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Project Runway All Stars season 1

First episode


I was about to turn on the TV last night and wondered if Lifetime would be replaying the finale to this last season, as a ramp-up to the first episode of All Stars.  They didn’t, they showed the finale to Dance Moms, which looks truly grotesque.  But anyway, once I saw they weren’t reshowing PR 9, I tried to remember the winner from last season.  And I could not remember ONE DAMN THING about the whole season!  None of the contestants, none of the challenges, absolutely nothing!  I kept remembering incidents from the previous season (Gretchen, Mondo, Michael, Evil Ivy), but was at a total blank about the most recent season.  We said throughout that it was a dud of a season: I think this is the ultimate proof.


I am so thrilled that the show is only an hour long!  I hope PR 10 follows suit, an hour and a half is really not right.  It was such a treat to see all the contestants again, I have fond memories of many of them.  The prizes are so major - - the boutique at Needless Markups, and the guest editor of Marie Claire.  Both of those are big time.  Plus, of course, the cash and all the other stuff.


I like Angela Lindvall as the host - - she seemed fairly natural and at ease at the beginning of the episode, but sounded very stilted with her dialogue on the runway.  Hopefully she’ll get better as the season goes on.  Joanna Coles is a great choice to be mentor, because she is ruthless.  None of the warmth you get from Tim Gunn, but these guys are at the grown-ups table, they don’t need warmth.  Georgina Chapman seems smart, but talk about nepotism - - her husband (Bob Weinstein) owns the damn show!  She and Tori Spelling should have lunch.  And of course I’m tickled to see my old boyfriend Isaac Mizrahi on the show.  I think he is going to be a fierce judge.



Rami!  What a wondrous outfit!  Loved it, loved it, though looking at it online, I think the skirt is too short.  To use Peach’s priceless phrase, that girl is about to show us the good china.  Jerell gets points for making something lovely, effortless, and wearable.  Not very innovative, but I guess the judges weren’t so big on that.  Mondo’s outfit was sweet, and very Mondo.  Isaac was right, he’s a master of proportion.


April’s mop head dress was gorgeous.  Michael’s was also OK, but hers was fantastic.  And Kenley, what was she thinking with that bath mat.  Please.  She’s so lucky not to have been in the bottom three.



How funny that they start the season by sending the wrong person home.  Elisa is a total kook, but I really loved her outfit, also the outfit she brought with her.  Her problem is she needs to shut the freak up.  She even said something along the lines of, “you don’t have to know any of this”, I just wish she had the presence of mind to shut her mouth.  I wouldn’t have even put her in the bottom three - - if it had been up to me (and why shouldn’t it have been?), it would have been Gordana, Sweet Pea, and Austin in the bottom three.  Austin’s dress was dopey looking, with those blooms on the hips.  It could have been simple and elegant, but he overdid it.


I adore Gordana, but that dress was dreadful.  It showed some promise before she bedazzled the individual crepe pieces, but once she did that, game over.  I also love Sweet Pea, but she’s the one who should have gone home, that dress was a real failure.


Looks like it’s going to be a fun season.  Thanks for joining me on the ride!

Second episode


Angela Lindvall is starting to get on my nerves.  Her delivery is so stilted.  Plus I think she puts on her makeup with a trowel.  I bet Heidi wears the same amount of makeup, but it seems more skillfully applied.  Or maybe I just like Heidi better.


Thanks Gawd Mood didn’t have enough of that pink polka dot chiffon for Kenley.  That girl is trouble.  I was a little alarmed that Michael was buying 15 yards of black matte jersey.  15 yards?  Is he doing evening gowns for the Dionne Quintuplets?  News flash: three of them are dead.



Austin really knocked the ball outa the park.  That gown is very 30s Hollywood Glamour, but not at all costumey.  Love what Isaac said about it being tasteful.  Anthony’s gown was gorgeous, sublimely cut (amazing how it grazes the boob without looking vulgar).  I could have done without the black gloves.  It was interesting that Joanna Coles was worried about it being bridal - - honey, there wasn’t anything bridal about that gown.  And Michael really brought it with his gown.  That piece around the neck was stunning, and the bare back was total wow.



A gorgeous gown from Mila, wow that was something.  The top of Gordana’s gown was stunning, but the skirt was weird.  Jerell’s had too much volume, it reminded me of that old lady in the *Nutcracker*, who has the little kids run out from under her skirt.



