‘Project Runway: All Stars’ recap: ‘Couture De France’

01.11.13 5 years ago 8 Comments

Okay, guys, I’m bringing this to you a little late as I’m in the thick of TCA press tour madness, so hopefully this all makes sense. I’m a little worried Josh’s dress might have been a hallucination of mine, but I’m sure someone will tell me if I’m really that sleep-deprived. 

The designers, who all address Carolyn with that singsongy voice usually reserved for mean schoolteachers, get some good news from the stick figure — they’re going to Paris! And they’re getting a tour of the House of Valentino! And they’re learning about couture for a couture challenge! And they get to buy fabric and Janssens & Janssens! And you get a car, and you get a car, and you get a car! 

At the House of Valentino, the designers meet creative directors Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Picciolo, who are very polite and don’t slam Josh’s head against a wall for wearing clamdiggers. Chiuri and Picciolo reveal yet ANOTHER surprise — the designers all get to go to a Valentino show! Josh is so excited he’s like a straight guy at a baseball game. Um, no, he’s really not. Anyway, the challenge is to make a couture-inspired gown. 

The designers take a dinner boat cruise along the Seine, which looks very pleasant when you don’t have to eat rubber chicken with a bunch of tourists. 

They head off to Janssens & Janssens, and they have 3,000 euros and one hour to shop. Josh somehow manages to find the tackiest, crappiest looking floral fabric in the whole store. And yes, he’s buying it. There is no way he’s surviving this challenge, is he?

Our intrepid designers go to the House of Valentino show and we get a glimpse of the runway, which looks crowded and fabulous at the same time. Then, it’s time for the designers to hop on a plane back to New York and start working. I guess this is also a sleep deprivation challenge. 

Joanna comes to visit. She likes Emilio’s fabric, but hopes he doesn’t go appliqué-crazy. She worries Uli’s dress could be gladiator alligator meets Sicilian widow. Joanna admits Josh’s fabric doesn’t scream couture to her. But man, does it scream. Joanna is worried that Anthony Ryan will run out of time, as he’s coming up with a new idea for his dress. C’mon, Anthony Ryan. You don’t want to lose to a dress that looks like it’s made with surplus fabric from a Michael’s warehouse sale.

Runway time! Our judges are Georgina Chapman, Isaac Mizrahi and designer Cynthia Rowley.


This is the UGLIEST gown I can remember in the history of this show, the “Project Runway” franchise, and a fire sale at Sears. Words fail. Honestly, this is garish, horribly busy and looks cheap as hell. Josh has no taste. Yes, couture can be ugly and risky and weird, but this just looks crappy. 

Anthony Ryan

A little funereal, but I guess this is  more about the details. From a distance, it’s not as impressive. 


This is strong, but I think there are construction problems. The lining isn’t working, and it seems as if the back was tacked on.


I wish he’d skipped the sleeves, but otherwise it’s beautiful. The fabric was expensive and looks expensive, and this is beautifully made. 

Emilio is first on the block. Isaac touches the fabric, then Cynthia runs up to touch it. Ooh, it feels like Paris! Isaac loves everything about it. But he’d love to see a tiny bit of ankle. Basically, everyone loves this dress. It’s young, it’s pretty, it’s red!

Anthony Ryan’s dress is also a hit. Isaac thinks the side is sexy in a very new way. Carolyn thinks it should breathe more, but admits it’s beautiful.

Cynthia thinks Ul’s dress is interesting, but she didn’t like the nude lining. Carolyn thinks the back is blobby. Isaac thinks it looks expensive, but like expensive ready-to-wear, not couture.

Finally, we get to Josh’s train wreck. Isaac thinks it doesn’t completely work. Really? Georgina likes the idea of the lace and the floral print, but thinks the floral print is too small. Cynthia thinks it’s a little ill-fitting. A little? Carolyn thinks it’s a brave combination, and she likes it. Words fail. Really, people, this is a mess. I can understand the idea — it’s the execution that’s horrific. 

The bottom two are Uli and Josh. There is no way Uli is going home, is she?

Emilio is the winner, I’m pretty sure. Nope, the winner is Anthony Ryan. Huh. Anyway, Emilio is safe. 

Wait! There’s one more challenge for Josh and Uli. What the? Carolyn tells them the late Alexander McQueen did this, so it must be good. They must deconstruct their gowns and create something new. In an hour. And they will do it on the runway. And they can use their scrap fabric. I like this idea, but Uli thinks it’s like being in “The Hunger Games.” The good news is she doesn’t have to kill Josh, though I’d understand if she put his dress out of its misery. 

Their two looks are fairly impressive — even Josh’s dress works far better as ready-to-wear than couture. Georgina also thinks his deconstructed dress is better. Isaac thinks this is closer to his original intent. Cynthia likes it. Carolyn thinks the switch to the top is just beautiful.

Uli’s turn. Georgina would wear the jacket. Cynthia loves that she made a dress from the lining everyone hated. Isaac finds this outfit weirdly influential. 

Okay, judges. Enough with the endless challenges; let’s pull off the Band-Aid. And the verdict is…

Uli is in, Josh is out. THANK GOODNESS. Josh has been trotting tacky down the runway (with some notable exceptions, like the military challenge) since day one. I can’t believe he made it this far, but hey, he’ll always have Paris.

Which dress did you think was the winner? Who do you think will take the grand prize? And did you like the deconstruction challenge?

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