Project Runway All Stars review: Which ball gown makes an entrance?


Could a ball gown really cause a designer to have an emotional breakdown? In this week’s Project Runway All Stars review, one designer’s clock struck midnight.

On this week’s Project Runway All Stars, the five remaining designers had to create a lavish ball gown. With some designers were less than thrilled with this week’s challenge, this week’s runway seemed less royal and more mediocre. Have these designers hit their own design walls?

As the episode starts, the designers learn that a special guest judge will be the infamous Nina Garcia. While the notoriously demanding judge is a fashion icon, her critiques often differ with the Project Runway All Stars panel.

For this week’s challenge, the designers had to create a lavish ball gown worthy of a royal ball. Inspired by Nina’s recent trip to Thailand, the designers were to use expensive silk fabric to create their looks. While the terms royal, lavish, and expensive were bantered about, the reality appeared slightly different.

For the challenge description, Nina kept referring to vibrant colors. During the final runway, the designers seemed to miss that part of the challenge. Black, drab and muted could described half of this week’s looks. If this week’s challenge was supposed to channel the splendor of Thailand, the designers appeared to be left in the dark.

Throughout this Project Runway All Stars season, the challenges have been focusing on more elevated, grand designs. From avant-garde to red carpet, the ready to wear designers are being pushed beyond their comfort zone. This week’s challenge almost seemed too much for two of the popular All Stars.

Given that this challenge was a ball gown, it seemed obvious that it was Irina’s challenge to win. She has created gowns for celebrities and this week’s gown was the best of the bunch. Still, the design wasn’t necessarily earth shattering or fashion forward.

Designer Biddell’s final look for the 11th challenge of Project Runway All Stars, Season 7. Photo by Barbara Nitke Copyright 2019

Yes, Irina’s bodice was lovely and there was a lot of craftsmanship. The structure and embellishment was feminine and intricate. However, the sheer skirt was divisive.

In a way, there was too much sheer. If she had lined the tulle twice or added some dimension to the skirt, it would have been more successful. Additionally, the thigh high crop has been done multiple times this season. While Irina’s look won, it wasn’t necessarily astounding.

Although not necessarily a ball gown, Biddell’s red dress had a huge visual impact. The extreme hourglass shape with pleats was impressive. Given the color, shape, and design elements, it appeared strong and formidable, but not necessarily appropriate for a royal ball.

Designer Biddell’s final look for the 11th challenge of Project Runway All Stars, Season 7. Photo by Barbara Nitke Copyright 2019

Granted, this challenge wasn’t intended to be a Disney princess/pageant runway. The designers needed to create a gown that could make an entrance (a good entrance). There should be a sense of grandeur, elegance, and even poise.

Biddell’s dress seemed one step up from a cocktail dress. While the color and shape had an impact, the dress missed the “it” moment. It was good, but it wasn’t great.

Dmitry’s look was slightly confusing. Fans of Project Runway might have had a little sense of déjà vu. Didn’t this dress remind you of Dmitry’s finale looks in years past? (The colors are reversed.)
Similar to Biddel, this dress didn’t have an impact. The skirt was unresolved. The design made the model look old. Overall, it wasn’t a strong look.

Designer Dmitry’s final look for the 11th challenge of Project Runway All Stars, Season 7. Photo by Barbara Nitke Copyright 2019

Still, this dress is an improvement over Dmitry’s ruffled, peasant looks from previous weeks. Even though the skirt had some ruffles, it wasn’t as apparent. Dmitry was safe.

The bottom two designers were Michelle and Anthony Ryan. It was obvious from the start of the episode that these two designers were going to be in the bottom. They couldn’t get out of their heads in the workroom.

In Project Runway All Stars, the competition isn’t always about making designs that are in a designer’s genre. The competition asks the designers to push beyond their comfort zone and find ways to incorporate “their girl” into every challenge. Designers who cannot work outside of that perfect box don’t deserve to win the title.

Michelle tried to stay within her preferred lane. While creating a textile out of multiple colored fabrics could have done well, the final look was more arts and crafts than fashion. This dress was not a ball gown.

Designer Michelle’s final look for the 11th challenge of Project Runway All Stars, Season 7.

Photo by Barbara Nitke

Copyright 2019

The dress was a miss on so many levels. Although the color combination wasn’t horrid, the placement and fit was sad. Instead of being bright and inspiration, the colors and combinations were drab and disappointing.

Michelle was plagued by self-doubt. It was clear that she didn’t want to make this type of design. The final product was a reflection of that belief.

Anthony Ryan was overwhelmed, too. His emotional letdown in the workroom seemed to bleed into his design. While a caftan could have worked, the color choice and feathers applique was just too strange.

Designer Anthony Ryan’s final look for the 11th challenge of Project Runway All Stars, Season 7.

Photo by Barbara Nitke

Copyright 2019

Looking at his gown, the grey feathers on the chest looked almost like an old man’s chest hair. The color was so off putting. No woman would want to have essentially a hairy chest.

In a challenge meant to channel the vibrancy of Thailand, this gown did the total opposite. It was depressing.

The designer sent home was Anthony Ryan. Truthfully, this whole episode was disappointing. The judges could have sent everyone home because no one really seemed to fulfill the challenge.

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What did you think of this week’s Project Runway All Star episode? Would you wear one of these ball gowns? Somehow, it seems unlikely any of them would make Meghan Markle’s short list.