By Nadine Kam
Ivy Higa, first designer at left, in the workroom with fellow designers and mentor Joanna Coles.
"Project Runway All-Stars"
Episode 1: "Redemption on the Runway" recap
It's good to see Ivy Higa return to "Project Runway" as one of its All Stars, during Season 2 of the spinoff of the original series, for a shot at redemption.
To this day, when people ask about her, they always say they didn't like her behavior on Season 8 and ask, "Is she really like that?"
I always say don't believe everything you see, because producers can be manipulative, the other designers could goad you, and everyone has bad days when they feel frustrated and lash out. What you see is never what the whole person is about. Just think, would you ever want to be filmed 24/7 without control over edits? Nobody's perfect.
She made enough of an impression the first time around so that mentor Joanna Coles, formerly of Marie Claire and now with Cosmopolitan, before critiquing her work, told Ivy, "I was afraid to meet you."
Ivy got emotional as she explained that she was in a bad place during her original Season 8 appearance, saying she had been feeling desperate after having sunk her savings into her business and ending up without having enough money for food. This time, she said she arrived with a better mindset, bent on focusing on the work rather than what the other designers were doing.
Ivy really showed her impeccable tailoring skills with this design. I still can't believe she wasn't a fashion design major, but a ceramics major at the University of Hawaii. Some of the judges didn't understand shorts dressing and wanted to see the jacket with long pants, but the leather short is what makes it cooler and younger. The judge who understood this was her Season 8 competitor and "All-Stars" Season 1 winner Mondo Guerra.
When the designers met up, they had one word for one another, "amazing." And it turned out people were most afraid of what one termed the "villain" from Season 1, Wendy Pepper, who unlike Ivy showed no signs of wanting to rehabilitate her image, saying that she didn't come to make friends and later stating she'd come to "mow everybody down."
Of course the first challenge was the one the designers always dread most, the group challenge. They split into two teams and were required to pick a word to build their mini collection around. Ivy's team picked the word "confident," while the other team picked "bold." The last person to be chosen for a team was Wendy Pepper.
During the competition, while they sized up each other's work, Anthony Ryan said that it's the quiet ones too that he watches out for, and I agreed when he singled out Emilio Sosa and Uli Herzner as competition. Meanwhile, I think we can be saying goodbye to Suede soon.
When the designs appeared on the runway, I loved Ivy's ensemble of a white jacket with black
lace insets at waist and elbows, and leather shorts. Anthony Ryan ended up winning the
competition, but I would have cast my vote for Ivy, who came in second.
As for the losing team, I don't think Andre Gonzalo should have been at the bottom. The judges said they didn't understand his look. Only Rachel Roy got it, but said there was a little too much going on and questioned how a person might get in and out of it. They were correct and sending Peach home for her sloppy, style-less creation.
Join Team Ivy at http://www.mylifetime.com/shows/project-runway-all-stars, and rate the runway. Then watch new episodes every Thursday.
I think Uli will also be one of the designers to watch this season.