By Nadine Kam
'PROJECT RUNWAY' ALL STARS SEASON 5
Episode 5 recap: "Birthday Suits"
Well this competition promised to be interesting because it's the first one in which the designers are being asked to dress naturists, that is, people who wish to live in harmony with nature, including going naked.
But, humans weren't made to be naked for winter, so the assignment is to create a winter look acceptable to people who don't like wearing clothes. The naturists walk into the studio in their birthday suits, with all their privates blurred out. This is the part that I don't understand about this spate of shows with naked themes, like "Dating Naked." If they want to titillate viewers, they should also have the courage to show all so we can see what the participants are actually seeing.
Right off the bat, Mitchell Perry mentions that he's from Florida and he's never even seen snow, so coming up with a winter look might be difficult for him since he says he lives in "tank tops and Speedos."
At first I think the same cold weather handicap might be true for Hawaii designer Kini Zamora, but I remembered he spent a year in school in New York and has designed several beautiful coats before, so this challenge should be no problem for him.
He has ambitious plans for a four-piece ensemble including chiffon, and that seems like overkill, especially because these models want to wear as little as possible. Mentor Zanna Roberts Rassi tells him as much.
Meanwhile, Sam Donovan is struggling because he chooses a bold yellow check fabric that horrifies his model, a plain Jane sort of person compared to models who have seen it all and are well aware of the theatrical aspects of fashion. Because part of the assignment is to make their naturists happy, he scraps his original plan and has to scramble for an alternative look. Problem is, he doesn't have any other fabric so has to plead for scraps from the other designers who aren't forthcoming because they just don't like him. Kini doesn't appear to be a fan of Donovan either, but he gives him some fabric.
In spite of Mitchell's early misgivings, he turns out a respectable ensemble of sweater vest, trouser and coat. The other designers are amazed and attribute the stripped down look to his working with a male model, which leaves no room for his usual excessive decorating.
For the first time, judges come up with four top looks and two on the bottom. On top are Kini, Mitchell, Dom Streater and Emily Payne, who is named the winner for a striking blue "California winter" dress with a cape attachment in back, the most original design of the evening.
Donovan and Valerie Mayen end up on the bottom. Donovan would probably have fared better if he had stuck with his original look and fabric, but his model would not have been comfortable. Part of the judges' discussion was that both designers' models loved the looks created for them. Mayen produced a weighty coat because her model told her she would feel most comfortable in a blanket.
Reading between the lines, it wasn't a surprise for the judges to declare them both safe for another week because they did please their clients.
The decision didn't go over well with the other designers who were disturbed particularly that Donovan got this second chance when others did not. In a bit of sour grapes, Alexander Pope suggested it was because Donovan flirted with the judges.
A hurt and angry Donovan vows to pick off the other designers one by one. Juicy. Stay tuned.
Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.