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Episode 9: There's No Business Like Sew Business

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It's Week Nine of Project Runway All Stars and things kick off with the designers walking down Fifth Avenue looking at all the expensive shops. They somehow miss H & M and end up at Elie Tahari's flagship store. Carolyn introduces Elie and then explains to the designers that for this week's challenge, they'll be creating ready-to-wear designs and working with the Tahari team to bring them in at a "mid-range" price between $500-$700 (a price description which causes two thirds of the show's viewers to roll their eyes.) The winner's garment will be sold in Tahari stores and on the brand's website, with the proceeds going to Save The Garment Center. Yes, it's the challenge where the designers actually get to create for retail, the one that Nanette Lepore introduced to All Stars last year.

The designers are let loose in the fabric room of Tahari's design studio and told they can use any materials they want—as long as the Tahari team determines the garment can be created within the stated price range. Everyone makes smart fabric choices, aside from Uli, who has to downsize her design from two pieces—a white jacket and a dress—to just a white dress. Yes, after three weeks of designing white and silver dresses, Uli has narrowed her range to just white. Anthony Ryan responds to Uli's white obsession with, "I'm thinking she's begging to be married. She's just screaming for a ring on that finger."

Back in the workroom, it's all about advice. First Joshua leaves his inner bitch behind, and goes around the room trying to be helpful to all the other designers. Then Joanna Coles enters with Elie Tahari himself, who tries to give the designers helpful feedback. You would think that if a guest judge, one who will be the selling the winning garment in his stores, shares his insights on the designs, the designers would take his advice. And most do. Uli makes her dress less bulky. Emilio cuts out his color blocking. Joshua tries to make his less "Playboy Mansion." But Ivy, who has been surviving weekly visits to the All Stars bottom three since before Abraham Lincoln went to see Our American Cousins, thinks she knows better. Elie suggests that she adapt her design into a short dress, but Ivy loves the pattern of the fabric too much to cut it down, so she keeps it a maxi. Will this lack of respect for Elie's input be the Kryptonite which finally does her in?

Our Judges
Our judges this week are the "famous" Isaac, and Georgina, who is thankfully back to being "beautiful." Joining them as guest judges are the now familiar Elie Tahari, who we learn came to New York with just $30 in his pocket, and Stacy Keibler, who is introduced as a "model and actress." We're not familiar with Stacy's modeling and acting resume and think she should have been introduced as "An ex-WWE wrestler and George Clooney's girlfriend," a description much more interesting than "model and actress," but probably not any more relevant to judging this challenge. Eli, as we'd expected, is a great and insightful judge. Stacy is a great wrestler.

Anthony Ryan's Design
With only five designers left this week, we have a top two instead of a top three. Our winner is Anthony Ryan, with a gray, black, and white patterned dress which looks very Tahari—only unflattering. This is a great thing if you'd like to own an unflattering Tahari knockoff, because now you can buy it.

Isaac likes the design's side panels, Georgina thinks it "looks young, without being a junior dress," and Stacy wants to wear it. All the judges are excited that Anthony Ryan included pockets, and praise him so much for it that we start to wonder if perhaps he invented the pocket. They should just crown Anthony Ryan the All Stars Two winner already, and get it over with.

Uli's Design
In second place, with a design we would have been the first in line at the Tahari store to buy, is Uli. She works the white weave into an elegant dress with a flattering fringed neckline. The judges praise it profusely on the runway, causing Anthony Ryan to look annoyed. Perhaps if Uli had chosen to use any color other than white, the judges would have given her the win. We don't know whether to be more annoyed with her for making that choice, or with the judges for making theirs, because we want to see that dress in production.

Emilio's Design
In third place, but considered third from the bottom, is Emilio, who makes a mustard silk dress with burgundy geometric lines. Georgina says that it's a hard color to wear, one which drains a woman. But Isaac says he wants to nominate Emilio for immunity, since the dress is very sellable, insisting, "I cannot let him go. I will be lying down on that runway." Carolyn concurs, adding, "I will be lying there with you." Although we don't think it's time for Emilio to go, we confess that we start hoping he will, just so we can watch the models have to maneuver a runway festooned with Carolyn and Isaac.

Joshua's Design
Joshua is second from the bottom, with a bright pink dress with a lace applique, and a cutaway back with exposed zipper. Georgina thinks the dress makes the models breasts look droopy, Isaac thinks the lace makes it look cheap, a problem which Carolyn thinks the exposed zipper adds to. Elie points out that because the fabric stretches and the lace does not, Joshua has a problem with construction. He also thinks the dress makes the model look like a "slutty lady," and a pregnant one at that. Despite all these criticisms, Joshua, whose dress truly is the biggest disaster of the week, is not on the bottom.

Ivy's Design
That dubious honor belongs to Ivy, who chooses a fabric which looks like a landscape painting and decides that she doesn't want to hide any of it. So she creates a dress which makes her model look like she's wrapped in a silk tapestry. The skirt is too long, the neck and waist are too simple and the gown bunches badly in the back.

After Georgina points out the dress's length, Elie says he tried to hint to Ivy in the workroom to keep it shorter, but she ignored him. Carolyn finds the dress, "Just blah." And Stacy, in the harshest critique of all, says, "I would never try on Ivy's dress."

Isaac points out that week after week Ivy has been in the bottom three. Um, yes, Isaac, for weeks, Ivy has had the worst dress, but you judges decided to keep her. This week, Joshua outdoes her in the awful department, but she finally goes. We're guessing it's at least partially because she ignored Elie's tips, but we've given up on understanding these All Star judges' choices.

Ivy attempts to exit with grace. She proved to be much more likeable on All Stars than on her original season, and we enjoyed seeing her friendship with Casanova. If Casanova is that devoted to her, how bad can she be?

Our prediction, based on no inside information, is that the ranking of this week's remaining four designers will also turn out to be the order they end up placing for the season. But we're pulling for Uli, because frankly, and we know this makes us sound like almost every model/actress/wrestler who has ever been on this show, we want to wear her clothing.
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