“Project Runway All-Stars” premiered last week, and while the first episode out of the gate felt a little lackluster, we know Austin Scarlett, Mondo and Rami ultimately will not disappoint. Sadly for viewers, while the competitors are all familiar faces, the judges, host and mentors are all new to the series. Host Heidi Klum has been replaced by supermodel Angela Lindvall. Tim Gunn’s mentoring work is now done by Marie Claire Editor-in-Chief Joanna Coles. And Michael Kors and Nina Garcia no longer judge the runway shows. This task is now handled by fashion icon Isaac Mizrahi and designer and former model Georgina Chapman.
The 99¢ store challenge
In the first episode the designers were charged with making an outfit from items found at a 99¢ store that was inspired by a piece in there current professional collections. While no one’s looks were as creative as those from prior seasons’ unconventional materials challenges, some contestants faired better than others.
The competitor the judges felt impressed them the least was Elisa Jimenez and she was the first eliminated. The New York designer originally appeared in season four and was sent home in week six. In a recent conference call interview Elisa talked about her time on the show, the new judges and who she wants to win.
Elisa, who has had her own successful business long before appearing on the show in 2008, said coming back to the Runway was serendipitous. She recalled, “It was a very pivotal time in my own work and I had actually been putting out into the world that I wanted something that was going to be huge and shift my focus a bit… And wouldn’t you know that same day that I did the meditation I got the All-Stars request.” Elise said she consulted her daughter, who she called her “number one advisor,” and decided to do the show again.
During the challenge, Elisa chose to make a beachy, short-shorts outfit and a top with her signature wings. As the model walked the runway and opened her arms, the wings exposed prose written on both sleeves. She received mixed critiques from the judges — some thought it was very creative, while others thought clothing shouldn’t need to be explained.
Elisa Jimenez stands by her piece
Elisa defended her design. “I actually stand by the piece I did,” she declared. “The explanation wasn’t so much in relation to the story that’s actually on the wings and on the clothes. There’s a whole series called The Storytellers Series and it’s actually a story. So that was me more just being nervous on the runway and explaining some of the construction ideas that I have while I’m working. So out of context of the runway it looks like I’m explaining the dress but actually I was just getting nervous and explaining more about the dress than I needed to explain.”
She continued, “What I was really proud of is that I think the work stands for itself, both the first dress that I showed from the collection and also the second reinterpretation of the unusual materials challenge… I agree you shouldn’t have to explain your work both in a gallery, a museum or on a runway. So I thought that was a very good example and a good lesson. The critique was good for not just myself but for everybody. But I still think the work is amazing. I wouldn’t have changed a thing.”
To read more of our interview with Elisa Jimenez visit Pop Culture Passionistas.
Tune in to “Project Runway All-Stars” on Thursday nights at 9 p.m. EST/8 p.m. Central on Lifetime.
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