Project Runway All-Stars Recap: Muse It or Lose It

As Tim Gunn might say, I’m feeling vexed and a little bit dubious about the conundrum that was this week’s Project Runway All-Stars. On one hand, the designer responsible for the season’s most atrocious outfit didn’t even land in the Bottom 2, and yet I can’t honestly argue with the judges’ choice for elimination. Alas, though, the latter contestant also happened to be the season’s go-to source for zippy quips.

This week’s challenge was simple, yet inspired: Troll the streets of New York, and find a muse (or muses) willing to give (or sell) you the clothes off their backs. Then use the fabric from these found frocks to create at least 50 percent of a brand-new, fashion-forward garment.

Anthony huffed that he’d taken “so many daggers” in the competition for having a personality — apparently I missed each and every one of said daggers being thrown — and mysteriously, the action moved from Central Park to Union Square (approximately 45 city blocks away) without any explanation.

Mondo scored a cute dress and a coat for a mere $60 from a woman who I’m betting watched Season 8 of Project Runway and objected to the hateful results. Kara flirted amusimgly with a guy in a polo shirt that was either pomegranate, fuchsia, or delicious, and Anthony got a hunky guy to remove his denim shorts — just because. Back in the workroom, Jerell boasted he’d purchased no additional fabric from Mood, because doing so was the equivalent of “setting a baby in a bear trap.” (I’ll bet his model would’ve preferred a bear trap to the garment he eventually forced her to wear, no?)

Speaking of painful things, let’s jump right into a quick assessment of three contestants on the chopping block, plus other pertinent judging details like the awesomeness of this week’s guest judge, NHL star and one-time Vogue intern Sean Avery. (Loved his retort to Isaac Mizrahi that one should “never refer to a woman’s stomach as big.”)

On the Chopping Block
Anthony: “I know how to meet the requirements of a challenge,” Anthony hissed at Jerell in the workroom. Yet as the episode wore on, it was clear he couldn’t find a way to turn his muse’s polyester floral frock into something runway-worthy. “Why aren’t you as modern and chic as you were in my head?” he agonized, before eventually taking the fabric he bought at Mood and creating what he alarmingly called a “onesie palazzo-pant jumper”; the aforementioned inspiration garment, meanwhile, was reduced down to a barely noticable purse. Did Anthony’s garment even belong in the Bottom 3? Not from the look of it. But the judges did the right thing in au’fing him for ignoring the challenge parameters. I mean, if there’s no enforcement of the Project Runway bylaws, why not just let every designer buy fabric and make a pretty outfit every week?

Michael: Had Michael sent his original doily-shouldered pink-satin nightgown down the runway, I might’ve understood him finishing behind Jerell this week. But while Sean was right that neither designer nor model looked comfortable with that course-corrected, obscenely short, peach-colored romper, at least it could’ve sorta passed as a bathing suit from certain angles.

Jerell: “It’s one of the most tasteless things I’ve ever seen in my life,” marveled Austin. Sean, meanwhile, described the look as “Lady Gaga and Gwen Stefani at Burning Man on acid.” Maybe if the challenge had been “random pastiche of found objects,” I would’ve understood Jerell’s striped bikini top with embroidered shoulder armor, hip-expanding African woven waistline, and tie-dyed hippie skirt. But under no other circumstances was there any justification for this mess. And Jerell’s belief that he deserved a win for this mess makes me want to channel my inner Nina Garcia and question his taste level.

Judges’ Faves
Mondo: I thought Mondo’s geometric skirt was a little Mila-esque, but there’s no denying he paid homage to the original inpiration while giving it an entirely different shape and unexpected edginess. Even if the judges were making up for their failure last week to award his canteloupe caftan with a best in show, this was a well-deserved victory.

Austin: The most flawless and flattering fit of the week — and the way that flared skirt moved down the runway was revelatory. Sure, there might’ve been a few too many detais on the jacket, but the judges hadn’t asked for designs you could buy off the rack at Macy’s, had they?

Rami: I wish the editing had allowed us to see how much of Rami’s garment came from the original plaid men’s shirt he snatched, versus fabric he’d bought at Mood. (Was I the only one who didn’t see much of the original in the finished product?) Nevertheless, that ruffle-front blouse was stunning, and the judges were right that his shorts made his model’s legs look fabulous.

