Project Runway All Stars – Episode 5: Clothes Off Your Back



I took a look at my predictions from a week before the season began. I’d give myself 50%: Fail! Not that I’m surprised.

I thought Sweet P, Jerell, Anthony, and Elisa would be the first three out. Jerell and Anthony are still there.
I thought Michael would be in 9th place, and he’s been tearing up the runway, two wins in a row.
I thought April would be in the top 5, and she’s gone. My other top-5 picks (Rami, Austin, Mondo, Kenley) are pretty solid, though Kenley hasn’t been getting anywhere near the love I think she actually deserves. I’m thinking there’s a lot of referential treatment in her garments that I’m just not picking up on, since I’m not up on designers.

So let’s see what happens this week.

They meet Angela in Central Park. The challenge is: find a muse to inspire a fashion forward look. Just walk up to a stranger in New York and ask them to be your muse. Doesn’t sound too difficult. I’m sure New Yorkers get asked stranger things every day. However… there’s also the little detail that they also have to convince their victim to give them a piece of clothing, and half the look they make must consist of that clothing. They have money, and they have a changing booth, and they have t-shirts to replace items with. But still, think about it: somebody comes up to you on the street and says, “I’ll give you $50 for that jacket.” Oddly, I can see that, especially in New York. Most people know what Project Runway is. And the camera people are following them around.

Anthony says he’s taken daggers for having a personality (he has? Most people I know think he’s adorable) but it’ll take a personality to convince people to give him their clothes. He notices Mila has suddenly developed a personality, which irks him.

The Central Park thing is pretty hilarious. Austin is drawn to an artist with gold nails and silver bangs; she reminds me of Mae Whitman’s character on Parenthood. Kenley is mortified by all the rejection she’s getting. Yeah, I can imagine, that voice of hers might be a dealbreaker. Mondo finds Grace, an Asian girl wearing glasses and a striped and print dress; it’s a Mondo dress right there. He gives her $60 for the dress and her jacket. Jerell gets a comment I don’t hear from someone and replies, “That won’t be necessary today, home boy, but thank you for the offer.” Damn, Jerell is gonna get stabbed, talking like that to strangers sassing him. Anthony notices all the guys say yes, as he gets an attractive guy to take off his jean shorts and leaves him standing there in his ‘kini. Austin gets the guy’s phone number.

They go to Mood with whatever money they didn’t spend bribing people. Anthony brags about finding wool crepe, and I think, Anthony’s toast. He’s getting way too much attention this episode. Kara is short $3, so Michael and Anthony kick in. Jerell buys no fabric at all.

They have two days, which is great. This could work.

Mila is making a guy’s size 34 jean into a 2/4. Wait, she’s making pants out of pants? Isn’t that a no-no? Mondo feels good about this one; this is how he started, bringing home old stuff, taking it apart, and seeing how it was made and how to put it together again. Austin loves his muse. Michael is struggling; he isn’t as inspired as he wants to be.

On Day Two, Michael‘s feeling a little better. There’s an adorable shot of him with Mondo’s head in his lap. No, no, not like that, on a pillow. Mondo thinks Michael is feeling the pressure of two wins. These guys are so sweet together. Anthony, on the other hand, is changing his mind constantly, making different things. He’s a mess. Now I’m not sure if Anthony is toast, or a winner.

Joanna does her walk-through.

Mondo tells her about his muse, Grace, and his Tokyo streetwear vibe. She asks if this is a challenge he could win, because it’s in his ballpark. Sure. He’s working on prioritizing his work. And oh – he’s wearing a Mondo t-shirt. Hey – did anyone ever make those Pocket Mondos everyone was talking about in Season 8?

Jerell tells Joanna about the mess he has – a neck piece that’s nice, a striped bra top, all kinds of prints. Not in the Mondo way of all kinds of prints, just, all kinds of prints, like he went through a Salvation Army bin and grabbed random stuff. Joanna is feeling anxious about th mix. He reassures her: “You say,” she says. Anthony thinks it looks like Coming to America. I don’t think it’s that good. Austin thinks it’s tasteless.

