Project Runway All-Stars Recap: Episode 1

Managing Editor

It’s mid-season madness, y’all! Project Runway has returned in the form of Project Runway: All Stars. I could not be more excited. This means I’ll be back every week, chock full of snark and ribald comments about Rami. Hell, maybe I’ll even learn to tag my posts correctly. StraightColin is sadly absent this evening, as he is off in California pouring love and adoration on his infant nephew. If you think Colin is cute, imagine him being cute with his cute family. Gents: he’s straight. Ladies: he’s taken. It’s just a sad, unfair world in which we live.

You’ll notice that this is a whopper of a post. That’s mostly due to the need for a recap of who these people are and where I stand with them. So make some popcorn or something and enjoy. Also, in case you hadn’t noticed, these write-ups almost feel like live blogs. Sometimes it’s best to read as you watch. If you want a cleaner or different format, or have some suggestions, please don’t hesitate to comment. I welcome the feedback!

We start off meeting all our designers again. Here’s a quick list for reference. I’d provide links to my favorite look from them, but it’s really, really hard to filter through Google image searches for specific looks. And I’m lazy.

The designers!

  • Anthony Williams, Season 7. He returned after being booted with quote from Gypsy, stealing my heart and instantly becoming my favorite thing ever. He finished his season in 5th.
  • April Johnston, Season 8. I loved her and everything she did on her season. It absolutely was a shame to see her go. She finished in 5th also.
  • Austin Scarlett, Season 1. He is a unique designer with a very flamboyant sense of style. And I mean that literally, not because I couldn’t find another word for “gay.” Despite that, as a personality he annoys the crap out of me. He finished his season in 4nd place.
  • Kara Janx, Season 2. This was the first full season of PR I ever actually finished, having flown off to New Zealand before the first season ended. This is the season that hooked me, and Kara was absolutely my pick to win. Fashionable, wearable clothes. Love. She finished 4th her season.
  • Elisa Jimenez, Season 4. I love the quirky, goofy Elisa. And probably not just because she vaguely reminds me of Margo Kidder. I dunno, I cheer for the underdog and for the unique. She has a fresh approach to design that maybe isn’t high fashion, but it has a customer. She finished in 10th Place after people freaked out about her marking her fabrics with a dab of saliva. Notice how I say saliva when all her critics say spit. Yeah.
  • Rami Kashou, Season 4. Oh, my. Marry me. He was the runner up his season.
  • Sweet P, Season 4. I had a soft spot for Sweet P in much the same way I had a soft spot for Peach in Season 8. She has some years on her, but clearly enjoys and has a passion for designing. She finished in 5th Place.
  • Jerell Scott, Season 5. Is it bad that I can’t remember a thing he did, but he finished in 4th Place? I clearly remember Kenley’s work, but can’t recall Jerell’s. And he’s from Houston. Now I feel like a traitor.
  • Kenley Collins, Season 5. I was really rooting for her that season. She made rockabilly looks adorable and accessible. Love that she still rocks the pin-up hair. 2nd Runner-up
  • Gordana Gehlhausen, Season 6. She’s a veritable Christmas cracker of a designer. She’s so quiet and unassuming. Sometimes you’re not sure what she just sent down the runway, other times she blows you away. 4th Place .
  • Mila Hermanovski, Season 7. Oof, Mila and all her damn color blocking. I remember thinking it was interesting when she started doing it in Season 7, and then getting really bored by it later. It’s the first stuff we see out of her on this episode and I hope we’re not in for a repeat. She’s lovely, her designs are lovely, but lord it’s repetitive. 2nd Runner-up.
  • Michael Costello, Season 8. I’m excited for the drama this one’s going to bring. Lord love him, but sometimes he’s a hot, hot mess. 4th Place.
  • Mondo Guerra, Season 8. Oh, baby bird. I want to build him a nest and feed him. I was so sure he would win Season 8. But he was just the runner-up.

The designers return, and meet their new host: Angela Lindvall. I always worry when these shows pull another model or some such related personality into a hosting gig because you’re never quite sure what you’re going to get. Does anyone even remember the original host of Top Chef? No. Because Padma has aplomb. Angela seems to be able to keep it together without looking to stiff, so maybe she’ll be fine.

