Project Runway's fashion tribute to Boardwalk Empire and Downtown Abbey

Anissa Ford's picture

This week's Project Runway All Stars challenge focused on the roaring 20s because television currently has two big hits depicting the era, PBS's Downtown Abbey and HBOs Boardwalk Empire.

Tonight's guest judges were Boardwalk Empire star Gretchen Mol and designer to Princess Kate Middleton, Jenny Parkham. The challenge pitted designers against each other to create designs for three separate occasions: A Garden Party, a Soiree, and a Speakeasy.

The challenge thrilled Anthony Ryan whose only interest was ousting Ivy. Ivy, on the other hand, had something to prove to the judges in terms of construction. But with Casanova gone, her big ideas didn't have much time.

Anthony Ryan wasn't above pitting Laura Kathleen against the ever charming Uli. Laura Kathleen took a significantly painful jab at Uli who came close to nabbing a win from Laura Kathleen with a design that Uli enhanced with feathers. If Uli responded to Laura Kathleen's diss, cameras didn't show it.

Anthony was pitted against Ivy and interestingly, the two had similar ideas about what the 1920s girl headed to a speakeasy would wear. Joshua was pitted against Emilio who pointed out that while he and Joshua have a similar aesthetic, Emilio had confidence because he has two All Star challenge wins under his belt.

Before the runway show, the women's designs looked really strong. Uli had a fab flapper dress. It's white though and judges have seen it before. Ivy had amazing fabric, a constructing challenge, and not enough time. Laura Kathleen went in a total opposite direction and reinvented the pajama pants that Diane Von Furstenberg loved so much. Unlike Uli, Anthony Ryan and Ivy, Laura Kathleen also chose color. She created a red jumpsuit set and topped it with a short black fur jacket.

For a minute, it actually looked like Ivy had a strong chance against Anthony Ryan's ultra sexy design. The models arrived and Ivy only had half of a dress. And then there was a round of confessionals where almost every designer (except Ivy) noted the importance of fitting their dress on the model before she hit the runway. Designing clothes are great, they said. But designs are only half done until the model tries it on.

For sure, Ivy was headed to All Star Apocalypse. She didn't have time to fit her model and what could have been a beautiful and sexy form fitting dress was a frumpy and shapeless New Year's Eve maternity party dress. Ivy landed in the bottom three with Laura Kathleen and Joshua.

Joshua did some draping in a floral color for his garden party theme. Emilio said the difference between Josh's design and his was that his (Emilio's) dress belongs to the woman who owns the garden and hosts the party. Josh said his design belonged to the woman that homeowner's husband couldn't keep his eyes off.

And the judges agreed. They liked Josh's dress a lot, but it didn't compare to Emilio's sophisticated concept. A long dress with a supremely sophisticated and intricately cut lace back. But Emilio's pattern, a geometric shape that looked like flowers no matter what way he cut it, was old and available everywhere. Even the dollar store.

Parkham admired Josh's dress because it was more modern than 20s and yet worked in both eras. Maybe it's a man thing, but Mizrahi wouldn't consider eliminating Joshua for his dress. And Parkham pouted more because she believed Emilio's dress was worse than Joshua's. Craftsmanship, in this case, won over creativity.

So the argument was between Ivy and Laura Kathleen. It seemed unfair to boot Ivy because she had good intentions and because, essentially, there was no competing with Anthony Ryan's design. Anthony Ryan's dress was so sexy, so hot and that was before his model turned around. Judges only paid minimal attention the back they described as "daring." Anthony Ryan's flapper dress had a deep v cut in the back. Mizrahi was on the fence about Anthony Ryan's Black Swan jacket, but when the model removed it, Mizrahi decided he liked the jacket and the dress.

Anthony Ryan was the clear winner for the night. That makes three challenge wins for Anthony Ryan in a race that started with 16. Of the six designers left in the game, Laura Kathleen was sent home.

Carolyn Murphy was fed up with Laura Kathleen's boring. Ironic because Laura Kathleen snarked that Uli was a stylist, not necessarily a designer. Laura Kathleen said that Uli adds to designs to make them better and that, quite frankly, Laura Kathleen said, is what a stylist does.

It didn't matter if Laura made remarks like this in front of Uli because Uli is so polite she likely would have smiled Laura Kathleen's haterade off into another room.

When all is said and done, Laura Kathleen really outed herself. Uli and Ivy showed their designs while wearing dresses that complemented the very designs they had shown on the runway.

Laura Kathleen, the designer of a thousand contradictions, also showed up in a a flapper like dress which did not at all support the pantsuit she presented on the runway. In fact, the dress Laura Kathleen wore looked a lot like Uli, Anthony Ryan and Ivy's designs, except with a major punch of color. Consequently, Laura's red jumpsuit felt and looked a little stingy and bland compared to the creative and fancy outfit she donned for her own body at judging.

And then there were five.

photo credit: Georgina Chapman, courtesy Lifetime/Project Runway All Stars

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