25 December 2013

The Players — Catching Up on Project Runway All Stars 3

Can we tell I now have some time off work to catch up on some things that I have missed? This week, it’s Project Runway All Stars 3, of which no fewer than eight (8!) episodes have aired to total silence on my part. I will obviously not be going into great detail, episode by episode, but I should be able to rustle up some reactions to what I am seeing play out before me on the screen.
Host for this season of PRAS3: Alyssa Milano. Who knew that she is a fabulous designer in her own right…certainly not I! Let me just say that we get treated to her inability to pronounce simple French words EVERY WEEK, because the other judges have swung some kind of deal where they get their current and recent work promoted on every episode as they are introduced. Sadly for us, the recent work of Georgina Chapman for Marchesa includes a fragrance — Parfum d’extase — which Ms. Milano pronounces “Par foom de excess”. It makes me die a little inside each time I hear it.

Oh, and I am NOT done with her yet. The other striking thing she does each week is the thing she doesn’t do. She doesn’t go give the eliminated designer the little two-cheek kiss that we are used to from Heidi Klum on the real PR. No, Ms. Milano is too good for the designers and offers but a little wave from her stool over next to the other judges. I think mostly she is in this for all the outfits she gets to wear, at least two or three new ones per episode.

The regular judges each episode are Georgina Chapman and Isaac Mizrahi, and Zanna Roberts Rassi serves as “mentor” to the designers, albeit in a much more hands off way than Tim Gunn does it. In fact, she only drops by for a critique each episode, not more.

So who are the all stars?

Viktor Luna (season 9) I always liked this shy-ish understated guy who consistently produced very polished looks without being [too] nasty to the others. He has become much more camp, though, which comes with a touch of bitchy and a fan, which he snaps open and closed to make points and flutters coyly to give himself some air. He also has a tendency to wear awful short pants, which I could do without.

Mychael Knight (season 3) I didn’t watch season 3, or if I did it was hellishly long ago. Long enough ago that you would think this guy might be able to let go of his bitterness at having come second — but no! At least his bitterness is drowned in an overwhelming good-naturedness and sweet charm. I may have to track down season 3 and watch it!

Daniel Esquivel (season 11) I never did like Daniel’s tiny moustache, but at least he seems to have given up on waxing and curling it even smaller. The “positive spin” he tries to put on everything that comes his way ends up ringing false, which rubs me the wrong way. He tries to give Viktor a run for his money in the terrible short pants department, and actually wears something that looks like short pyjama bottoms with big polka dots out in public to Mood. For shame!

Korto Momolu (season 5) Totally sure I have never seen season 5, but this woman seems very solid and nice, until she opens her mouth and starts name dropping. I do not like a name dropper! She will also not be alone in this.

Elena Slivnyak (season 10) We might remember Elena as the total crazy whack job from her season, but she starts out this time by telling us she is “chill” and taking yoga classes. Then she comes back to remind us that if she is attacked she will fight back (there’s the Elena we know). Wild mood swings bring her to tears and a breakdown almost every episode, which must be rather taxing on her colleagues. Strategy, maybe?

Melissa Fleis (season 10) What can you say about a blond goth punk? Her dark perspective always seemed a little off to me, but she mostly held her own in some of the team competitions, despite some — uh — disruptive influences. She lets us know that she thinks this will be “round two” with Elena. Fun, fun, fun.

Christopher Palu (season 10) This guy is so very soft-spoken that you won’t believe him when he says he’s back to “sew stitches and cut bitches”. Perceptive, though: “Elena…she’s so crazy, she’s out of her mind”

Ari South (season 8) We saw her as Andy South when she was on before — she has transitioned and lives as a woman now, but remains a designer. Who knew that not everything changed when you transition? Seriously, though, it is interesting to see a talented designer go through a tumultuous period in her personal life to come back at the same level of accomplishment in her field.

Then dear Ms. Milano notes that there only seem to be eight of them. Surely not enough! So she introduces three returning winners:

Jeffrey Sebelia (season 3) Okay, I may just have watched season 3 after all, because I remember being perturbed by this guy’s neck tattoo. He still has it. It is still perturbing. He also knows Mychael is not happy to see him, but his superior attitude allows him to laugh that off.

Irina Shabayeva (season 6) Really didn’t see season 6. Christopher remembers her as “tight [with a motion pulling back the facial skin] and catty [with the claws out]”. He predicts fireworks between Irina and Elena, but she looks so together I can’t see her getting dragged into the crazy. We’ll see.

Seth Aaron Henderson (season 7) Also didn’t see this season, but I zoom in on yet another neck tattoo, even if it is much more understated than Jeffrey’s. Why is he back? “I don’t care about the money, I want the double title”.

For all the amazing success that everyone says they have — and they all name-drop without exception — it’s odd that I have only ever heard of any of them through this show. But then again, I am neither a star needing free outfits for the red carpet or my next show nor a stalwart of the fashion industry. I’ll bring my whole portfolio of non-knowledge to my commentary on the show, I promise.

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