Setting the record for most challenge wins, Anthony Ryan Auld was crowned the winner of the second "All Stars" edition of "Project Runway" Thursday night. Season 9's seventh-place finisher beat out Uli Herzner (season 3), who came in third place behind Emilio Sosa (season 7).
Although the judges raved about Uli's "Mystical Winter" looks and praised Emilio's "Urban Plantation" for its bold political statement (all his models were African-American), they were most impressed by Anthony Ryan's arresting graphic designs. It was an impressive showing for all three finalists, who had only four days and $3,000 to complete their mini-collections.
They did have some help though: Each finalist was asked to select an eliminated designer to ease their workload. The finale's biggest shocker came from the most recently ousted Joshua McKinley, who refused to help his bestie when Anthony Ryan picked him first.
Sour grapes? Not a chance, Anthony told The Clicker Friday morning. "He was tired and I didn't blame him," said the new champ. "Basically, the challenges are back to back to back. We had just (spent less than 48 hours) in Paris, slept on the plane, changed outfits and went straight to workroom."
And before the early-morning finale launch, Joshua was up until 1 a.m., competing against Uli in an impromptu extra challenge. "He's a good friend, but he wouldn't have been able to give 100 percent," said Anthony Ryan, who picked Kayne instead.
The other surprise of the night was Anthony Ryan's comment that if he didn't win, he'd be forced to give up his career in design. "I applied for everything," he shared about his struggle to find work in the industry. He attributes the challenge to graduating from Louisiana State University instead of art schools such as Parsons or the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. "For a year straight I never heard anything, and financially it's been a huge burden."
As unbelievable as it sounds, Anthony Ryan insists he was "ready to go back to retail and get a big-boy job."
Instead, he now has a "big-boy job" -- in fashion. In addition to the cash prize, his winnings include a one-year contributing editor position at Marie Claire magazine, which will also feature a spread of his designs. (He also nabbed a sewing and embroidery studio, a technology suite and an all-expenses paid trip to attend fashion weeks in cities around the world.)
And Baton Rouge's hometown hero will be applying his business background to his designing career. "I want to make the smartest financial decision and do a lot of research in manufacturing ... there's a lot of things I don't know."
But he did learn a lot about himself this season.
"I came in not knowing what I was going to do in season 9, (and some of my designs) didn't work aesthetically. This time I came into it with an open mind (and really found) more of myself as a designer. ... nYou saw me unfold within the series."
Comparing his experiences with the judges, Anthony Ryan said, "I think All-Stars are most focused on design. This is TV, but I think the original 'Project Runway' is a little more story based" with more emphasis on "drama."
He is thrilled to escape the drama of the entirely team-based upcoming season of "Runway," which premieres Jan. 24.
"I would've absolutely lost my s---" he said if he'd been cast on the teams edition. "WTF?" But he admitted, "I I'm kind of excited to watch," marveling that whoever came up with the concept is "a creative genius."
When asked to rank possible partners, Anthony Ryan said, "The worst would be Ivy, by far. The best would be Joshua."
As for his designs this season, Anthony Ryan -- who also was voted fan favorite -- considers his winning creation for the USA Today challenge to be the best.
"I was really proud of that dress," he said of the sleek blue, white and black design, reminiscent of Narciso Rodgriguez.
That dress, inspired by a fan-submitted photo, was in turn the inspiration for his finale collection.
"It was a turning point for me."
Were you inspired by Anthony Ryan's collection, or did Uli or Emilio deserve the win instead? Sound off on our Facebook page.
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