Project Runway All Stars: S3 E9

We’re nearing the final stretch, dear readers. 

The Challenge: The designers have two days to create a ready-to-wear look for the fashion label Milly. Their designs must be approved by the company’s president to make sure there cost-effective to retail for $400. The winning look will be manufactured and sold by Milly with profits going to Save the Garment Center.

Guest Judge: Michelle Smith of Milly, the eternally adorable Kristin Chenoweth, and for some unknown reason, Nick Cannon, who is apparently contractually obligated to mention his wife in every public appearance he makes.

Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

Sorry, Christopher, but this was clearly the worst look of the four finalists. The skirt is gorgeous, but that top is terrible from concept to execution. And the judges finally said the thing I’ve been thinking about Christopher since his season – he doesn’t have a strong point of view. And on this show, that’s usually a bigger crime than anything else. Instead of simply auf-ing him, the judges decided to torture him and Korto with an on-the-runway, last-minute, one-hour challenge in which they had to create a look from three of their prior runway looks. Christopher didn’t fare much better there:

Photo: Lifetime

I mean, the fact that they were do anything but sit on the runway and cry during that final hour was impressive enough to me. This was absolutely fine, and miraculous under the circumstances, but both of Korto’s looks were better than both of Christopher’s looks., as far as I’m concerned.

Top 2
Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

I don’t care how interesting and great the colors are – I thought this clearly deserved to be in the bottom alongside Christopher. Elena refused to budge so much as a millimeter outside the very restricted box she keeps herself in – this is indistinguishable from half the dresses she’s made in the past. And Christopher’s comment about how those sleeves look like giant ears was spot-on – I can’t un-see that. The idea that those crazy shoulders would be commercially viable was a joke. I do think the lipstick matching the back of those shoes is kind of a killer detail, but that wasn’t enough to make me actually like this look.

Bottom 2
Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

The back of this dress is fucking flawless. I do have some issues with the fit in the front, but I thought this was more Milly and more sellable than anything else on the runway. I liked Seth Aaron’s look more than Korto’s look, because his had a lot more detail and was executed brilliantly, but for the parameters of this challenge, I’m still convinced Korto should have won. This seemed relatively cheap to make, easy to sell, and utterly adorable. Oh, and she blew my mind with what she was able to create in an hour:

Photo: Lifetime

She made a skirt out of pants and a top out of a skirt. Korto truly transformed the few pieces she had to work with, and created something that didn’t just look like clothes, but felt like fashion. I don’t have faith the judges will give Korto the win, but I’m still on her team.

Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

As I said earlier, I absolutely love this look, though I would have nixed the keyhole in front just to clean it up a bit. The styling is flawless, the execution is breathtaking, and the movement of that skirt looked so stunning on the runway. But while I love the amount of detail Seth Aaron puts into his work, those details also made this dress less wearable and more expensive to create. I know Milly will edit out whatever they think will make this dress more profitable, but it doesn’t seem right to award the win to a dress you know you’ll have to change, when Korto’s simpler look could have sold with only minor alterations. Thoughts, dear readers? Don’t be afraid to tell me I’m wrong.

Judges’ Top 2: Seth Aaron and Elena
Diva’s Top 2: Korto and Seth Aaron
Judges’ Bottom 2: Korto and Christopher
Diva’s Bottom 2: Elena and Christopher

© Democracy Diva, 2014.
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24 responses to Project Runway All Stars: S3 E9

  1. I rarely disagree with you that much, but this time I have to disagree strongly. Korto took an expensive fabric, and made a dress which looked like something I can buy in the cheapest retail story out there. There was no design to speak of in it (and she had two days for it!!!! Two days! For this!). The back was nice, but let’s face it, the retail customer wants something which looks stunning from the front, but is closed up enough in the back to be able to wear a bra.

    For the same reason, the cut-outs in Seth Aarons design were an idiotic idea, and I am not surprised that they changed it for the sell (they also changed the waistline and the colour, and now the dress looks horrible clunky, but that’s another topic). Seth Aaron was the clear winner for me, because he was the only one who fulfilled the challenge, proving himself to be the professional he is. The cut-outs aside, I would have replaced the ruffles with simple lines perhaps in another colour, but those are really minor alterations.

