Project Runway All-Stars Final 4 Recap: Manufacturer's Hangover

project runway all stars final 4This week’s Project Runway All-Stars (or, as I like to call it, Project Runway Seeks Redemption from the Travesty of Mondo’s Loss to Gretchen in Season 8) presented the Final 4 with an intriguing challenge: Create a ready-to-wear garment to be sold in Nanette Lepore shops nationwide — and do it with the parameters of a realistic manufacturing budget. Lepore’s “coster” — cool job title, no? — assessed the designers’ sketches, came up with retail price points and manufacturing costs, and then told each designer what he or she could spend on fabric.

Poor Mondo, who usuaully whips up “hearts and stars” during sketch time — and doesn’t really have an affinity for drawing his designs — showed his template to Nanette, who noted it looked like “a tin can with a string hanging out.” This led to a weirdly edited moment of controversy where Kenley cornered Michael and told him he should “teach Mondo how to sketch,” and Mondo got offended, and then Kenley apologized in a tone that didn’t really sound like “sorry.”

Later, in the workroom, when Joanna Coles had to go all stern schoolteacher on the nasal-voiced designer — “Kenley, I’m talking to you!” — and then Kenley dismissed Nanette’s concerns about dropping a keyhole detail from her look (“This is gorgeous the way it is!”), it was clear she was getting set up for elimination.

Here’s my take on the week’s four looks:

* I had to agree with host Angela Lindvall that Mondo’s boxy, stripey minidress (pictured, third from left) was my least favorite look of his all season. None of the judges mentioned it, but I thought there were construction problems where the garment puckered and bulged as it transitioned froom one fabric to the next. Granted, I’d still rank it above Austin and Kenley this week, and the color choices were spectacular, but I was surprised it got picked for mass market production.

* I agreed with Michael and Mondo, respectively, that it’s hard to fathom what the judges have been seeing in Austin’s work over the past several weeks, and that the color of his swing coat (pictured, right) was “kind of old-looking.” The finished product looked like it had been pulled out of a trunk in the attic, the color faded and dim, the back bunched in an unflattering way, the material wrinkled and dusty. And it had a 100-lb. heaviness to it, too, that was at odds with the fun, flirtatious vibe you’d expect from a swing coat, no?

* Michael’s garment (pictured, left) might’ve been a little Anya-esuqe, and it might’ve passed as a haute nightgown, but it really flattered his model’s body, especially the way the material gathered in the front and back. Sure, the length was a bit much, and the plunging back wouldn’t be for everyone, but I thought he best nailed the parameters of the challenge — putting together a look both timeless and marketable. Fab print, too!

* Kenley’s garment (pictured, second from left) wasn’t terrible, but Mondo was right: For a design so simple, girlfriend should’ve made sure the print lined up at the various seams. Plus, how many tulip-sleeve, “flirty,” “vintage-store” dresses can one contestant make in a season? I did not shed a tear over her exit.

What did you think of this week’s Project Runway? Hit the comments with your thoughts!

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:

    Okay,I love Michael, but he’s got to stop making dresses that women not walking the runway can wear. I do not plunge, except in the bathroom.

    • Joseph says:

      I like Michael but this last dress so reminded me of the work done by
      ANYA AYOUNG CHEE. But still happy that the judges kept the designers that have shown range and taken chances.
      And that , is why Kenley is gone , all she had to do were some minor deviations from her base dress and she refused to do something different.

      I think Kenley will do very well but when asked to make a piece for another designers collection you need to be willing to take direction.

      • Inez says:

        Kenley lives in a cube of mirrors (vintage :D ) and can see and hear only herself. I think that for her, that single, no-compromise vision works, and I agree that she will do well.

        I love all of her dresses and would buy them in a heartbeat, including the peacock feather dress (once she lines up the seam feathers)!

  2. Lyndsey says:

    I loved Michael’s dress (though I would have shortened it a bit); Mondo’s was very “Mondo” but I hated how boxy it was; Austin’s jacket was just too frumpy…as was Kenley’s dress! As soon as she got bitchy about the criticism I was hoping that meant she was finally gone. Her attitude & arrogance are why I didn’t like her in either season. Plus I would have been outraged to see Michael cut before the big finale yet again. I can’t wait to see what will hopefully be a collection of fabulous evening dresses!

  3. Lillian says:

    Mondo’s dress on Nanette Lepore’s website has a black tie on the waist that does make it more flattering. I would have loved to buy Kenley’s peacock dress had she stuck with the original design with the keyhole!

    • Alicia says:

      It also looks like they shaped the waist a bit.

