Auld hangs on in ‘real woman’ challenge to reach show finale

Photo provided by DAVID M. RUSSELL -- A photo from the production of Project Runway All Stars in New York on Monday, July 2, 2012.
Photo provided by DAVID M. RUSSELL -- A photo from the production of Project Runway All Stars in New York on Monday, July 2, 2012.

There were several tense moments on the “Project Runway: All Stars II” runway last week until host and judge Carolyn Murphy finally said that both Anthony Ryan Auld and Emilio Sosa were safe. “For the first time in ‘Project Runway: All Stars’’ history, there’s no reason to send anyone home,” said Murphy.

It was the first time all season that Auld, a native of Baton Rouge and a graduate of LSU’s Textiles, Apparel Design & Merchandising program, found himself in the bottom. He’s the front-runner with four design challenge wins under his belt since the show began Oct. 25.

Friend and fellow designer Josh McKinley won the Jan. 3 challenge, which had the four remaining designers (the other is Uli Herzner) create a dress for four women veterans to wear to upcoming special occasions. Auld’s veteran was Air Force officer Donna Barrios, who wanted a dress to wear to her upcoming birthday party.

“The real woman challenge,” he said with an exasperated laugh. “Clearly it was an honor to meet these women. As you can clearly see in the show, I had the curvy figure … I know (how) to dress a curvy figure. I knew what I wanted to put her in, but she wanted strapless and long. About the only part of her body she didn’t want to hide were her arms.”

Auld’s initial plan was to make a bustier foundation for Barrios. “But that’s a process that takes at least two fittings and I quickly realized that the mannequin wasn’t big enough to do all the pinning and boning that’s required,” said Auld in his weekly phone update with The Advocate. “So, I just said my prayers. You pick your battles — please the client or stick to my aesthetic and get thrown under the bus on the runway.”

“He became her friend and gave her the dress she wanted,” said Murphy.

“His aesthetic got lost with the client,” said judge Georgina Chapman.

“I really liked it,” added judge Isaac Mizrahi, who also raved about Auld’s choice of fabric.

Guest judges Katie Holmes and Carmen Marc Valvo weren’t quite as kind. “The proportion is off,” commented Valvo.

“I really wanted to make (Barrios) feel special,” said Auld. “What you didn’t get to see on the show was all the attention I paid to her during the fittings and in hair and makeup. I just wanted this to be a good experience for her.”

And speaking of good experiences, Auld, Herzner, McKinley and Sosa get a great one on Thursday’s episode of Lifetime TV’s “Project Runway: All Stars II” when they travel to Paris for a visit to the House of Valentino. But that’s not Auld’s only cool experience. Monday he landed in Las Vegas, where he’ll be a featured celebrity in the Brother International Corp. booth at the International Consumer Electronics Show.

The dress that won him the ready-to-wear challenge during Dec. 27’s episode is selling like hotcakes as part of Elie Tahari’s spring line. At last check, “Liv,” as the $398 dress is now called, has sold out online (http://www.elietahari.com) in sizes 4, 10, 12 and 14.

Finally, for the Jan. 17 “Project Runway: All Stars II” finale, Auld, Brother International Corp. and the Office of Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne are hosting a viewing party at the Capitol Park State Museum, 660 N. 4th St., Baton Rouge. The festivities are open to the public and get under way at 7 p.m. with a runway show preview of Auld’s and fellow “All Stars” designer Josh McKinley’s 2013 fall/winter collection.