Posted Wednesday, January 3, 2018 by RODNEY HOemail@example.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
After taking a year off, Lifetime has brought back "Project Runway All Stars," a show that uses a different cast than the original but is cut from the same cloth, so to speak.
In its sixth season, the network is trying something a little different: it's bringing 16 designers back, eight for the first time on "All Stars" and eight who had done "All Stars" before. Three are from Atlanta: Anthony Williams, Ken Laurence and Edmond Newton. The show returns Thursday at 9 p.m.
Both Williams and Laurence have competed in the regular series and "All Stars." Laurence finished third in "All Stars" in 2016. Newton came in third during season 14 of "Project Runway" in 2015 and is one of the "newbies" to the all star edition.
Newton will be joined by his season's runner up Kelly Dempsey and fourth and fifth place finishers Candice Cuoco and Merline Labissiere of Savannah.
I spoke with Laurence and Newton. Williams, who finished fifth season 7 of "Project Runway" and ninth on "Project Runway All Stars" season one, was unavailable for an interview.
The show was actually taped a year ago and has been on the shelf for awhile. It features actress Alyssa Milano as host and judge. Fashion mavens Georgina Chapman and Isaac Mizrahi are also judges. (Chapman is the wife of disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. This was taped before the accusations came out.)
Laurence, who is from Birmingham, moved to New York for a time but found it too fast paced so he came to Atlanta a couple of years ago and now lives in Castleberry Hill.
Did he feel there was any advantage as a vet? "There is an upper hand when it comes to the veterans," Laurence said. "You do know what the judges want. But what they want one season may be different the next season."
He basically shot season five and six back to back but didn't feel like his creative tank had run low entering season six. "I was still racing with energy and experience," he said. "I have grown as a fashion designer. I've taken a lot of input the judges gave me. That being said, going into it, my woman is still my woman. Throughout season five All Stars, they said, 'Ken your woman is too hard. Make her more feminine.' " So he said he tried to go that direction.
He said with all the Hollywood productions in town, he hopes to tap into that opportunity. And he is planning to open a showroom. "Atlanta doesn't have a lot of showrooms but it's growing. I want to be another source of building up the fashion scene in Atlanta."
Laurence said business picked up last year after a prom dress he created and posted on Facebook and Instagram went viral. "It grew my followers so much," he said. "I have more than 15 clients as of right now. I have one in Germany and one in New York."
He is hoping to have a line of clothing ready on his website www.kenlaurence.co by the time the show launches.
Newton said he was thrilled to see so many Atlantans on the show. "It's great to see a huge representation from the Atlanta area," he said. "It gives us more of a chance to have a win coming from here." (No Atlantan has won either show yet.)
He said the show gave the designers more freedom outside of taping on "All Stars" compared to the original show, both shot in New York. " 'Project Runway' is like high school. They guard you, shelter you, give you a curfew. 'All Stars' is like college. You can relax a bit more. You could go out and hit a museum. I had time to explore the Fashion District."
Newton said, like Laurence, he does a lot of prom dresses as well as ready-to-wear pieces. He is also hoping to have a prom line ready for sale this month to take advantage of the show. He is working with Fit for a Queen Atlanta boutiques.
"Project Runway All Stars," 9 p.m. Thursdays, starting January 4, Lifetime