      Looking at the NL website, Kenley totally shot herself in the foot. The Spring LookBook is full of dresses that are very similar to Kenley’s style. She should be really mad at herself for being stubborn, but then again, she’s so stubborn, she won’t admit her faults!

  4. Deb says:

    It always seems to me that the outfits made in the ‘final four’ episodes of Project Runway invariably underwhelm. It’s almost like they are so exhausted from the production, that they do just enough to get through and make it to the finals. I guess I just had issues with all of the final designs that walked the runway. My comment to my hubby when Austin’s model spun was, “She looks like a coffee filter left to dry in the sun.” To me the material looked more dirty than flirty. Michael, oh Michael. When the Isaac mentioned how he didn’t like your strap across the back, it’s a good thing they didn’t realize that was your fix to keep it from flashing boobage in the front. I have a feeling if they had made this leap of logic, Kenley might not have been sent home.

  5. Reena says:

    So glad Kenley is gone she has no one but herself to blame for being cut. she is ungrateful and never willing to budge when it comes to CONSTRUCTIVE CRITISICM. i am glad that Nanette called her out on the runway for being stubborn….if you are going to be a designer yes i understand you are designing what you like and want to see on women but what are you suppose to do when a client say a celebrity comes to you with a specific idea they want will you say no this is what i think works better and make whatever you want you will never get more clients that way…she is very one note I can see her dresses in vintage type stores but not for mass production…also when he stray so far away from your original sketch i agreed with Nanette that Kenley’s original sketch the dress was more body hugging then why would you expect them to praise you…ok i have rambled enough now :-)

  6. Winnie says:

    Not liking where this is all going to end up. Mondo will probably win from this point on till the finale because they want to make up for picking that other gal (I can’t even think of her name as I purposely erased her and her ugly collection in my mind)…or pick Austin just because Austin is good tv….then they will leave poor Michael in the dust again while I think his style and designs are really gorgeous. This last dress he made would be the winner for me. Don’t get me wrong I love Mondo and I usually like his designs too and his choice of pattern combinations but this boxy dress just did not appeal to me. Of course I am short and fat so I would never be able to wear that dress. So in my heart, the all stars winner will be Michael. PS Glad Kenley is gone. She is annoyingly loud.

    • Anna says:

      I should mention that some people felt that America’s Next Top Model’s All Star season would be an attempt to give Alison the win they believed she should have gotten aback in season 12. That didn’t happen.

  7. Steven says:

    I’m sorry, I don’t see how Michael’s design was even the slightest bit “timeless.” It was, in fact, the $20-bin-at-the-bargain-basement version of JLo’s 2000 Grammy dress. Obviously, and to the exclusion of everything else. It was cheap and tacky, and the only reason he survived was Kenley’s attitude.

    • D says:

      Look at the pictures side-by-side. Michael’s model looks like a goddess, and Kenley’s dress, with its mismatching large pattern, is a complete eyesore!

  8. NEMO says:

    Love your title for the all-stars show, Michael. But I liked Mondo’s and Austin’s work this week more than you did, and Michael’s less. That piece was only “ready to wear” to bed or over a swim suit. He basically did not do the challenge and made the same shape he’s made before. It was pretty- it wasn’t the task. Mondo’s dress was simple to construct and easy to understand on a hanger, perfect for spring. Will sell a boatload, IMO.

  9. Geo says:

    Maybe for the first time in Project Runway history, I actually wouldn’t mind if any of the three finalists won. Shockingly, we’re absent a “villain,” like the producers obnoxiously always try to keep in to the final three. You’re right about Mondo and the “make up for the Gretchen fiasco” vibe that might suggest he’ll win, but all three of these contestants have a “the show’s trying to make up for something” storyline: in his season, Austin got cut at the last minute and didn’t even get a runway show, and Michael’s presence in the final three is a big “in your face” to the mean creeps from his season. A triumph for any of these three is the show setting something right.

    • Claire says:

      Actually, Austin did get a runway show. It just wasn’t shown on TV. He was robbed of a spot in the finale because witchy Wendy Pepper beat him out, because Nancy O’Dell picked her design as the dress she would wear to the Grammies. She must have picked it simply for the color, though, since the actual dress Nancy ended up wearing was so altered from Pepper’s design that it was barely recognizable as the same dress. I’ve got to say I’ve been rather disappointed with Austin this season. He was inarguably one of the three standouts of season 1 (along with Kara Saun and winner Jay McCarroll), but perhaps that was because the contestants on the neophyte show were overall not in the same class as Project Runway is able to attract nowadays. I do wish Rami were in the finals. Glad Mondo made it, though. Didn’t love the cut of his effort this time–and no wonder, he was struggling uncharacteristically–but he still wowwed with his color choices and pulled it off. I think it’s his turn for sure. Overall he’s shown the most creativity and consistency across the season.

