Laura Ashley Goes to the Opera

I’m back, Project Runway lovelies! I missed you terribly, and I would be remiss if I did not apologize for dropping over the face of the earth with my recaps well before the finale—it was a combination of finishing/freaking out over my Master’s and being entirely exasperated with the Head Shaving Beauty Queen and her bright floaty caftans heralded as rivaling the Christ child in majesty and importance.

But let’s give All Stars a try, shall we?

The set-up is different—no Atlas apartments, Parsons (it isn’t Parsons, right?), no sad Piperlime accessories wall to be used thoughtfully (we have upgraded to a Neiman Marcus wall), and, most strikingly, no Heidi, Michael, Nina, and NO TIM! Instead, All Stars is hosted by model Angela Lindvall, (who, while I appreciate her not attempting to imitate Heidi, may possibly need a blood transfusion), judged by Isaac Mizrahi (my grandmother owned a rather garish pink and orange Isaac Mizrahi silk blend blouse that she wore to dialysis appointments, but that’s neither here nor there) and Georgina Chapman (Marchesa designer), and mentored by Tilda Swinton, who is masquerading as Marie Claire editor, Joanna Coles.

The first episode of All Stars featured an “unconventional materials” challenge at the 99¢ store, in which Anthony (Season 7, sassy, likes to inform us he is from the ghetto) assumed that a champagne cork being popped was a violent shoot-out, and, with the exceptions of Rami (Season 4, draper extraordinaire, bald) and Mondo! (Season 8, awesome-should-have-won-ugh-stupid-Gretchen), a whole lot of fug walked the runway. Sweet P (Season 4, many tattoos) was very nearly axed, but squeaked by, the auf being given to space cadet flower child Elisa (Season 4, fabric spitter). When asked to explain her garment (which included hot pants with a giant vaginal rose on the model’s lady business), Spits-A-Lot began babbling nonsensically about sacred geometry like a Dan Brown novel. It didn’t go well.

Anyway, moving on to Episode 2. The designers were asked to create a gown for a night at the opera and were given $350 to spend at Mooood. Michael Costello (Season 8, cries) basically lost his shit because he could not deal with the fact that he and April (Season 8, now has inexplicably gray hair, swears like a longshoreman) were going to use red fabric, after they had both used mops in the last challenge. He selects a black matte jersey instead. Austin Scarlett (Season 1, should have gone to the finale over that dreadful Wendy Pepper, now looks like Salvador Dali), informs the camera that in his season he was known as the “King of Couture” (I have no recollection of that, buddy, but if you want to go with that, sure) and that everyone has major expectations for him.

"Couture" seems to get thrown around a lot in this episode, in fact, and I feel we need to back up a tic and explore that word. It was a very Inigo Montoya "you keep using that word—I don’t think it means what you think it means" sort of thing.

My understanding of couture (please correct me if I am wrong) is that it is extremely detailed, time and labor-intensive, highly technical, often hand-sewn custom fashion masterpieces made with rich and typically very expensive fabrics.

This shit isn’t couture, you shiny All Star diamonds.

In fact, Anthony may be my new best friend and wise mountain sage, for he interviews that, seeing as they are so strained for time, what they are doing is insulting to couture—what they are making are really, really, really pumped-up prom dresses. You speak the truth, Anthony.

Let’s take a look at what came down the runway, shall we?

Anthony somehow earned a spot in the Top Three with the model’s breasts on almost full display. I realize they are bolt-ons (this is what I do not understand about the way breast implants are often done—it shouldn’t look like an ostrich laid eggs under your skin) and probably don’t move, but it seems like one false step and this poor girl will be giving the opera her own show. It’s like Ancient Roman Whore. The black dominatrix gloves could stand to go—I feel like she doesn’t want to leave prints at a crime scene. Certainly, there were far worse garments though…and I suppose it is draped nicely.

Oh, Good God. April took a misstep into a mud pit with this sad sack. She claimed she was going for “corpse bride” with her horrid ombré effect on this “ox-blood” red. I see bits of fabric stapled onto a bodice, the skirt of which reminds me highly of Elizabeth Bennet finding her petticoats six inches deep in mud on the way to Netherfield…but less awesome because Pride and Prejudice is amazing and this makes me die inside. (I am speaking, of course, of the novel itself and the only acceptable film version—the 1995 A&E/BBC miniseries with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth—none of that disgusting nonsense with Keira Knightley shrieking and giggling and completely unable to close her mouth all the way.) Anywayyyy, this is wretched, April. It isn’t “rocker;” it’s ugly.

