Project Runway All Stars: A-muse-balls

Last night, our All Stars hit the streets to find inspiration (and innocent bystanders willing to donate the clothes off their backs) for an a-muse-ing runway challenge.

Austin Scarlett in front of a pant-less man on the street
They’re all titillated, but only one of them got his number.

Because there are three of us Project Runway lovers, 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 Winner: Mondo! (*breathes sigh of relief*)

The Loser: Anthony (*wipes away tear*)

And now, our highlights/lowlights/predictions. Be sure to chime in in the comments with some of your own!

Judges Are You Kidding Me?! Part One Million
OK, I know I’ve complained about the significant lack of judging this season already, multiple times, but here we go again: JUDGES ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! Am I an unwitting participant in a Truman Show-like program wherein everyone pretends that Jerrell’s mishmash of fabric scraps was a passable runway ensemble just to get me to react?! (That plan is working.) Because unless the challenge was “Figure out a way to make a slutty Marjory the Trash Heap from Fraggle Rock Halloween costume,” Jerrell should have been out of there. Look at this!

Jerrell's runway outfit Marjory the Trash Heap
The Trash Heap has spoken.

It’s one thing to continue to reward Michael for his beyond-boring draping techniques (we saw last night why he sticks to them—his “Very Sarah Jessica Parker in 1990, 1992. But futuristic!” look managed to be both wildly inappropriate and dowdy at the same time), but Jerrell didn’t even have enough of a garment to to drape. Yet Georgina Chapman was right there, complimenting the rag pieces Jerrell’s model was forced to walk in and confusing the shit out of me. Were we looking at the same thing?! Sheesh.

Judges, get your heads out of your asses. This is All Stars, for Gunn’s sake!

Things I’d like to see Anthony Williams do now that he’s been *sniff* eliminated:
The execs at Lifetime are fools if they don’t offer Anthony his own show, and fast. They did it with Austin and Santino, so you know they’ve got the cash. I can imagine Anthony shining in all kinds of trumped-up-fashion-emergency scenarios, but my first pick would be a show called Park Recreations, where Anthony and his co-host Jerrell (I might not like Jerrell’s outfits but he and Anthony are both quick-witted and charming in ways I think would work well together) must design clothing for cute, clueless gay men in an outdoor setting, then put on an impromptu runway show that turns into the Dating Game at the end of every episode (what can I say, I liked seeing Anthony work his game in the park on last night’s episode, and I think the rest of America would agree with me on that one).

Anthony talking to a woman in the park
Someone get him a television deal, STAT.

Other things I’d like to see Anthony do now: Host a show about animals (a dog fashion show series? a show about a pet detective agency?), host a show where he does a lot of traveling to far-off lands (Anthony and Anthony in No Reservations?), do voiceovers for serious products like cars and life insurance (he has a great voice, and those ads could use a little levity and some clever catchphrases).

Assorted thoughts:
Rami clearly has skills, but his outfit from last night’s runway looked eerily similar to one I myself wore in a family photo circa 1992. Pleated shorts with piping on the edges to match the printed top they’re paired with? Straight outta Gap Kids.

One of my favorite moments from last night’s episode was Mondo’s freakout in the park when he spotted his muse, Grace. (Whose look, by the way, was sent from the Fashion Gods directly to Mondo—it looked like it was already designed by him!) He’s been giving off kind of a bummed-out vibe so far this season, so it was fun to see him go so bananas. Plus, I *think* he was wearing a shirt with his own face on it (which coming from Mondo is somehow charming instead of douche-y). He was, right?

Mondo in a blue sleeveless shirt with his own face on it
Pretty sure he was.

Fashion face-off forecast:
I’d like to see Austin Scarlett go up against Mila. We haven’t seen much from Mila yet this season, but her and Austin’s mismatched aesthetics and twin perfectionism could make for a dramatic matchup.

- Kelsey

Girl Fight
After weeks of kicking off the female contestants, the producers felt it necessary to point out how few there were left in the competition (a logical conclusion that Andi beat them to the punch on). Possibly indicative of an upcoming blowup, this week’s episode played heavily on the various stereotypes assigned to the three remaining female designers, and the ways in which those personalities are in conflict with one another. All season, Kara has been shown seeking help of all varieties from her fellow contestants (emotional support, sewing abilities, Mood money, etc). All this needing has made her appear, well, pretty needy. On top of that, she is also depicted as the most easily distressed of the three. All in all, she’s portrayed as weak.

