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Project Runway All Stars' Austin Scarlett & Elisa Jimenez

The excitement is building in anticipation of Project Runway’s spinoff, Project Runway All Stars.  Since the cast consists of 13 of our favorite Project Runway alums, we are already aware of their talent, accomplishments and style of design. We have watched how they interact with the other designers and handle themselves under high pressure.  We’ve judged them and think we know them. But do we? Earlier this month I met two designers from the All Star cast, Austin Scarlett and Elisa Jimenez, at Neiman Marcus Paramus.

Viewers know Austin Scarlett as the couture designer with a flair for drama.  The Austin that I met, however, was laid back, thoughtful and passionate about fashion and his designs. He credited Project Runway for being “an invaluable platform for exposure… It is so hard to be able to make a living doing what you love, and Project Runway definitely helped to make that possible.”  When it comes to his work, he tends to stick to the more formal world of women’s dresses. He loves cocktail and couture.  He had two original pieces on display at NM – a beautiful green gown that he had designed for a friend to wear to the opening night of the Metropolitan Opera this past September, as well as a very sassy tuxedo inspired cocktail dress.  Both displayed his current experimentation with a horsehair braid (a type of crinoline netting) usually used in hat making. It gives his designs a more sculpted look.

Like Austin, Elisa Jimenez is a passionate artist, and viewers remember her as one of the most eccentric cast members, who marked fabric with spit, for example, and tossed around words like “amorphous.” She is introspective and spiritual, as well as spontaneous. Stemming from a combination of Stephen’s Hawking theory that matter can change instantaneously, and a genuine concern for her client’s ability to afford her clothes, Elisa’s designs can all be worn in multiple ways.  This goes hand-in-hand with Elisa’s concern for the environment.  On display at NM were “an angel dress” made of sustainable fabric and influenced by “angels, goodness and light.”  It was “spontaneous couture,” made on a model in 10 minutes!  She added a dakini — a Hindu angel — as the final touch. Elisa also presented a reversible gray-to-silver dress, an example of a dress that can be worn in multiple ways, with the gray side being the more subdued, work-appropriate look. It can be reversed and worn as a halter dress in sparkly silver for night.

Tune in to Project Runway All Stars next month to find out how the designers will be judged the second time around. And keep an eye out for Ken Downing and the Neiman Marcus Accessory Wall!