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‘Project Runway All-Stars’ Recap + Review: ‘Put On Your Dancing Shoes’

Lifetime

Grab your disco balls and other nauseatingly kitsch 1970s items because ‘Project Runway All-Stars‘ is going retro this week for a challenge where they must put a modern twist on a ’70s look inspired by … shoes.

If there isn’t a single puffy ski vest, I’m so out of here.

But first, as I was watching the “previously on” opener, I noticed that host Carolyn Murphy said, “Welcome to the hardest season of ‘All-Stars’ yet.” So basically it’s just harder than season one? How many seasons does Carolyn Murphy think there have been of ‘All-Stars’? Better yet, how many Xanax does Carolyn Murphy take before the filming of the show? Her lack of enthusiasm coupled with her confusion make me worry about her.

The Challenge

The designers will use Nine West shoes to create a look inspired by both the shoe they’ve chosen and the era of Disco for a party outfit. Wendy Pepper says she lived through the ’70s — yeah, but did she truly live? She doesn’t look tired enough. Maybe after only having a day to work on this challenge, she’ll appear more … antique.

Everyone starts sketching and Ulli immediately finds an out: She isn’t from America, so her Disco wasn’t the same as ours, so, you know, don’t blame her when her outfit is what it is. All of the sketches mostly look the same — big triangle on top with loose, flowy sleeves and tight, short bottoms. It’s actually more ’80s than ’70s, but I’m pretty sure they’re all thinking about ‘Boogie Nights’ anyway. Especially Casanova, who comments, “Nightlife. Slutty. Casanova.” Yes, I think my mom told me this was the motto of the ’70s.

We’re only two episodes in, but the producers want you to know that ALLIANCES ARE FORMING. Wendy and Suede are surprisingly getting along really well and Joshua is just fawning over Anthony Ryan, but Althea is determined to just, like, be herself and do her thing because THIS IS A COMPETITION. If you’re playing along with the “this is a competition” drinking game at home, you’re probably passed out and not reading this so why I am I even trying to reach you right now? You do you.

Althea and Joshua seem rather concerned with Wendy’s outfit, which is looking pretty much like an ABBA costume. Or, as Joshua hilariously notes, like something out of ‘Mad Max’ as he demonstrates his best “Welcome to Thunderdome!” Bless your bonkers little heart, Joshua.

Bleached Tilda Swinton/Joanna Coles shows up to check in on everyone, and as expected, she doesn’t find Ulli’s outfit “very ’70s.” It may look like cocaine glittering under the light of a disco ball, but it’s not really ugly enough or something. Joanna reinforces this by saying that the ’70s were “the decade that taste forgot.” She should keep those words away from Casanova.

And then there was literally a disco dance break. There are no words for it.

The German cyborg known as Karl Lagerfeld sends a video message with all the enthusiasm of Carolyn Murphy (they were birthed from the same assembly line), wishing everyone good luck. Total production cost: $100,000, broken into $50,000 for Lagerfeld, $20,000 for his champagne, $5,000 for video technology services, and another $5,000 to program Lagerfeld to say something positive.

The Runway

Emilio — This looks like a dress I used to put on my Barbies, and I mean this with sincere approval. It’s bright yellow-gold with pink straps, and it’s got the simplistic design of something two-dimensional and animated. Sure, it’s burning my retinas, but the ’70s gave everyone glaucoma, so it’s cool.

Wendy — Should we leave our money on the nightstand for this outfit, or…? The leathery “rocker” pants are all wrong and so unflattering. The print of the top doesn’t read ’70s. It just looks like something your mom gets for you on the bargain rack at Kohl’s and you’re all, “Did you happen to keep the receipt? No really, I love it, but I just don’t think I have anything that matches.” Also there are hoop chains, which probably isn’t even a thing in “tha club” anymore, much less a thing for anyone who has eyes. See also: glaucoma.

Anthony Ryan — You guys, this boy has class. The cocktail dress he’s created with the different textures of gold and yellow and all that shimmer — it’s so, so evocative of the ’70s without being too literal. This is what the challenge was all about. I’m not entirely sure the bust portion is built as well as it could be, and the styling of his model could be a little more polished and less bad prom hair.