Kara’s B.F.F. (for reasons I’ve still yet to figure out) Kenley, meanwhile, is shown as ultra-girly and and a know-it-all. Her “bubbly” personality is more often grating than not, and her socializing in the workroom takes the form of unsolicited advice. While I am not painting her as a feminist figure (far from it), Kenley does appear to be disliked specifically because she’s vocal and confident, two qualities frequently thrown back in the face of women who possess them.

Lastly, Mila has without a doubt been cast as the cold, career-driven ice queen. Other than her cheesy dance moves in the opening sequence*, I don’t think I’ve ever seen her look anything but intense and irritated, (usually at her fellow PR sisters, who she views as being less serious and competitive than her). Even her design aesthetic is lacking joy. Can you imagine a ruffle on one of her dresses? A floral print? A full skirt? Yeah, me neither. All in all, I suspect that soon the lid is going to blow off the Mila vs. Kara & Kenley pressure cooker. (It’s too bad that the show is no longer on Bravo, because they totally could have used that line to cross-promote Top Chef.)

* I can’t believe we haven’t talked it about yet! Mondo’s pistol-hands? A joy to see every week!

Mila picking out black fabric
Black fabric, Mila? What a surprise.

“It’s just too stylish”
While the women of PR had the lovely privilege of representing negative female stereotypes, Austin, Rami, and Mondo got to show off what professional qualities got them on this show in the first place. Though the outfits sent down the runway were definitely not the best I’ve seen from any of them, each of the top three’s looks represented their strong suits. Austin’s design was praised for it’s girlishness and drama, two qualities that he features so regularly that they have almost become weaknesses in my eyes. While Rami has shied away from his well-known Grecian gowns since the start of All Stars, his look was still described as well-constructed and sophisticated, words he has heard throughout his Project Runway career. And Mondo, oh Mondo. He FINALLY won doing what every good PR fan knows he excels at: colorful tailoring with unexpected details (typically either in the form of a loud print, an odd construction feature, or both). While Isaac Mizrahi tried to turn a compliment on Mondo’s fresh perspective against him, the judges were still bowled over by his look. Certainly there are other designers in this competition with extremely identifiable sensibilities (I could pick out a Mila outfit in a room with the lights off as long as the stripes glowed in the dark), however these three are specifically EXCELLING by doing what they are known for. Could they possibly be destined for final three status? Stay tuned!

Fashion face-off forecast:
This is tough, because several potential head-to-heads have me really looking forward to next week. The preview hinted at a Mondo vs. Kenley matching, which could be great if only because of its clear good guy vs. bad guy overtone. Mila vs. either of the remaining ladies would also be pretty satisfying after these past few weeks of the producers hinting at her dislike for both of them. PR has even resorted to scaring me by showing Mondo crying in the preview, so regardless of the match ups, there’s really no way I’m not overly invested for next week.

- Annalee

This is exactly the kind of challenge I love to see on Project Runway: designers out in the streets, hustling to meet a time deadline, relying only on their wits, their charm, and their $100. (Okay, and a camera crew, which has to account for the eagerness of at least a few of the “muses”—I’m looking at you, guy who was just waiting to show off his black briefs.)

But that said, wasn’t the challenge to find a muse, singular? And if the point was to find one single person to both inspire each designer and to proffer key garments for their singular vision, why were more than a couple of designers just running around demanding random pieces from different people? Anthony’s one-man scavenger hunt, for instance, seemed to violate not only the spirit of the challenge, but also the muse rules. I suppose it doesn’t matter, given that he was eliminated for failing to meet other challenge requirements, but I found it irritating that arguably the most interesting and, well, challenging challenge thus far in the season didn’t enforce what seemed to be its key set of parameters.

Then again, this was an episode that also did the following, obfuscation-wise: Initiated the challenge in Central Park, yet filmed all the musefinding dozens of city blocks south, in Union Square; set up some pants drama between Mila and Kara that promised to be a real runway “gotcha!” moment, possibly ending in Kara’s teary disqualification, before dropping the plot point cold; and implied that Austin scored a date with Anthony’s pantsless beefcake.

