think? Did the judges (returners Georgina Chapman and Isaac Mizrahi, new host Carolyn Murphy, and guest judges Rachel Roy and Mondo) choose the best designer to win, and send the right person home?

See you next week. For now – auf Wiedersehen. 

By Jess Huckins, Staff Writer 

Who are you most excited to see again? Tell us in the comments below or tweet us @ruelala

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October 26, 2012