Casanova – I’m sorry, what does this dress look like? It’s so bright that I can’t even stand to look at my TV. This dress has made me unable to look at my TV and now I just don’t know what living is anymore. Do people go outside? What do you do when you can’t look at your TV? This hideously bright pink nightmare fabric does something off-the-shoulder but I can’t figure out the rest. The spiderweb effect on the back is nice, but so much of it is riddled with cliche.

Suede — He’s gone for an urban Oscar statue look here with a sparkling gold ensemble. The skirt has a Grecian draped effect, and the top piece has a bunch of fabric hanging down in the back like some weird cape made out of curtains. Suede’s outfit is just weird, which means the judges will probably like it.

Andrae — Here we have a red top that takes the ’70s very literally, but in a way that’s actually quite nice. The high-collared halter matched with the purplish red skirt is very sleek and sophisticated, but the sheer purple wrap does nothing to help the outfit. I get that the wrap should tie the colors of the top and skirt together, but other than explaining colors to me, what is the function?

Ivy — Coming off of last week’s amazing design, I’m disappointed with Ivy here, who’s chosen to do a deep green Middle Earth romper with gold embellishments. She’s layered some sheer green fabric on top and puffed it out to give the top some volume, but there’s all this extraneous fabric going over the bottom portion that seems like she just forgot to cut the leftovers off because she was busy watching ‘The Lord of the Rings.’

Ulli — Oh hey, I know that dress. It’s actually an IKEA lamp. It’s like a marching band sneezed on that poor girl and she’s left with fringe snot hanging off of her body. It’s really hard to read the detail of the design with its glaring white that gets lost on the white backdrop of the runway, but I assure you, that is a dress with fringe instead of sleeves and some sequins and gold crap.

Joshua — Joshy’s made a turquoise riff on a business suit with a sleeveless top and flowing pants. It’s quite nice to look at — all polished and tailored to pieces, and just when you think it’s one-note, he’s got these subtle surprises, like the exaggerated lapels, which are intentionally placed lower than they should be, and the cutout on the back, which breaks up the turquoise and gives this conservative piece the edge it needs.

Laura Kathleen — For all her snootiness sometimes, Laura Kathleen sure can justify. The bleeding striped pattern of her ’70s-flavored one-piece, with an halter and flowing pant, is just fabulous. It’s almost like a silken tie-dye, and if it can make my skin glow like that model’s, I’ll take 100 yards of it right now. She’s paired the piece with a gold jacket, which may be overkill in the literal department.

Althea – It’s like chewed-up bubblegum in different shades of fuschia, all stretched out and the pieces pulled across each other to make this dress, which is fine, I guess.

Kayne – White Kanye also went with gold, as many designers did, creating a camisole and huge, exaggerated bell bottom pants. His biggest challenge was lining up the stripes on his pants, which I’m still not entirely sure he succeeded in doing, but the overall effect is retro and fun.

The Judging

Ivy (what?), Ulli (really?), and Casanova (seriously here?) are the designers with the top scores. I’m thinking the taste level of the judges on regular ‘Project Runway’ is more in keeping with my own because Michael Kors and Nina Garcia would’ve never looked at Casanova or Ivy’s outfits and thought this was okay. I can hear Michael Kors making a puke sound in my head right now. Ulli gets the award for inadvertent futuristic racial insensitivity with a look that Isaac thinks is very Native American of the future.

Wendy (obviously), Andrae, and Kayne are the designers with the lowest scores. Wendy says her look was inspired by a tuxedo, and Issac accurately compares it to a theme park. And by theme park he means hooker.

The winner of this week’s challenge is Ulli, whose excuse that she’s from Germany worked to her advantage and actually helped her create an outfit that wasn’t disco at all in a disco challenge. So obviously she wins. It comes down to Wendy’s hooker look and Andrae’s confused wrap, and it’s Madame Wendy who gets sent home.

So long Wendy, and here’s a GIF farewell for you:

 

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