Project Runway All Stars: Episode 7 – Puttin’ on the Glitz

In the summer of 1972, my brother took me to see Godspell at the Shubert Theater in Boston. I’d been living in Florida for the past ten of my seventeen years, so I had no idea what professional theater was like. I still remember the actor who played Jesus. His name was, I think, Jeffrey Weller, and I had a crush on him for years. I adored the show, and still have the album (yes, vinyl). A few years later, after I moved to the Boston area myself, I was lucky enough to perform “By My Side” in a church basement semi-production. I do horse-around versions of “All For the Best” and the vampy “Turn Back, O Man” every once in a while, in my living room, just for fun. And “On the Willows There” makes me cry. I used it as the basis for a flash once. I gave up on “religion” a long time ago, but I like to think if Jesus was around today, he’d be very much like the character in the musical.

Uh oh, what is Project Runway going to do to Godspell?

Austin is setting Kenley’s hair. Those two are perfect for each other. Kenley and Jerell are shocked by last week’s results. I keep hearing them say “I can’t believe Romney is gone.” I really listen to MSNBC way too much. Jerell’s philosophical about it, though; “Eventually they all have to go so I can get my check.”

The Challenge:

The designers head to Broadway and meet Angela and composer Stephen Schwartz in the theater. The designers pretend they know who he is. Kenley says she goes to Broadway shows all the time. Is her boyfriend that rich? She’s still wearing the curlers Austin put in, covered by a scarf. I hope she takes them out when she goes to Broadway shows all the time. Austin gets excited by fantasy and illusion. Why does that not surprise me? He works with theater troupes, so I’m thinking this is his challenge.

Their challenge is to design a costume to be worn by a character in Godspell. They pretend to know what that is. The character they are designing for is ostentatiously rich, hoarding and showing off her wealth. Everyone in the show puts together their costumes on the stage, so it must be separates, and it should look like something put together from whatever they had in their closet, or from a thrift store. I’m not sure what a thrift store has to do with rich, but that’s ok. In my day, they all wore Haight-Ashbury or psychaedelia (except for the one who keeps trying to seduce Jesus), but that was a long time ago. They get two hundred dollars. Angela tells them to break a leg. Oh please.

Kara and Mila do fur; Kenley and Mondo do brocade. Austin loves Kara and her emotional roller coaster. Mila still disapproves of the “overcomplimentary” attitude they have for each other. I think it’s a perfect symbiosis.

Joanna does her walkthrough:

Austin is thinking Marie Antoinette, baroque, Rococo. She loves that his fabric is hideous right now and he’s going to make it fabulous. Hmmmm…

Kara‘s doing a v-neck top with a tie because she thinks the knotted tie thing is rich. Oh? She’s got a maxi skirt planned. Joanna advises her to push herself; she isn’t being as ambitious as an All Star needs to be. Kara is not happy with this critique, and gets all weepy and frustrated. I can sympathize; but she’s over her head in this group.

Mila has a beautiful sheer striped fabric in gold she plans to seam in a chevron pattern, and hideous green and yellow fabric for a skirt. They discuss the skirt; Mila was thinking dirndle, though it isn’t really her, but Joanna thinks a pencil skirt would denote power in a way that’s interesting.

Mondo is using a smoking jacket as inspiration, which is pretty cool. Then again, I think just about everything Mondo does is cool. Joanna loves the fabric and thinks the deceitful nature of the character is played out brilliantly. She worries it won’t be dramatic at a distance. He shows her fabric for a mandarin collar and a ¾ sleeve; she tells him to work it. I think that ‘s the Joanna version of Make it Work. Damn, I miss Tim. Joanna’s fine, much better than I expected, but I miss Tim. And Swatch. Seems like Swatch is part of the standard cast that didn’t carry over. I hope he hasn’t gone to that big Mood-in-the-sky.

Jerell is working with texture, a waist-length coat with an extravagant cuff. Joanna worries he has too much going on. Which would be a big surprise, right?

Kenley shows Joanna her fur and prints; Joanna notes it’s the first time she hasn’t done polka dots, though the print is pure Kenley anyway. She just says good luck and moves on with no comments we see.

Joanna tells them to break a leg (I’m warning you…) and leaves, and Kara has a meltdown, which Kenley attributes to her missing her kids. I didn’t know Kara had kids. Michael and Mondo give her a group hug, which is very sweet. Kara’s toast, isn’t she?

