Well, Lifetime only gave us part one of the Project Runway All Stars finale last night, but we still got a sneak peek at what the designers have in store for the runway next week (hint: Fragonard's therapist on safari), and a few of our old faves returned to the workroom.
Come back to us, Anthony!
Because there are three of us Project Runway lovers (well, two of us today—have fun in Texas, Annalee!), and because we're assuming you watched the show too, instead of straight recaps for this series we're picking and choosing the parts we want to talk about most each week. First though, the episode stats:
The Challenge: Design a mini-collection of five looks in four days for a finale runway show. Twist: Make a sixth look out of scraps from former challenges with the help of one previously eliminated designer.
The Winner/Loser: We don't know yet but we have some predictions!
Strange things are afoot at
the Circle K 1407. Walls have been erected all over the workroom, creating three separate workspaces—or "ateliers," as Austin Scarlett would have it—for the designers to brew up their final collections. Austin has shaved his mustache—the source of his power! And Mondo has suddenly become, well, a moody little bitch. He's threatening to slam doors, he's dissing Michael's fabric choices, he's snapping at Austin over model selection, he's feeling dead inside, and, most egregiously, he's leaving dinner before dessert is served. Lighten up, Mondo! It's just fashion!
Mondo is at least self-aware enough to know that he's being a dick, and acknowledges that the show is driving him crazy. (To illustrate just how crazy, he later confesses that he has a crush on Isaac. Red flag, dude!) But, as we already know, Mondo's Dark Place™ is a necessary stop on the creativity train, and, sure enough, he emerges from it with an inspired idea for his mini-collection: therapy. Soon enough, he's experimenting with ink-blot Rorschach prints and structured garments meant to reference acupuncture and electroshock therapy. I can't wait to see the skirt inspired by colon hydrotherapy, myself, but perhaps we'll have to wait for next week.
Based just on what we saw last night, though, I'm still pulling for Mondo to win it all. Austin's collection sounds intriguing— rococo painter Fragonard with a twist of "21st-century rock star" and a dollop of, uh, "Hasidic gentleman"—but, as his 24-hour assistant Anthony pointed out so astutely, sometimes you mix those things together and end up with "dead white lady." And the less said about Michael's safari wear the better. Seriously, fashion people, why do you continue to obnoxiously, offensively beat this sad dead endangered leopard of a theme? In the past three decades, has anyone ever seen a safari-themed collection and said, "Oh, that's so fresh! Animal prints, you say? You know what would make that even edgier? Khaki!" (Indeed, I would love to see how Michael Kors—whose own Spring 20212 safari-studded collection was recently slammed in the fashion press—reacts to Michael Costello's even more boring take.)
Still, it's not a Project Runway finale without a twist or two—and since this episode already had one of the more low-drama versions (a basket full of former-outfit fabric scraps is definitely a make-it-work moment, but each designer more than took the challenge in stride), I wouldn't be surprised if next week involves the real hairpin turn, something that sends Mondo careening back under his black cloud, scares Michael out of his silky, braless comfort zone, and knocks those horrible pink upside-down culotte things out of Austin Scarlett's hands.
Mondo is determined to MAKE IT WORK.
I went into last night's episode fully expecting the finale runway show, so I must say I'm disappointed not to know who the true All Star among All Stars is (well, it's clearly Mondo, but I still don't trust those judges). That being said, I'm glad Lifetime gave us a good look at the inspiration behind each designer's collection, and it makes sense that they'd drag the finale out into two episodes given the lack of a Fashion Week show this season. I was especially psyched to see the Return of Anthony, who was a perfect assistant for Austin and gave him some much-needed feedback on his everything-meets-everything looks. (Dear television: Give Anthony his own show immediately.) In anticipation of the final runway show, let's review the pros and cons of each designer's mini-collection:
Austin "Runaway Bride" Scarlett
Austin described his theme as "Fragonard Madame de Pompadour meets 21st century rockstar meets Williamsburg Hassidic gentleman," and we know his looks include a massive petticoated brocade gown and a wedding dress. So, you know, pretty basic stuff. In all seriousness though, Austin is taking a real risk with this collection, and he'll either win big or lose bigger. Considering his issues with time management and editing, my money's on the latter, but I am excited to see that wedding dress.
Michael "Drapin' Safari" Costello
My dislike for Michael is well documented, but I admit I was hoping that he'd surprise me in the finale (since it was inevitable he'd make it this far) by doing something other than a bunch of slinky, draped dresses. When he chose April as his assistant instead of Rami, I felt optimistic even! But no, from what we've seen so far he's designed a bunch of slinky, draped dresses—made simultaneously worse and less interesting with a "tribal safari" theme. I want to say he's sealed his loser fate by going this route, but given fashion's love of both cultural appropriation and Michael Costello, I'm worried he might win it all.
Mondo "Retail Therapy" Guerra
As Andi pointed out, the darker Mondo's mood gets, the better his designs get. (If that stays true, we're in for an amazing show next Thursday, because he was acting super pissy last night.) I'm intrigued by his decision to turn his collection into an interpretation of actual therapy, and from what we've seen so far—an ink-blot dress, a zig-zag patterned skirt—he's creating something both accessible and interesting. My money's still on Mondo to win, but we consider the inconsistency of the judges and the likelihood of a last-minute twist that could send Mondo over the edge, it's still anybody's runway.
The Mustache Connection:
I LOLed last night at Mondo's comment that, sans mustache, Austin went "from Errol Flynn to Kermit the Frog," not only because I love Mondo's deadpan delivery, but because Annalee tipped me off to this video, where Austin bizarrely demonstrates his love of the Muppets. No one could love a Kermit the Frog comparison more!