Totally Lucky
Kara: The Lady Janx should thank her stars that Anthony whiffed the challenge, and Jerell got stuck at the intersection of tasteless and tacky, because her look felt like the daywear knockoff version of her sad floral opera gown from a few weeks back. And I don’t care if Kenley helped her sew ’em or not, those pants were kinda fug.

What did you think of this week’s Project Runway? Would you have given the win to Mondo, Austin, or someone else? Did Anthony deserve to go home, or should he have been rewarded for at least concoting something chic, even if it ignored the challenge parameters? Did you think anyone in particular got robbed or managed to dodge a bullet? Sound off in the comments, and for all my reality recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Deb says:

    Mondo definitely.

    • KevyB says:

      If you mean Mondo deserved to be in the Bottom Three, I agree! That thing was AWFUL. Half the time his mix-n-match choices are clever, and the other half I keep seeing them as costumes for a revival of Rent. This one’s got “Take me ow-ow-owt toni-i-ight!” written all over it! But he did at least do very well in using his muse, which wasn’t much in evidence with the other designers.
      Anyhow, this is these guys’ second go-round on this show… shouldn’t we be seeing BETTER outfits?

  2. the real wendy says:

    I will miss Anthony! He should have his own show! So cute and funny. The guy who took off the shorts was unbelievable!

    • Tina says:

      I kept wondering if the shorts guy was staged. He seemed all too willing to give up his short and walk around in his underwear. Very nice body though!

  3. Beth says:

    I never comment on these blogs but last night’s episode made me sooooo furious, even more furious then when Gretchen won for her ugly collection. Judges PLEASE who the F would wear jerell’s outfit?????? Not only was it completely impractical it was FUGLY!!!! EVERY piece of it. all he did was make a ‘shoulder cover’ and a belt for the skirt. Everything else was just as he got it. I get that contestants have to follow the rules but anthony’s top was made from a t-shirt he got so isn’t that 50% of his outfit??? Who was Jerell’s muse? a blind person? C’mon judges!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Guffman says:

    I never noticed how much Joanna looks like Tilda Swinton. I was mesmerized during her critiques. I wish they’d let Anthony just hang out in the work room. His zingers are the most entertaining part of the show.

    • LisaM says:

      Oh my goodness…you are so right joanna/tilda—separated at birth. and I so so sooooooo agree about Anthony. He’s such fun and will be missed.

  5. LisaM says:

    I loved Mondo’s look, head to toe it was great as was Austin’s. Kara needs to go…her looks are boring and Kenley has made the same dress every week it seems. Jerrell’s look was hideous…it reminded me of Casanova’s first look in Season 8. I wish Michael Kors was critiquing on this episode–I can only imagine what kind of comment he would have come up with for Jerrell.

  6. Loubeoh says:

    We cancelled our DVR subscription to PR All-stars as soon as the episode ended. Allowing Jerrell to continue after creating his hideous outfit, one of the worsts in PR history, does away with the tiny bit of credibility left after the infamous Gretchen wins over Mondo debacle. We’re so done…

  7. Jane says:

    I thought Mila’s look was better than Rami (at least the pants!). She should have been in the top 3. I didn’t like Kenley’s dress this week, but the judges love when a designer sticks to their vision in designing and she certainly does that each week. I think Michael C. was given a good job the last 2 weeks pass. I agree with everyone that Jerrell’s look was horrible, but P.R. loves to give credit for outside the box thinking. His taste for tacky designs will catch up with him soon. His design for the Opera episode certainly wasn’t chic either.

  8. Ana says:

    Anthony’s design was so beautiful it was a shame it didn’t meet the requirements. I really like Kara’s personality, she’s so sweet, but her designs are always underwhelming.

  9. Julie W says:

    I didn’t care for Mondo’s outfit at all! I was flabbergasted when it won first. As to why we aren’t seeing fabulous outfits from the all stars – it’s because they are trying too hard to make them “different” and add all stars “twists.”

  10. JM says:

    Can anyone tell me – did Rami even use any of his “muse’s” fabric? They just showed a shot of a guy in a plaid shirt. I assume he got more people to give him clothes, but that honestly baffled me. Thanks everyone!

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