Project Runway All Stars: Episode 8 – Oh Say Can You Sew

Now THAT is a flag dress

Now THAT is a flag dress

Get ready for a trip down memory lane; I was having flashbacks all night.

Prelude:
Mila’s going to wow the judges this week, since they so appreciated her risk taking. Risk taking? I heard streetwalker. I heard druggie. I heard Pretty Woman before she got pretty. I didn’t hear anything about risk taking. Kenley misses Kara. So does Austin. He wishes Mila had gone home instead.

The Challenge:

They meet Angela outside the UN. Michael thinks it’s cool. Jerell: “It’s a place of extreme importance.” Austin: “a place where world leaders solve the tremendous problems weighing on the earth.” Michael: “Cool. Never been there before.” I’m willing to bet not one of them could name one thing the UN does, or any issue that’s been before the UN in the past five years. But they aren’t here for news commentary, after all. I just get tired of the fake looks of wonder.

They have to choose one of seven flags, and make something based on that flag. Now here’s another challenge that could be really artistic, like the ice cream challenge. Especially since they get a little dossier about the flag and the country. But most of them just go with the colors on the flag. And the ones who do use cultural references – looking at you, Jerell – use them as stereotypes. How disappointing.

Mondo chooses first since he won last week, and he picks Jamaica just because of the colors. See, now that makes me sad. He doesn’t want to be too literal, like raising his dress on a pole, or miss the mark. Back in the workroom he doesn’t know why he bought certain stuff, which is what he usually says.

Michael picks Greece since he’s Greek, which is a little better. Wait – he’s Greek? I thought he was Black Irish. Oh, his mother is Greek. It’s his father who’s a Costello, I guess. Jerell sneers about Michael the draper choosing Greece. Michael goes for blue satin or ribbon trim first, it’s key to his look. Someone tells him it’s very Marchesa (which is Georgina’s line) and he agrees, that’s his exact aesthetic.

Michael sings out Mila‘s name as next, and she picks Papua New Guinea which is the most bizarre combination ever. But she likes the graphic look of the flag, which, ok, I can see that. She reads the dossier about indigenous people and tribal looks, but she isn’t going to put much of that in her look, just a nod, because she wants it to look runway. She’s going super modern because nothing says Papua New Guinea like a super modern runway look. It’s important to stay true to her POV (because she can’t do anything else). Ok, let me take that back. I can be sympathetic, actually. I know this from writing. Creating is too hard, to create something you don’t really like. So there, Mila, I get it. But I still hate your clothes. She’s going to do something asymmetrical, black with some read and a tiny bit of yellow because of the bird of paradise on the flag symbolizing freedom, part restrained and part fluid.

Jerell gets India because it’s ethnic and makes him think of embellishment. Jerell thinks embellishment when he thinks about brushing his teeth or making coffee. His selection makes the most sense. At least his reasoning.

Austin takes the Seychelles because he doesn’t know much about them and he enjoys learning something new. Mila does not envy him, since the flag has so many colors and colors paralyze her. He’s a little perplexed. There’s no real national dress, but it could have a flowy beach feel, tropical paradise type of thing. He’s about elegance and harmony and he has all these primary colors to worry about. He finds a fabric that’s iridescent, two colors for the price of one. He’s talking it over with Kenley and Mila makes her usual snide remarks: “I find it confusing how people are interacting.” I find it confusing that she finds it confusing. It’s called friendship, Mila. It’s how people are with colleagues they respect. In the workroom, Austin plants his flag on his table and claims it in the name of the Seychelles. But he struggles. He works through lunch by himself. Poor Austin.

Kenley is left with Chile, which is exactly how she wants it since if she’d chosen she would’ve been upset if she decided later she didn’t like the colors or something like that. Spin that straw into gold, girl. She finds a blue and white print with little hearts; from a distance it looks like polka dots. Again, with the polka dots. Michael says he never saw a polka dot flag, but the State of Kenley has them.

Joanna walks through:

First she proclaims this to be the most talented room in the history of Project Runway. Hmmm. Not so sure about that. You get Jillian, Rami, Chris March, and Christian in a room, that’s most talented.

Mondo first: he describes his look (floor length, mitred color blocks in back); she asks how a woman would wear a bra. “You don’t,” he says. Wrong answer. Joanna is determined to get someone to let her wear a bra tonight. It’s her version of arugula.

