Project Runway All Stars Finale Recap: Polka Dots For The Win!

Last night’s season finale for Project Runway All Stars went about how I expected. A winner was crowned, the losers flew first class to Paris and everyone else flocked to Neiman Marcus online to start procuring some goods!

The designers arrived at the Gotham Center for the finale show where they each had their own special dressing area, complete with their customized Neiman Marcus accessory walls. Austin still isn’t finished with his evening gown and is rushing around doing last-minute construction. Michael realizes that although he thought he had everything finished, he’s having a ton of last-minute fit issues. Mondo doesn’t seem to be experiencing any trauma–for once–and is confident going into the final show. There’s some last-minute preparations and drama, but nobody really cares about that! Let’s get to the final show.


The guest judges are designer Tommy Hilfiger and Ken Downing, Sr. Fashion director for Neiman Marcus.

Ok, let’s trash discuss some looks!

Congratulations Mondo! Mondo’s collection was about therapy, because this show drove him crazy and by the time he made it to round two (All Stars) he was certifiable. The judges loved Mondo’s collection which was innovative, fresh, and by far the most cohesive – but really none of these collections were that exciting given the rushed time constraints. They appreciated his ideas but thought it could get a little gimmicky. The integration of dots throughout the collection, and the way Mondo created his own Rorschach prints were standout points amongst the panel. Georgina thought Mondo’s mixing of prints was masterful, but Angela didn’t really think the red dress at the end worked. Basically, this entire season was Mondo’s redemption and he was slated for the win from the get go. Mondo’s collection was interesting, but a little costumey for the Neiman’s crowd and I thought some of the details went too far. BUT it was a great collection and I think it will do well in a young marketplace.

Look 1: Mondo opened the show with this. This was a cute, sophisticated little number that would sell well as separates or as an outfit. Mondo’s aesthetic certainly speaks to a younger, downtown audience and this was jazzy and fun. I’m not really into the pussybow, but the sheer fabric and the short metallic skirt take it away from the cutesy category.

Look 2: I was not a fan of this. The pants were too wide, the multi-colored sleeves were silly, and the pockets were enormous, too close together, and cartoony. The pants were just an unflattering mess. The judges and several audience members adored this, but it had all sorts of fit and styling issues and the details were distracting from the overall look. However, the fabric combinations were really interesting and I loved the jacket with the t-shirt.

Look 3: I know he’s used this shape many times, but I love it. It’s flattering, simple, and chic. Also, the print was amazing and I can’t believe he made it himself in four days! This was my favorite look from his collection.

Look 4: I was with Angela; this didn’t work with the collection and he bought this fabric as an afterthought. The shiny red dots looked a little cheap and the shape didn’t really coincide with the rest of the pieces. It was a weak point and I’m not sure why he ended this way.

Austin: Austin’s collection was for Brooklynite Vampires who also happen to be close friends with dandy Hasidic Jews, or whatever. I think Isaac and Ken both wanted Austin to win and out of all the designers, his aesthetic fits Neiman Marcus’ the best. Austin’s collection was a little all over the board and it did seem more like a retrospective than a collection. Three of four of the looks were perfect together, but the gowns and the hot pink pants were misstep that didn’t really tie in well. I understand why he chose to exhibit the bridal gown–which was spectacular–because Austin is primarily a bridal gown designer, but it didn’t work in a six look collection, as all of the other pieces were of a totally different mode. It lacked cohesion and the details got a little carried away. The judges were puzzled by the integration of certain details, but they loved the lacquered lace dress and that Austin’s ideas were big and fantastical.

Look 1: Austin opened with that insane pink jumpsuit with the exaggerated hips. Interesting look, but not worked out enough for the time frame. Moving on, this was one of the stand outs of his collection and the judges raved about it. This really demonstrates Austin’s key aesthetic; it’s downtown, upscale glamor and it was fantastic. It moved, it was structured, the fabric was really great, and it was flattering as hell. I could see a lot of starlets wanting to rock this look.

Austin 2: Georgina was right – this was a mess. He hadn’t worked it out enough and he didn’t have the time to complete TWO ballgowns. TWO in four days! The ruffles were unflattering and bunchy and not well placed. Also, I was confused about using this fabric with the rest of his collection – it was completely discordant. Even worse than the hip/waist area, was the neckline, which looked sloppy and incomplete. This had potential but in its current state needed a lot of editing.

Look 3: I’m not sure how Austin went from the old lady dowager gown above, to this, but I guess that was Isaac’s main problem with this collection. It was everywhere and it basically shouted: ‘Look at all the stuff I can do! Look, I have range!’ This was super cute! It was fun and the vibe really went with the rest of his separates pieces. The ball gowns had no place here and yes, a leather jumpsuit is not going to work on most of us but, on the few that can and would wear this it would be aces!

Look 4: Regardless of whether this went with the collection, it was amazing and the fact that he had both the audacity and the chops to pull off a full on bridal gown in four days is miraculous. Not only that – it is beautiful! I love the petunia petals! Georgina was right – this would sell like hot cakes and she needs to hire Mr. Scarlett for her bridal line because this is stunning, beautiful, sophisticated, and show-stopping without being a costume. It was my favorite look of the night.

Michael: Oh, Michael. Such a lost little wayward designing soul filled with tears, heartfelt desires, and no discernible idea about who he is designing for! How he made it to the top three is the mystery for the ages. Michael’s collection was inspired by the Serengeti. I’m not sure why he decided on tribal since it’s not really his schtick, but whatevs. Isaac was impassioned about the fact that Michael’s collection was too commercial and lacked innovation. I agree, although it was lovely and very well done. While, Georgina pointed out that Michael’s fit and draping were masterful and Tommy was impressed that the entire thing could be sold as is, Isaac was shocked by the complete lack of ideas and how one-note it was. Which pretty much encapsulates Michael’s aesthetic; it’s lovely and chic but it’s commercial and it’s been done many times. He would be a great designer on someone elses’ label–or for J Crew–but on his own, not so much. Isaac also hated the majority of Michael’s prints which he thought were boring and expected.

Look 1: Michael loved his jumpsuit and was really excited by it. As far as jumpsuits go it moved well and was cute, but it was zebra print and needed to be hemmed. The shirring on the top was super well done and the fit was great. I also liked the way he joined the fabric at the waist without mucking up the print. Very skillfully constructed.

Look 2: This was Michael’s second or third look – notice the similar print. He also used the same zebra in a maxi dress later. Reusing prints and shapes sporadically in a thirty look collection is one thing but in a six look collection, reusing them is a mistake. It just looks repetitive and the looks blur together. Nonetheless, the shape was good and I like the slightly puffed shoulder detail. Very flattering.

Look 3: More zebra, more mini dress with long sleeves. Easily the most flattering and easy to wear dresses of the collection. This would sell in a hot minute, but it’s nothing to write home about or show in a six look collection which is supposed to demonstrate your point of view as a designer.

Look 4: This is a beautiful gown – really sophisticated and well-done. It would be really flattering on a lot of women, but it’s a simple Grecian draped white gown that has been done a zillion times; both by Michael and a slew of other designers. The vest was a cute addition and it gave the gown a little more excitement, but this was still a fairly standard look. Beautiful draping, though!

In the end Mondo won, because this should have been called Project Runway: Mondo’s Redemption. Mondo was destined for the win from day one, after the whole Gretchen debacle. Michael and Austin were rewarded with first class tickets to Paris, which is nothing to sneeze at. “Thank you, this is a wonderful consolation,” love Austin.