New Show Recap

New Show Recap: Project Runway All Stars, Episode 3.02, “Oh, How the Worm Has Turned Out”

Have you recovered from Ari going home last week on Project Runway All Stars instead of the sad raffia Muppet that Daniel made? Me neither. His mustache had better be extra glossy tonight, or else I’m going to be mean. Meaner than usual. Yes, you’ll be able to tell! Grumble mutter grumble grumble.

This week’s recap might be smeared in chocolate, for I write it on Halloween, the gooiest day of the year besides Valentine’s Day. Speaking of awkward transitions, this episode was about poison. The designers met Alyssa at the American Museum of Natural History, wherein she told them they would be using insects and arachnids for their challenge, whereupon your blogger said, “Yay! Yay! Oooooooh, cool! Spiders! Whoops I dribbled Almond Joy on my boob yay insects!” It would be an avant-garde challenge, which is a French term for “confused designer throws some shiny on it and prays really hard.”

After proclaiming what the challenge doth be, our Mistress Alyssa took the group to the Hall of Biodiversity, which was not, as I hoped, an international all-male revue. No, it was where we got to visit with the live, multi-legged specimens.

Once they all selected their awesome bugs and bopped off to Mood, the designers got to see their work room for the first time and I, for one, am très jealous of them. I would adore an enormous sewing room!

Korto told us that after her first appearance on Project Runway, she got to visit her home county of Liberia again, from which she had been exiled for twenty-three years. She even got to show for the president! Yay Korto!

Once everyone had settled into grumbling about their process, Not-Joanna came by to explain that avant-garde was daring and innovative, but I like my definition better. She visited Mychael, who’d been inspired by a green thing called a horn worm. His dress was the literal eye-bleeding color of the worm, and looked like a worm. Not-Joanna said well, you know, perhaps ladies don’t want to look like literal worms, maybe? Everyone in Christendom agreed. It seemed like most designers fell into one of two camps — too boring or too literal. I’d rather see a giant roach walk the runway than a pantsuit, though.

Nobody was avant-garde according to Not-Joanna. Melissa and Mychael threw out their designs completely. Elena cracked — screaming and hissing and laughing and generally going for Miss Unpredictability. Or Miss Annoys-the-Shit-Outta-Everyone.

Jeffrey decided to cover his poor model’s face in fabric to help her sue the show when she “bust her A-S-S,” as Korto put it. Walking a runway while blinded is a real test. If only Jeffrey had thought to demonstrate.

The runway show looked like an episode or three of Star Trek threw up on it. This is not a complaint. Our guest judges were jeweler Jennifer Meyer and season 9 winner Anya Ayoung Chee, who forgot pants. Note: If you don’t know what some of these insects are, Google them. But at your own risk. If you’re haunted by page after page of creepy-ass insectoid nightmares, don’t complain to the Great Unicorn Khaleesi of Persephone.

Seth Aaron Mychael Daniel -- Designs Project Runway All Stars Season 3 Episode 2
(L to R) Seth Aaron, Mychael, Daniel  —  All pictures courtesy of

Seth Aaron — Madagascar hissing cockroach. I really dug Seth Aaron’s red and black almost armor-plated take on a cockroach. Instead of going literal brown, he chose red, and what an excellent choice it was. Rounded plates of red insect layers descended over one shoulder and across the hip, with a shiny black underskirt. Cool and sci-fi looking and awesome. Avant-garde ranking: superheroine to be played by Lucy Liu.

Mychael — hornworm. Mychael’s weird white suit thing is not ever something I would want to wear, but it was interesting. A straight white skirt below, a coccoon-like jacket above. The jacket lapels were edged in lime green strips of fabric that drooped in the center and mimicked the sections of the worm — like gills. And the collar! It came up in the back to half-way up her head in a terribly majestic way, especially for a worm. Avant-garde ranking: late-night cartoon character that’s kinda ugly, but the drunker you get you sort-of become attracted to it. Up close, the fabric was a grey neoprene that looked like expensive wool — really neat. Isaac called it expensive and strange. The judges ate it up.

Daniel — vinegaroon. Y’all, I could really do without ever having seen a vinegaroon, a mean brown meanie with pincer things on its face. I could also have done without Daniel’s uggo brown (too literal!) dress that looked like a rejected costume from the J-Lo movie The Cell. It was so… shit brown. An ill-fitting brown minidress with puffy bits tacked on anchored a tall, brown, plastic collar and equally-plastic-ey skirt. A shiny brown silk skirt/capeish extension flowed out the back. I just… no. Ari was voted out to save this man, you guys. Avant-garde ranking: a craft sale at Michael’s. Isaac wanted the coat to be more flattering. Alyssa was concerned with the proportions, and Anya hated the fabrics.

Korto Jeffrey Melissa -- Designs Project Runway All Stars Season 3 Episode 2
(L to R) Korto, Jeffrey, Melissa — All pictures courtesy of

Korto — tiger centipede. Korto gave us what I thought of as a stylish Borg. It seemed a black pantsuit at first glance, but soon revealed curved spikes at the shoulders and wrists, mimicking the centipede’s legs. These cool strips of shiny black adorned the backs of the legs and the front, too. The close you got to it, the cooler it became. The pants featured a yellow racing stripe down the inseam of each leg, also aping the centipede’s color. Wicked cool. Avant-garde ranking: Seven of Nine, a few seasons in.