Oh lord, Georgina Chapman. She’s guest judged for PR in the past, and I’m just stunned by her. Someone needs to paint her. And I’m tickled pink that they pulled Isaac Mizrahi out of reality show obscurity. It’s a little tongue-in-cheek dig at Bravo, considering the show he helmed for them after losing PR tanked. I don’t know if I’m sad or glad that Kelly Rowland isn’t here.

Ok kids… I’m going to get a little graphic. I kind of want to fall asleep in Rami’s chest hair.

Anyway, the designers are asked to show one recent look to give everyone a refresher on their aesthetic. Here’s my super quick breakdown:

  • Love Jerell’s print, and from what I can tell of the detailing, it’s exquisite.
  • I like Mila’s color blocking here. I got bored with it before, as I said, but this seems less… aggressive. It’s soft and wearable. I just hope she branches out a bit.
  • One of the things that always excited me about Kenley is that she’s not afraid of color. Nothing’s changed and this dress is divine.
  • Austin’s looks like a rumpled bed sheet. It’s probably a high thread count, and maybe some old ladies in the Hamptons drink their brunch while lounging on them, but it still looks like a bed sheet.
  • Elisa presents this blossoming, ethereal, artsy fartsy granola thing. And all of these adjectives are said with love. I adore it. Shoppers at Anthropologie are squealing right now.
  • Guess what? Rami doesn’t just drape. Looks like someone learned to show how he can branch out. Now he needs to remove his shirt.
  • Gordana’s dress is certainly lovely, but it doesn’t really scream “all star” to me.
  • April’s toned some things down a bit as well. It’s actually really clean, fashionable, and wearable. Nicely done.
  • Anthony has no fear of color either, and I really hope he and Kenley get teamed up at some point this season.
  • Michael’s draping is pretty but I’d want a closer look. He’s had issues with construction.
  • Love Mondo, of course. It’s hard not to. And with that tiny hat? I want to give her a riding crop and make her the ring master of a cat circus.

Georgina and Isaac are impressed, but I think it’s hard not to be. Georgina though is so…. stiff. Maybe she’s just heavily scripted. I remember a time when Nina looked like a cardboard cut-out on screen until she was ripping into someone for making unwearable clothes.

Oh, Rami.

The designers head home and are greeted by a video from Valentino, who looks like a Satsuma and is clearly reading from a cue card. They’re all inspired, and I’m kind of bored. The next day we move on to the challenge: The Unconventional Challenge. Angela’s right – it’s a fan favorite. And almost entirely because some people do some crazy mess and it’s hilarious. I’m not sure we’ll get that same result considering the designers chosen; instead, I think we’ll be floored by what they manage to do.

Side-note: A clusterf— of mops is a legit unit of measurement.

Angela seems to be pulling double duty as Heidi and Tim. Sad for her. And I miss Tim. Are they going to have an actual fashion mentor, or is Angela just going to flutter around making bland, benign comments in the work room? Also, no surprise, Michael is in a situation where someone is using a similar material. Didn’t we… I mean, this is sort of his entire playbook, right? Was there not a lot of this with him on his season?

And as it turns out, they do have a mentor! The lovely Joanna Coles – editor-in-chief of Marie Claire – is serving as the designers’ mentor. Fantastic. Her critiques are always well thought out and well presented… because she literally does this for a living. She’s a different mentor entirely. She’s the stern aunt you want to impress to Tim’s dowager queen you want to throws roses at. Or something.

I never realized how much I missed Anthony until now. I really hope he’s in it for the long haul, because if I’m deprived of sass and Designing Women-esque

anecdotes for more than half the season I may well lose interest. Meanwhile, Mondo thinks Gordana’s dress looks like a piñata. I was just about to disagree with him when he said, “I hope her model is full of candy.” Then I about lost it, and I completely agree. Here’s a question, though: why is he dressed like a rejected as extra from The Warriors?

"But I thought I was original! I chose mops!"

