This week's episode of Project Runway: All Stars
starts off promising when the designers meet Alyssa Milano in the hall of dinosaurs at the American Museum of Natural History. Yay, a dinosaur challenge! Everyone loves dinosaurs!
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But no. It isn't an unconventional challenge to make a dress of dinosaur bones. It's an avant-garde challenge and the designers have to take inspiration from the Hall of Biodiversity where the insect and arachnid exhibit is. Gross.
The designers have a budget of $250 and two days to create an experimental and innovative look inspired by a bug or spider. Along Came a Spider
Since she won last week's challenge, Elena gets to pick her bug first. She chooses a grasshopper because she likes the look of the symmetrical "panels" on its underside and she thinks it looks like an alien. She has a classic Elena moment, though, when she loses her sketch (and her cool) at Mood. This sets a panicky mood for her for the rest of the challenge -- she even runs around the workroom crying and sewing. Also, she claims to be an avant-garde designer (okay), so her reputation is on the line with this one.
Jeffrey hasn't done anything avant-garde in a while, so he's a bit apprehensive. He does come up with a wacky high-concept design inspired by his scorpion that includes flashes of red and a large cozy cocoon-like wrap. He wants it to be violent and unsettling.
Melissa's bug is the ornamental spider, but she scraps the look she's been working on all day when Zanna tells her the dress is not avant-garde enough and it looks like a zebra. Unfortunately, she doesn't have a solid concept to start over with, so she too starts crying before sending her look to the runway.
Mychael originally bought this crazy green fabric for his dress to represent the horn worm, but he too scraps the whole thing after Zanna tells him the design is too literal. He decides to go a more neutral route with splashes of the green and a completely different silhouette. It's obviously the right decision; his new look is much improved.
A vinegaroon is apparently a thing. Well, more specifically, it's a bug and it's Daniel's inspiration. He likes its armor and wants to re-create it with a print and then do something short with a long train in the back.
Irina has the bumblebee millipede, and Zanna is a bit worried that it's leaning too much on the bumblebee side and is looking kind of costumey. So she makes the decision to not use the yellow fabric but still create a bold black look with a huge skirt and an interesting feather head piece.
Viktor is also worried about going too literal on his look, which is a cabbage butterfly. But he is spending a lot of time hand-painting his dress, which is making a very interesting and unique look. Swarm the Runway
The judges this week are our usuals -- Alyssa Milano, Georgina Chapman and Isaac Mizrahi -- joined by jewelry designer Jennifer Meyer and everyone's favorite (if you like beachwear) season 9 winner, Anya Ayoung Chee. TopMychael:
All of the judges think that the colors are very interesting and representative of his bug. Isaac thinks it looks expensive and Anya loves the gill-like panels that she thought he could replicate in an entire collection. Irina:
The judges think that her piece is definitely a show-stopper, although Georgina thinks the feather head piece is taking it a step too far. Jennifer says she could see the look on a red carpet. Elena:
Everyone thinks that the colors on her dress are really great, especially Anya, who appreciates how hard it is to pick the right fabrics at Mood. And Isaac loves how insect-like it turned out.BottomJeffrey:
None of the judges seem to know what to say about Jeffrey's look. Isaac hates the executioner hood that he sent his model down the runway wearing, but Jeffrey is poised in defending himself -- Isaac even admits that he was intimidated by him! -- saying that he didn't create a look for a woman to wear at a party, but a high-fashion runway look. Anya does say that it looks like something a Lady Gaga back-up dancer might wear, which seems to me to be a compliment in terms of this challenge. Daniel:
While Georgina does like the color, she is very concerned about the proportion. Isaac says the throat piece looks unflattering and Anya is not a fan of the fabric he used. Melissa:
The judges agree that Melissa made a very nice, well-made little black dress. Unfortunately, that was the opposite of what the challenge was. Isaac hates the back piece that just looks likes an ornament was glued on, but really likes the spider straps and wishes there were more of them.
The winner of the challenge is Mychael Knight. He's especially proud of himself for not only reinventing his look, but also winning a challenge where he had to push himself to create something that he normally wouldn't.
And unfortunately, Melissa gets yet another chance and the lovely Daniel is sent home. The judges do warn Melissa that she needs to push herself more in the future challenges.
Project Runway: All-Stars
airs Thursdays at 9pm on Lifetime.(Image courtesy of Lifetime)