I thought Kara’s gown was very sweet, I’m surprised that she was in the bottom three.  I think Gordana, Jerell, Mondo, and Kenley were all more deserving.  April’s gown was sloppy and dirty.  She would have been better off doing one of her black chiffon peignoirs.  And dear Sweet P.  Love the girl, but she just doesn’t do a good job.


This coming Thursday I’m going to a Project Runway event at the Paley Center:


Isaac Mizrahi, Judge
Georgina Chapman, Judge
Angela Lindvall, Host
Rob Bagshaw, Executive Producer
Austin Scarlett, Designer
Kenley Collins, Designer
Mondo Guerra, Designer
Kara Janx, Designer
Michael Costello, Designer
Moderator: Joanna Coles, Mentor


The Paley Center welcomes members of Project Runway All Stars’ cast and creative team to discuss the production of the new series, which reunites thirteen of Project Runway’s most memorable designers (where’s Andre?) to compete for bragging rights and the most fabulous prizes in PR history. A new judgment day has arrived as the designers must impress a whole new panel with host Angela Lindvall, judges Isaac Mizrahi and Georgina Chapman, and mentor Joanna Coles. Please join us as we take a look behind-the-seams of the new show!


What a hoot that will be!  I’m going with two of my most devoted readers, I’m already so pumped up about it.


Third episode


First off, the PR All Stars event at the Paley Center was fantastic, and I had really and truly one of the most exhilarating moments of my life!  Joanna Coles, it turns out, thinks I’M the bomb!


I met my friend Sondra there, and I mean that literally - - she was a last-minute substitute for our mutual friend Claudia, who wasn’t able to make it.  Sondra is everything you could ask for: smart, warm, charming, plus stylish and lovely!  Will she become my new BFF?


The program was moderated by Joanna Coles.  She made some amusing opening remarks, saying that she was a little skeptical about doing a spin-off, but she now feels confident that it turned out to be *The Jeffersons*, rather than *Knott’s Landing*.  Strangely enough, the program started with us all watching that night’s episode, on a big screen above the stage.  Joanna begged us not to tweet to our friends about who won the challenge, and who was kicked off.


I can’t tell you how thrilled I was that Miss Piggy was the guest judge, and focus of the challenge.  She and Julia Child were my two cultural icons as a child, I wanted to grow up to be just like them.  Look how I turned out.



Kenley’s dress was cute.  The boobs were an issue, though honestly, you don’t have to worry about Piggy’s boobs falling out, because she has no objection to double-sided tape (or even a needle and thread).


I’m conflicted about Michael and Rami.  I thought Rami would win - - his dress was the only one that produced a <<frisson>> when the model came out on the runway.  It was exuberant and darling.  Michael’s dress was very well done.  I didn’t like it as much as Rami’s, but in retrospect, it would look better on Piggy.  Rami’s dress, I think, looks better on a human female, or on Barbie - - Michael’s dress would look just right on Piggy, I can totally see her in it.



Anthony’s dress was lovely.  The Paley Center had borrowed the actual dresses from the show, and they were on display in the lobby after the program - - Anthony’s dress had the most impressive construction.  The striped fabric was used in such an inventive way, it met in a V along the back zipper, and the cut of the skirt showed a sort of cross-hatch pattern when viewed from the side.


I’m surprised that Jerell wasn’t on the bottom three, I thought his dress was disgusting.  I would have put him in the bottom three instead of Mila.  And Mondo was a misfire.  That dress looked like it was made out of color-printed Reynolds Wrap.  And the model’s hair looked like a hat.



Austin’s dress was not good.  Piggy was right, the bows were a big problem.  I wish he had gone with his original idea, to have a bow on the butt wrapping around to the front.  That might have been cheesy, but cute.  Plus the colors were bad.


I adore Gordana as a person.  She is such a sweetheart, and so earnest, and talented.  But she deserved to get kicked off for this dress.  It had no exuberance, it was all wrong for the challenge.  That was the criticism of Mila’s dress as well, but Mila’s dress had some sharpness - - Gordana’s dress was direct from Dullsville.  I got a little teary when Piggy said, “Gordana, you will always be an All Star.”  I’m getting teary now!


