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Project Runway: All Stars returns this week with a new host.
Supermodel Carolyn Murphy stepped in for Angela Lindvall in the second season of the Lifetime reality competition, which debuts at 9 p.m. Thursday.
The show will feature 13 returning designers: Wendy Pepper, Andrae Gonzalo, Kayne Gillaspie, Uli Herzner, Suede, Althea Harper, Emilio Sosa, Peach Carr, Ivy Higa, Casanova, Joshua McKinley, Laura Kathleen and Anthony Ryan Auld. Mentor Joanna Coles will return, as will judges Isaac Mizrahi and Marchesa’s Georgina Chapman.
The winner of season two will have the chance to create a custom-branded capsule collection for Nine West and will be awarded a cash prize of $150,000, a sewing and embroidery studio, an all-expenses paid trip around the world to attend fashion weeks in cities such as Paris, London, Milan and Tokyo and a technology suite/office space. The winner will also receive a fashion spread in Marie Claire and a yearlong position as contributing editor.
Ahead of the show’s premiere, Murphy talked to The Hollywood Reporter about how she got involved in the show, shared her thoughts on guest judge Katie Holmes and revealed some of the challenges viewers will see.
The Hollywood Reporter: How did you get involved with the show?
Carolyn Murphy: I was originally approached a couple of years ago, and the timing wasn’t right in my life. So I was super grateful for season two that Meryl Poster and Harvey [Weinstein, executive producers] had approached me to host, and the timing was right. So it all worked out. I was super excited and even more excited once I was on set and it was starting.
THR: Were you a fan of the show?
Murphy: I have been a huge fan for years. I love it, and I have worked with [judges Michael Kors, Nina Garcia and Heidi Klum] before. It was so much fun to watch. When I [joined All Stars], I played catch-up before I jumped on the show. I was really excited to see the people coming back on for season two and be with them in person.
THR: How does the second season compare with the first?
Murphy: I don’t think it’s fair to compare. I just know that I enjoyed my experience. What I love about the second season is that there was such a huge prize. … It drove them to work hard to win, and the tension it created was really great for the show. Plus, we had incredible guest judges who just blew things through the roof. And [the producers] did a great job of getting really creative with the challenges this season.
THR: There has been a lot of media coverage on Katie Holmes’ stint as guest judge. How did she do?
Murphy: She was amazing, especially considering it was the day after her announcing the divorce. We were shocked that she actually showed up, and she could not have been more sweet, professional and articulate. I was amazed at her fashion sense, and she obviously has her line in fashion. But it’s not like this is scripted. But I was really impressed with her. She’s a real lady.
THR: What do you think about her clothing line?
Murphy: I saw some of the pieces, and I just love how clean and effortless it is. It is reflective of her tastes, very classic. The timing couldn’t be more perfect for her in regards to her professional and personal life as well and [living] in New York now. I’m hoping she continues to design.
THR: You also mentioned the challenges this season. Can you share what some of them were?
Murphy: We had an unconventional challenge that got everybody in the mood for Christmas that was super fun. And with that challenge, I was jaw-dropped. I was there when we presented the challenge, and I thought, there is no way they are going to be able to create a look out of this stuff. This is what makes Project Runway so much fun, and this one was mind-blowing. There also was an eco-friendly challenge that was quite interesting because they had different fabrics to work with, and I always love the message behind that. And there is a really cool graffiti challenge that exposes a whole other side of New York and how art influences fashion. I think that one everyone liked most of all was the one where they all got to go to Paris and really got to push their creativity.
THR: You traveled overseas for a challenge? That’s a first for the franchise.
Murphy: It was a big, big deal. There were literally tears when we said, “Go get your passports.” They couldn’t believe we were going to Paris to visit one of the biggest fashion houses in the world.
THR: Which one?
Murphy: I think I have to keep that secret for now.
THR: Did anything surprise you this season?
Murphy: I think, for me, knowing some of these designers from previous seasons and seeing what they can do and how far they pushed themselves — that really surprised me. In each episode, there is a lot of disappointment, but also a lot of surprises, and I was just so supportive of all of them. When you see the things they created, are you kidding me? They are so talented.
THR: How did you like working with Isaac and Georgina?
Murphy: With Isaac, this is like a match made in heaven. I’ve been [modeling] for so many years; we met in 1993 when I was fresh out of school, and he was one of the first desginers who supported my career as a model. I actually walked on a runway [for him] and he was draping fabric on me and pinning things if they weren’t cut right backstage. It’s really kismet to come full circle with him. He’s so smart and funny, and I learned a lot from him and Georgina. I just wanted in her runway show at New York Fashion Week, and I’ve always admired her dresses and I wore a lot of them on the show because they are so stunning. They are both so talented and very eloquent and know their stuff, and to be in their company, I really learned from them.
THR: Who are your favorite designers?
Murphy: I have so many, it’s hard to say. But in my closet there is a lot of Calvin Klein and Chloe and Celine.
THR: This question is going to put you on the spot, but did you have a favorite designer on Project Runway?
Murphy: It really does put me on the spot. But I started out with favorites and ended up not even liking some of them, and some I wasn’t really confident about but I was happy to see how hard they worked. There’s always room to be surprised.
CLARIFICATION: Project Runway season four also went to Paris.
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