Thirteen designers from previous seasons of the hit reality fashion design show Project Runway have returned to compete in Project Runway: All Stars. The All Stars edition of Project Runway debuts on October 25 at 9 p.m. EST on Lifetime. And the reasons behind each designer’s return are as varied as their design aesthetics and backgrounds in the industry.
This latest edition of Project Runway: All Stars (the second full season version not counting a truncated All Stars special), comes just weeks after Project Runway finished its 10th anniversary regular season.
While fans will see familiar faces at the sewing machines, the quartet of judges and advisors are a different crew from the Project Runway regular personalities of Heidi Klum, Michael Kors, Nina Garcia and Tim Gunn. Instead, Project Runway: All Stars features a judging panel of supermodel Carolyn Murphy and designers Issac Mizrahi and Marchesa’s Georgina Chapman. Joanna Coles, formerly of Elle and now editor-in-chief at Cosmopolitan, fills the workroom advisor role.
An interesting wrinkle to this season of Project Runway: All Stars is that this season features a lot of runners-up, all with something to prove.
- Wendy Pepper (Middleburg, VA) – Season One, Second Runner-up
- Uli Herzner (Miami, FL) – Season Three, First Runner-up
- Althea Harper (New Haven, CT) – Season Six, First Runner-up
- Emilio Sosa (New York, NY) – Season Seven, First Runner-up
- Joshua McKinley (New York, NY) – Season Nine, First Runner-up
Other designers returning are:
- Andrae Gonzalo (New York, NY) – Season Two
- Kayne Gillaspie (Oklahoma City, OK) – Season Three
- Suede (Barryville, NY) – Season Five
- Peach Carr (Lake Forest, IL) – Season Eight
- Casanova (New York, NY) – Season Eight.
- Ivy Higa (New York, NY) – Season Eight.
- Anthony Ryan Auld (Baton Rouge, LA) – Season Nine.
- Laura Kathleen (St. Louis, MO) – Season Nine.
Fashion Reverie talked to three returning designers of this season of Project Runway: All Stars to find out why they returned and how the Project Runway: All Stars experience compared to their original experience on Project Runway.
It’s been eight years since America met the mom who became known as the villain of the first season of Project Runway for her often sarcastic and acerbic comments about her fellow contestants. Since then Pepper, 48, has kept busy designing for her boutique in Middleburg, VA.
Wendy Pepper: It’s TV and you throw your hat in the ring and do what you can. I really thought it was a pretty amazing experience. I thought all in all it’s been a wonderful experience for me. I think that editing is a miraculous thing. I really don’t know that person they created on Season 1 but they managed to create it and kudos to them for that. But never once for a minute have I confused it with who I am.
FR: How was the Project Runway experience for you this time and working with designers who grew up watching you on television?
Wendy Pepper: I definitely felt it took me back to eight years ago. It reminded me of the craziness. I can tell you my job does not include challenges like that. It actually made me grateful to come back to my real job. My main observation was it was an extraordinary opportunityto spend some real time with people that are entering the industry in a different way than I did. To me that was invaluable to have a meal with them, and talk with them, and talk strategy. I learned a lot.
Since being introduced to “Project Runway” audiences as the pageant gown king of Season 3 and finishing in the top 5, Gillaspie, 33, has been busy building his fashion business. His Jonathan Kayne brand, based in his hometown of Nashville, includes dresses, intimates and shoe lines.
Kayne Gillaspie: I think all of us love the creative process so when else do you get a chance to leave your cell phone behind, and the whole outside world behind and all you do is focus on creating. You get to just zone out and take a challenge at hand and really concentrate on showing what you can do, perfecting your craft and getting into a creative zone to do what you love to do. On top of that, it’s great exposure for young designers. There’s so much competition out there to get your brand out there. And for so many people to get to see your creative process and talent, it’s pretty awesome. It’s a no brainer. As long as I can make it work with my schedule and my business I will do that. This is another great opportunity for me. I couldn’t pay for a single commercial for my brand on Lifetime. So that type of exposure with television is awesome. For me it was a business move more than anything else.
FR: Almost half of the designers are from seasons eight and nine. What was it like being with them?
Kayne Gillaspie: They grew up watching us. These kids come in wearing only their product and promoting their product. And even just how [they approached the show], they always had things they might want to say or do. For me it’s just spontaneous. I do what I do. There were a lot of egos I felt from some of the younger crowd. I pretty much get along with anyone but I was a little surprised by how much ego was there without much work that’s been put in before. I just grew up where hard work was number one and everything would come after that. But good for them. Maybe it works for them.
Peach Carr has been busy since she appeared in 2010 on Season 8 of Project Runway. The 52-year-old mom from Lake Forest, IL.—she hopped on a plane to tape this All Stars season literally hours after watching her daughter graduate from high school—has also been busy with her line of tennis togs and daywear.
FR: Why did you decide to do Project Runway All Stars?
Peach Carr: I said no about four times. I think the reason why I finally said yes was because I thought I had really grown so much in two years as a designer since my time on Season 8. I really wanted to show everybody not only how much growth but what Lifetime gave to me because I had no voice before Project Runway. Project Runway really channeled me to where I was supposed to go. I wanted to show everybody what this opportunity did for me.
FR: What was the experience like this time around?
Peach Carr: My daughter graduated from high school and hours later I was on a plane to New York to film so by the time I met everybody I was thinking ‘What did I do?’ It was very weird at first. But I was so star struck by some of the people there that I almost didn’t feel I was on Project Runway at first. I am still star struck with Uli and Kayne. Season 3 is [when] I first got hooked on Project Runway. I am just like everybody else; you feel like you know these people and you want to get to know them.”
—Karyn D. Collins