Project Runway All Stars – Episode 4: Good Taste Tastes Good

Now these are ice cream flavors we can work with

Now these are ice cream flavors we can work with...

Well, it had to happen: the new judges found the crack pipe. I suppose we should be grateful it took them until episode 4 to go all WTF on us.

To start, we spend a brief moment with Michael, last week’s winner. He’s still feeling pressure, and isn’t confident that he can do it again. That sounds a little too Uriah Heep for me, but maybe he actually means it. I’m glad people are cheering for him when he wins instead of sulking.

The Challenge:

The designers meet Angela on the runway. And before getting down to business, let me just wonder why we’ve never known about Rami’s arms before. But now he’s in a tank top, and boy does he have big guns.

The next challenge is about taste. Well, duh, aren’t they all? It comes in many forms, but has to start somewhere, and this week it’s starting with gelato. Oh for heaven’s sake. But the more I think about it, the more I like it. Food can be evocative, and if someone goes really abstract, this might be interesting. There’s a little ice cream cart on the runway, and they get to pick a flavor to embody in their outfit; each person will pick the next person to select. They all get an ice cream cone in their flavor so they can experience the color and flavor.

Michael goes first and chooses grapefruit. It’s very pale pink; he’s disappointed that it isn’t more like Ruby Red grapefruit.
Mondo picks cantaloupe.
Mila gets milk and sour cherries because they didn’t have licorice ripple. She loves the white and red colors. Since when?
April is all WTF is Fruits of the Forest? Who cares, dear, stop looking for the problem and just pick something else. She takes blueberry.
Jerrell picks Fruits of the Forest which is the deep red that Michael was hoping for. Seems it’s a berry mix. But the name is very evocative.
Kenley gets passionfruit, which strikes me as an odd choice for her. And it’s damn ugly; I read somewhere that it was a marketing genius who named it passionfruit.
Austin takes vanilla Madagascar, which sounds right for him. But shouldn’t it be Madagascar vanilla?
Anthony picks green tea.
Rami gets Kiwi. Lots of green ice creams here.
Kara is stuck with chocolate with cayenne pepper, because no one wants to do brown (a very unfashionable color) in spite of the real potential of the flavor. Mexico. Heat. Who couldn’t go there? She feels like a kid whose ice cream fell off the cone in the park. Why? Because she was last, or because she doesn’t like her flavor?

Diane von Furstenberg comes out and everyone is appropriately awed. She delivers the bad news: they only have six hours. She has things to do, after all. They have 30 minute to sketch, which comes out of that six hours. They save a little time by using the Mini-Mood set up in the lounge for this challenge.

Michael is thinking oversized with ruched sleeves. Kenley doesn’t want to try anything new or take any major risks, she just needs to get something done. Hey, Kenley hasn’t tried anything new in her entire PR career. April‘s sulking because there’s no black jersey in the mini-mood so she needs a new idea; she ends up with the girl in Willy Wonka who turns blue after eating the blueberries. Kara is thinking about the spice and fire of the cayenne; it’s not about brown. There you go, Kara. Austin wants to feel at the beach, but also tribal African. Mondo isn’t too happy with his fabric choices. Mila is working with red and white; she wants the world to see she doesn’t always have to work in black and white, and that she has a softer side. Well, Mila, if you don’t want the world to think you always work in B&W, why do you always work in B&W except when forced out of it by gelato? Austin‘s kind of put upon because in the real world a fashion designer would never have to do something in six hours. Michael, on the other hand, says he sometimes has clients asking for something in forty-five minutes or an hour so he’s ok with the time limit.

And now for the bitchy part of our show: they talk about each other. Jerell interviews that Michael’s dress is so simple, a chimpanzee could do it. Watch it, Jerell, nobody can figure out why you’re still here. He also thinks April needs to play with colors, which is true but obvious. He is impressed with Mondo’s dress, because it embodies cantaloupe in a modern, abstract way. But he calls Kara’s dress a pregnant cupcake. He should know, he sent out a maternity opera dress already. Why does Jerell get so many opinions? It isn’t like anyone cares what he thinks. Michael thinks Mila’s colors are refreshing, but Anthony doesn’t like it, it looks like a color-blocked christmas ornament disaster. Mila thinks Kenley’s dress is too simple, not passionfruit at all. She also thinks Rami’s outfit is in questionable taste, a lime explosion. As usual, Rami doesn’t say anything. I love him all the more for that.

Joanna arrives for her walk-through bearing ice cream. Tim never brought them ice cream. He didn’t have to. He was the ice cream.

