Project Runway All Stars Recap: ‘Let the Ribbon Do the Work’

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If there’s one thing I’ve learned about myself over nearly six months of recapping Runway and All Stars, it’s that I expect — perhaps unfairly — a basic amount of graciousness from the designers. That’s probably why complaints about the “unconventional materials” challenge frustrate me so much. Is it awful that you could be sent home over an inability to make a wearable dress out of birdseed? Yes. Is knowing how to make palazzo pants out of jelly beans an essential design skill? No. But it’s television, and you knew what you were getting yourself into (especially the returning cast of All Stars), and thousands of other designers would kill to be in your shoes.

Joshua has the first stroke of bad luck back in the workroom; what he’d thought was a roll of blue fabric is actually a blue bag with a rolled-up Hanukkah banner inside. It’s hard not to feel bad for him, but it’s also legitimately funny. Uli starts working on a dress made completely out of trimmings and embellishments (despite her vow to stay away from them last week), and Emilio immediately begins to flounder a bit, which surprises me a little given his background in costume design. And everyone points out, once again, how Ivy and Cassanova are collaborating, but it doesn’t seem to be helping Cassanova much. He’s ready to make a tree skirt into a poncho and call it a day.

When Joanna comes by for her critiques, she’s concerned with the state of Joshua’s look — since he has so little to work with, his look so far consists entirely of a “bralet” and high-waisted shorts. She comes upon Cassanova tearing apart his latest effort, and when she says she’d liked it from afar, he rolls his eyes and says, “You wanna wear that dress?” Emilio’s color palette has strayed from red and green, but Joanna is worried that he’s going to “let ribbon do the work for him.” There’s a bit of concern around how similar Anthony Ryan and Uli’s looks are; Ivy claims he’s “always copying other designers’ inspiration,” but if that’s the case, it’s the first I’m hearing of it. Ivy tells Joanna that she plans to make a fringe out of some garland, but when Joanna points out that she doesn’t have enough of the garland, Ivy agrees, then doesn’t change her plan. Strange.

The morning of the runway, everyone begins to realize just how much work they still have to do — time to break out the glue guns! Cassanova requests donations of fabric and embellishments from the other designers and uses their leftovers to cobble a look together. Peace on earth, goodwill to all! Joshua makes the questionable decision to wrap his model’s ponytail in the gold wire from one of his leftover ornaments, and Emilio starts hurling glue guns across the room. It’s all very tense!

Then it’s off to the runway where Kylie Minogue joins the judges, and LaLa Anthony shows up, too. LaLa is unexpectedly quiet (although she comes out of her shell a bit more when the judges are deliberating) and Kylie is as impossibly energetic as ever. It’s a surprisingly strong runway, although things do look much more glued-together (and supported by a layer of muslin) than normal.

In the end, Uli’s look won, and she was praised for how light and youthful her look seemed despite how physically heavy it was. And while Cassanova’s last-minute recycling efforts were valiant, they weren’t enough to keep him in the competition. It was LaLa who was his biggest champion, strangely, pointing out that if he could put together a passable dress with scraps, he must be able to do great things when he has all the material he needs.

We’re down to the top six! Any predictions for the final three? I’m thinking Anthony Ryan, Emilio, and Uli.

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