Austin consults Joanna about the epaulets he’s working on. She thinks they’ll be fine once they get plastered down a little. Mila thinks Austin’s look is overworked and cheap, which is good news for Austin since she’s a bloomin’ idiot who wouldn’t know taste if it bit her in the ass. Wow, that’s harsh. I don’t really mean that. Mila brings out the worst in me, and I don’t understand why. But she does have her head up her own backside most of the time, so her critique is meaningless.

Anthony is worried; he has no idea what he’s doing. He tells Joanna he has lots of t-shirts but he isnt’ sure if he was more interested in the shirt or the boy. She points out that might not have been the best approach to the challenge. Mondo knows Anthony’s having a hard time, because he’s working with a goofy polyester print that isn’t Anthony at all.

Michael tells Joanna he’s doing better today, which of course cues her in to his crises of yesterday. She doesn’t like the doily sleeves. Anthony thinks it’s amateur. Anthony’s often wrong, too.

That’s it for Joanna. So Mondo, Jerell, Austin, Anthony, and Michael will be on the runway, plus one more, but whoever it is won’t be a real contender. I said this about Top Chef just yesterday: if I want suspense, I’ll watch Hitchcock, just show me what happened. But here, they aren’t showing us what happened, they’re editing out a bunch of people. I’d rather see the consults than most of the nonsense that goes on.

On Runway Day, Kenley is parading around saying, “This is my Edgy Bitch look.” Amazing what some people are proud of. Anthony says, “She’s loud. If a black person says you’re too loud, you’re too loud.” I love Anthony. Michael is fitting Gretchen shorts on his model. WTF? Kara thinks there are a lot of women in Jerell’s look; since she’s busy critiquing, she has Kenley finish her pants. Michael runs over to Mila to tattle – hey, Michael, why is it your business, and since when are you such buddies with Mila? – and Mila is highly indignant: why is Kenley in everybody’s business this morning, walking around like a teacher? Why is she giving advice? Doesn’t she want to win? She had trouble with the Kara-Kenley relationship last week, too. Mila has trouble with anything and anyone that isn’t Mila.

The Runway:

The guest judge is a hockey player who did some kind of internship at Vogue. I have to get my mind around this. A hockey player who interned at Vogue. Ok.

The Faves:

Austin: He was so excited by artist Jamie with her silver bangs and her gold nails, he went all punk rock glam. Very un-Austin, except for the costumey aspect. Dark grey, maybe leather, decorative zippers, torn fishnets. It’s attention-grabbing, and I love the details, except for the placket which looks kind of sloppy. It looks kind of askew in the picture, but it didn’t strike me that way on the runway. There’s a small tulle ruffle down one side of the skirt that’s intriguing; I love the back view, it’s simpler. Georgina loves the proportion and nipped waist; it’s sweet but tough. Hockey guy thinks there’s too much on the shoulders. Isaac sees too many details, the ripped stockings are too much, but it’s fabulous (that’s the closest to my opinion, I think). Angela thinks his muse would be happy to wear it. It’s too bad they didn’t invite the muses to the runway to ask them.

Rami: Print blouse with cascade ruffle piped in zebra stripe, sleeveless vest, beige shorts with the same zebra stripe piping – I love this. It’s so classy, but has all kinds of eye-pops. The combination of the subdued brown fabric and the piping is perfect. He says he was inspired by menswear. Georgina likes the trim on the shorts, and thinks it’s well-made. Isaac likes the look, and gives props since it’s not easy to do with shorts. Angela would like to see women in business suits with this kind of style.

Mondo: This isn’t my favorite Mondo look by a long shot, but I seem to be in the minority. The denim jacket has some great construction, and the shorts are really cute (the back is patterned perfectly, very, um, cheeky), but I’m not sure they go together. He talks about his muse, Grace; it’s interesting only he and Austin refer to their muses by name. I’m not sure if that’s just editing, or if they’re the only ones who bothered with the whole muse thing. Angela would die for this outfit. Isaac loves how bare and covered it is. Hockey guy can picture a lot of girls wearing it. They declare it uptown, downtown, and midtown, because of course nothing outside Manhattan matters. You wear that in Portland (Maine), people would put money in your coffee cup to help you out. But that’s beside the point. Hey, I’m always happy when someone likes Mondo.