Jeffrey — hairy scorpion. Jeffrey designed a walking beige lampshade in jogging pants, but one of the pant legs got ripped off to reveal an actual red leg underneath. Seriously, this fucking thing looked like a horror version of the A Christmas Story leg lamp. It looked like he’d taken a gold throw pillow cover and shoved it over his model’s face. She looked like a crime victim. And a movie prop. Both those things. HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE? From the side, she might not have been a lampshade so much as an actual sofa cushion trimmed in shitty feather boa. Perhaps it’s better we couldn’t see the tears streaming down the model’s face. Avant-garde ranking: apparently my living room is high fashion. Isaac called the hood a slap in the face, because the wearer can’t drink a martini at the party while she’s wearing it. HA! Jeffrey took off the sofa cushion to reveal a rather pretty gold one-sleeve top. Alyssa said she might only wear the hood in the bedroom, for which I give her an avant-garde ranking of: kinky bondage princess. Nice. You go, Alyssa! Jennifer said it looked like a giant phallic symbol about to attack her. She is now my favorite person. Or maybe Alyssa. I love them all!

Melissa — Sri Lankan ornamental spider. Sigh. Melissa made a LBD. It was a pretty LBD, with exaggerated hips and an accent of black down the center meant to look like a spider-esque marking, but it was a LBD. The back had a weird doily of mustard yellow and black lace assembled into a circle and plopped between her shoulder blades. Uh huh. Melissa! You got one of the coolest bugs! I am disappoint. Avant-garde ranking: A GOOP Halloween newsletter. Georgina thought it pretty, but not what the challenge asked for. Alyssa wanted more from her, and Isaac agreed that it needed more of its already existing beautiful weirdness.

Viktor Irina -- Designs Project Runway All Stars Season 3 Episode 2
(L to R) Viktor, Irina — All pictures courtesy of

Viktor — cabbage butterfly. YES! Finally some badass bug shit! Viktor gifted us with a structured white gown of great and terrible beauty. It hugged her curves in a column from neck to toes, and came to points at the shoulders and the elbows of her long sleeves. A geometric cape flowed behind her as she walked. Painted onto the deep center V were slashes of green and black, like the butterfly. When she turned, the cape was folded and stitched into a sculpture. Amazing. Avant-garde ranking: Tilda Swinton in real life. This was not in the top three, and I was absolutely shocked — I thought it would win.

Irina — bumblebee millipede. Wow. Irina resisted going for the literal yellow-and-black spiral millipede, and gifted us with a spiky black Judy Jetson dress. The minidress came to a short-short skirt in front, but a mushroom-cap sort of over skirt that flared out on all other sides. It had spikes shooting up into the air from it. The neck of the gown came around in a feathered circle of black from the back of her head and down to the bodice of the dress. Feathers shot between the layers of the gown, giving the impression of a hairy bug, but almost a sexy hairy bug. Avant-garde ranking: hot alien who bangs Captain Kirk. Georgina said it was both a gorgeous gown and avant-garde, and the judges enjoyed it.

Christopher Elena -- Designs Project Runway All Stars Season 3 Episode 2
(L to R) Christopher, Elena — All pictures courtesy of

Christopher — elater beetle. Christopher made the demonic insect alien princess of my dreams. The dress was structural around a column of minidress, with enormous poofs at the hips, and curved insect spikes on her outer arms and shoulders. The real shock and awe came from the fabric manipulation on the center of her body. The dress was made of a shiny bronze satin, and curved layers of black and white played together in the center to bring the design of the insect itself to mind. Long, curved spikes, almost like the fronds of a palm tree, jutted out behind her. AND she had long, spiky gloves on! Avant-garde ranking: queen of the space hive, where you mate once and die happy.

Elena — lubber grasshopper. Elena veered into too-literal for my taste with her pointy dress in bright slashes of orange, yellow, and black. Like some of the others, it was a fitted dress to the knee, spiky shoulders and neck, long sleeves. The layers of spots and stripes really did mimic the grasshopper, and it was a damn cool dress. Avant-garde ranking: Disney talking bug who is might be evil. Georgina said she looked beautiful but also avant-garde. They loved it.

On the top of the bug heap sat…Mychael! I’m impressed that they chose this look, and I was so happy for Mychael!

Sliding down the sad ramp were Melissa and Daniel. Ultimately, Daniel went home. Yay! He’s a charming fellow, but just out-classed at this level, methinks. Wish we could have had Ari this week.

Which bug bugged you the most? The least? How many legs do you wish you had? Have you ever poisoned a friend with your pincers? Tell me, Persephoneers!

By Lucy Woodhull

Lucy Woodhull is a novelist, humorist, parodist, and all-around geek. Her new venture is THE SHITTIEST PRINCESS, a series of un-fair-y tales right here on Persephone. You can check out her sexy, fun romantic comedies at

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