As is the case with most “all star” seasons of reality television, the latest installment of Project Runway All Stars has a few qualified candidates and a bunch of folks who were simply more than available. And, like the various “all star” treatments out there, Project Runway‘s second outing falls trap to the notion that trying to mix and match old seasons doesn’t necessarily make for an attractive new one.
That’s not to say there weren’t legitimate Project Runway all stars to be excited to see again during the Season 2 premiere last night. What happened to Andrae? Funny you ask, because he was there! Along with fellow runner-up talents like Uli, Anthony Ryan, and Laura Kathleen. (My money is on Uli taking this whole thing. Much like how Mondo nabbed the Season 1 All Star victory to make up for the loss during his season, Uli will likely do the same here.) There’s the contestants there for sheer entertainment value like Casanova (who already provided some Soup-worthy quips), Gay Ryan Reynolds AKA Josh, and the villain everybody love to hate to hate to hate, Wendy Pepper. Then there’s Suede and Kayne and Peach. (Names have not been changed.)
The problem with both incarnations of Lifetime’s Project Runway, both the regular season and now the new All Stars, is that even though you can dress it up the same as the original Bravo show, the fabric of the series has fallen apart at the seams since the network swap. (Come on, who doesn’t like a series of fashion puns?! Oh, right, everyone.) Project Runway started to lose its edge when the talent pool not only dwindled substantially as the seasons went on and the challenges were anything but challenging. Case in point: last night’s challenge.
After host Carolyn Murphy (who is lovely enough, but is no Heidi Klum as far as hosts go) told the contestants they’d be paired off into dreaded teams, the designers assembled to take on their first “challenge”: creating a line with the theme of “attitude”. Isn’t all high fashion about attitude? How would this be considered a challenge to a fashion designer? Making clothes out of plants and scrap metal and random items at a grocery store, that is a challenge.
Nevertheless, they were split into two teams with Team 1 consisting of Kayne, Uli, Casanova, Ivy, Althea, and picked-last-for-kickball Wendy, and Team 2 had Josh, Peach, Laura, Emilio, Andrae, and Suede. The teams were given the chance to pick a word for the attitude challenge and Team 1 went with “confident” and Team 2 picked “bold”. You know since bold and daring are things designers rarely strive for, this was going to be a real stretch.
Given $250 per person and the looming threat that the person with the worst design on the losing team, they all got to work. As well they should have considering how much is at stake this season. Project Runway may be painfully boring, but they sure do keep it interesting for the stars. This year the winner gets to be the Contributing Editor of Marie Claire for a year without all the fun of having to go to J-School, an all-expense paid trip around the world to the various Fashion Weeks, studio space, and $150,000.
If you’re a long-running — and at this point, suffering — you know the drill from here on. The designers visit Mood, they eyeball and tear apart each others’ progress in the work room, someone makes a blanket statement (“I’m not here to be safe, I’m here to win”, “You’re only as good as your weakest link”), their models come in, they get ready for the runway show, they put on the runway show, the judges judge, a winner is declared, and a loser is sent packing. Of course, there are a few key differences with regular Project Runway and All Stars in that, like the host, there’s an entirely different set of judges (Michael Kors and your totally bats**t analogies for outfits, where art thou?) and instead of the heartwarming Tim Gunn, there’s Tilda Swinton doppleganger Joanna Coles.
The judges — composed of Murphy, Coles, Georgina Chapman, and Isaac Mizrahi (who made my favorite declaration ever last night when he pondered “I wonder about shorts anymore!”), along with guest judge, the aforementioned Mondo — watched on as Team Bold showed a series of not terribly bold black-and-blue outfits and Team Confident had a slightly more confident black-and-lace collection. And, despite having Kayne and his super hero gone awry outfit, Team Confident emerged the winner. Team member Anthony Ryan became Season 2’s first champ thanks to a chic number with a sexy surprise lace detail in the back (hey, the guy’s still got it), while athletic wear enthusiast Peach was understandably the first to get the boot because of her unflattering, long-sleeved disaster of a dress.
All in all, it was a pretty dull episode of Project Runway All Stars. Does the season have potential? Perhaps. Based on the trailer, it seems like Ivy is hell-bent on giving Wendy a run for her money as insufferable TV villain and Katie Holmes makes an appearance as a guest judge. But since these episodes can feel a little tedious and the show itself can hardly muster up the same inspiration that it used to, here’s some fun games you can play at home should you choose to watch the rest of this season, such as:
Who Said It: Casanova or Gloria from Modern Family?
Is That Suede Or A Juggalo?
Kayne or Kanye?
That last one doesn’t really make sense, but you know, make it work.
What did you think of the Season 2 premiere of Project Runway All Stars? Were you underwhelmed by the lineup and the challenge or just thrilled that you didn’t have to go a full two weeks without an episode of Project Runway? Who do you think looks poised to take this season? Share in the comments section below.
[Photo credit: Lifetime]