‘Project Runway All Stars’ releases names of returning designers

PJAS3Project Runway All Stars, the series that fills the gaps when Heidi and company have off between seasons as former contestants vie for more glory, returns with a third season Oct. 24 with a new host, new mentor … and cast of familiar faces.

A remarkable three former winners — Jeffrey Sebelia (Season 3), Irina Shabayeva (Season 6) and Seth Aaron Henderson (Season 7) — plus a first runner-up — Korto Momolu (Season 5) — are back trying to win nearly $1 million in prizes. Other returning contestants include last season’s Austin-based Daniel Esquivel, as well as popular designers Michael Knight (Season 3), Viktor Luna (Season 9) and Christopher Palu (Season 10). The remainder of the cast includes Ari South (Season 8), Melissa Fleis (Season 10) and Elena Silvnyak (Season 10). And, of course, there’s some gay there (though not as gay as it could be — Sebelia is that rarest of breeds: a straight male fashion designer).

Other changes include Alyssa Milano and the new host and Marie Claire senior fashion editor Zanna Roberts Rassi as the new mentor. Isaac Mizrahi and Georgina Chapman are back as judges. Guest judges throughout the season will include Kristin Chenoweth, Michael Urie, Nate Berkus and former contestants Mondo Guerra (who won the first All Stars) and Christian Siriano.

The current season of Project Runway is currently on Lifetime Thursday nights; All Stars will replace it after its finale.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

JCPenney returns to Dallas retail

It has been an irony on the level of the Big Tobacco office building being smoke-free or the beef industry lobbying group having vegetarian options on its cafeteria menu. JCPenney, once the ruler of catalogue sales and a retail captain, is based in North Texas but has not had a Dallas store since the one in NorthPark Center closed in the late 1990s.

Well, it’s back. And with a lot of style.

The new store, which officially opened at Skillman Road and Northwest Highway last weekend, is part of a huge new complex that includes a gigantic Wal-Mart that probably warrants its own congressman. The JCP store isn’t as big, but it is fairly fancy.

JCP has always been a mid-range seller that doesn’t compete with fellow Dallas-based icon Neiman Marcus but brags that is does offer style for less. (It’s VP in charge of design, Geoffrey Henning, is a longtime supporter and designer for DIFFA.) The new store — clean and fresh as a newly minted penny — lives up to the promise.

JCP staffers brag that the store is now the exclusive retailer for what they say is the most recognized name in women’s fashion, Liz Claiborne, though the designs have been updated from the 1970s-era when the brand became famous. Credit uber-gay Isaac Mizrahi, its comparatively new creative director, with turning things around. There are a number of exclusive deals and in-house labels at JCP, including a juniors line from the Olsen Twins, but the new venue is most excited about its MNG by Mango store-within-a-store, which does fast fashions for women. Another innovation: An in-house salon where you can get your hair cut or an entire makeover if you need it, then continue on with your bargain shopping.

The men’s department is smaller than the women’s, but the J. Ferrar line of clothes, pictured, is worth a look, and if you’re a fragrance junkie, an in-store Sephora shop.

For shopaholics like me, it’s always fun to browse at a new store, not only to see what’s new (lots of fall fashions are already out, despite the 99-degree temperatures this week) but also to take advantage of the bargains and enjoy the enthusiasm of a fresh staff in a beautiful space. And JCPenney doesn’t scrimp on the sales, coupons and discounts. It’s a great place to check out something new and save money doing it.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones