Perhaps it's because I'm used to the long, drawn-out nature of a typical Project Runway
finale, but tonight's All Stars
version seemed extremely straightforward. There were no bouts of drama or emotional breakdowns, and with only a six-garment collection, I didn't feel very invested in any of the mini collections that walked the runway. But perhaps this is how it is at the All Stars
level - you simply let the work speak for itself. All three finalists put on a great show, so let's get straight to the critiques!
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In addition to Angela, Georgina and Isaac, two guest judges helped critique the runway: Tommy Hilfiger (occupation simply listed as "fashion icon") and Ken Downing, the Fashion Director of Neiman Marcus. After a few sartorial hiccups (Michael needing to readjust his dress' waistline big time and Austin cursing profusely during his last-minute adjustments), the show began. After each designer's looks strutted down the runway, there were some brief comments from the audience (Nina Garcia said it was a pleasure to see how they'd each evolved), and then the judges critiqued each designer one by one. "Austin Scarlett": A modern-day vampire with Hasidic friends
Despite a somewhat perplexing description, Austin's self-titled collection showed some deeply appealing dark glamour. Georgina thought Austin had some "really good ideas," though she questioned how flattering his shimmery dress was. Isaac felt he was viewing not a collection, but the "best of someone's work over a number of years," which sounds like high praise. Tommy enjoyed the rock star feel from Austin's lacquered dress (which the judges agreed was a star), but then lost that theme with the wedding dress.
Summary: With some "really special pieces," the overall youthful femininity that exuded was what shined. "Therapy": Mondo's medicinal collection
As expected, Mondo exhibited his mastery of color, print, fabric and graphics through his collection inspired by psychoanalysis. Isaac felt his was the most cohesive collection and Ken thought his self-made ink blots looked impressively "professional." Tommy, who seems to tag-end his compliments with "but," loved Mondo's pants, but thought the pockets could have been made a little smaller.
Summary: With an expert consideration of his materials, Mondo displayed a careful and consistent attention to detail. Michael: An adventure through the Serengeti
Michael's safari theme clearly came across through his effortless resort wear pieces. Georgina thought his clothes were made exceptionally well, which Tommy echoed by saying "you could put them in stores tomorrow and sell them." However, Georgina worried his prints might verge on "too commercial" and Isaac wasn't sure that he mixed the prints in the most interesting way. Michael's final piece, the white Grecian dress, was praised for being "sensual, but not too sexy."
Summary: In Isaac's words, Michael knows how to "exalt a woman's flesh" and his execution was impeccable.
The judges deliberate: between Austin's artistic, epic ideas (which may need a little focusing), Mondo's consistent, smart and witty use of his craft (that is best when restrained vs. too applied) and Michael's commercial and cohesive stand-out drapery, who should win? Ultimately, the judges feel Austin had too many ideas, Mondo was at a loss of ideas but from that loss something emerged, and Michael had such a straight idea it might have lost its excitement. Meanwhile, the designers are uncharacteristically calm and simply appreciating how far they've come.
They finally bring them out for the final decision and announce "there are no losers on Project Runway All Stars
" (what about the 10 previously eliminated designers?) and that the two runner-ups will win a fancy trip to Paris. With that news to ease the pain, the judges tell Michael he has a "fantastic future," but that he is not the winner. It's down to Austin and Mondo--the winner is...
Which is what I think we've all been waiting to hear ever since he lost in his season finale. Mondo is of course in disbelief, and as all his fellow designers come out on stage to celebrate his success, he warmly says this experience has made him realize "I can't take this, my art, for granted. I have to celebrate that or it can be lost very easily." I think that's the perfect lesson to take away from this grueling season and Mondo certainly deserves all the joy coming to him! Thus concludes the first All Stars
season--but not to fear, the regular Project Runway
is returning in just a few months!
Do you think the judges made the best decision? Chime in below!
(Images courtesy of Lifetime)