Project Runway All Stars: The Grand Finale
It was the grand finale last night for our All Stars as joy, tears, and pantsuits filled the runway:
Well, we've known the right answer to this question all along.
Because there are three of us Project Runway lovers, and because we're assuming you watched the show too, instead of straight recaps for this series we're picking and choosing the parts we want to talk about most each week. First though, the episode stats:
The Challenge: Show the looks created in last week's episode at a runway show where everyone pretends it's Fashion Week.
The Winner: MONDO! Yes, we all saw this one coming, but that didn't make it any less sweet to witness.
The Loser: Michael and Austin, and everyone else who isn't Mondo.
The winning looks.
In closing: Mondo, Mondo, Mondo!
No one will be surprised to hear that I'm SO EXCITED that the judges finally got it right. Like, involuntary squeals of joy (and possibly a fist pump or twelve) might have followed the announcement. I'm so relieved that I'm now not even sure what to write about. I usually bank on being able to complain about the results, but I guess the judges put me in my place? It was nice that they didn't contradict themselves for once. Michael's collection was criticized for being too commercial and lacking ideas (no one saw that coming, right? Especially not Andi). Austin's collection was criticized for being too disparate, but its all-over-the-placeness did allow for one of the more entertaining speeches made by a finalist introducing their collection (vampires?). And lastly, Mondo's was criticized for...having too large of pockets? If this were a normal show, I would have trusted my gut and known that Mondo had the prize locked down, due to his mastery of the unfathomable combination of both ideas and consistency as an All Star. But given the wild ups and downs of this season, who knew that the judges would ultimately behave logically?
Anyway, it doesn't matter anymore. Nothing matters anymore. Because I can rest easy in knowing that Project Runway finally picked the contestant I was rooting for (I checked on the P.R. Wikipedia page, as I am wont to do when writing these recaps, and verified that this is the first time in its Lifetime permutation where I've agreed with their winner). And now I won't have to avoid Season 10 out of protest!
I told myself I wouldn't cry
When I wasn't biting my hand out of nervousness or alarming my neighbors, I was noticing how Austin and Michael were handling their new status as losers completely differently than I would have predicted. Austin was, understandably, crestfallen and seemed bummed out even in the After the Runway segment. Michael, however, handled his 3rd place results with grace, showing either that he really has matured over the course of this season or that he was just as excited as the rest of us in seeing Mondo win, or both. For someone with such extreme emotional reactions to everything, he was relatively understated when Angela kicked him out of the running (though, I will never get bored with his "I'm excited about this guest judge!" face, whether it's in reaction to DVF or Miss Piggy). Kudos to Michael and keep up the Kenley impersonations!
If Lifetime doesn't give Anthony his own show, which would be an AWFUL oversight on their part, someone at least needs to give him his own shoe line. Those spiked-toe kicks he was rocking were pretty spectacular, though probably an awful idea for someone as accident prone as myself. Can he make a child-safe version?
Almost instantly, I grew very attached to and derived a questionable amount of joy from the dance-heavy opening credits for this season. Mondo's pistol hands? Great! Mila's half-hearted shuffle? Awkward and appropriate! Rami's sweet moves? I would expect nothing less from The Gun Show! I'm sad to see it go.
Lastly, I'm looking forward to potentially buying an issue of Marie Claire for the very first time and to taking photos next to Mondo Guerra clothing at Neiman Marcus that I will never be able to afford. Who's with me???
Models on safari.
As satisfying as watching last night's episode was, I was mostly nervous about who would win because I found all three collections to be equally mediocre. There's a reason designers get months to prepare for runway shows—you can't produce a good one in four days! Yes, Mondo deserved to take it all (especially now that the Internet has reassured me that he had no way of seeing Viktor Luna's season 9 Rorschach print finale dress before he made his own), but all three of the designers produced much stronger work during various weekly challenges than they did in the finale, if you ask me.
This is kind of how I felt about their collections.
I was admittedly on the edge of my seat during last night's episode though, and I too can't wait to see Mondo in the pages of Marie Claire. What I could wait forever for though? Having to watch these judges do anything ever again. I've said it before (pretty much every week) but I'll say it once more while I have the chance: These All-Star judges were The Worst. Last night's critique was so blandly positive that—as per usual with this crew—I had no idea where the anyone stood until the final ruling. Make up your minds! Or better yet, hit the showers and send Nina, Michael, and Heidi back into the game already! (Please note that this feeling does not apply to Joanna Coles, whom I love even more after seeing her go all "proud aunt" on the runway last night.)
See you never. Except for you, Auntie Coles.
