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‘Project Runway All-Stars’ Recap + Review: ‘Up Your Aerosol’

Lifetime

This week’s ‘Project Runway All-Stars’ episode title, ‘Up Your Aerosol,’ sounds like an old-timey insult. Like “up your nose with a rubber hose!” but it’s like, “up your aerosol with a rubber parasol!” I give up.

The Challenge

Automaton Carolyn Murphy greets the designers this week with a graffiti-inspired challenge, wherein they’re introduced to street artists who’ve collaborated with everyone from Nike to Missy Elliott to … Robert De Niro. Um, yeah. Anyway! The designers will create their own patterns with spray paint and white cotton or chiffon. And you can just see these fools salivating over the word “chiffon.”

Some designers use stencils, which seems like the easy amateur route, while Emilio is taking a more practical approach by not being too literal with the graffiti angle and being more painterly. Joshua paints the skyline, which will inevitably appeal to the judges’ sense of New York pride, and Suede … I have no idea what Suede is doing, but it looks like a 4-year-old making a backdrop for a ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ mural.

But there’s major drama among the designers because Laura Kathleen is showing herself as a snob, bragging about her family’s wealth and saying things like, “I must have been a saint in another life because I’ve been given so much in this one” — well, that’s what White Kanye says that she said, but the cameras never catch it and it sounds amazing and now I hate reality TV for not doing its job. Ivy gives her the cold shoulder, but White Kanye takes the diplomatic approach and tells Laura Kathleen she might want to think before she speaks.

Joanna pops in to check on everyone, and the early stinkers are definitely White Kanye, Ulli, and Suede. But holy cow, Casanova is doing something so cute in his corner of the room. I can’t wait to see what happens with all of that.

Joanna tries her best to bait Laura Kathleen and Ivy by asking them about the taste level of the other designers and if there’s anyone that doesn’t deserve to be there in a move that obviously, most definitely was not suggested by the producers to stir the poo pot. You can’t make drama happen, guys! You have a room full of feisty personalities who all think they’re better than each other, and the gay men are sassy, and they’re all forced to work in a white-washed version of a sweat shop — believe me, the drama will happen. If you build it, blah blah blah.

The Runway

Andrae — He’s done this beautiful Monet-like effect on the skirt with greens and blues and purples and yellows. It skews a little on the side of Easter Sunday, especially with the tulle, but with the way he twists that tulle into a crazy bow and styles his model like she just survived a hurricane (too soon!), it’s like a chopped and screwed version of Sunday Best.

Ulli – This orange and purple nightmare looks like something Elena from season 10 of ‘Project Runway’ would make. So much pointy shoulder! It’s like a day-glo space woman from an ’80s softcore porn movie.

Kayne — Of course White Kanye made a gown. Of course. I’m not a fan of the deep-V halter that cuts down to the navel, especially when coupled with an extravagant gown skirt. I actually quite like the skirt, with the various panels that he’s painted with different designs. He took inspiration from the street artists to make several panels and then cobbled the panels together with geometric black velvet stripping — it looks graphic in such an exciting way. But that top. That top is not class.

Laura Kathleen — That hem looks like curtains parting to reveal that model’s Good China. For all this talk of Laura Kathleen’s sophisticated upbringing, did no one ever tell her that lady parts need to remain covered in public? It’s called mystery, and Sarah McLachlan was certain you could built it. The fabric is quite lovely and looks like a manufactured textile, and the shape is cute and fun, but that bottom is no good.

Anthony Ryan — He’s gone for a graphic pattern with blue and black stripes to make a party dress, but all that white space is a bit problematic. The dress itself is just a flirty and fun party dress with an easy and flattering shape. I’m torn — I like the dress a lot, but the design feels a bit lazy. There’s an interesting Rorschach design to the top on both the front and back, but it’s lost in the stripes. I expect more from you, AR.

Casanova — This is maybe not the dress I was hoping he was making. I thought it would be more flowing and maybe longer, but I guess I forgot that this is Casanova. I love the lightness of the fabric and the way the paint hits the sheerness of the chiffon, but the embellishment looks cheap and Tween-y. Hearts! Xs! Rhinestones! The skyline? Sure! Throw it on that dress.

Emilio — This outfit is straight-up overkill. This woman is a lawyer in the cartoon version of Hell. I loved the idea of his jacket — the way he flipped the fabric so the drips look like they’re moving up instead of down, and because he used so much paint, the fabric became stiff and resembled denim. The jacket itself is fabulously crafted, but all that fire-aesthetic could have used something more simple underneath to emphasize the piece. Instead, he mimics the colors and design with the dress, and the jacket is lost in a sea of yellow and orange and red. And it’s just too much.

Suede — His model looks like she stuck some glue on her dress and rolled around on felt polka dots during a craft project mishap. The design of the dress is good — I’m a sucker for those whimsical voluminous skirts, all sheer and layered and fairy-like. That speaks to me. What does not speak to me is the color story and these weird polka dots, which is like Ninja Turtles went to Dippin’ Dots. I am so jealous of his model’s amazing hair, though.

Althea — The black paneling on the sides of her spray-painted fabric makes this look like Althea sews crooked, and I’m not really sold on the black lining around the top of the dress, either, which has such a weird, wavy shape to it. The pattern itself is good — purple and gold chunky blocks on white, and vaguely animal print-ish.

Ivy — Her skirt and jacket are impeccably-made and just lovely — the skirt is soft and feminine, while the jacket is a very simple and cleanly tailored piece with no fussy pockets or hems. It all feels flat in a way that’s desirable, if that makes sense. Unfortunately, her spray paint work isn’t that great. The words scribbled were intended to evoke the spirit of comic books and Lichtenstein, but it does neither.

Joshua — He’s paired a purple, yellow, and black design of the NY skyline with a more minimal skirt. The paint work on the skirt is more interesting and challenging, and where the white space on Anthony Ryan’s outfit was a little distracting, the white space on Joshua’s skirt enhances his design.

The Judging

Joshua, Ulli, and Andrae are all safe, and this makes me worry about Joshy. So far, he’s been in the middle for all three challenges, never really leaving a lasting impression on the judges. But as we’ve seen in previous seasons, many designers are in the “safe” zone for every challenge, but emerge with very strong looks in later episodes that earn them a spot at Fashion Week. Maybe Josh is just saving up his gas for later.

Anthony Ryan, Emilio, and Ivy are in the top, all praised (rightfully) for their expert tailoring and the way they’ve translated the challenge to play to their own experiences and strengths. But it’s Emilio who impresses the judges the most and wins the challenge this week.

Laura Kathleen, Suede, and Kayne are in the bottom three. All three seem to have disconnect issues — Laura’s top is great but the skirt is too inelegant, Suede’s spot effect doesn’t mesh well with the rest of his design and feels like an afterthought, and Kayne’s velvet top doesn’t match with the design of the skirt.

And it looks like after having been in the bottom three for the third week in a row, it’s Suede’s time to go.

See you next week.

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