Blissfully Ignored:

Kenley: Scary, how much I love Kenley’s work this season. This is a great dress. It’s a simple sheath silhouette, but she’s mixed different stripes and an oversized orange houndstooth… wait, stripes and oversized colored houndstooth, that sounds familiar… Kenley channelling Mondo, just like she channelled all those name designers in her season. Makes my skin crawl, but damn, it’s a great dress. She ought to pay royalties, though. She’s the only one who made “just” a dress; everyone else made separates, two or three pieces.

Kara: This is likeable but a little sloppy in places. I like the diagonal strap on the halter top, and I’m fine with the mix of fabrics (why is everyone trying to mix prints this season?) but it isn’t as meticulous as it should be; maybe the fabrics are of different weights and stretch, or maybe Kara just doesn’t have the sewing skills to pull it off perfectly. It’s not bad, it’s just slightly off. The shirt-vest made me think Joshua when I saw it on the runway, but in the picture, it’s pretty standard, as are the high-waisted pants that Kenley finished for her. I love the hat, but not with this outfit, I don’t think.

Mila: She does Mila, but there’s something deconstructed about the top half that I like more than I usually like her stuff. I especially like the asymmetrical striped top with the contrasting placket. The sleeveless vest is pure Joshua, and the pants are that hideous block thing she does with pants. I guess someone likes it.

The Awful Truth:

Anthony: Black halter top, big red pants, and a huge red dinner napkin tucked in at the waist. This looks like the six-hour challenge. That print top he had to have became a clutch. Hockey-guy loves it, he’d do a double-back if he saw that on a girl; he asks Isaac, “Wouldn’t you?” and Isaac shrugs. Is Hockey-guy an idiot or is he trying to be funny? Georgina points out his muse fabric is only “above the waist” and in the bag. Well, that’s half, isn’t it? The top of a top and bottom? Plus an accessory? Sure, in terms of impact, it isn’t 50% since the pants pretty much are the look, but it isn’t like he used it for piping the way Jillian did in her season’s weight loss challenge, and she was in the top. Of course, they didn’t specify 50% at that point, which might be why they did so here, to avoid getting piping and clutches and scarfs. Isaac says it’s lovely (it is?) but doesn’t answer the challenge.

Jerell: Just what does this guy have to do to get kicked off? It’s I Dream of Jeannie by a blind seamstress. It’s Casanova’s Dubai pole stripper, but with less taste. Ok, calm down. Describe. I actually like the shoulder piece, though not the fabric, and I don’t understand why one shoulder is padded 3 inches higher than the other. The striped bra top is a nice striped bra top, looks well-made, has an interesting fold in the back. The belt thing at the crotch-level-waist – seriously, bikini-wax low – seems to want to relate back to the shoulder thing but doesn’t quite make it. The bottom, which may be a skirt and may be very flowy pants, is tie-die. Individually, any of these pieces could work. All together, it’s nonsense. He’s making fun of the judges now, I think – nyah, nyah, you can’t touch me, I can send THIS down the runway and you STILL won’t eliminate me. What I don’t understand is why not. They should realize by now he’s making a mockery of them, of the show, of the whole process. He says it’s a mix of ethnic prints, and that’s what he does, he mixes things. Yeah. Isaac says it should be in the Lion King, but I think that’s an insult to the Lion King, and the big stomach looks the opposite of sexy. Hockey Guy tells Isaac never to refer to a woman’s stomach as big (I see, a few goals and a stupid internship and you’re ordering Isaac Mizrahi around, you little punk); he sees Lady Gaga and Gwen Stefani at Burning Man on acid (I just read a junk novel featuring Burning Man so I actually understand that reference). Georgina gives him credit for good elements, but it’s visually confusing. It’s not visually confusing; it’s a tasteless mess.