Only one can win
I left my house immediately after All Stars last night to attend a midnight showing of the Hunger Games. While watching Katniss run around and shoot arrows at stuff, my mind wandered back to the Flatotel, and I couldn't help wondering: Which finalist would have won if the Project Runway All Stars finale was decided with a mini-Hunger Games instead of a mini-collection?
My prediction: If the designers were allowed to design their own outfits to wear in the fight-to-the-death games, my money's on Austin, because those sharp leather jodhpurs he made could be used as both a weapon and a water filtration system. If they just wore tribute jumpsuits and had to fight it out on the ground, though? Actually, I still vote Austin. Michael is far too psychologically delicate for the Games, and as much as I love Mondo, something tells me Austin is the scrappy survivalist of that group. Good thing the results were based on fashion instead of bloodlust, right?
How funny was it when Issac Mizrahi said, "Congratulations, man" to Austin? It was such an awkward, forced dude-bro moment.
I breathed a psyched sigh of relief when I saw that season 10 promo last night. Heidi's coming back to host us all again! Auf wiedersehen, Lindvall.
"It's the story of a vampire from the 18th century who has lived many hundreds of years and now resides in Williamsburg, occasionally borrowing clothes from her Hasidic dandy friends."
It's so hard to say goodbye
As Annalee pointed out, this was a deeply satisfying ending to the season. The right person won, but there was enough drama leading up to those final moments to give the finale some true edge-of-your-seat excitement. (Remember that minute where it occurred to you that maybe Michael was going to win it all? That was weird!) But it became clear that Mondo had it in the bag when the judges complained about the size of the pockets on his mod minidress—it was like they needed to find something to critique. Austin, your collection doesn't feel cohesive. Michael, you're not showing us anything new. Mondo, uh…what's with the pockets? Ding-ding!
And the runway shows themselves were also really satisfying. Seeing these six-piece collections made me realize how much, as a viewer, I tend to miss with the regular seasons' 12- or 13-piece collections. Any of, say, Anya's final looks from last season could float right up to me on the street and I wouldn't know what the hell I was looking at; by contrast, the comparatively few outfits from view last night are going to stay with me much longer. (I will definitely be keeping Austin's laquered-lace dress in mind the next time I'm shopping for a party dress.) And fewer looks meant smarter critiques from the judges, for the most part. Rather than a bunch of edited-together remarks that say a whole lot of nothing, it seemed like there were actual sustained conversations happening between Georgina and Isaac, as well as guest judges Tommy Hilfiger and Mr. Happyface Neiman-Marcus. (And, note: While I still feel like Isaac brings very little to the judging table, I want to be on record as loving the measured feedback and general has-her-shit-togetherness of Mrs. Weinstein and kind of wanting her to be a feature of regular-season PR episodes.) (And, second note, once again I wanted a tiny, orange Michael Kors doll that screeches "That crotch is insane!" to greet Austin's leatherette jumpsuit.)
Also satisfying on the runway? Austin's decision to just pull vampires out of his ass in explaining his collection. Generally, when Project Runway designers attempt a backstory for their clothing, it's straight-up embarrassing. (Season 3's Angela and her "Jubilee Jumbles," anyone?). Austin's ability to make something inherently ridiculous, and possibly a little offensive—18th-century vampires in Williamsburg raiding the closets of their "Hasidic-dandy" pals?—sound charming should not be underestimated as a key to his appeal. My heart broke a little when he realized he hadn't won, but there's no question that he'll continue to have a thriving career; love him or not, the dude, as Pharrell said, is a star.
I don't know about you all, but the finale, as well as the post-finale After the Runway, made me realize how attached I've become to these people. When Joanna started lint-rolling Mondo? When Michael and Mondo embraced and whispered sweet nothings to each other? When Jerrell, on After the Runway, said that Elisa was still on the runway trying to explain her butterfly-wing Written on the Body outfit? When Anthony said pretty much anything? I am going to miss the shit out of this All-Star Season, and—I'm with you, Annalee!—have already committed to subscribing to Marie Claire for a year.
It was interesting that the one outfit from Michael's show that the judges seemed to love—the structured, tight-fitting, pieced-together long-sleeved dress—turned out, as revealed on After the Runway, to be the piece that April worked on. Hmmm.
Austin's sequined blazer and pink tulle dickey? If the Steven Soderbergh movie where Michael Douglas plays Liberace hasn't already signed up Austin for costume design, that is one major missed opportunity.
Season 10! This summer! So soon! Is there any way that we can convince Joanna Coles and Tim Gunn to co-mentor the new crop of designers? I really think they could go down in history as one of the great buddy-cop duos, despite not actually being cops at all. Make it happen, Lifetime.
Thanks for reading our recaps this season! Stay tuned: Though All Stars may be over, our recaps aren't. Mad Men, here we come!
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