Jerell: She says it looks like a doll in national costume. He tries to talk her out of it, but she’s not having it; she thinks the sari element is too literal. He loves the ethnic opulence, and more or less blows her off.

Michael: She notes he chose something he knows. She loves his draping, but complains again about the bra thing. Hey, Joanna, back in the 60s women burned their bras, and now you’re demanding the right to wear one? It’s confusing to me. Like, people used to go to jail or move to Canada to avoid going into the army, and now people are fighting for the right to be let in. Anyway, back to Joanna, who asks Michael if he’s being ambitious enough. Uh oh. That’s how Kara got sent home. Mila dismisses his dress as pageanty. She’s usually wrong, but this time, it’s unanimous.

Austin: She’s been to the Seychelles (of course she has) but didn’t know the flag (of course not). He’s got a layered skirt with panels in front in a sunburst effect. It’s his Grammy dress. The one that got him eliminated. Not smart, Austin. Mondo doesn’t know what draping has to do with the Seychelles but it’s sad. Austin’s explaining this beautiful slit of skin to Joanna, and she again harps on bras. He says it is bra-friendly, the slit won’t be that big, sort of “is she or isn’t she.” Do people really wonder if someone is wearing a bra? I always thought it was strange there was an entire haircolor campaign “Does she or doesn’t she” because who cares, and it made me kind of paranoid. What are people wondering about me? Joanna warns him not to have the bra peeping out; he needs to chic-ify the Seychelles.

Mila: she explains the bird of paradise meaning freedom, and her dress being half short and half long, with the red being the freedom. Austin thinks it’s a cool concept. Joanna is happy because at last here’s a dress she can wear underwear with. This becomes ironic later on.

Kenley: She’s going to add in ruffles for Spanish flair. Joanna wants to know how she’s going to convince the judges she’s going out of her comfort zone. She isn’t. Fair enough. She’s mixing polka dots and stripes. That’s her comfort zone. She’s making an asymmetrical party dress, while the others are gowns. That’s still your comfort zone, Kenley. Joanna asks if she’s convinced she can stand out in this room of talent. Mondo says Kenley doesn’t listen. No, she never has, but this season she’s at least been less nasty about it. She’s treating Joanna with a lot more respect than she ever treated Tim Gunn. Which is too bad, because Joanna would let her have it, I think. Mondo wonders why she’s still here. Because she puts together great clothes. They’re all the same, sure. And they don’t always make sense in the challenge. But they’re really striking, and perfectly made.

End Joanna. Bring in the models. Mila needs a perfect fit and finish. Mondo tells Michael his model looks like Miss Greece: “It’s not greased lightning, it’s Greece Frightening” which is pretty good. Both Kenley and Mondo worry about all the work they have to do.

Day of runway show:

Jerell wishes for a yard of elastic. Come on, no one has a yard of elastic to give him? Mondo‘s worried that he should’ve used the color palette more. Michael doesn’t like Austin’s dress (neither do I; I hate the color). Austin isn’t crazy about it either: it’s too short, and the line is thrown off, but he doesn’t have enough material to fix it. Mondo doesn’t like Michael’s dress either: “Give her a sash and she’s Miss World.” Mondo gives his model dreadlocks. I’m the only person on the planet who loves dreadlocks on white people, so that’s probably a bad move. Austin loves Jerell but the outfit is “the most vulgar, tasteless and hideous thing” he’s ever seen. Hmmm… I’m not so sure about that, I’d have a hard time choosing which of Jerell’s looks was the most vulgar, tasteless and hideous thing I’d ever seen. This one’s in the running, for sure. Mila is very impressed with herself as always.

The Runway:

Angela asks how they enjoyed their visit to the UN. Not only does she sound like a kindergarten teacher, but she was there, so it makes no sense. The guest judge is Catherine Malandrino. I wonder if Vincent ever got that restraining order she slapped on him lifted. Turns out she did the famous flag dress pictured above, and she liked it so much she made it again a few years later. Remember the good old days of the 60s when there was a big uproar about using the flag for clothing? I guess it’s ok now. Of course, she’s French, so she doesn’t care what Americans say about her. I can only understand about one word in five from her. I didn’t have any trouble last time, so I’m blaming the Lifetime sound crew. Because, let’s face it, it’s always fun to blame Lifetime for new things.

