By Nadine Kam
Ivy Higa went up directly against Anthony Ryan Auld in this week's face-off.
"Project Runway All-Stars"
Episode 8: "Flapper Fashion Face-off" recap
This week's episode opened with the designer's discussing Casanova's departure last week. He and Hawaii's Ivy Higa were friends after appearing on Season 8 together, so his departure hit her hard, perhaps moreso because they were in the bottom 2 together, so it was a "he or I" scenario.
In a situation where you're basically on your own against some cutthroat competitors, it was probably nice for her to know there was someone in the room who had her back. They were always helping each other, whether with extra materials or having an extra pair of hands to finish a garment. Both are fast workers who could always lend a hand when the other seemed pressed for time.
Any student of fashion should be watching and noting that every setback seems to make Ivy more determined to succeed, and that's what it takes to keep going in New York, where, even if I'm just working Fashion Week there—a week—I come home exhausted. I'm not psychic in any way, but I am sensitive to what's in the air, and during fashion week I feel an overwhelming clawing, desperate vibe from those trying to make it, and it feels like a suffocating, energy-zapping blanket. Yuck!
So this week marked another first. It seemed straightforward enough when host Carolyn Murphy announced the challenge of reinterpreting 1920s Jazz Age fashion for the modern woman. The designers were then asked to draw cards which had them matched with another designer. At that point, one would assume a team challenge, but this time it meant the two designers would face-off against one another, with the winner making the top three, and the other the bottom three.
So Emilio Sosa was pitted against Joshua McKinley in the creation of an "Afternoon Garden Party" ensemble, Uli Herzner would challenge Laura Kathleen for a design befitting a "Social Soiree," and Ivy vied with Anthony Ryan Auld with an "After Hours Speakeasy" theme. The two don't seem to have much affection for one another, and Anthony Ryan seemed to confirm this when he said something along the lines of, "I'm not pest control but I don't mind exterminating Ivy."
There's nothing like a one-on-one competition to bring out the claws, with Laura Kathleen saying of Uli, "She's more like a stylist who tacks things on to make things look better." Meow.
The one-upmanship kept going when Joanna Coles came in for her critiques, asking the designers to size up each others' work.Emilio said "My lady owns the estate, Josh's lady is a guest."
She also asked Anthony Ryan and Ivy to rate each other's work. Anthony Ryan offered a 7 or 8 on a scale of 1 to 10. Ivy rated his dress a 5, saying, "I happen to think his dress looks like curtains from the 1920s instead of a dress from the 1920s."
Ivy's Art Deco-inspired design.
Her own dress was inspired by the geometry of Art Deco, and she chose an expensive fabric, with, I believe, sequined stripes that she wanted to use to create a chevron pattern. Joanna is positive in telling Ivy her design, "Feels very 1920s. It's very Roxy Hart from "Chicago."
Observing Ivy working, Uli said she's making her life more difficult by cutting a beautiful fabric into many pieces that will be hard to put together. By day's end, it appears Uli might be correct. For a second time, Ivy leaves the workroom without much to put on her model. Her fabric is still in pieces and there's only two hours to show time the next day
After judging, Joshua, Laura Kathleen and Ivy end up on the bottom. It doesn't help that Ivy has a model who doesn't walk dynamically and has a tendency to slouch or stand sloppily. A model with better posture would have showed her dress to far better advantage.
Anthony Ryan's design. Love the cape, not the dress.
I was so sure Anthony Ryan was going to be on the bottom. His dress was very plain, and while the judges said it looked very modern, it was a shapeless babydoll that was so boring he had to dress it up with a feathered capelet. Well, who can resist a feathered capelet? I just bought one from Sass & Bide.
I was doubly shocked when he was named the winner, but at that point the judges seemed to have no choice. Emilio's dress was beautiful, but didn't have much of a 1920s factor. Judges deemed it closer to the 1930s or '40s. Uli seemed to repeat herself in layering on fringe and other frills. The judges were down on repetition this week.
After that, Joshua was saved for another plain dress that I can find any day in any junior store. I don't know why he's still in the competition.
That meant Ivy and Laura Kathleen were the bottom two, but I had a feeling Ivy was going to be saved because Laura Kathleen had sent jumpsuits and pantsuits down the runway one too many times, and guest judge, actress Gretchen Moll really seemed to work hard to sway the other judges into seeing the work and thought process that went into Ivy's dress, which Georgina Chapman said looked familiar because it was Prada-esque.
So once again, Ivy was spared hearing the dreaded, "You're out." Prada-esque is far better than being Forever 21-esque, which is how Anthony Ryan's dress appeared. Maybe his fabric looked better in the studio than over television.
We're now down to five designers and Ivy needs to do something amazing next week to stay in the game. She's been on the bottom three weeks in a row now, and nobody would survive a fourth week in bottom two. Though at this point, Joshua is the weakest link, unless he can buy some taste.
In the face-off between Uli, right, and Laura Kathleen, Uli won for her fringed flapper dress.
Emilio, left, was the winner in his face-off against Joshua.