The models come in for fittings, and Mondo doesn’t like his work; it’s heavy and overthought. He’s not feeling it. He has a meltdown, still traumatized from last week. Michael’s worried about him. Michael shows his model what he calls a Pebbles and Bam Bam hat. Kenley can’t help but compliment herself on her wonderful work: “Every piece is so beautiful, it must be so annoying for those other designers.” Yeah, like the ones who are actually winning challenges, which you haven’t yet? There’s the usual exchange of snipes: Mila doesn’t like Kara’s work, Kara doesn’t like Mila’s fur; “It’s not even real.” Wait, is Kara’s fur real? I thought they were fur-free. Maybe that was a Tim thing. I can’t imagine she could afford fur with $200 to spend. Mondo thinks Kara’s model looks like a tube of lipstick; she pushed to the edge but didn’t push it over. Austin thinks Michael’s look is more Mother of the Bride than bitchy drama queen. I want to know what kind of weddings Austin’s been going to. Jerell doesn’t understand Mila’s look: she looks like the girl who can’t get into the club.

On runway day, Mondo has a resurgence. He has to go to a dark place, tell himself he’s stuck so he can grab it by the balls (like Casanova!) and move forward with more energy and passion. Ok, if that’s what works for you. There’s a kerfluffel about who’s using Austin’s sewing machine. I still don’t get the whole thing about “my” sewing machine – do they have elaborate settings they need to re-do? The only sewing machine I ever used had a tension knob and an on-off switch and that was about it.

Michael’s model is falling out of her purple shoes, so he makes straps out of the chartreuse skirt fabric to keep them on. Kara wants her model to have “evil eyes, but not costumey.” Mondo wants intimidating hair, “Almost horns.” Horns? Michael and Mondo have somehow styled themselves the same way. Hair down on the forehead. Scruffy almost-stubble. I love these guys, but it’s weird. And it’s not the most flattering look, especially for Michael.


Angela is wearing a shockingly ill-fitting silver lame dress. Maybe it’s just the long sleeves that makes it look so awful. A Broadway leading lady is the guest judge. Used to be “leading lady” meant someone like Angela Lansbury or Ethel Merman, but that was long ago, I guess. Now everyone looks 22 years old. The designers pretend to know who she is. I figure Austin does. But the rest of them? They’re faking it.

The raves:

Michael: chartreuse tutu-skirt with bow, print halter top, feathered headpiece. And of course, purple shoes with green ties to keep them on the model’s feet. I have such a visceral reaction to the chartreuse, I can’t really breathe, but it looks kind of like a normal outfit a girl would wear to a premier or a club or a party, not a stage costume or anything funky or thrown together. He says she wants to look like money, but she has a sense of humor. Angela loves the strings on the shoes, and sees something a little bitchy, an “I have everything” attitude. The actress says it draw her eye; she’s a rich party girl, a little wild. That’s a good description. Isaac says congratulations, the color is difficult but it’s a good idea. In their private chat, where the judges say what they really think, Angela says she’s almost the Chiquita Banana woman, which is a whole different comment. Georgina thinks it was clever how he used the reflective quality in the chartreuse. The actress thinks the character is not specific enough.

Austin: gold and silver metallic pinafore over a black v-neck capri catsuit with a furry stole of sorts; it looks like a loop over both arms coming behind her back, but that would mean she can’t bring her arms forward and I can’t imagine that would do for a Broadway musical that includes dancing. Frankly, it’s ugly, but I can see youthful exuberance and I can certainly see Broadway and the kind of thrown-together quality they asked for. The hat thing makes it whimsical. What I see more than anything is a futuristic Rocky Horror Picture Show. What I don’t see is rich. I see imitation of rich, but not rich. Austin talks about decadent luxury and does his best Marie Antoinette: “Let them wear Austin Scarlet.” Georgina loves it; the actress loves that it draws attention; Angelina likes the silhouette; Isaac calls it incredibly wonderful but thinks it borders on too young. It’s strange, what he says, something like “Women who want to buy Austin Starlet will need to have money.” First, it’s a stage costume, not something anyone is going to buy. And second, getting the name wrong is a little bitchy, isn’t it? Austin corrects him firmly – politely, but with a perfect touch of arrogance. Later, Georgina praises the Antoinette, and Angela sees it dancing and expressing a character.

Mondo: satin jacket with feather detail, chiffon-over-lame flowy dress. Ok, I’m biased, of course, but this week, there’s Mondo, and there’s everybody else. This evokes Norma Desmond, streetwear, money, class, and deconstructed thrown-together funk all at the same time. The actress is smiling as it goes down the runway. Mondo says her secret is this is her dad’s old smoking jacket. Isaac calls her sexy in a crazy passive aggressive way. Georgina notices the dress is simple layered fabrics, and the sparkle underneath makes it rich; the hem showing the foot is a problem. Why do fashion people want everyone tripping over their hems all the time? In their later private chat, Isaac says sometimes they have to give leeway for the time restraints, but this looks like it might’ve taken a couple of weeks; Georgina says he really knows his woman, though the length is not “resolved.”

