Fashion Tribe

'Project Runway': Like déjà vu

February 25th, 2016


Kini Zamora works on his garment on the set of "Project Runway All Stars."

Episode 3 recap: "A Little Bit Country, A Little Bit Rock N Roll"

The episode starts in the studio, where host Alyssa Milano shows up and introduces the country music band Little Big Town, best known for the song "Girl Crush."

Band members explain the two different fashion styles of the two female singers, the brunette Karen Fairchild (rock 'n' roll, modern and vintage) and blonde Kimberly Schlapman (girl next door). Proceeding from their differences, the designers are told they will be working in pairs to come with an "opposites attract" look for the women to wear on the red carpet of the Academy of Country Music Awards. Each designer will be responsible for one look in the always dreaded pairs challenge.

Last week's winning designer Sam Donovan is put in the all-powerful position of assembling the teams and his first move is to pick Kini Zamora as his partner, referring to the Hawaii designer as "some kind of wizard."

Designers are given a budget of $600, $300 for each look, and once they start working, Kini asks Sam how he decided to put the designers together.

In teaming Stella Zotis with Valerie Mayen, Sam explains that Valerie is like bubblegum and Stella is like tar, making them natural style opposites and setting them up for success. He describes Layana Aguilar as having a more couture style and Emily Payne being more street, etc.

It actually works on one level because Stella, who always wants to work in leather, wants to be naughty and Valerie is her nice counterpart. But their personalities clash because Valerie is a vocal taskmaster and Stella is more laidback. As Valerie's insults add up, Stella says, "Someone should give that broad a chill pill."

Members of Little Big Town, from left, Philip Sweet, Karen Fairchild, Jimi Westbrook and Kimberly Schlapman.

This is the first time in two seasons that I see Kini frustrated. He's afraid of being in the bottom two, but looking at the other designers' creations, I don't think that's a possibility at all. But he's angry by the amount of help Sam needs.

Sam acknowledges Kini's speed and help, saying he just turns around and all of a sudden there's a couture top on his manikin.

Kini says he's angry because he has to sew the zipper and finish Sam's pants, and that's the reason he doesn't like team challenges. He must have been sensing a déjà vu moment. This also happened to him in his initial "Project Runway" appearance, when he created the look that gave Sean Kelly a first place win. Even so, they've remained friends. In fact, Sean came out to support Kini during his November runway show for Honolulu fashion week, and he'll be back here on March 18 to join Kini, Ari South and fellow "Project Runway" alum Alexander Knox for a fashion show at the 5th annual Susan G. Komen Hawaii Pink Tie Ball at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. More details at

With Sam being from Boston and Kini from Hawaii, when mentor Zanna Roberts Rassi visits for a critique, they suggest a "beach and bitch" theme. It's more like Kini's breezy to Sam's structured, masculine pant look. I don't understand when Rassi tells Kini his look is too 1990s, because it is very current and right on the spring cold/bare shoulder trend. Given the show's filming before last fall's New York Fashion Week, the look really put Kini ahead of the pack.

Both of these looks could be credited to Kini, even though this was the result of a team challenge. I thought these were the most red carpet ready looks.

He creates a mermaid fishtail gown with watercolor blue chiffon draping, borrowing from last week's movement challenge. It looks beautiful coming down the runway. Daniel Franco says Kini's color and fabric choices are "mesmerizing." It's an advantage coming from Hawaii. We know color, and we know print.

Franco and Mitchell Perry choose a "pleasure and pain" theme with Daniel creating a bondage look see-through gown and Mitchell creates a pink floral bodice attached to a sloppy, bulky bubblegum pink skirt. He has zero technique and during the judging is told that his creation looks like a craft project that helps drive the team to the bottom.

On top are the teams of Kini and Sam, and Asha Daniels and Alexander Pope, working with the themes of light and dark and depth and shadows.

Playing with light and dark, Asha's breezy white mini and Alexander's gown.

I love Asha's white dress which is like a breath of fresh air, so clean and light looking. Once again I don't like Pope's gown. There's nothing new about the silhouette and it has a puffy, cheap-looking mesh overlay that looks cheap.

I also liked Dom Streater's sleek white dress with elaborate cutouts, though it is more about a fab dinner date than red carpet. She has had a low-key presence so far, but she won her season, so I wouldn't overlook her.

In the judging Alyssa says that Sam's look (that Kini created) is her favorite of all the designs she's ever seen on the "All Stars" runway. It must have really sucked to hear someone praised for his work, but if Sam did win for Kini's look, the TV audience would know Kini was cheated.

But it did not come to that moment because Asha and Alexander were named the winners. Kini's looks lost points when, standing still, the chiffon added layers to the look, which the singers said would add pounds to photos. Without model physiques, they said they couldn't take the risk of looking heavier when they often share the same red carpet as svelte stars such as Taylor Swift and Nicole Kidman.

Teams Stella/Valerie and Daniel/Mitchell end up on the bottom. Stella is saved by the strength of Valerie's jumpsuit. If they were on the bottom, Stella would have gone home for a slit that opened to her model's crotch.

So once again, Daniel and Mitchell are on the bottom and although I want to save my eyes from another week of looking at Mitchell's work, Daniel is sent home. I agreed with judge Georgina Chapman who said Daniel's gown could have been elegant if he had lined the skirt. The leather cut-out skirt was beautiful and even as is, I know some star, like Rihanna, would look great in it.

Daniel's look was much better than this photo indicates due to his slouchy model. In the background, Mitchell's "craft project."

Daniel's look was much better than this photo indicates due to his slouchy model. In the background, Mitchell's "craft project."

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