Roughly in descending order (since it seems it’s more of a top two and bottom four this week):

Mondo: Slinky black gown; the back has a stained glass effect strip in green and yellow. From the front it’s just a nice black gown. From the back, well, there’s something a little off about the colors, or maybe it’s just all those angles with such a curvy dress, but I like the idea, it’s just slightly… not. But I’m proud of him for making a gown. He talks about free spirited and relaxed, so he made a slinky sexy easy to wear simple gown. Easy to wear? It’s the kind of dress where you can see what you had for breakfast three days ago, and we already know you can’t wear underwear with it. Except for Spanx, which you’ll need in triplicate. Georgina loves it, she gets Jamaica from just the front, which makes no sense. Catherine rglrglrglrgl. Isaac likes the black matte jersey, it’s like it’s a new textile. His least favorite part is the green and yellow. When the judges have some privacy to say what they really think, Isaac still doesn’t like the back at all. Georgina can see thought and restraint. Angela thinks he played it safe. Catherine rglrgl hair was a mistake rglrgl bother me rlgrgl.

Kenley: Polka dot white dress with a pink ruffle on one side. This is the exact same dress – I mean exactly the same – she made in Season 5 for the Bright Lights Big City challenge, in green and purple. It won, so she probably figured she should do it again. Do you think we’re stupid, Kenley? I know the judges are stupid, they don’t have time to look at old episodes, but those of us who loved this show back when it was really about design remember more than you give us credit for. I don’t see Chile, or the flag, in any way, shape or form. She says the women wear color and prints and ruffles. I’m missing it completely. It’s black and white (actually navy blue, but it looks black) with a ruffle of thin red stripe that looks pink. Georgina likes the young attitude. Catherine rglrglrgl young rglrglrgl contrast with urban rglrglrlg like very much. Isaac loves the spirit. Angela imagines ponchos when she thinks of Chile (tell me she did not just say that. TELL ME SHE DID NOT JUST SAY THAT) but this is a modern, cool girl. Isaac says the problem is she’s done the same thing again and again and again and she needs to do something else next time. Well, finally, somebody noticed. In the judges’ talk, Angela finds it modern and fun and thinks it reflected the culture and colors of the flag. Technically, I suppose so, but I still say it’s black and white and pink, not blue and white and red. Catherine rglrglrglrgl paris rglrglr. Georgina doesn’t think she thought it through quite enough.

Michael: White gown with blue bow. It’s his Statue of Liberty dress. What, you think we won’t recognize it in white? He worries the back is too low. Yes, it is, and it looks just as unflattering on the model as it did the first time he made it. Georgina is on the fence; she thinks it’s acceptable, but it screams beauty pageant. Catherine, rglrglrgl a lot of volume rglrlgrlg. Angela is disturbed by the blue bow, which would look better on a Christmas present. Isaac says it looks forced, and would be better without the trim. During judges’ chat, Georgina says the proportions were off. Isaac agrees, it was off in terms of volume. Angela still hates the blue. Catherine rglrglrgl pageant dress.

Austin: Flowy blue dress. Yep, it’s his Grammy dress, right down to the poor sewing. The blue is better on the runway than it was in the workroom, and I actually like the upper back. He hopes they aren’t too picky about the draping because it really isn’t up to his standards. He’s right about that, it has that home ec look. He likens it to a beautiful breath of fresh sea air, and Jay is probably laughing his head off somewhere. Georgina says it’s pretty, but she’s worried about the colors, they aren’t the colors in the flag. Isaac finds the ruching tortured. Angela says it isn’t the worst dress she’s seen on PRAS. Now there’s a ringing endorsement. But seriously, Austin, if you’re going to plagiarise yourself, don’t use a losing look that got you kicked off last time. Privately, Georgina thinks he fell flat this week, she could feel the dress suffering and there was no clarity of thought. Isaac thought it was a miss in execution and color story. Catherine rglrglrgl prototype rglrgl.