The understudy:

Jerell: b/w textured print jacket with feathered cuffs, lacey neck and closure, and narrow belt over a grey almost-knee-length skirt. I see Marion the Librarian. I see 1939 dustbowl schoolmarm. But I think this is one of those things that comes across very differently in person. The jacket looks tweedy on TV and in the picture, but it’s not, and there is a lot of detail. Still, that would get lost on the stage, and she’d just look like an old, rich spinster great aunt you have to be nice to so she’ll leave you her money. The hair doesn’t help in that regard. I suspect he ran out of time and didn’t do what he wanted with the skirt. It makes the model look, um, substantial rather than slender, but it’s definitely a step up from the crazy stuff he did the first few weeks, and I still wonder about the change. Because he’s safe, we don’t hear any judges’ comments, which is too bad.

The pans:

Kara: bright red pencil skirt, black furry stole over the striped v-neck, and a hideous silver bow that looks like she swiped it from a wreath. It looks like a wannabe got drunk at the office Christmas party. Stiff, stuffy, wrong. And again, the hair doesn’t help. Angela loves the red pop of the skirt but the bow takes away from the richness. Isaac thinks it’s the best she’s done (no, it’s not) but needs to be developed. Georgina wants little tweaks, like fixing the issue with the back slit that pulls at a strange angle; it’s a good idea but needs “resolving” which seems to be the word of the night. In private deliberations, Angela appreciates that she tried to push, and points out it’s Isaac’s favorite look of hers but it’s in the bottom; Isaac admits even if it is the best she’s done, he doesn’t like it (so they are treating these guys with kid gloves on the runway). Georgina worries about the proportions and color; it’s almost good, but not.

Kenley: Red and white brocade jacket with super-long peplum and feathered lapel, print skirt, white shell. This is another thing that probably looks better close up: on tv and in the picture, the fabric looks like a simple cotton print, not a brocade. I don’t like the combination of prints at all, even though the skirt has the red dot motif (interesting how she didn’t use polka dots but managed to evoke them anyway); it’s too minty green. The peplum is the main feature, and it falls perfectly, but there’s something about it I don’t like. It’s almost a military uniform. I’ve been surprised at how much I’ve liked her stuff so far; this might be my least favorite, and yet I can appreciate the jacket. Kenley calls it East Village. Isaac says she’s flying in their faces, and I have no idea what that means. He sees a need for tweaking. The shoe goes too East Village; she doesn’t live in the East Village, she lives in a doorway of the East Village. I’m sure Neiman Marcus will appreciate that. Georgina thinks she caught the coat really well, but it has one too many elements, and it’s too easy to miss the cut of the coat. The actress wants to wear it but the patterns muddle it; on stage it would blend instead of pop. Angela sees eccentricity but not rich. “I see what you mean,” says Kenley. Wow, someone has been working on her runway demeanor. I wonder if they had to force her to say that, because it sounds a little forced. Still, nice job, and smart, pulling a Tiffani Faisson image rehab. Later, Georgina was a little disappointed, and Angela thinks she only heard vintage and mix & match, not rich; Isaac says it doesn’t really work. I wonder if Kenley threw a cat at her TV set when she heard that.

Mila: white fur jacket, gold shell, green-and-yellow striped asymmetric skirt. The more I look at this, the more I… like it. Yeah. That scares me. She was going for a woman who shops on Rodeo Drive. I don’t get that at all – I get a teeny-bopper (do they still call them that?) who just got a fur jacket and can’t wait to show it off. But I still like it. Isaac loves the top, the rabbit fur jacket look (they were so popular when I was in high school), the sort of asymmetric skirt (is it a kilt?), but it doesn’t work together. Yeah, that was what I thought last night, but now, looking at the picture, it works better. The actress thinks she’s a borderline rich party girl, someone who might, um, pause, walk the streets. Mila glares. The actress continues: it doesn’t feel wealthy, it’s a little gaudy. Mila glares harder. She should be glaring at Joanna who told her to do a pencil skirt instead of the dirndle she had planned; the dirndles are ruling the runway tonight. Privately, Isaac says the character looks like she does drugs. The actress calls her Pretty Woman before she gets pretty. That’s the fur jacket. Georgina thinks with the right skirt it would’ve been safe. I’m really worried, because it’s looking better and better to me. Not rich, certainly, but 20’s flapper funky. Maybe because I always wanted one of those rabbit jackets (though in multi browns), but I lived in Florida then, and that would’ve been ridiculous. And that was back before fur was evil.

Mondo wins, Kara is out.

Much better than last week. And they didn’t trash Godspell.

Next: The UN. Just the thought of these people near international officials scares me. Kenley seems to use the same blurred polka dot Mondo used last week. Isaac gets communism from a dress (see, it is catching!).

2 responses to “Project Runway All Stars: Episode 7 – Puttin’ on the Glitz

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