    Elena…aside from totally ignoring the challenge in order to make yet another version of the same design, this was just wrong in the proportions. The shoulder detail was a little bit too large (in smaller, I think it would have looked great), the (puckering!) leather part ends a little bit too high above the waist, the collar closed uneven and as usual, the whole thing just looks stiff. And don’t get me started on the styling. She is sitting in her little box and has no sense for proportions whatsoever. The sad thing is that she will most likely win.

    Christopher…his inexperience showed this time around. And still – I liked the idea behind his design, even if the execution was not all there (he really should not start to experience with new materials during competition). And I think I finally get him. He likes simple, easy to wear shapes with a little twist. (The top is btw a whole leather dress…you can wear this with the skirt or as simple leather dress if you want). As a style it is not as “loud” as what some of the other designers do, but on the upside, he is not trapped in one technique, and he is ready to stretch himself. Either way, I was so offended by Korto’s and Elena’s entries, I would have aufed one of them.

    • And the sad thing is: If Korto had made the belt/backrace detail longer in the front and added a little detail on the connection between it and the other fabric (like fastenings…would have also had the advantage that she would have needed a little less of the expensive fabric and it would have given the front more shape) this could have been a really great design and the clear winner. But no. Two days and she doesn’t see that it looks like a lumpy tent from the front.

      • democracydiva – Author

        I like when you disagree! The funny thing is, I actually agree with most of your assessments, I just think the minimal design involved in Korto’s dress was purposeful and challenge-appropriate, which is why it didn’t bother me as much that it took her two days to come up with something so simple. Under any other circumstances, I would have agreed.

        I think you’re right that Elena’s going to win, and it just makes me angry and frustrated. She’s impossibly unprofessional and extraordinarily limited in terms of what she can do. It’s bad enough when they let such unprofessional people win the regular seasons, but the All Stars winner is supposed to be a contributing editor at Marie Claire! Unless that’s just a total bullshit title position and they don’t actually do anything, how long do you think it will take Elena to crack under the pressure of a job like that, where she actually has to communicate with human beings without having a nervous breakdown every minute and a half? That’s not to say that her lack of professionalism in appropriate if she were only a fashion designer and not a magazine editor, but it just seems even more unreasonable to award someone like her with the win. Particularly when Seth Aaron is probably the most professional person to ever appear on this show.

      • Simple does not mean “lack of design” though…remember the dress Michelle made for a similar challenge? Also simple, but a lot of design in it.

      • democracydiva – Author

        Is this the dress you’re talking about? Because I LOVED that dress. You’re right, that was still simple but definitely more designed than Korto’s. Michelle’s look is definitely a better example of simplicity used well in fashion, rather than simple being an effect of laziness. I can see how people thought Korto’s was the latter, but I still liked it. 🙂

      • Yep, that one. Like I said, if Korto had pushed the “extended belt” idea further, ending it over the breast-line instead the shoulders (which turned what would have looked like an extended belt into a simple back for a simple front), I would have awarded her the win in an heartbeat…but this was too simple and not even well fitted in the front (and the sides, btw). Well, at least she used the time to hem the skirt properly.

      • So that all the viewers can complain over my lack of fashion sense in my personal style? Not in my lifetime!

  2. I’m afraid Elena’s being set up for the win, too, and I just don’t see it. She’s still finding out who she is, and she keeps making the same profile over and over. This dress: she’s finally in a challenge where the emphasis is on the color, and she goes white. Not just a little white, but all white. In another person I’d say she was sabotaging herself, but I think she’s actually pretty certain to win and knows it.

    Seth Aaron- that dress was designed. And styled. And beautifully made and fitted. I liked it- couldn’t wear it for beans, but it was well done. Korto knows color and print and tribal looks, and she’s not afraid to go there. I’ve always loved Korto’s use of color. And Christopher hasn’t figured out how to angle the pieces of his looks and not make them ill-fitting, bulky in the wrong area and pulling and wrinkling. I see what he’s going for; he just hasn’t quite figured out how to do it.