Jerell: Black and gold party dress with a green sari over half. He loves it. It’s definitely India. Angela likes the white stripe down one arm. How can you even notice the stripe amidst all that gaud? Isaac calls it “Nike in India.” Catherine, rglrglrglrglrrglrglrlgrl disappears behind the draping rlgrlg. Georgina doesn’t like the excess of ethnic jewelry. When they say what they really think while the designers wait backstage, Angela calls it an Indian Barbie doll. Georgina agrees it’s costumey and heavy-handed, though he had a lot of good ideas. Catherine rglrglrgl thought process. Isaac calls it a little bit of a mess.

Mila: It’s half funeral dress, half caftan. She says it looks like something that would be in her collection. I think it’s awful. I’m with Austin, the concept was cool, but it really lost something in the translation. I can’t even say what’s wrong, it just looks awkward. Georgina knew it was her look right away. Isaac gives my favorite line of the night: “I got communism from this dress.” He thinks it looks Russian. I don’t know what he’s talking about. Angela likes the neckline, which I think is horrible. But something bother her, maybe that it’s long and short in two different colors. Isaac says it’s disturbing to look at, and he thinks that was her intention so in that she succeeded. Wait – why would she intend to make this disturbing to look at? In private talk, Angela wonders who can wear it, and where? Georgina wonders about the stripe. Catherine rglrlg her style and conviction rglrgl. Isaac thinks no matter what she was going to do this, and it didn’t come across as Papua New Guinea.

The decision: They warn Kenley to stretch herself next week. Mondo wins, Mila is out. I’m shocked, truly. I’m no fan of Mila, not in the slightest, and her dress is weird, but I can’t believe they kept Jerell and sent her home.

I think I’ve finally figured it out – finally, because I think everyone else figured this out weeks ago. Most of them aren’t looking at this as a competition, but as advertising. They’re showing their lines. If they can figure out a way to shoehorn in the challenge, great, but that’s not the point. It’s Mondo vs Austin, and everyone else is filler. Jerell, Kara, Mila and Kenley have just been making the clothes they make (and coming up with bullshit about the challenge) and hoping someone likes them enough to check them out and buy something. Which is why it’s a really lackluster season and nobody seems to care. They’re all cannon fodder and they know it.

The After the Runway show is back. The final five are there, plus Kara; Mila is working as a costume designer on a movie set but she sends a video that conveys she isn’t working on a movie set but she’s so fed up with Project Runway she wouldn’t have anything to do with them if they paid her, which they probably would. Pretty sour grapes. Everyone more or less agrees Jerell should’ve gone home, which Jerell takes pretty well, to his credit. He just says everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, and her dress looked like an angry box of french fries, which is not a bad description, but his was still worse. Kenley doesn’t appreciate trash talk. Which is hilarious, coming from her. They talk about friendships. Isaac asks if anyone slept together during the show but no one’s talking. They talk about bras, and someone finally points out there’s runway and there’s ready-to-wear, and this is supposed to be about runway. And when they do a real woman challenge (which it seems they won’t bother with this time, too bad), bras are more common. They talk about women designers vs men, and Isaac gets in trouble for saying most women designers design for themselves whereas men design for whatever woman they want. They review all the talking head snarks and give the prize to Michael for his State of Kenley with the polka dot flag remark. They harass Kenley about her 50s silhouette. And then everyone goes away. Not really worth watching.

Next week: glowsticks?

4 responses to “Project Runway All Stars: Episode 8 – Oh Say Can You Sew

  1. Agreed…and agreed. You forgot to point out, though, that Mondo’s dress was from his final collection last time around, just without the polka dots…

    • Hi Juliette – yeah, I’ve been reading that all morning on all the other blogs on the Blogging Project Runway recapalooza, and I do see it’s exactly the same silhouette, a long slinky sleeved dress.

      To me, the polka dot dress was “about” polka dots. The Jamaica dress was about a long slinky black gown. So to me, they looked completely different. Elegant, but generic, really; anyone could’ve made it. It never occurred to me to connect it with the polka dot gown, which was uniquely Mondo and a lot more playful, until I read what you and several others had said.

      That’s why I’m not a fashionista. ;)

      Thanks for giving me the opportunity to clarify – I certainly missed it first time around.

  2. THANK YOU for being the only blogger I’ve seen to mention Kenley has made the exact same dress before (actually twice, in one of her collection pieces).

    • Hi Katie – I think it was the most obvious self-plagiarization of the evening. I don’t remember her final collection, but I’m not surprised it was in there, too, since everyone seems to love the dress.

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