* * *


OK - - back to the program.  The designers on the panel were Michael Costello, Kara Janx, Mondo Guerra, Kenley Collins, and Austin Scarlett.  Also there were Georgina Chapman (and her husband, Harvey Weinstein, in the audience), Isaac Mizrahi, Rob Bagshaw (the producer of the show), and Angela Lindvall (who looks shockingly like Susan Sullivan).  Joanna started by asking a question to each person on the panel:


Why are you on the show?

Austin: To hear the critique of the judges and Coles, and to grow as an artist.

Michael: The show is a platform to promote yourself and your business.


What’s it like having so many people around while you’re working?

Kara: You have to have conviction in what you’re doing, and not be distracted by everything else.

Kenley: It’s great to have so many other people around, whose work you admire - - to bounce ideas off of them, to learn from them.

Isaac: It’s a good experience for the designers, because the fashion business really is a community, it’s not a solitary business.


Other observations

Mondo: PR All Stars happened just 10 slim months after his PR season.  It was strange to be doing it again, so soon.

Rob: Their intention is to pit the designers against the challenge, and not against each other.


Then Coles started taking questions from the audience.  When Claudia canceled, she told me that Paley Center events are often broadcast later on Channel 13 (the local PBS channel), so I should try and ask a question, and I might end up on TV.  So I chose my outfit very carefully that morning.  I knew I was wearing my charcoal-colored trousers, but I had trouble deciding whether to wear a grey oxford shirt with a royal blue plaid bow tie, or a muted brown shirt with an iridescent purple and turquoise necktie.  I went for the brown shirt and the necktie, because I thought the bow tie was a little too cutesie, and the necktie had greater power as understated elegance.


I raised my hand right away.  Coles caught my eye the second time she looked out at the audience.  The third time she said, “Yes, the woman in the back with the scarf, then this gentleman with the beautiful tie.”  I could have died!


But wait, it gets better!  When she called on me, she said, “Yes, this gentleman on the side.  I wish you all could see him, he is wearing the most GORGEOUS necktie.”  I was handed the microphone, and the first thing I said was, “Thank you, it’s a Gianfranco Ferre.”  And I asked my question, which was for Rob, the producer - - I asked about the timing of the show, how much time elapses between a challenge happening and it being put on TV.  He said the biggest consideration is when the series is going to start - - you might remember that PR All Stars was originally going to premiere right after PR 9 finished, but it got pushed back to January.  He went into more detail about the process, but I couldn’t hear what I was saying because the blood was beating so loud in my ears, and I had pain radiating down my arm.

Fourth episode


My dear readers, my apologies for being so dreadfully behind with my column.  I was out late on Thursday, out of town all weekend, and home sick yesterday.  I’m feeling better now, and raring to go!  Hard to believe the next episode is the day after tomorrow…


Rami in the tank top - - could he be any hotter?  And Diane von F is such a dish.  Love that dress she had on.  She is what a woman of a certain age should look like (in her case, 65).  She looks her age, she's got a great body, and she always looks sharp.  She's not trying to pretend she's 27.


One of them said that a real fashion designer would never have to make something in six hours, but guess what sweetheart, you're not a real fashion designer!  This is something you have to do for the show, for the competition, to become a real fashion designer!  So buck up and shut up.


The exchange between Joanna and April was so great, I'll quote it in full:


Joanna: OK, so you're working under tremendous pressure of deadline.  What are the tricks of the trade?

April: I think you really have to stick with what you're comfortable with.

Joanna: How can you have a Fashion Moment if you're staying with what you're comfortable with?


April: Well, I AM working in color.

Joanna: Two thoughts, you say you're working in color, here's the color, then you cover it up.  What about this, none of this is finished, it's just a clean cut.

April: No, no.

Joanna: Pack your bags, you're going home.


Alright, Joanna didn't actually say that last bit, but it was implied.


Austin gets the Medal of Restraint - - Kara Janx sat down at his machine to sew something and he just stood there and gave her a dirty look.  He said they're all so pressed for time, there's no point wasting time by getting into a big altercation.  Bravo to Austin!


Funniest line yet this season, Jerell about Kara: "Her model is a rail, and she has her looking like a pregnant cupcake."



Michael deserved the win, his was the most finished and effortless of the designs we saw.  Mondo's was also lovely, and I thought it had more punch.  And Mila's was gorgeous, I loved how the white and red fabrics overlapped and interacted.



