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Uli. Emilio. Anthony Ryan. The three remaining designers still in the running to win Project Runway All Stars. By the end of this finale episode, one will win what we've been repeatedly told is "the biggest prize in Project Runway history." Carolyn kicks things off by informing the finalists that they each have four days and $3000 to create a collection and put on a fashion show. The good news is that they can make as many or as few pieces as they want. The bad news is, well, they've only got the four days.
There are no twists this time around, but the designers each get to pick one of the "aufed" All Stars to help them. Anthony Ryan tries to pick his best friend, Joshua, but Joshua is too "tired"—translation: "Too bitter and depressed after almost, but not quite, making it to the top three." Having a designer turn down a finale request for help is another first in Project Runway history, although if you think about it, what's shocking is that it doesn't happen every season. It's got to be hard to help someone win something that you just lost. After Joshua's rejection Anthony Ryan ends up asking Kayne to be his helper, because he thinks he'll be less, "tired." Fortunately for Anthony Ryan, Kayne doesn't mind playing sloppy seconds and the two work well together.
Emilio chooses Althea to help him, and it's a great pairing. They like each other, they're both very organized and they also work well together. Uli has significantly less success with her pick, Casanova, who has gone into "vacation" mode since his banishment, and ends up spending much of the episode sleeping on a couch.
All three finalists manage to complete their collections in time to show them at the beautiful Gotham Hall in New York. There we find our two regular judges, Isaac, who is still "famous," and Georgina who is now, "gorgeous," because her "beautiful" title has been sacrificed to one of the two guest judges, actress/model Liv Tyler. Joining Liv in the guest judging seats is Margherita Missoni, heiress to the Missoni family fashion house. Liv doesn't have much of value to contribute—her comments are pleasant and tend to be about where the various designs might be worn. Margherita, on the other hand, has very definitive opinions on the designs and is quite outspoken when it comes to sharing them.
Overall, we feel that two of the three collections are quite strong and the third has some great pieces, but doesn't work as a collection. The judges mileage varies. Can you guess the order?
In third place, unfortunately, is our favorite designer of the season, Uli. She calls her finale project her "Mystical Winter" collection. Yes, who would have guessed that Uli would create a collection based around white, ivory, gray, and silver?
Uli's designs are very glitzy, bringing in all the things she loves: feathers, faux furs, and beaded embellishments. Despite the sparkly details, Uli's pieces don't seem tacky. In fact, some of them are quite elegant, and the vibe is young and edgy. It's kind of like the more rock and roll side of Alice + Olivia, but without the vintage silhouettes. All the judges like the collection's fairy tale, dreamy quality, but Margherita says, "It looks a bit like a student collection." Ouch.
Emilio comes in second place with some of the best work he's ever done on the show. His collection is called "Urban Plantation," and is a tribute to working women like his mother, who worked in a factory for thirty years. Its inspirations include Aunt Jemima in the 1840s to Rosie the Riveter in the 1940s. All his models are African American, because he says black women are his earliest memories of beauty.
Emilo's collection kicks off with an ill-fitting black and white bustier-style dress, which the judge think is "too junior," but the designs get much stronger after that. The collection includes multi-color jackets, a bodice over a white shirt and an amazing red jumpsuit. It's creative, yet still very wearable, and reminds us a bit of some of Tracy Reese's sportswear.
Georgina is thrilled that Emilio has finally shown her a strong point of view, and Isaac likes that he makes a political statement with his collection. But once again, the Italian voice of doom, Margherita, finds fault. She repeatedly insists that Emilio's collection is, "cute and sellable, but not 'wow.'"
Some of Anthony Ryan's Winning Collection
Which brings us to our winner...Was there ever any doubt that Anthony Ryan would be going home with the crown? To raise the stakes, the producers include clips of Anthony Ryan saying that if he doesn't win, he won't be able to afford to continue his career in fashion. We presume they're shown to make the viewers think, "oh no, he's got to win!" But instead they make us question, "If Anthony Ryan doesn't care enough to stick it out, does he even deserve to win?"
Anthony Ryan's collection begins with a royal blue collared top with sheer sleeves, a cutaway back and a long black skirt. It's stunning and Isaac declares that it's quite possibly the best thing they've seen on the show. It's then followed by a series of two-tone, color-blocked dresses with cut-away backs and a Mondrian meets Star Trek uniform feel—which we also like. Unfortunately, aside from that fabulous first look and the mess that is his last, all Anthony Ryan's dresses are really similar. And as Emilio points out, if you want to sell a woman more than one piece from a collection, they shouldn't all look alike.
But the judges don't seem to notice this blatantly obvious fact. Aside from hating his last look, a disaster of an evening dress, the only fault any of them find with his collection is that Isaac doesn't like the lengths of the dresses. Margherita loves Anthony Ryan's collection, calling it "unique," "appealing," and "sexy." We suspect that even if the other judges hadn't been worshiping at the church of Anthony Ryan all season, the force of Margherita's personality might still have been enough to land him the win.
Which brings us to the end of our second season of All Stars. The finale collections included a lot of great designs and we hope all of the top three get funding or design jobs, because there is definitely room in the fashion industry for their visions. And room in our closet for their clothing. Well, some of it...
Carolyn Congratulates Anthony Ryan
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