‘Project Runway All Stars’ recap: In ‘Penneys from Heaven,’ the designers lift with separates [UPDATING LIVE BLOG]

Eight designers remained going into episode eight of “Project Runway All Stars.” After dealing with unconventional materials, corsets, zoo animals and more, the designers had to make fashionable evening looks out of — gasp! — daytime separates. Which designers achieved the best day-to-night transformations in “Penneys from Heaven,” and whose looks belonged in the bargain bin? Find out below in our live blog with all the minute-by-minute developments as they happen.

Every single “All Stars” contestant this season is a past “Runway” champion. The playing field is so level that six out of the eight remaining designers won a design challenge in the first seven episodes. The only contestant who won twice up to this point was Anthony Ryan Auld, who had the best graduation look in “Top of the Class” and then prevailed again last week in “Pure Imagination.” Dmitry Sholokhov, Irina Shabayeva, Christina Exie, Michelle Lesniak and Sean Kelly also won challenges.

The only designers who were still looking for their first victory going into “Penneys from Heaven” were Canadian “Runway” alum Evan Biddell and Brazilian champ Cynthia Hayashi. Biddell has been one of the most consistent designers in the competition thus far without a single low score from the judges, though he has rubbed some of his rival designers the wrong way with his catty comments and tendency to finish his work early and spend the rest of his time designing fanny packs for himself.

Meanwhile, Hayashi flew under the radar for most of the first seven weeks, receiving five safe scores and just two low scores, but no high scores — not a good sign as the field narrows down to the very best. Was this the end of the road for her, or did she finally wow the judges, who this week included special guests Vanessa Williams and Victoria’s Secret model Jasmine Tookes. Find out below starting at 9:00pm (all times listed are Eastern).

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9:01 p.m. – At JCPenney, the final eight met up with Alyssa Milano and guest Monica Dalton to present the next challenge. The designers were asked to shop for three distinct daytime separates that they’d use to create a new nighttime look. To do so, they’d go through the store to find a live model of their choice that was wearing two of the three separates they want to use and then purchase their third separate from anywhere in the store.

9:05 p.m. – Despite feeling at home with the concept of the challenge, Michelle was feeling lost in the store once she had her model and couldn’t find a third separate to go with the denim jacket and white skirt that she was wearing. The other designers seemed to have a much easier time, especially Biddell who was (once again) feeling very confident in his ideas.

9:07 p.m. – Back in the workroom, Cynthia was frustrated with the prints that she came back with because prints are generally not her aesthetic. Sean also had prints, but he decided to embrace their loudness by envisioning an evening dress for a girl in a tropical location. Christina’s process was completely thrown off because she wasn’t used to designing off of a pre-constructed garment and having to deconstruct it rather than drape fabric from scratch.

9:14 p.m. – When Anne Fulenwider came for a check-in she was in agreement with the visions of Sean, Dmitry, Irina, Michelle and Anthony Ryan, but wasn’t convinced that Cynthia was focused on a proper nighttime look or that Biddell’s idea was going to blow the judges away. Christina got the toughest critique (“don’t turn a jacket into a jacket”), but Christina was also concerned with the direction she was heading, too.

9:20 p.m. – Behind the scenes, Michelle and Dmitry were throwing shade at each other yet again–this time Michelle thought Dmitry was forcing himself to like the skirt he designed even though he likely knew it was bad and Dmitry scoffed at Michelle creating a basic garment he thinks she was doing years ago. There was also tension up front when Michelle and Sean were playing around because they weren’t as crunched for time and their noise started to both Christina and Dmitry.

9:29 p.m. – Sean spent some of his time helping out Christina, but Biddell thought that he should be vamping up his own look instead of leaving it as basic as it was. Speaking of basic, both Anthony Ryan and Irina considered Michelle’s in that way and Biddell thought Cynthia’s read as office wear, not evening wear.

9:37 p.m. – On the runway, Biddell’s jumper shined and looked expensive, Sean’s tropical dress wasn’t as flowy as I imagined it would be, but it still stood out. Dmitry’s skirt was indeed off, but the ruffled top was interesting and Anthony Ryan’s appliqué dress looked really cool despite being a relatively basic cut. Christina’s constantly changing concept looked like a hot mess in its final iteration, but compared to Michelle’s very simple hanging dress it at least had personality. Irina’s red dress with big sleeves looked great, if not uneventful, but Cynthia’s jacket and short dress were just too simple.

9:40 p.m. – The judges’ scores decided that both Anthony Ryan and Dmitry were safe, leaving Michelle, Biddell, Cynthia, Christina, Sean and Irina on stage to hear full critiques as the top and bottom looks of the week.

9:45 p.m. – Vanessa was very high on Irina’s look and thought she admitted it wasn’t “her cup of tea” Jasmine did appreciate what she did. Georgina and Isaac were on board with Michelle’s “little silver dress,” but both Vanessa and Jasmine seemed thrown off by it. Georgina cautioned Christina that her idea to create something on trend is where she went wrong and told her that instead she should just go with her gut and do what feels natural without trying to do something.

9:48 p.m. – In Cynthia’s critique she got the dreaded change-up conversation with the judges where they asked her model to take off the jacket in order to improve the overall look. The panel liked Sean’s idea and most of what he did, but definitely thought there were moments here and there that he could have changed to improve it. Lastly, Biddell became a clear frontrunner based on Jasmine and Vanessa’s remarks alone, but when Georgina called it the most unique garment out of everyone it kind of sealed the deal.

9:59 p.m. – After closer assessment, Biddell, Michelle and Irina were the top looks in consideration for the win, but as suspected it was Biddell that was selected as the best (his first win of the season). Sean was a low score, but ultimately declared safe, too. With Cynthia and Christina left standing. In the end it was Cynthia that the judges eliminated, meaning that only two designers (Christina and Biddell) from international versions of the show remained in the competition.

NEXT WEEK: The designers are asked to create gender-neutral streetwear. With the competition narrowing down, tensions rise in the workroom and ownership over use of the sewing machines puts everyone on edge.

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