'Project Runway All Stars' Recap: Global Gowns
'Project Runway All Stars' Recap: Global Gowns
Jenn Lee
Jenn Lee
Staff Writer, BuddyTV
After last week's Broadway theme, the All Stars go global this week.

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Let Your Flag Be Your Guide
Angela meets the designers outside the U.N., surrounded by colorful flags on the pristine green grass. The challenge is pretty straight-forward: create a dress inspired by the flag and culture of your region. As last week's winner, Mondo gets his first pick and he chooses Jamaica, based off the colors. Michael chooses Greece in honor of his heritage, Mila picks Papa New Guinea (which has--surprise!--red and black), Jerell selects India (as to justify his love for embellishment), Austin grabs Seychelles (to broaden his horizons) and Kenley, who has no choice, gets Chile. The designers get their allotted sketch time and then it's off to Mood!

Decision Time: Ambition or Comfort?
As the talent pool dwindles and the "safe" middle disappears with only six designers left, the issue of growth comes into question. Some designers (*cough*-Kenley) stick to their look without budging an inch and it has come to the point in the competition where a measure of risk is going to be required. Of course Kenley chose a polka dot fabric and Mila, who was criticized last week for straying too outside of herself, is going "super modern" again with a graphic red and black dress.

On the other hand, treading waters too unfamiliar can cause you to be lost - like Austin who starts with a very vague sketch along with a vibrant flag of five colors and as a result seems a bit lost at Mood. Mondo too says his black matte jersey material is "so not me" when they get back to the workroom, striking a note of fear in our hearts for this clear frontrunner. Austin gets so adrift he chooses not to join the others for lunch but instead stays in the room until he "understands" his design. Things are not looking good for our normally exemplary designers.

Meanwhile, Michael and Jerell each stick to what they do best: Michael drapes a one shoulder white gown in mere minutes, causing the designers to again gasp "you're done!" while Jerell goes off into his happy place, where all things embellished, opulent and ethnic find their way onto his garment. Joanna makes her formidable rounds, though she does preface, "this is the most talented room in the history of Project Runway," and I'm not inclined to argue.

The Plight of the Braless
But soon Joanna is sensing a trend and she doesn't like it: you can't wear a bra with these dresses. From Mondo's sleek black, backless number to Austin's multicolored chiffon layered gown, Joanna seems indignant - so much so that when she arrives at Mila's Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, half red and short, half long and black dress, she is just relieved you can wear underwear with it. But even though Kenley's polka party dress with ruffles on the side is conducive to bra-wearing, Joanna points out her one-note track record, asking her, "are you convinced you can stand out?" Kenley, unperturbed, replies "yes," but Joanna's expression is clearly not convinced.

Runway
Finally it's time for the show, with guest judge Catherine Malandrino, a French designer known for her collection inspired by the American flag--quite fitting for the challenge.

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Jerell: There are some pretty details somewhere in this dress, but it looks like two or three different outfits sloppily meshed together.

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Kenley: Again, it's pretty enough and I appreciate that she added the ruffles so it wasn't EXACTLY what she typically does, but it's not inspiring like fashion should be.

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Austin: You just knew his garment wouldn't be perfect with all the struggles he had, and this gown somehow doesn't look completely executed. It's also a bit boring.

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Mondo: It's sometimes a subtle difference between plain Jane and sophisticated restraint, and he clearly knows the distinction. Black can be so overdone, but he manages to keep it chic.

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Mila: I'll admit it is interesting to examine, but as something to be worn and revered, it fails. It's not a sculpture to look at it--it should still appeal as a piece of clothing.

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Michael: I know those are the colors he was given, but he somehow made them not so flattering and the back is cut way too low. Otherwise, a perfectly nice, drape-y dress.

The Critique
All the models come out for the critique and I'm surprised by the generally positive comments the judges give Kenley ("modern, cool," and they love the young spirit). Thankfully, Isaac addresses the elephant in the room right on the nose: "try not to do a dress that looks like this next time--I mean it." They respond predictably to Jerell (too many ideas) and Michael (very "acceptable"), though they hated the blue trim on the bow. Austin's look was a pretty dress, but a bit tortured in its realization and the colors didn't match his flag. They like Mondo's gown, but Catherine didn't like the model's hair and Isaac thought the green and yellow panels on the back were too in-your-face. They like the neckline and graphic elements of Mila's dress, but Isaac thinks it's a bit disturbing, stating, "I get Communism from this dress." Not exactly what you want to hear from a judge. Or anyone, for that matter.

The Results
The Good News:
Michael is safe (easy to see that one coming).
Between Kenley and Mondo it's...

Mondo! I'm actually a bit relieved; with all their high praise for Kenley, I thought she might have earned her first win this season.

The Bad News:
Austin is safe (I think he got lucky this week. He was very lost and purposeless, which showed in his dress).
Between Mila and Jerell it's...

Mila! After the judges' discussion, it's not a real surprise (Georgina called her dress "schizophrenic"--with the Communism comment, that's two major blows).

But the judge's decision makes me wonder: Jerell produced a mess of ideas without showing any focus or clear vision, while Mila knew exactly who she was as a designer and it came through. So does thoughtful execution become void if the image was perhaps unattractive to begin with? Is that worse than a hodgepodge of thoughts and an inability to streamline and commit to a plan?

Do you think Mila should have gone home? (Again, not defending her--I did predict this would happen--but not sure I find the result entirely justified).

(Images courtesy of Lifetime)

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