Project Runway All-Stars Recap: Rushin' Dresses

michael costelloMondo whipped himself into an epically foul mood on Part 1 of the Project Runway All-Stars season finale, and I can kinda understand why. Whereas Project Runway Regular Edition gives its finalists more than a month — and a sweet budget — to concoct their full collections, host Angela Lindvall delivered the bad news that Mondo, Michael, and Austin would only have four days and a $3,000 budget to come up with five looks (plus an extra garment patched together using discarded fabric scraps from previous weeks’ challenges).

The rush-rush nature of the season’s final challenge only served to highlight the overarching feeling that All-Stars has been little more than an afterthought to Lifetime and to Project Runway‘s producers. I mean, at the end of the day, is there a single fan of this show who wouldn’t have preferred seeing fully realized collections from the Final 3, as opposed to a sextet of scattershot garments designed with an hour of planning and a patina of sleep deprivation? Project Runway is only as delightful as the clothes it produces: What good is it to drive the contestants to the brink of emotional collapse if it doesn’t result in their most imaginative, fanciful, inspired designs? What good is interpersonal rivalry if what goes down on the runway isn’t equally dramatic?

Okay, okay…enough nitpicking from me — except, does Angela’s heightened pronunciation of “embroidery” in the All-Stars intro drive anyone else bonkers? — let’s hit the highlights of what definitely felt like a placeholder episode to carry us into next week’s finale:

* Joanna Coles’ yellow zip-back dress and those deathly heels would definitely crack my list of Top 10 All-Stars outfits. Agree?

* I wish the show had lingered  a little longer on the early versions of designs whipped up by Michael (resort wear in safari prints), Mondo (a “therapy” theme in black, red, and silver — with a trememndous hand-painted Rorschach test print), and Austin (¡a Fragonard painting meets a modern day rock star meets a Hasidic gentlemen!). As it stands, I honestly have no idea who’s likeliest to take home the All-Stars crown, or form an opinion about who I think deserves it most.

* The Mondo-Austin rivalry? Unbelievably tiresome. Although in spite of my unabashed love for the Season 8 runner-up, he did kind of come off like a whiny monster this week.

* Each member of the Top 3 got to select a previously booted finalist to assist them for 24 hours, and while I’m sure the extra hands came in handy, let’s be honest: The respective returns of Anthony, April, and Mila mainly served to inject the episode with doses of humor, profanity, and color-blocked memories. My favorite bits from the ousted designers? Anthony howling at the absurdity of Austin’s inspirations, and then declaring, “Oh honey, honey, honey. Hun-nee!” And then, later, telling Austin the hideous white-lace overlay on one of his designs was very “dead white lady.” April noting to Michael that she supposed she could be his bitch for 24 hours. (Such a sailor-mouth on that gal!) And this exchange between Mila and Mondo over the idea of pairing up conflicting black-and-white patterns.

Mila: “You wouldn’t think that it would work.”
Mondo: “Oh, I would.”

What did you think of Part 1 of the All-Stars finale? Have you been disappointed with the season as a whole? And who do you think will and should win? Sound off in the comments!