I would have put Rami in the bottom three instead of Anthony, I thought Rami's dress was a mess, and Anthony's was still a mess, but less of a mess.  Kenley's dress was very sweet, perfectly executed.



I thought Anthony had an interesting idea, and it would have worked out better if he'd had more time - - he should have known better.  Isaac was right about Kara, once you use the word "pregnant", it's Game Over!  I'm surprised the judges didn't mention the ragged unfinished edges in the ruffles.  And April, I'm afraid, did deserve to go home.  That dress was not good - - the top, the skirt, the whole shebang.  And it was hard seeing April, such a tough girl, become a weepy mess.

Fifth episode


This challenge was a strange mixture of creative and humiliating.  Anthony had great success convincing his muse to give up her dress, for two reasons: he is made out of charm, and she was so damn homely, she was thrilled to have any connection to the fashion world!  He made up for the homeliness of that chick with the drop dead science fiction hotness of the guy with no shirt, soon with no shorts.  I love what Austin said, “I don’t know what Anthony got, but I got his phone number.”


And Kara cracked me up calling her muse “delicious, delicious, delicious.”  Of course his briefs were by Undergear!


What is Michael doing stirring poop in the workroom, starting a gossip session about Kenley helping Kara.  We’ve seen this before - - if one designer chooses to help another designer, that’s their business and the designer being helped should not be penalized.  Michael gave Kara $1 at Mood so she could make her purchase, right?  Plus has he forgotten about the Ivy Debacle from his season, where she accused him of cheating?  He should have been spending time on his garment (more about that later).


I have three words for Sean Avery: homina homina homina.  Between him and the guys in Union Square, this is a total beefcake episode!  Is it sweeps week?



How funny that the women were safe, and the men were on the top and the bottom.  I knew that Mondo would win this challenge.  His outfit was brilliant, and totally Mondo.  Isaac articulated it beautifully, that Mondo knows how to master the whole look and also how to do little details.  Karen Miller said it after the first episode, and it’s getting more and more apparent with every passing week, the season belongs to Rami and Mondo.  Who will the third be?

Rami’s look was very strong, loved the blouse.  And Austin would have had a better chance at the win if he’d scaled it back just a touch.  It looked very Lagerfeld for Chanel, I loved it.



I might have put Kenley in the top over Rami, her dress was very sharp and effortless.



Michael clearly spent too much time with that crocheted thingie dingie.  That top had a serious case of the Droopy Boobies.  Jerell is mystifying.  You might remember from his season that a couple times he did something that could have been a complete disaster, but it ended up winning the challenge.  I was wondering if that was the case this time, but it didn’t look too likely.  That outfit was a sizzling hot mess, and yes, all that naked belly flesh is anti-sexy.


Anthony.  What a gracious exit.  I was impressed that they sent him home.  I thought they might send Michael home, since his outfit was a bigger disaster - - Anthony’s outfit was really lovely, I was expecting them to give him a free pass.  But the bottom line is it wasn’t an acceptable fulfillment of the challenge, which they correctly saw as pink slip time.


Completely off topic: I’ve come up with the most delightful idea for a guest judge.  Edina and Patsy from *Absolutely Fabulous*.  Mind you, not Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley, but Edina and Patsy.  I think it would be a laugh riot.  They have a new *Ab Fab* series starting now, is anyone at Lifetime reading this column?

Sixth episode


This head-to-head thing is exciting, I like it, it puts things in a very sharp profile.  But will they stop with this grade school choosing teams for dodgeball business?  I agree that the winner of the previous challenge should have first pick, but the others should be chosen at random.  It’s tacky to have each designer choose the next designer, because some poor shlub is always last (that person was always me, in the dodgeball example, BTW).


Someone referred to Mila as Lady Killjoy.  I personally think her “OK, we need to go to Mood”! persona is more redolent of a beloved schoolmarm.  Let’s call her Our Miss Brooks.


Two quick things about Austin.  We got a glimpse of him from behind when Joanna was doing her workroom visit - - did his pants have a leather ass?  I don’t know how to feel about that.  And it cracked me up when he looked at the clock and said, in a panic, “IT’S SEVEN?!”  Um, yeah.  When the big hand is on the seven and the little hand is on the twelve, that means it’s seven.