  10. Ash says:

    I will be fine with anyone but michael winning I feel like he does a lot of repeats and a lot of copying he got called out in his original season and this season for copying someone else’s look. Also he really does not have a POV when his stuff walks out sometimes its kind of random. At least with austin and mondo something walks down the runway and you can tell they designed it. btw I liked austin’s coat it was stylish

    • D says:

      Austin’s stuff seems so tortured and over-worked sometimes though. Anya won her season with a bunch of dresses with the same design and just different prints. I like Michael’s unpredictability factor. Makes it interesting.

  11. JoMarch says:

    I loved Austin Scarlett during his season and even watched a couple of his shows with that other designer (sorry, can’t remember his name). I watched because I like Austin’s personality, but I didn’t keep watching, because I found the show boring. I mention that because I used to like Austin, emphasis on the “used to”. I find him so annoying this season. He’s totally full of himself, but not in a fun or funny way. His over use of makeup and his over-sprayed hair make him look like a carictature. His now-you-see-it, now-you-don’t mustache was annoying as well. I hate his pretentiousness in always referring to himself as an “artist”. Creative, yes, an artist, um, I don’t see it. Mondo for the win!

    • Anna says:

      The other designer was Santino Rice.

      Did you catch the “After The Runway” segment where Austin took exception to being referred to as a diva?

  12. ann says:

    Via Nanette Lepore’s website, you can have Mondo’s dress for yourself for a cool $300.

  13. Lana says:

    I love Michael’s designs and I truly love Mondo’s and I loved his dress. I have not liked one design of Austin’s and wish it was him instead of Kenley. I do love her clothes but when she mouthed off and didn’t even try to fix it I figured her goose was cooked. However remember Nanete had asked Michael to put some type of fastner in front and back so the women could cover up if they wanted to, and most would, and all he did was put a large necklace on the model to cover all that skin. The strap was to keep the shoulders on the model, so he pretty much did the same as Kenley but without the attitude. He is such a sweetie! I will not be happy if Austin wins.

    • D says:

      @Lana. It is not letting me reply directly. I think what Michael did was to address their concerns but in a creative way. I agree that Kenley essentially disregarded everything they had to say. Her initial sketch was so cute; too bad she couldn’t have picked an appropriate fabric for it. Not sorry to see her go though.

  14. kennedy says:

    As a buyer of a major department store I know that Kenley’s dress would sell better than Mondo’s sack. Very surprised at the outcome of that episode.

    • molly says:

      I wish Kenley had survived and Michael gone home. Sorry it would have been just before the cut like last time. Her dresses are so cute. I am actually hoping I can find something similar for a wedding coming up. I didn’t mind that the print didn’t line up at the seam and I don’t want a keyhole as I have enough emphasis on my bust as it is. Michael’s dress looked like something I would wear to cover up a bathing suit – Hey, I made that exact dress from two sheets of fabric only without the deep cuts front and back. Mondo’s dress reminds me of the fashions Twiggy wore in the late sixties or early 70’s. Nothing original there either. Austin is a sweetie (glad he lost the moustache) and I would like to see more of him. His show with Santino was miserable but I think that was because Santino is a condescending snob who did nothing but make fun of the families he seemed to think were in desperate need of his help. Austin seems to genuinely like people. HIs coat was a little heavy but I still thought it was beautiful.

  15. Tim says:

    I thought Kenley should have gone through to the final. Ultimately, she did follow the suggestion and make the dress fit better. Also, I think Michael’s designs are boring. But that’s a matter of taste I suppose.

  16. chloe says:

    I’m glad Kenley is finally gone. Hope Michael is next, and Mondo and Austin are the final two.

  17. Mae-sa says:

    Kenley should’ve known that that pattern wouldn’t work with the same sized keyhole. It’s a shame she got caught up in that feather pattern and forgot about her design. I think I like her asthetic more than Michaels but any fashion designer should’ve know better. You can’t get approved for a design and then change it before manufacturing, why would anyone think that’s ok?!

  18. syb says:

    I thought they were all pretty bad, but my least favorite probably was Mondo’s.

  19. laura says:

    I like Austin best. Perhaps I am somewhat biased from watching the unlikely pair of Santino and Scarlett off through America to celebrate and reward the untradtional, special beauty of women.
    However, he has been focused, minimally “dramatic,” consistent in his excellence through his fashions work through the series. I really hope he wins. I would love to wear clothes he creates.