Kara is doing lots of layers from neutral to red. Joanna asks if she’s got it nailed, and she says she does. Joanna says “Good” but sounds dubious.
April gets asked what tricks of the trade is she using to deal with the short time allowed? She says she’s staying in her comfort zone. Joanna asks how can you have a fashion moment in your comfort zone? Joanna points out the color is covered with black tulle (like April always does), and the fabric is cut sloppily. Sounds like a warning, April.
Mondo shows her his cantaloupe orange and green fabrics. Joanna asks about accessories and they talk about belts and changes for evening. She’s interviewing him for the guest editor job. I hope.
Anthony gets quizzed about how he’s going to make it creative.
Austin, working in white, gets advised not to channel the wedding, but to do fabulous instead.
Rami explains his wrap dress and Joanna asks if he’s sucking up to DVF, the queen of the wrap dress.
Mila is advised to show how creative she is. Now there’s a challenge.
Michael shows his dress, and Joanna tells him he’s the envy of every designer there because he works so fast.Yes, Michael, notice that, this time you’re the envy of them, they aren’t sneering at you for working so fast. I hope this is sinking in, because for those of us who were heartbroken for you last time, it’s very satisfying. And of course that’s what Lifetime does, they produce satisfying arcs. But I approve of this one. He says he’s been sewing since he was ten years old. She asks if he’s gluing to save time, and he says no. She tells him it’s harder to make a paler color stand out.

Joanna leaves, they do a model fitting, and they work some more. Austin is ashamed he’s using glue. Kenley is thrilled with her print (it looks like a little kid’s dress to me, but it’s not done yet). April is freaking because her dress is too short and she doesn’t have enough fabric to make it longer. Anthony goes from a narrow pencil skirt to something a little fuller and flirty. Mila worries about the sheerness of her fabric; “it shows the parts.” I’m not sure if that’s parts of the dress, or lady parts. Neither is good. Kara has a “make it work” moment, and I miss Tim Gunn all over again.

Drama! Kara takes Austin’s sewing machine to do something quick, and he just stands there waiting for her to finish. He interviews, “At that point I didn’t think it would accomplish anything to get into an altercation because we’re all stressed.” Wow. Maturity on Project Runway. What will they think of next. After she leaves, he mumbles, “I gave her the look of death” which reassures me it’s still reality tv. I don’t really understand how the “my machine” thing works, so I have no idea if Kara was trespassing or not. Same thing with the accessories a couple of weeks ago, Kara was in the middle of that, too. But I applaud Austin’s restraint.

Amazing how little drama there is this season. Maybe it’s because they’re all a bit more mature, they’ve been through it before and know it isn’t worth it. Maybe it’s still early. Maybe it’s been edited out. And maybe the people who cause drama (of the negative variety; Austin is all about romantic drama) use it in place of ability, so they never get to All Stars.

The Runway:

An Australian model joins Angela, Georgina, Isaac, and DVF as second guest judge. She will wear the winning outfit to an industry event. And the WTF begins.

The Best:

Mondo: This is a joke, right? Come on, they can’t be serious. Mondo took a nap and Anya made his dress and they wanted to see if anyone would notice. I don’t see cantaloupe, I see hideous. Mondo is a master of picking fabrics that shouldn’t work together, but do, but here something went wrong. It’s perfectly made, of course. But I don’t like the colors, the design, or the belt. He hopes they appreciate he’s going outside his box. I wish he’d go back to his box. When you’ve got a box as good as his, it’s not a bad place to be. Mondo, I love you, man, but eww. However, DVF thinks it’s great. Aussie loves the back. Georgina says the fabrics shouldn’t go together, but they do (hey, come on, I remember his Jackie Kennedy look – giant houndstooth and stripes. I loved his Jackie Kennedy look. This is not his Jackie Kennedy look). Angela is surprised a caftan is this flattering; she isn’t sure about the bright orange, but he went for cantaloupe and she applauds that. Isaac wishes the body was more visible, but the back saves it. I want to cry.

Michael: my first reaction was, satin bathrobe. My second reaction: Nicely made bathrobe. My third, fourth, and fifth reaction: Yep, it’s still a bathrobe. He loves it, it’s exactly what he wanted. It’s very pale pink, flowy. It does have a nice sheen to it (well, it is satin, for heaven’s sake) and moves nicely. He explains he wanted to do something beautiful. Isaac loves it, though he’s not mad about the color. Georgina is also concerned about the color; she’s not getting grapefruit. The model is worried about wearing it, because she’s breast-feeding. Remember the good old days, when women had the sense to keep their mammary activities to themselves and didn’t feel the need to announce on television what their nipples would be doing later? DVG thinks it’s beautiful, and tells Michael to call her after the show, which makes his eyes pop out of his head and roll down the runway. Aww, Michael, it really does get better, doesn’t it? I’m so happy for you. But I still think it’s a bathrobe.