Bless Elisa. She’s so patient with people who think she’s bat-shit crazy. Sometimes the zaniest people are the ones who teach you the most about yourself. And they’re always good for a laugh. I don’t want to get all preachy, but I really feel like the editing in her season did her a disservice. “Holy crap this hippie just spit on her cloth?” Ladies, please. You’re going to get worse on that dress when you wear it anyway. And if you don’t think there’s a certain amount of sweat, turmoil, and despair in the garments you wear, then clearly you’ve never spent time in front of a sewing machine. I’m not saying there’s no love or pride; of course there is. But considering fabrics tend to be treated in chemicals that could potentially make women barren (wash clothes before wearing them, kids), I think spit is the last thing we can worry about. She’s blessing stuff with her tongue. Go forward. Joanna seems to be entirely unphased by it. I suddenly love her as the mentor.

Side-note: I wonder if that line will work on guys? “Oh, I’m not trying to kiss you. I’m just trying to bless you with my tongue. People pay me to do this, and I’m giving it to you for free.”

I can’t count the number of times these designers have had unfortunate mishaps with glue guns. You’d think they learn. But whatever, Austin will figure it out. I feel like it was a “slow news day” in the workroom and this is the best producers could do to manufacture drama. Also, who does he think he is with that mustache? The John Waters of fashion? Shave. Next day he comes in looking like a boho Chef Boyardee. What is that thing on his head? Lordy mercy, we’re going to have fun with him this season.

Bork bork.

They’re off to hair and makeup today, and they’ve still got the leather daddy makeup artist dolling up people for L’Oreal. I want to hug him. I bet he makes great steaks. Anyway, it looks like we’re granted a reprieve from Garnier, which is more than I can ask for. Spending ten minutes of an episode extolling the virtues of some serum or another was tedious and boring.

We’re off to the runway! Since there are so many designs and designers, I’ll do quick little reactions with pictures here. We’ll do a Breaking Down the Looks for subsequent episodes, but this week we were really content heavy. I’ll give you guys a break this once.

Austin's Look

Austin – Well, it certainly looks inspired by his first dress, but I didn’t like it too much anyway. She looks like frogurt wrapped in Saran Wrap. The rumpled look can work, and maybe I wouldn’t be so averse to it if there was a little more care taken in the bodice. Or if the plastic wasn’t there at all. As it is, this reminds me of making slime in plastic bags for science class in 6th grade.


Kara's Look

Kara – I like that the top adds a pop of color not present in the original look. It’s derivative rather than a copy. Also she brings in the sparkles with whatever she made that belt out of. Assuming she made the belt. A wearable garment made from found items that references her original look. Spot on. That skirt is amazing, and the cut is super flattering. It’s a home run.


Jerell's Look

Jerrel – Dead on. It looks expensive and wearable, and it clearly echoes his initial look. I cringe at using materials that don’t require much reworking to become a dress, but that wasn’t necessarily the challenge. Nicely done. Something about the patterns feels dated, but I can’t quite pur my finger on it. The detailing near the top looks a little… messy. But all in all, not a bad effort considering the circumstances.


Elisa's Look

Elisa – Almost an exact copy, but not in a bad way. I don’t really know what the judges are looking for, but she used cheap materials to make a similar garment to her first one. I’d call it a win, and honestly rather unexpected from Elisa.The shorts and shirt are definitely wearable, especially by today’s trendy young hipsters. If she’d managed to find a way to make the cloak thing a whole piece, I think this might have been a little more effective.


Rami's Look

Rami – Pardon me while I drool. Not over the dress, but over Rami. I really haven’t much to say here, as I think he could make sexy fashion from a gunny sack. It’s not a replica, it’s not out of left field, and it’s not a hot mess. It’s amazing. Someone could walk into Neiman’s and pay a grand for this without batting an eye.


Sweet P's Look

Sweet P – Oh lord, honey, she looks like she just got done with the mariachi show at Six Flags. Not okay by me in America.


Mondo's Look

Mondo – What did he even use? I’m floored. Jesus. It’s exquisite. It’ll be down to Mondo and Rami for sure. This model could wear this out of the studio to some shmancy bar and no one would bat an eye. And what is that hat? I’m in love.


