“What we’ll see will defy explanation.” Those lyrics from “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” couldn’t have been more fitting on “Project Runway All Stars.” In episode seven, “Pure Imagination,” the designers embarked on this season’s avant garde challenge. So who got the judges’ golden ticket, and who was booted from this factory tour? Scroll down for our live blog with all the minute-by-minute developments as they happen.
The avant garde challenge has always been an opportunity for designers to let their freak flags fly, but they had better fly high, especially this season. In the first six weeks of the competition the judges saw some wild, unflattering designs, but they have often been harder on contestants who created bland, uninspired looks (like Juli Grbac) than those who took big swings and missed (like three-time low-scorer Django Steenbakker). And when it comes to avant garde fashion, there’s nothing worse than boring.
Regular judges Georgina Chapman, Isaac Mizrahi and Alyssa Milano were joined this week by a pair of guests from the stage and screen: Andrew Rannells and Anna Camp. Rannells is a two-time Tony-nominated Broadway performer for the musicals “The Book of Mormon” and “Falsettos.” He’s also known for roles on TV including “Girls,” “Big Mouth” and currently the Showtime comedy “Black Monday.” Camp is also a theater vet, as well as a co-star in TV’s “True Blood” and the “Pitch Perfect” movies on the big screen.
Find out below who went big and who went home starting at 9:00pm (all times listed are Eastern). Did the judges get it right?
9:01 p.m. – To hear about this week’s challenge, the designers joined Alyssa on Broadway at the stage of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” with Tony winner and star of the show Christian Borle. With the spirit of Willy Wonka and his imagination as inspiration, Alyssa asked the designers to create their best avant garde using an “invention” never before seen in fashion. Adding to the fun of the challenge, Alyssa had all of them pull a chocolate bar and the designer with the golden ticket in their wrapper earned an extra $100 to shop with at Mood. The lucky bar was picked by Evan Biddell!
9:05 p.m. – During the sketching and fabric buying sessions, Anthony Ryan Auld envisioned an oversized coat that can be written on and then erased, Irina Shabayeva imagined a glamorous gown that could convert into a “flying machine” with wings, Michelle Lesniak thought up a garment that has an anxiety shield, Christina Exie set out to build speakers into her outfit and Sean Kelly considered creating a puzzle garment that can be assembled and reassembled in different ways.
9:08 p.m. – Back in the workroom, Michelle and Dmitry reminisced about their success at avant garde challenges in past seasons while Django struggled to understand the idea of incorporating an invention in to the garments. In addition to shopping at Mood, the designers were also given the option of purchasing extra items to create their looks online. One of the things Michelle bought was carpet padding, a textile she had never used before and when it arrived she second guessed her decision, feeling like if it didn’t work out she might be at a huge disadvantage.
9:16 p.m. – But during a visit with Anne Fulenwider, Michelle’s carpet padding idea received a positive response and she seemed to have a handle on how she would use it. Cynthia Hayashi‘s invention was building a “new kind of armor,” which Anne referred to as more of a metaphor and stressed that Cynthia had to think more about the avant garde aspect of the challenge. Dmitry was not impressed by Anthony Ryan’s “dry-erase board” invention, but Anne was worried that Dmitry’s idea of a self-ventilating jacket wouldn’t translate well to the judges.
9:19 p.m. – Anne was equally confused by Django’s concept of a new kind of apron while Django was perplexed by Irina’s “flying dress” not being actually practical. Django’s overall frustration, both with Anne and with the challenge in general, led to him attacking the other designers and their ideas in an abrasive way.
9:30 p.m. – During the final model fitting prior to the runway, Michelle’s carpet padding dress remained just that, a carpet padding dress that Irina pointed out was just the same dress Michelle always made but with a big circle shield to accompany it. Fair point, but Christian also clocked Irina’s look as very similar to the romantic dresses she’s made before. Welp! What will the judges think?!
9:37 p.m. – On the runway, I’m sorry to inform you that Irina’s dress did not actually fly and Cynthia’s was pretty but inventionless, but Anthony Ryan’s dry erase board jacket looked perfectly implemented. Evan’s garment did look expensive, Sean’s puzzle dress was very interesting and actually looked like a puzzle and Django’s hat and apron were…. something. Christina’s boombox jumpsuit seemed inventive, Dmitry’s airy garment was certainly cool looking and the angles of Michelle’s dress were interesting, but it also just kind of looked like an unconventional materials challenge.
9:41 p.m. – Based on initial scoring, Dmitry, Cynthia and Evan were all declared safe. That left the remaining six–Irina, Michelle, Christina, Django, Sean and Anthony Ryan–as the top three and bottom three of the week.
9:46 p.m. – Christina earned her second high score of the season with her music-inspired garment that the judges appreciated both the concept and tailoring of. Django was, to no one’s surprise, on the bottom for not looking avant garde enough but also not Django enough. Georgina was impressed by Anthony Ryan’s embrace of imagination and said that she could see his coat in Italian Vogue. Irina’s dress earned mixed reviews with Alyssa differing from the rest of the panel by giving her a high score for feeling less restrained than she normally does, but Isaac thought it was mostly tacky. Sean’s construction and concept confused some of the judges, but was interesting to others though none of them really grasped avant garde from it. Michelle was a high score and hit the nail on the head for avant garde, but the judges also appreciated the story behind it.
9:59 p.m. – After discussing the garments more closely, the judges decided that Anthony Ryan was the undeniable winner of the week! The other high scorers, Christina and Michelle, were also safe, as was the best of the worst, Irina. That left Django and Sean on the very bottom with one of them destined to be sent home. Ultimately Django just couldn’t escape his losing streak and this fourth straight trip to the bottom would be his last.
NEXT WEEK: The designers shop for three different daytime separates at JC Penney and must transform those into a new nighttime look.
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