    I’d really like a Korto win, but I’m pretty sure they’re going to give it to Elena… and I think her season is too recent for her to be successful as a consulting editor to a fashion magazine- not the way she verbally abused people, and not the way she kept screaming this season.

    • democracydiva – Author

      I read a lot of comments about how since Korto is one of the designers from when the show was on Bravo, there’s really no way they’d ever let her win All Stars over someone from when the show was on Lifetime. And I think, sadly, there’s a lot of truth to that. The show was so much better when it was on Bravo, but the Lifetime producers want to prove their version reigns supreme. That at least partially accounts for why Elena seems scripted to win, even though she’s all wrong for it.

  3. I’m one of the biggest trumpet horns about The Bravo Curse. Lifetime likes “their” designers and it is unlikely that Korto has a chance, sadly. So that leaves SA and Elena and I’m sorry, there just is no way Elena takes this. My money is on SA for the double win.

    • democracydiva – Author

      Yes, I definitely read about the Bravo Curse in the BPR comments! I’ll still be happy if SA wins, but I’m scared they’re going to give it to Elena as a redemption for her season, rather than awarding an already-winner.

      • MoHub

        Redemption is the key word here, as it was in the one-off All Stars that opened the Lifetime years and the two previous All Stars competitions. Korto is strictly a Bravo token a doomed, allowing Lifetime to claim it’s improved the franchise since it took over, and I doubt Seth Aaron will be awarded a second win. Nope; it’s all about redemption for Elena this go-round/

  4. I seem to agree with you all pretty much. I’m not excited with any designer who remains in the competition–if we consider what is going down the runway. I can’t say that anyone deserves a huge win with these great prizes. I’ve always thought that Seth Aaron was a great designer. Although his designs can be cute–especially the little girl outfit he made in his season–his designs are a bit unisex. In general, they are not soft or sexy. But they fit very well.

    I’m not impressed by Korto at all this season. I’ve said this about her before. I don’t think a designer in this competition should be “designing” a simple gathered skirt with a plain bodice without sleeves (as in episode 7). She is coming from the Uli-Anya school called “Let your fabric do the work without sewing or fitting much.”

    I’m just not into Elena or her designs. A few of the designers have made wacky sleeves this season that remind me of Filipino Butterfly Sleeves. I first noticed these sleeves about 20 years ago when a televised beauty pageant was televised in the Philippines. I was shocked to see these wacky sleeves:

    Evidently, this customary style still seeps into fashion there. Whenever one of the designers makes a point where the a gentle capped sleeve should be, I cringe as my mind rushes back to that pageant years ago with these pointy cheap sleeves. (I hope I’m offending no one; these sleeves may have significance in the Philippines that I don’t understand.)

    Christopher’s design was goofy. The top did not fit correctly. He had an idea that did not seem developed.

    By process of elimination, I say Seth Aaron. I hope the outcome of the show isn’t fixed.

    • Uli is long over the phase in which her designs were mostly about patterns. Last time I checked she was obsessed with white.

      • democracydiva – Author

        Yes, Uli has definitely grown as a designer – I think she proved that on her season of All Stars. She’s not as defined by that South Beach/mixed prints aesthetic as she used to be.

  5. Juju

    I dunno how you can judge her work as unprofessional through the course of PRAS. She keeps on sending superbly finished stuff on the runway.

    • democracydiva – Author

      You’re definitely right about that, Juju. What I meant was that Elena’s behavior and demeanor are unprofessional – the way she flies off the handle so easily and can even be verbally abusive to her fellow competitors (that part was more so in her season rather than All Stars, if memory serves). Most of her work is very well-executed, but she’d be an impossible person to have around an office, even a non-traditional one. That’s what I was trying to say. 🙂

      • Kitty

        Interestingly enough I watched old episodes of PR over the holidays and noticed that Elena’s behavior and demeanor did not jive with my memory of her being a difficult person. She was emotional, direct and feisty in her PR season but she was not mean. Elena did not speak ill of anyone’s character but did give her opinion on garments. On PRAS I find her emotional and full of life, as are most artists. As a calm person I would have screamed obscenities if my vegan leather ripped when I had limited resources of fabric! Elena only screamed. She seems warm, engaging and compassionate to the other designers on PRAS and the others appear to reciprocate. Whether one likes her aesthetic is an individual taste matter. I loved the subtly of how she transformed a white dress into a buttery/chamomile and luxury mix. It was not a white dress; it was a mix of refined restraint mixing white, bright yellow and texture. I imagine the judges who see her work in person are intrigued with her workmanship. And, on the PR auctions her work sells for the most money. Her jackets fascinate me and she does a great job celebrating the female form. Can I wear her body-con garments? I wish!