Kenley's Look

Kenley – I love the look. Kenley is great with the unconvential challenges, but I don’t see many references to the source material. Could be it went by too fast. She’s probably just safe. It’s adorable, and it wasn’t until I saw it up close that I realized she’s basically made out of bath accessories. Not a whole lot of transformation from the original items, but for some reason it works really, really well.


Gordana's Look

Gordana – She lost me at stickers.


Anthony's Look

Anthony – Well done. Derivative, but his styling, silhouette, color choices – everything is very Anthony. That he managed to get that detailing out of tissue paper without it ripping is nothing short of masterful. I’m not entirely sold on the gold… things… but altogether a great product.


Mila's Look

Mila – The patterning and the print are clearly her, and it doesn’t take much work to see the connection. There’s just something about it that’s a little off-putting. I’m not sure if it’s the weird leggings with the unfinished mesh hems, or the odd cut of the skirt. I don’t hate it, but I’m not in love.


Michael's Look

Michael – It looks a little… patchy? I don’t know, but there’s some gaps in the mop strings. And I don’t really see the original dress. He needs more mops. It just looks like a sad lamp shade.


April's Look

April – The dress is fierce, and she didn’t have the same gapping problems that Michael did. I wish that they frayed out a little more artfully, maintaining some of the shape further down the thight. But whatever. It was a bad production choice to have them go down together, honestly. More manufactured drama. But the real downside here is that it looks nothing like the original look.

Before we even get to judges’ comments, I’m already sad about this episode because I like most of these designers. At least in a regular season there are people who clearly don’t belong or that you come to criticize. Most of the competitors here are talented and I’ve cheered for them in the past. It just brings me down that any of them have to go at all. But of course that doesn’t really make for great TV.

Isaac says Rami has made the elements his bitch. He’s welcome to do the same to me. The judges all seem to echo my sentiments in that Rami really knocked this out of the park. With Sweet P, Isaac is so much more delicate than Michael ever is. Her defense of this horror are the colors, and how she was drawn to them… whatever. I want this model to refill my tea and bring me some queso. Jerell gets some props, so the easy material wasn’t an issue.

Elisa is bringing her spirituality into the design in such a way that it doesn’t make any of the judges cringe. Isaac and what’s his face seem to love it, even if Georgina isn’t down with it. Mondo made his dress out of cowboy hats and trash bags. Ridiculous. It really is a fun, well-proportioned dress. And he made a sassy little hat. Gordana… goodness. Georgina is more delicate than Nina here when she lightly says there are too many items. Nina would have thrown up and wiped her mouth with the dress.

In deliberation it would seem that the judges have issue with the materials. Good to know. I can see where Rami’s look may be too literal a translation from his original. Still, the items look to be part of the same collection without being identical. It’s still a win for me. Gordana has the same problem Josh M did… but in such a terrible, terrible way.

Oh gosh, and it turns out they don’t like Elisa. A bit of a turnaround from their comments previously. I like it, and I like her passion and faith, but yes – perhaps the explanation is cumbersome. However, someone’s been buying her clothes since she’s gone off on her own, so it’s not entirely correct to say there’s no market for this look.

And Rami wins! Yay Rami! I would have been just as happy with Mondo. I like seeing Rami’s construction skills, but I like more the idea of being able to celebrate with him. In a hot tub.

The bottom three are Gordana, Sweet P, and Elisa. Oh gosh Gordana. I’ve always felt my heart strings tugged by that droopy, scared face. Glad she’s safe, because I don’t know if I could take the meltdown that would happen if she wasn’t. But I’m truly sad that Elisa’s going. She was out earlier than I thought she should be in her original season, though she’s a special bird and needs a special tree to sing from. Bless.

What did you think? Was Elisa the clear boot, or did Gordana’s quinceañera table centerpiece deserve to oust her? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll see you next week!

  • Jenibucket

    Man I feel terrible that Gordana didn’t get sent home. That dress just had no flair. At least Elisa’s had personality and passion.