Naturally, I will miss Anthony, who besides being a one-man sass factory is actually an intriguing designer. (Let’s put it this way: Could anyone else get away with describing their garment as a “onesie palazzo-pant jumper”?) The fact that his elimination came on a technicality and that Jerell’s monstrosity (Anthony: “Someone looks like they’re Coming to America!”) made it through was made even more enraging, to me, anyway, by the fact that Anthony was so lovably even-keeled about his departure. I’m not convinced we’ve seen the last of him, though—the final four designers always need a previously-eliminated helper, right?

Judge Dread
Last week I complained about the judgement void that models and actresses tend to bring to their guest-judge seats. This week brought us an unlikely remedy, in the form of guest judge Sean Avery, who is somehow both a controversial hockey player and the most outspoken fashionisto in pro sports since Walt Frazier.

So here’s a little get-to-know-Sean-Avery primer: He’s a pro hockey player, formerly of the Detroit Red Wings, The L.A. Kings, and the New York Rangers; these days, he plays for the Connecticut Whale. His aggressive playing style has garnered him a lot of enemies over the years, but his most controversial plays have involved his off-the-ice involvement in the fashion industry. In 2008, he announced that he would be interning for Vogue in the off-season; he later guest-edited the website for Men’s Vogue. He’s also done some modeling, and seems to have some strong opinions on shorts.

Avery is also an anomaly in big-sports culture for his outspoken support of LGBTQ rights, marriage in particular.

Given that his interest in fashion has inspired scores of YouTube commenters to call him a “homo,” the fact that he refuses to distance himself from the LGBTQ community is pretty cool.

Judges from last night's episode. Sean Avery is on the right wearing glasses and a black jacket.
Sean Avery, Voice of Reason.

So now you know why he was there. And I have to say that his judging comments were spot-on, though admittedly next to Isaac “Your look is too stylish” Mizrahi, all Avery had to do was not sound like a self-contradicting boob to be the voice of reason this episode.

But “Lady Gaga and Gwen Stefani at Burning Man on acid” was not only a perfect assessment of Jerell’s look, but a hint that Avery perhaps knows what an utter shitshow that actual scenario would be. Also, he chided Isaac for referring to Jerell’s model’s “big stomach,” telling him, “Never refer to a woman’s stomach as ‘big.’” Actual big-stomached women everywhere thank you, Sean.

Assorted thoughts:
Mila, you really found a way to colorblock pants? Yes, you did. And, confession: I wanted to wear them.

Confession #2: I kind of loved Kenley’s dress. Something may be wrong with me.

Did anyone else notice the bizarre, tragic-sounding surf music playing over the workroom scenes? It was like Dick Dale’s funeral in there for a second.

Fashion face-off forecast:
Mila and Jerell. Opposites in every way, neither interested in anyone else, both convinced their designs are perfection. One of them is going to get clocked with a dress form, and, if there’s any justice, one of them is going to get sent home.

- Andi

Previously: Gelato Problems, When Pigs Fly

by Kelsey Wallace
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Kelsey Wallace is an editor in Portland, Oregon. Follow her on Twitter if you like TV and pictures of dogs.

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4 Comments Have Been Posted

Hooray for Mondo!

Yay Mondo! I'm so glad he finally won. I'm going to kick things at my television screen if he's eliminated next week. That preview of a teary-eyed Mondo close up has scared the pants off me. And speaking of pants off...Michael C's outfit? What the hell was up with that? I'm so over designers being allowed to get away with sending a model down the runway who looks like she forgot an essential piece of clothing. I'm with Georgina Chapman on this one. If my (non-existent at present but hopefully a reality in my future) daughter left the house wearing his look I would tell her to get back in the house and put some pants on right quick. Jerell's outfit was a hot mess but I love his personality so I really let it slide. But when it came down to Anthony or Michael C I was hoping the judges would just realize Anthony is a better designer and actually managed to put a full ensemble on his model and give him a pass.

Andi, I love you.

Agreed on all counts, and thanks for the info on Sean Avery, which is fine stuff to know.

And grazie mille to all writers, for commenting on one of my favorite shows. More, please!


Random Guy in Park, to Jarrell: "I'll strip for you, big man!"

Jarrell: "No thank you, that won't be necessary today, sir."

Hey, did anyone else notice that this week the host– I genuinely cannot remember her name and I watch every week, THAT'S how boring she is– tried reeeally hard to assert some sort of personality? I think the producers definitely said something to her. I do give her kudos for trying, but I still feel like she is a weird charisma black hole on the show. Maybe Anthony should be asked to replace her!!

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