Major drama with Jerell and Michael.  They’re the Irina and Althea for 2012!  Joanna is my hero for handling it the way she did in the workroom - - everyone’s going to be gossiping about it anyway, so pull everyone in from the get-go and have an open and frank discussion.  That’s very grown up, no?  Less grown up is Michael’s impersonation of Joanna, which was eyeroll-inducing.  And I suppose it isn’t grown up of Jerell to say, “Clearly I know how it’s made, I did it first,”, but it has the ring of truth!


Rather than going with the top and the bottom, I’ll look at each pair.



Putting the whole copycat issue aside, I liked Michael’s outfit more.  Those buttons on Jerell’s coat were pretty retarded.  And I hate to get all styling-centered, but Jerell’s girl’s hair was hugely distracting.  But on the other foot, what was Michael thinking, pumps with leggings!  That wasn’t even stylish in the early 90s, when it was stylish.  I wonder if he would have been chosen over Jerell if his model had been wearing boots - - but then the judges seemed to pick up on the fact that Michael was copying Jerell, and they didn’t want to reward that.



Kara got a free pass on this one, since Austin’s outfit was so dreadful.  I’m surprised that she’s still around, she’s the Wendy Pepper of this season, staying in only because someone else is 5% worse.  Austin’s top was right out of the Montgomery Ward catalog, circa 1982.  I was sure Austin would be sent home, but I think he was saved by Isaac being so crazy for the slacks (which were Spiegel catalog, circa 1998).



I liked both of these, but Kenley has the advantage, her romper was so sweet and perfectly done.  Mondo’s outfit had the same problem as his runway show, it was overdecorated.  But I thought it was cute.  And his criticism of Kenley, that she turns out the same outfit week after week (true), it doesn’t hold much water when her outfit is actually better than his.  I would have given the win to Kenley over Jerell, even if she did have a Minnie Mouse vibe.



Mila’s outfit was just fine.  She was only in the top because her outfit was better than Rami’s (on a side note, I find it interesting that the three women were all in the top on this challenge).  I am so shocked that Rami was sent home, I was sure that it would be Austin’s head on the chopping block.  Rami is such a talent, I will miss him.  But that blouse was a nightmare.  It made the model look like the Medical Examiner had just finished the autopsy.

Seventh episode


Austin doing Kenley’s hair - - what a way to start things off!  And then what was that thing that Kenley was wearing over her curlers?  A ‘do rag?  A babushka?  A snood?  I’m bypassing all conventional nomenclature and calling it a Mrs. Butterworth.


Two other hairy observations.  Stephen Schwartz is cute, but does Steve Lawrence know that he stole his toupee?  And Sutton Foster, what was up with her hair.  That would be a hair don’t.   I love Sutton, but she really didn’t deliver as a judge.  The girl is not well known out in the provinces, I would imagine, so if they’re putting on someone who’s only known to Broadway audiences, why not put on a Broadway costume designer?  The great William Ivey Long is the first person who comes to mind.  The man has won five Tonys.


This was a very particular challenge:  it has to work as a costume in a Broadway show, it has to communicate the personality of the character, it has to be separates, and though it wasn’t stated, the assumption for a costume challenge on PR has always been that it has to work as fashion.



I knew Mondo would win this challenge as soon as his model walked out on the runway.  He nailed all of the bullet points I outlined above, and he also nailed the one thing neither of the other top two addressed - - the costume has to come off as disparate elements that have been pulled together.  Michael’s and Austin’s outfits were both too precise, too of-a-piece, even though they were separates.  Mondo really used three distinct pieces that were thrown together.  He is a genius at mixing prints.



Kenley’s outfit was cute, but not great.  It looked like a little girl playing dress-up.  Mila’s model did indeed look like a streetwalker.  And I hate to be snarky, but it’s high time that Kara went home.  Her work is not well done, she’s been squeaking by long enough.


It’s very hard to believe we’re down to just six designers.  Jerell totally nailed it about Rami - - it’s hard to believe that such a talented designer is gone, but it makes thing easier for the rest of them.  Karen Miller said from the beginning that Rami and Mondo were the two to beat, so I guess this means the trophy belongs to Mondo?  Who knows?


Eighth episode


What a crap house!  Definitely the worst work we’ve seen this season, and up there with the worst ever.  But hearing the designers talk so movingly about the mission of the United Nations, about peace and multiculturalism and holding hands across the nations, that made the whole thing worthwhile.  NOT.