Austin Scarlett, our soi-disant “King of Couture” took the win for this gold lamé number. Personally, I think it makes the model look terribly hippy and the black tulle does not look particularly luxurious—and reminds me highly of an effect used behind the crucifix at my church with a similar material. The sallow makeup job and the bands across the bodice that do not lie smoothly make the model a bit…mummy-tastic. Again, though, there were worse.

Gordana’s model peed herself. I quite like the Jean Harlow makeup and hair, and I suppose I don’t mind the bodice (I am no fan of periwinkle, but that’s just a personal preference), but the skirt…she looks like she’s urinated on it. Good job.

So Jerell is apparently making a line of Preggo-Fabulous gowns. This has to be for a giantly pregnant woman, right? Like, if Jessica Simpson paraded around in this, you’d go, “Oh, I suppose that’s a nice dress for her, since she’s about to pop,” but most non-gravid ladies don’t want a garment that makes random strangers caress their stomachs and coo, “Aw, when are you due??” So, no, Jerell…no.

Sweet Odin’s raven, no! Why, Kara, why did you make a Laura Ashley bridesmaid/prom dress from 1991? Again, she looks hugely pregnant, and that fabric should not still exist. It isn’t “midsummer,” as was claimed; it’s dated and unfortunate. I’m pretty sure, in fact, that I had an Easter dress (with tiny white lace gloves and a hat) made with that fabric…when I was five…again, in 1991. Kara did defend her garment by pointing out that, “I mean, I did make pockets" causing the judges to go into veritable paroxysms of amazement, which seems to have saved her from being auffed.

Okay, hold up. For the record, in my incredibly nerdy attempt to become a master seamstress who can create accurate historical costumes, I have taken up sewing. I am on my first garment, a very basic knee-length pleated skirt (not a historical skirt; just your standard “Very Easy” Butterick pattern). I am using the most basic cotton blend, as it is among the easiest to work with, in solids, so I don’t have to worry about cutting a patterned fabric the wrong way and my skirt being all wonk-tastic. I have never sewn anything in my life. I have no technical skill whatsoever. I am making pockets. No one needs to go into raptures over pockets. If I can make a pocket, absolutely no one on the face of the planet ought to be impressed when Kara Janx makes freaking pockets on her Laura Ashley 1991 prom/bridesmaid dress.

Kenley crafted this pink polka-dot tiered confection. It’s certainly unique and I kind of like it, I think—I find it a bit twee and ill-fitting for the opera, but it’s not bad. The pink lipstick makes the model look like she was sucking on a raw porkchop though.

Michael Costello, after dramatically abandoning his original red design, created a rather fierce garment, a definite contender for the win. He took a black dress and made it stand out. Bravo, Michael. The judges pointed out that only a woman with a perfect body could wear this, prompting Angela to ask for one. Yeah, that didn’t make you sound like an asshole. Of course, then Georgina Chapman had to make it gross and remark that even if the woman who wore this gown came to the opera by herself, she certainly wouldn’t be going home alone. Um, ew, Georgina. Who whores it up at the opera? Just saying. Keep it classy.

On the flipside of the black dress fight, Mila made a rather yawn-inducing dress. I mean, it’s pretty, but it isn’t anything I haven’t seen before. And I know they only had a day, but that bodice is puckering something fierce. Blah, Mila. Blah.

WHY didn’t this win? Mondo once again created a stunning, dramatic piece, evoking a ’60s Audrey Hepburn vibe without being costumey. I’d wear this to the opera; I’d wear it to work, if I could. It only made the safe pack. Fools.

Rami made this hot mess, which was so disappointing after his banging structured laundry bag dress from last week. The bodice ends at the worst possible point, making his model look like she crammed about ten cheeseburgers before hitting the runway. Also, it reminds me of a less pouffy version of the dress on my 1990 Holiday Barbie:

Oh, Sweet P…oh…oh…NO. This…I have no words for this. One of the judges called the skirt a dirndl, but that’s an insult to dirndls. This is just orange floral vomit. This is what would happen if I tried to sew a gown, gave up halfway through and tried to do a bathing suit instead…and was also on crack. Oh, Sweet P, you were not long for All Stars. You went home for this, and rightfully so.

Next week, they design for Miss Piggy. That could be incredibly awesome or incredibly stupid. Will…will the models wear snouts? Or does Miss Piggy model the gowns? How does that work? Until then, darlings.

49 notes
  1. tneria said: You are doing recaps again…my life is now back on track! I think April’s new hair color is cool. Agree Sweet P was the one to go. Why is she an all-star? Mondo and Michael had the best creations.
  2. staralfur09 said: A most excellent recap! I’m mostly enjoying this season, but the absence of Tim Gunn is palpable at times. Also, I reeeeeeeally despise Kenley personally (which is annoying because I mostly like her designs).
  3. tiserin posted this
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