Mila: I don’t see cherry ice cream, I see sailing. Maybe diving. Or red cow print. She calls it easy breezy which makes my skin crawl and I wonder if Tyra is around the corner. “I’m very tasteful,” she says. And modest, too. I like the idea of layering red and white fabrics in a way to make it look like layers of ice cream and cherries – some are on top, some are under a little bit of ice cream – but the red under white just looks like a mistake to me. The neckline is awful, both in shape (way too big) and in construction. The seams are puckered. And with the choice of that belt, doesn’t Mila say she has no clue about fashion? Yes, sometimes someone will make a bizarre choice (like black leather gloves with a white chiffon gown, Anthony) that works, or that I could see someone with fashion sense might think would work. This didn’t even come close. Another WTF top three. But Isaac says it’s very cherry ice cream, and Angela agrees; she loves the creative approach with lines and layers. DVF says it’s nice (in that way she has that makes “nice” the last thing you’d ever want to be), but it looks like it was done in very little time. Hey – DVF, are you losing your short-term memory? You gave them the six-hour time limit, remember? Georgina thinks it’s ambitious, but the lightness of the summer dress is distracted by the heavy leather belt. The model likes how it flows. That must be great shit they’re smoking.

The so-so:

Kenley: She calls it young and hip. Well, it’s young, I’ll give it that. It’s a dress for a third-grader. A color-blind third-grader. I’ve been going with Kenley where she’s gone so far, and a couple of times I’ve loved her work in spite of myself, but now she’s lost her mind. I’m pretty sure the fabric was included in the Mini-Mood to weed out anyone who might be crazy enough to use it. The Peter Pan collar, the floppy bow at the buttoned-up neck, the too-dark pink with the idiotic print and the too-bright yellow. No, no, no. I’m stunned this wasn’t in the bottom. It looks a little tight as well, though that could be the picture. But it’s well-made, and maybe that’s the real criteria for this week: Who can churn out something that didn’t look like it was made in six hours.

Rami: And again, we go too much. And big clunky black leather belt. I like some of the ideas here – the wrap of the top, the use of the dotted fabric and the different sheer greens. In fact, except for the bizarre chew-outs in the shoulders, held together by black straps, the top is pretty nice. Oh, the belt is all wrong, but that’s another matter. The skirt shouldn’t be satin, and I think it should be straight instead of full. But unfortunately, the overall effect is eyesore, even though there’s some stuff that works.

Jerell: It must be Jerell who has the pictures of Isaac with goats this season. The scary thing is, this might be the best thing he’s done in four challenges. It’s one of those “take away any six elements and you’ve got a shot” dresses. I like the two fabrics together; it could be fall leaves in the forest. The skirt has a really interesting shape, though I wish it was lined or something so we couldn’t see the seams of the back. I don’t get the back; it’s too voluminous, I think, and the horizontal bands take away from the flowiness. I don’t get the black straps on the neck and chest with the gems glued on, and I hate the black straps on her arms from the back. I especially don’t get the headband. In fact, if I cover the model’s forehead with my thumb, the dress looks a lot better. But there are way too many black straps. Maybe he was going for an Indian dominatrix look? This is the forest primeval? I don’t know. But with all the straps and seaming, it’s a horror and why is he not in the bottom three?

Austin: And now for a change of pace: why is this not in the top three? It’s gorgeous; am I crazy or is this not the best dress up there? I love the ruched top and rolled neckline, I love the waterfall of the trim falling down the shoulder across the bodice and turning into a scarf in back, I love the silhouette which is flattering and flowy. The trim has gems and shells, so it vaguely pays homage to Africa. Come on, can you name something that says “Madagascar”? I can only think of coconuts from the lovely story “Nothing of Consequence,” but they would’ve had to have read the story. It’s vanilla, it’s light and tropical, it’s beautiful. Ok, he glued on the trim, and he sewed her into the dress (bad Austin) when he didn’t have time for a zipper, and not all that perfectly either. I can only assume they think it’s too bridal. It could be. Definitely. But with the sunglasses and leather sandals, it’s more San Tropez. Isn’t it?

The not-so:

Anthony: I like it, though I do think it could use one less tea leaf on the top, and the skirt needs some tinkering. It’s more of a sketch; he did a lot in six hours, and with another six hours he could smooth out the problems (like the waist on the model’s left side, where all that fabric bunches up). But I like the concept, I like the design, and I especially like that it’s not a caftan. He thinks she looks like a dream, but he knows DVF always winks at the designer when she likes something, and she doesn’t wink. He tells them it’s about ice cream melting, which is why the skirt is a different shade. Isaac likes the dress more after that explanation. Angela thinks it’s too conceptual, and it looks messy. DVF loves the skirt and the concept. Georgina and the model think it would be more flattering if he lost the back panels. But this is clearly not a disaster, and there are several disasters up above, so why is this here?

