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!