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It's Week Ten of Project Runway All Stars and the show begins with the designers visiting The Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum, a national historic landmark and naval ship. But this week's challenge isn't about making clothing for New York's sightseeing tourists. It's something very special. Our four remaining designers are paired with four female military, from the Army, Marines, Air Force, and Navy. They're tasked with making special occasion dresses for the veterans to wear to actual special occasions—a wedding, a military ball, a bachelorette party in Vegas, and a 40th birthday party, respectively.
Unlike some similar challenges in Project Runway history, where the designers complained about having to design for "real women," our four All Stars are excited and honored by their assignment. Joshua is particularly inspired by it because his brother is a soldier in Afghanistan. He treats his veteran, an amputee with a prosthetic leg and a service dog, with the care and attention one would expect a designer to show to a movie-star client. While there were many times during his original season when we were revolted by Joshua's behavior, we have to praise him here. He really stepped up and was a mensch on this challenge.
Let's get to the judges, because unfortunately, that's where the real story is this week. Actress Katie Holmes and evening wear designer Carmen Marc Valvo are our guest judges. They're both do a decent job, particularly Holmes, who is either the world's best actress or a huge Project Runway fan girl. She knows the designers' work and even makes a reference to Uli's history of using feathers.
The problem this week lies with our regular judges, specifically Isaac. Georgina is actually her usual professional self. Isaac's behavior is bizarre, bratty and inexplicable. We'll get more into that once you see the potato sack— er, dress he champions. But first let's look at the "good" dresses.
Our winner for the week is Joshua, who makes a black ensemble with a short flouncy skirt. Its playful hem seems to "float," Dmitri-style. Joshua buys a bold leopard print fabric at his client's request, but uses a restraint in dealing with it that we rarely see from him. He dyes it a more muted green and only uses it as trim. Joshua also makes a matching outfit for his model's service dog who happens to be named "Isaac." This Isaac is much better behaved than the judge he shares a name with.
Since Joshua's dress is short, a curious Carmen asks the vet if she actually wants to wear an outfit to her military ball which reveals her prosthetic leg. It turns out that yes, she does—she's proud of her service and her survival story. A surprised Carmen seems to over compensate a bit in his enthusiastic approval.
Joshua's vet obviously loves her dress and is one of the happiest and most pleased "clients" we've ever seen on the show. Joshua's first win of the season is well deserved.
In second place, which is starting to feel like her permanent residence, is Uli. Her model needs a dress for a wedding and says that she really likes the one that Uli herself is wearing, which happens to be one of the long "Uli dresses" the designer became known for in her first season. So the designer remakes it in a monochromatic print for her client. The judges like everything about the gown except for her choice of trim.
One of our bottom two designers this week is Emilio, who creates a daffodil yellow dress with a cut-away back for his veteran to wear to a bachelorette party in Vegas. Avoiding sparkle and glitz, at the request of his model, he still manages to create a design which is bold and fun.
The judges give very mixed reviews of it. Some like the color, others don't. Some like the cut outs in the back, others don't. They all ding Emilio for his construction issues. From our perspective, watching it on television, the dress looks okay. It's definitely got problems, but we feel like some of the faults which are found with it are brought up just because one of the judges is trying to save another contestant.
Which brings us to Anthony Ryan...
Anthony Ryan's Design
Anthony Ryan is also in the bottom two with what may be the most unflattering dress in All Stars' history. The above photo doesn't fully capture just how bad it looks on television. We know we've been harsh about Anthony Ryan this season, but we've never actually hated his work the way we hate this. This dress is such a travesty that, by comparison, it makes all of his other designs seem worthy of inclusion in the Met's costume collection.
Anthony Ryan takes a model who says she is self conscious about her body, particularly her large breasts, and creates a dress that actually manages to emphasize both issues. The outfit makes her look like she weighs at least 50 more pounds than she did when we were first introduced to her. It's a miracle that she doesn't start crying on the runway. Even Anthony Ryan knows it's not working.
But, when his fellow judges try to criticize the dress, Isaac insists that it looks "fresh," "chic" and "gorgeous." He snaps at the other designers and says he won't listen to them say how unflattering it is. He stops just short of putting his fingers in his ears and whining, "I'm not listening! I'm not listening!" His response is shocking. It's obvious that this is the worst dress, but Isaac fights so hard that the judges end up deciding to send no one home this week.
We don't always agree 100 percent with Isaac's taste, but Anthony Ryan's dress was such a a disaster that we seriously started asking ourselves questions like, "Is Isaac going blind?" "Is Isaac having an affair with Anthony Ryan?" and "Does Anthony Ryan actually have blackmail photos of Isaac?" There is no rational explanation for his passionate defense of the dress. We just don't believe Isaac or anyone else could like it that much.
Did you like Anthony Ryan's dress? Did we miss something fabulous about it that everyone else in the world saw? Here is another look at it. We're really curious to hear your opinions, because we're truly baffled.
What do you think?