Kara: I come so close to liking this dress. Partly because I like the progression of colors, and the simple style, and partly because I like the concept she explained – layers of flavor from chocolate to the final pop of cayenne at the end. Kara frequently has good concepts, like with her New York No Trespassing dress (which I loved). I like the halter top, I especially like what she did with the halter back, and I like the band at the waist. I’m not a ruffles person, but these work for me. I think they’re way too unfinished – I can’t tell on the picture, but during broadcast my impression was there were strings hanging everywhere, and it just looked unfinished instead of shabby chic. The big issue (and it is a big issue) is the baby bump. To mitigate that, maybe she should turn it into a maternity dress. Hey, why not? By the way, judging from the model’s legs, she needs a cheeseburger. Georgina says Kara is passionate when she talks about the dress, but they don’t see passion in the dress; the colors are letting her down. Angela agrees, and she brings up the P-word. Isaac says the minute the word “pregnant” comes up, you know you’ve missed. It’s too bad. I can understand why it’s a deal breaker, but it’s still a nice dress.

April: Black tulle over purple. Where have we seen that before? The top looks messy. The neckline is misshapen. The skirt is ugly short in back. But mostly, it’s the same dress she does over and over, without the interesting cutouts. And it’s a mess, but that’s because she didn’t think about time when planning the dress. Thing is, her sketch was interesting – a form-fitting blue dress with a black long-sleeved attached shrug-type thing – but she couldn’t find black jersey and couldn’t figure out how to adapt, so she went back to what she knows. Georgina thinks dark over bright is good, but the corset was too ambitious for the time. Isaac worries about the back, and the accessories: he likes it much better with the belt off. DVF thinks it’s got a Halloween spider thing going on, which, of course, it does. Whether she knows it or not, she’s put her finger on April’s aesthetic. She also thinks it doesn’t look finished. Angela appreciates her interesting ideas, but they don’t translate to the clothes.

The judges send the designers offstage so they can talk about them. Anthony has good ambition, but it needed to be perfect to not look amateur. And the skirt should’ve been the same color, melting or not. Kara makes sweet clothing, but she gets stuck on an idea, and her interpretation is too literal. And of course, it’s a maternity dress. Isaac says, “After a while, is she an all-star?” Oooooh. Between that line and the “sweet” crack, sounds like a death knell for Kara. April needs more confidence, and doesn’t have a true vision. I disagree with that: she has a vision, and she can’t stop seeing it. DVF brings up Halloween again, and Georgina wishes she’d gone for that, it might’ve been interesting.

On the brighter side, Michael is a great draper, it’s floaty and timeless. Isaac wonders if it’s too on-the-nose. Maybe it could’ve been georgette instead of satin, which read as flashy. Well, finally, someone said it. Mila’s was styled too heavy, but was easy to wear. It was Isaac’s favorite; DVF says, “Really?” in that withering way. Georgina doesn’t like the red and white. So why is it in the top three? Mondo’s use of color has them split. They agree it’s between Michael and Mondo.

And Michael wins. He hugs and kisses Mondo right there on the runway. Michael has such delight when he wins, he’s like a kid. “My phone is going to ring off the hook, it’s a whole different level for me.”

April is out, which I found surprising, given how fascinated they were with her on PR8. She only has one design in her. Not that you can’t win PR with only one design, right, Anya? I’m glad this crew doesn’t think so.

Next week: They walk through Central Park asking people to be their muses. Anywhere other than New York, you’d get arrested for that. Oh, and there’s some major dramatic twist, which probably turns out to be nothing at all.

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4 responses to “Project Runway All Stars – Episode 4: Good Taste Tastes Good

  1. I have been waiting for this blog post, now that I have gotten hooked on Project Runway again. I haven’t watched it for years, so don’t know the players the way you do. But I have to say it – I liked the cantaloupe dress :) And while I liked Kara’s concept, I thought the dress was way too maternity and probably would have voted her off.

    • I spend far too much time on PR. And Top Chef for that matter. It’s a sickness. It’ll be fun to have you as company for the rest of the season. The past couple of seasons have been dismal.

      The cantaloupe dress was almost tied for the win, so you’re in good company. As much as I love Mondo, I don’t see it myself. But I’ve always hated orange.

  2. Loved the cantaloupe dress and thought it should have won…Austin’s dress was pretty but really forgettable; totally agree with you on Jerrell…best of some real missteps, but I could totally see where he was going given the gelato inspiration. LMAO when you said they waited until the 4th episode to “go all WTF” on us….hilarious and true..I enjoy your recaps.

    • Hi Cynlia – I seem to be in the minority re Mondo. And Austin, for that matter. If Jerell hadn’t used all those black straps – even half as many – it would’ve made a huge difference. I’m baffled by why they chose Michael, when the model who has to wear the thing clearly preferred Mondo’s. But I think Mondo has been underperforming so far, which is ok – when I look at Season 4, Christian didn’t become Christian until about halfway through the show.

      I’m glad you enjoy.

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