It seems like kind of old hat to say it, but man, Project Runway All-Stars has been a slog, hasn’t it? All these weeks of run of the mill challenges just to get to where we knew we’d end up anyway, in a face-off between Mondo and Austin with one third place rando–Michael Costello, in this case–thrown in because, well, you have to have three people in the finale, right?
And so that’s where we’re at with this first finale episode. Angela "Ol' Hickory" Lindvall comes out with Georgina and Isaac to announce that, to no one’s surprise, there is no Fashion Week challenge this season. Instead, the designers will be making a mini-collection to show at some Project Runway sanctioned runway show, thus explaining why pictures of the full collections have been few and far between so far. Each designer will be given $3000 in mad Mood money to make five looks, as well as Joanna Cole’s witty guidance to whip them into a frenzy.
It should come as no surprise that all of the contestants take this challenge in their own direction. Mondo freaks out and does nothing for the first day, ultimately deciding that his freakout will inspire his whole collection. Austin goes full Austin, even making a wedding dress for his show’s finale. Michael buys a bunch of drapey fabrics and works up some bullshit about a safari that no one wears a bra on.
Of course, there’s a finale twist. In this case, the designers have to make a sixth look using their scraps from all the previous challenges. Could be worse, right? They also get to choose one helper out of all the discarded designers, and everyone seems relatively happy about the whole thing. Hey, we all saw it coming.
At the end of the episode, no one’s accomplished what they wanted, but that’s nothing new. Austin’s making red carpet dresses out of hideous fabrics, and Mondo has made a stretchy black and white tube dress that, while neatly Rorschach-y, looks an awful lot like the dotted dress he made for his Fashion Week show during his season. And Michael, well, whatever. He’s Michael.
About halfway through this week’s episode, Isaac came in to give the designers a sort of group pep talk/mentoring session/coffee klatsch. Austin asked whether he’d ever stood alone in his workroom, with everyone saying “don’t send that down” but knowing that it would work, that he had to send it. Isaac says it happens every season, but that that’s why these guys will eventually get paid the big bucks, because they have “the balls” to take risks and push boundaries.
Here’s the thing, though: Only Austin and Mondo do that. Michael’s perfectly content to make nice clothes, things that will sell, and things that are pretty. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, but him even being in the running for winning almost seems like an insult to the others. Yes, his clothes are well made, and yes, they’re nice, but Grecian dresses? Safari prints? We’ve seen it all a million times. Besides, he’ll be perfectly happy working in Diane Von Furstenberg’s workroom making variations on a wrap dress, so whatever. Let someone else have it. Austin needs to save his mom and Mondo, well, he’ll just cry his skinny little legs off if he doesn’t make it right this second. Besides, it’s what we all watched this whole season for, this Mondo v. Austin thing, so let’s just get down to it. It’s annoying that we have to wait a whole week at this point, but whatever. We’ve already waited almost four months.
- Anthony L. Williams and his glasses deserve their own TV show. Make it so, Andy Cohen.
- Austin claiming he designs for real women is kind of a joke. Austin, honey, please. Ask anyone on the street how many red carpet events they’ve been to in their lifetime or expect to go to, or if they would ever wear those hideous pink accordion pants or a “tuxedo jumper.” It is amazing, though, that he’s somehow chosen to design women’s clothes inspired by Hasidic Jewish gentlemen. Mazel Tov!
- I liked that all the shit talking about each other was done in those little workrooms that had no ceilings and walls that were about seven feet high. I’m sure the person on the other side didn’t hear, right?
- For being a designer, Michael Costello sure has schlubby taste in menswear. A shirt with headphones on it? Please. They sell those at Target.
- Because you were all wondering, yes, A.V. Club headquarters looks exactly like Marie Claire headquarters, down to the plate glass walls and stunning views of Central Park. And, yes, Josh Modell wears that yellow dress a lot.
- Regular recapper and swell gal Genevieve Koski will be back next week for the big finale. Thanks for letting me step in, pals. And for the record, I'm team Mondo.