        Good luck with BAR preparations. We are rooting for you success Diva.

      • Kitty, my problem with Elena in her PR season was that she fell apart during almost every challenge, believing that she was failing. It’s one thing to express doubt but she pulled several of the designers in to her problems as they tried to cheer her up. She was emotionally draining on other designers (who expressed their frustration at her neediness once they’d been sucked in). Frequently, she faired better than the individual designer who had tried to help her. Eventually, the other designers realized what she was doing, pulling them into her insecurities, and they backed off and let her go it alone. I’m not sure that Elena realized what she was doing until she perhaps watched her season on TV. At the beginning of the PRAS season 3, she started out loud again. But she seems to have quieted down. Between her season and the beginning of the PRAS 3, I felt like muting my TV.

        Having said that, I’ve seen Elena be kind. She was upset at Viktor for taking her idea, but she didn’t snitch on him, and she has helped other designers when she didn’t have to.

        My favorite designer–except for Christian and Mondo–has been Irina. But her selfish behavior bothers me. During her own season, she wouldn’t lift a finger to help a competitor. And in this PRAS she blamed her her model for ripping her dress when it had been finished poorly.

        I have seen all the seasons at this point, as I either rented or purchased the old seasons, and some seasons feature nicer people who formed bonds with other designers. I loved how Michelle and Patricia actually helped Stanley sew right before their final runway show. It is my opinion that when one designer helps another, that help isn’t going to change the outcome.

        I tend to react negatively to loud people due to my own background and upbringing. I may say I don’t like this or I don’t like that, but my reactions won’t cause me to hate that person. None of the designers from this season have been terrible, but I expect to be bowled over by a SRAS, and I’m not.

  6. nekp

    SwanPride- I agree with you 100% on your take of the episode. Although Elena has fantastic sewing skills, her range is so limited it is upsetting in a design competition. I would have sent her packing weeks ago for sending the same design down the runway over and over again. Isaac, however, seems to be in love with that one design and hasn’t noticed its reappearance on the runway.

    And I thought Korto’s was auf-worthy in a design competition. It was too simple at this stage of the game. Not to mention that I had serious issues with the fit and draping of the front of her dress.

    I liked the concept of Christopher’s design. It had a lot of potential. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to execute his vision. He is still very young and has more to learn. I think he has great potential.

    Seth Aaron is by far my favorite in the competition. His dress was well made. I think he needed to edit his design, and I would have removed a few of the cut out details. They limit the marketability of the dress. But the skirt just looked so amazing. I really loved it.

    Thanks for your blog which I read weekly. This is my first ever post. 🙂

  7. I am impressed that Elena completes her work in a timely manner. She isn’t following her model with pins and staples or needle and thread to the runway. But I don’t care for her esthetics. I just went through all of her looks for this season, and I’m reminded that I DISLIKE some of her looks. I don’t like pointy shoulders. Elena’s best look IMHO was for the challenge with the arts and crafts supplies at the school. I didn’t care for her backwards jacket.

    I have been disappointed in the designers for not using more color, even in this last challenge when color was emphasized. I loved Korto’s fabric. I’ll give her that. But one of the first things I learned to sew was a skirt that was gathered into a bodice. Korto has done something similar for two of the challenges, and this is “All Stars.” She lopped off one of the sleeves for another challenge.

    I think that Seth Aaron shows the most skill and talent but I’m a little bored with his stuff. I think much of this discussion is based on personal taste to a degree. We can say why we like one design over another. I think the concept of PRAS is the problem. I think we should be wowed at this point. How should these designs stand apart from the designs from the regular PR show? they don’t. The designs don’t quite measure up to the best PR seasons we’ve had.

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