Michael: One minute, we saw Michael working on a pretty pink bustier top in the workroom, and the next, he’s sending this monstrosity down the runway. I’m not even sure what it is – I thought it was a top and Gretchen panties, but in the picture it looks like a hooker couture romper. Or a dirty teddy? Not sexy dirty, dirt dirty. Dingy. But he tells them he made shorts from the top and the top from shorts, so I guess it’s two pieces. Georgina worries about her daughter walking around New York in that – no, no, no. Angela thought it was a swimsuit. Isaac hates the saggy top. Hockey Guy thinks it needs to be paired with something. I know, how about last week’s caftan! One of those 60s movies moments, “Let me slip into something more comfortable” then the caftan comes off and pow, Madonna to Madonna in seconds. Oh, Michael, when you said you weren’t inspired, you weren’t kidding. It’s a good thing you have two consecutive wins behind you.

The designers go backstage while the judges gossip:

Isaac loves Rami‘s focus on tailoring for this challenge. Hockey Guy thought it was too forced with the hat. Angela loved the ruffled business shirt. Georgina is not sure about the print of the shirt, but likes the ruffles, and it is well made. Georgina loves how Austin‘s jacket comes exactly to the waist, but the neckline bothered her. Isaac thinks Austin loves making women look girly. Mondo gets props for thinking about the big look and the micro detail. Their criticism? It’s too stylish; there’s nowhere for a girl to go to make it her own; Angela says it’s hard to wear straight off the runway. Too stylish? Oh, for heaven’s sake, now I’ve heard everything.

Georgina likes Jerell‘s thought process (I have a disorganized schizophrenic she might want to meet), but all that stomach is nothing anyone would want to show. Isaac thought, Michael, really? He’s a good craftsman, why did that happen? Hockey Guy says the model didn’t look comfy. Isaac thinks Anthony comes across as lazy. Wow, Isaac, watch who you say that too. For your information, Anthony made more clothes than anyone other than Michael, he just ended up with something pretty simple. Georgina likes the top, it’s clean and understandable, but he didn’t use fabric from his muse. Isaac loves a jumpsuit (what jumpsuit? It was a jumpsuit?) but he didn’t do the challenge.

And it comes down to: Mondo wins, Anthony is out. Anthony is, of course, gracious. Michael hugs him on the runway, and they have to chase him off so they can give Anthony his auf moment, or whatever it is now that there is no auf this season. Anthony is a very sweet man. “Dry those tears,” he says. And again, this is the moment when I miss Tim terribly.

I’m a little surprised Mondo won; I thought Rami had it all over him. I’m stunned Anthony was cut. No, let me rephrase that: I’m stunned Jerell wasn’t cut. What is it with him? It takes them five weeks to finally put him in the bottom three, and he still gets by? It was a ridiculous outfit. All of his stuff has been ridiculous. It all has elements that work, but it’s all hideous. Why is he still there?

Next week: a fashion faceoff. It looks like pairs; I’m guessing, competing rather than cooperating pairs? It looks like Mondo and Kenley work together, and Michael and Jerell throw around the word “plagiarism.”


5 responses to “Project Runway All Stars – Episode 5: Clothes Off Your Back

  1. I agree with this block 100% and I say as much tomorrow (spoiler)

    “That’s it for Joanna. So Mondo, Jerell, Austin, Anthony, and Michael will be on the runway, plus one more, but whoever it is won’t be a real contender. I said this about Top Chef just yesterday: if I want suspense, I’ll watch Hitchcock, just show me what happened. But here, they aren’t showing us what happened, they’re editing out a bunch of people. I’d rather see the consults than most of the nonsense that goes on.”

    And this too–awesome: “This is my Edgy Bitch look.” Amazing what some people are proud of.”

    Oh God and this too, my wife and I wondered this aloud without saying it so succinctly” Jerell: Just what does this guy have to do to get kicked off?”

    I dislike Anthony’s speaking voice so much I was happy he left, but no way he should have lost to Jerrell No way. And I love Mondo to pieces so I am utterly biased. Utterly.

    This was a stupid challenge, by the way. The idea was good and would be good for a different show, but I don’t care how persuasive these guys are (which is how you get people to give you things) I want to see them make stuff. Gah.

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