Project Runway All Stars Recap: Every Picture Tells a Story

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I think my least favorite thing about this week's episode of All Stars was that it did not manage to simultaneously be both an hour of reality television and the midnight premiere of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2. Is that too high a standard?

This week, Joanna is joined in the workroom by Sandra Micek from USA Today, who explains that USA Today "pioneered digital storytelling and infographics." The images shown during her explanation include a weather map and a picture of an Amish man in a buggy, which do not strike me as entirely groundbreaking, but okay. Joanna goes on to explain, "In publishing we have a saying: Every picture tells a story." I personally consider that less of a saying and more of a Rod Stewart song, but I'm willing to go with it, which is good, because that's the theme of this week's challenge! (Seriously, though, that song holds up, right?) Fans have tweeted inspiring pictures to the folks at All Stars, and each designer will take one and parlay it into a runway look. The winning designer and look will be featured in USA Today.

Photo selection gets underway; Emilio chooses a picture of a little girl, while Althea picks a picture of a train station because it reminds her of where her husband proposed. There are a few more prosaic choices — a jewelry box, a sunset, a butterfly — and a few unusual ones — Andrae picks a sad girl wearing a headband and Joshua chooses what looks like a spray-painted gas meter. Laura complains about nothing in particular and says, essentially, that everyone hates her because she's rich. Substitute "obnoxious" for "rich," and then, yes, you're correct.

It's a one-day challenge, so everyone's nerves are a little jangled, particularly because there are fears that the judging for this challenge might be "arbitrary," since it's more open-ended than usual. Andrae in particular seems off-kilter; he creates a "second level of desk" under his work table and uses it primarily to pretend he's Gollum. I shouldn't call that off-kilter, actually, since hanging out in a desk cave is an excellent way to unwind after a hard day at the office. When Joanna shows up for critiques, she brings USA Today's style editor, Alison Maxwell. Joanna, too, is unsure about Andrae — she says she can’t tell if his look is bonkers or brilliant. (Spoiler: very, very bonkers.) Laura gets called out for making a long gown, since those aren't as wearable; her retort is that she's not designing for "the farmers of America." Emilio immediately tops her by saying that the headline of his look (based on the photo of the little girl, whose name is Sophie) is "Sophie's Choice." Whoops.

Uli is at work on a typical-Uli dress — pastel, draped, very pretty — and both Alison and Joanna love it, but they're less enthused about Kayne's use of red and black lace, which Joanna calls "hooker-y." When she compares Althea's design to her picture, Joanna wonders if the look will be as special as the picture is, and it's a good point — Althea's mainly focused on the architecture of the train station, while what makes the picture special is the light streaming in its windows. And unless I missed something, the teaser before the commercial break showed Joanna telling a designer she was surprised that he or she hadn't won a challenge yet, but she didn't say that to anyone during the actual critiques. Strange.

The next morning is an absolute mess — Andrae in particular, though he doesn't resort to his signature tulle sash to hide the flaws of his garment — but everyone makes it down to the runway on time, where Charlotte Ronson and Tavi Gevinson join the judges. It's a weak enough runway that even Kayne's hooker dress is enough to keep him out of the bottom three, and that's disappointing — at this point in an All Stars competition, it should be a fight for the top, not a fight for the bottom.

Still, there are a few strong looks, and Laura, Emilio, and Anthony Ryan end up on top; Anthony Ryan wins the challenge. Andrae's sent home, and that's not surprising — I actually had him pegged to leave within the first two weeks. On a related note. I need a gif of the "WTF?" face Charlotte Ronson gave his look as it came down the runway as soon as possible. Thank you in advance.

There's no All Stars next week, so you'll have to get your design challenge fix from judging the costumes in your family Thanksgiving Pageant, which I'm sure is a legitimate, nationwide occurrence, and not just something my mom made up because she likes the way kids look dressed as pilgrims.

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