“They’re leggings,” explains designer Angelo Lambrou, fondling a mud-colored puddle of jersey. “They’re awful,” concludes Joe Zee. The peppy Elle creative director doesn’t pull any punches in All on the Line, the reality-TV series in which he attempts to help fashion designers rescue their ailing businesses. In the show’s second season, which premieres tonight on Sundance Channel, Zee kicks off each episode with a kind of sartorial quickfire challenge: the embattled designer must whip up something on the spot (or at least in 72 hours) for a special guest style arbiter such as Rachel Roy or Mark Badgley and James Mischka. Having conquered that initial task, it’s onto the main event of creating a capsule collection for the scrutiny of big-time buyers, but not before Zee steps into the studio to offer guidance on a triumphant relaunch. The first season saw one featured designer seal a deal with Nordstrom, but success is anything but assured. In tonight’s season opener, Lambrou, who has carved out a niche in the custom bridal business, struggles at every turn. Midway through the episode, Zee pronounces his designs “complicated but still boring.” We won’t spoil the ending for you, but be warned: powder-blue velvet is involved.
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