Project Runway All Stars Recap: The Final Three Revealed!

Last night on Project Runway All Stars the three finalist were revealed after the designers had to create a ready-to-wear look for designer, Nanette Lepore.

The designers meet Nanette in her garment district store and we learn commercialization combined with rising rents are forcing many factories and designers out of the infamous district. Nanette is very involved in a charity to revitalize the area (as is Isaac Mizrahi). The designers are to sketch one ready-to-wear piece and then go over the analytics with Nanette and her “coster.” The coster basically tells them how much the garment would sell for vs. how much it would cost to produce and make a profit. The difference is how much they can spend on fabrics to construct the piece.


I actually enjoyed this challenge because we learned a bit more about how the fashion business works and what the designers can expect in the real world.

Mondo isn’t feeling it. First of all, he apparently doesn’t sketch (and was obnoxious about it) and therefore, isn’t able to show Nanette anything for the coster to analyze. She does her best to guess. Kenley makes a snarky comment about Mondo needing to learn how to sketch and the two get into a bickering spat in Nanette’s showroom. So professional, guys!

Kenley wows Nanette with her sketch for a retro inspired dress that has a keyhole neckline. It’s a good sketch and a lot of women would wear the dress. Michael is producing some sort of Halston inspired caftan dress that is floor-length and made of jersey. Gee… that’s so different for him. And Austin is making a rain coat for Mary Tyler Moore.

Afterwards, the designers get to pick out fabric within their budget from Nanette‘s massive fabric selection. Kenley is totally swept away by this peacock feather print fabric, which she enthusiastically buys several yards of, before realizing she can’t really cut a keyhole because of the busy and large-scale print. Epic fail.

Michael picks out something in Palm Beach colors and Mondo gets a veritable Easter egg of a dozen different prints. Back in the workroom, Mondo is in a really negative space and feeling very disheartened. He feels like the competition is robbing him of his creative energy and taking the love out of what he does. Even Michael is annoyed with his Eeyore act.

Michael throws together his caftan in all of six minutes and he should have used the remaining time to hem the dang thing. Austin freaks out because, as always, he has bitten off far more than he can chew and his material is a wrinkled mess because he is working with unpressed taffeta. Kenley is her typical over-confident self, despite the fact that her dress lacks any interest outside of the fabric choice and is basically sloppily constructed.

All the designers are bitching about each other in the interview segments; talking about how they don’t see why the other designers should be in the final three. Frankly, they all made good points. Austin is sort of a mess and his aesthetic is a little dated, Mondo doesn’t even want to be here anymore, Kenley and Michael are one-trick ponies.

Joanna and Nanette arrive to critique the looks. Kenley mouths off when given constructive criticism about the fit and the shape. Mondo is still feeling sulky and both ladies seem underwhelmed and confused by his design; although appreciate the fabric concoction. Joanna complains that Michael‘s look is unwearable to 90% of women since you can’t wear a bra with it and therefore it’s not really sellable. Which, is a very good point. Austin receives favorable reviews from Nanette who says bright-colored chic coats are huge sellers, but Joanna isn’t sold on the color.

Everyone is frantic before the runway show. Kenely is really impressed with her work, but Mondo points out she didn’t take the time to line up the seams and match patterns. The effect is distracting and sloppy looking. Austin did not have time to steam and press, so his coat is a wrinkled mess.

The guest judge is, of course, Nanette Lepore – who was a great judge. The winning design will be sold by her with the proceeds donated to the garment district charity.

Ok, let’s trash discuss some looks!

Congratulations Mondo! For all his woe is me nonsense, Mondo wins. Really, out of the four looks, this was the strongest, but that’s no prize. I think they were all pretty bad. Even the judges admitted this was the weakest Mondo look they’d seen all season. This was an ok dress, I liked the drop waist and the different fabrics, I was leery about how floofy the skirt was and the pockets, which caused bunching at the hips. Isaac commented that the waist needed some definition and all the female judges expressed concern over non-models being able to pull this off since, you know, hips get in the way of a straight fit and a drop waist. Overall, it was cute enough and youthful, but uninspired and badly styled. Why did all the designers pick those horrible unflattering pumps?

Austin: Austin’s raincoat came in second. The wrinkling and puckering were so distracting it was hard for me to notice anything else. Also, how did that raincoat close? Isaac commented he actually thought it was a dress and I didn’t notice any closures, so I’m assuming there was a zipper down the front? I wish we could have seen it open.

Here’s the thing – Austin has the worst time management skills and is simply not suited to a show like this. He’s a great, inspired designer, as the judges pointed out; he knows his muse and the woman he is designing for, very well. Sure his looks can be dated, but there are a lot of women who would wear them. Unfortunately on PR, the details always suffer with him because he bites off so much more than he can chew. A taffeta silk raincoat in 24-hours is not happening and it was sloppily executed and not well thought out. The shape was great, it was flattering as hell, but it needed more time. I also did not like the berry color and think he should have chosen something brighter. Loved the collar though.

Michael: Michael was almost sent home for making a caftan – which is 90% of his repertoire. The judges questioned if he has enough confidence in his designs to ever fully branch out, and frankly, I think it’s more a matter of he doesn’t want to. Michael has a narrow aesthetic that he has no intention of changing, and unlike Austin, that can be a pretty boring aesthetic. At least, that’s what I think the judges think. This was a nice enough, though boring, dress. Most women could never wear this. It should have been hemmed. The fit was too loose, and the print and body of the model did all the work. Without the print it would have been a complete snooze. Also, I know he favors a loose fit but this was completely unfitted and hung on the model.

Good-bye Kenley: It is my opinion that she should have gone a long time ago. Kenley, like Michael, has no interest in ever branching out. She does retro. That’s it. Like Michael, her print did all the work. But sadly, she didn’t take the time to match up her print at the seams and it was distracting. The real reason she likely went home was that she was rude to Nanette, ignored the client’s suggestion, and was (and is) unable to take any constructive criticism. Also, the sketch she presented was really cute and vibrant, while the dress she showed was dated and boring.

Nanette knows her customer and is a successful, well-known designer. When she pointed out to Kenley that the fit should be more body conscious and less fifties housewife, Kenley ignored her. Nanette also pointed out that Kenley chose a print that would not work with the sketch she made, and therefore she allowed the dress to suffer. Frankly, I’ve never gotten the appeal of Kenley’s clothes which are incredibly commercial and complete vintage copies.

In the end, it came down to Kenley and Michael; personally I think the judges had enough of her refusal to change direction even though she is capable of so much more, and the messy output irked them. I also think Nanette was unimpressed and made the case to send Kenley packing. I’m sure she’ll be fine.