Joanna Coles gets the prize for this episode for raising an issue I don’t remember anyone raising before: how do you wear a BRA with this!  Three cheers for Joanna for telling it like it is.  Karen Miller pointed this out in the last season and the season before - - week after week the designers showed backless tops, and ya know, backless means braless.  There are not many women out there who are happy or willing to go braless.  And hm, how interesting, both women in the group designed outfits that could be worn with a bra.


There were so many wonderful comments this week, both on the show and at 96 Arden Street, I’ll highlight a few gems.  But first, would Jerell please stop using the word “ethnic”?



Himself: I’m trying to NOT make a dress that you would attach to a cable and fly in front of the UN.



Richard: Too *Star Trek*.



Mondo: You want Greece lightning, you made Greece frightening.


Joanna: It looks like a doll you would buy from the tourist office.

Austin: Vulgar, tasteless, hideous.

Richard: Xena, Queen of Mumbai.


I won’t do a Top Three and Bottom Three - - there are so few designers, I’ll talk about each of them.



Of course Mondo deserved the win.  I don’t know why Isaac was bothered by the yellow and green insets in the back, he thought that was a case of “I have to use these colors so I’m putting them here.”  If Mondo had made a black dress with no color (which is what Isaac seemed to prefer), then he would have been in trouble for not fulfilling the challenge.  Plus I think the mitered detail was gorgeous.  I agree with Carmen Malandrino that the hair was a little much, probably just the head wrap would be enough Jamaica.  BTW, I could listen to Carmen Malandrino talk for hours!  She is so damn cute, the Francometer spins wildly whenever she talks.



Totally squeaked by to end up in the top two.  What did her dress have to do with Chile?  And Isaac hit the nail on the head - - let’s see something different from you next time.



Too much volume in the dress, and yes, that sparkly trim was major tacky.  He should have used the blue velvet as the trim.  And jeez, if you’re going to do a backless gown, it has to be fitted so you don’t have full boob exposure on the side.



I was sure that he and Jerell would be on the bottom.  His dress was a sad mess.



Total train wreck.  The ill-fitting boob pieces, the bunched-up white strip on the sleeve, the green chiffon pulled through here and there (adding volume and ugliness), and all the damn decoration.  Laura Bennett put it perfectly in her blog: Jerell’s designs consist mostly of trimmings.  That’s not really design!



I don’t know why she was sent home.  I can see why she’d be on the bottom three, but her dress was immaculately made and not at all tacky, like Austin’s and Jerell’s.  I can see why the judges wouldn’t like it, but do a compare and contrast with her and Jerell - - she had an interesting idea that she didn’t quite pull off, but Jerell had a horrid idea which he executed horribly.


Typically in the past they’ve gone from five designers to three in the next challenge.  Mondo is literally the only person I see as a shoe-in for the final three.  The other two spots are up for grabs.  I wonder if we’ll have a PR first, and have three men in the finale?  They’ve had three women twice, but never three men.


BTW Richard and I are going to watch *After the Runway* tonight.  I’m sure it’ll be catty and tiresome, but how could I not watch it?

Ninth episode


This challenge showed great promise, but it kinda went flop, didn’t it?  A few words before I get to the runway.  First off, Jerell needs to stop using that word “ethnic”, it’s driving me crazy.  I’m getting a little tired of everyone saying that the current challenge is “the most ___ in the history of Project Runway”.  Yeah, whatever.  And Austin talking with his homeless mother via Skype, it reminded me of the Queen for a Day flavour of last season (people communing with dead relatives, boo hoo, etc).



His outfit reminded me of Naomi Watts for Angel by Thierry Mugler:


Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the full-on sparklefest.



I thought her outfit was more innovative in the way it used the lights.  Austin’s was more purely gorgeous, so I can understand why they gave him the win.  One of the judges mentioned that it was impressive how Kenley’s jacket was full, and the skirt was full, but the outfit was crafted in a way that didn’t make it look bulky.  The more I think about it, I would have given the win to Kenley.


Cute outfit, and it was a complete look.  He’s brilliant with his use of hats.  I agree with Angela (was it her who said this?), who thought that the panels could have been curved in to make her look more curvy.  He, like Kenley, was innovative in his use of the lights.  I like how the lights glowed against her shoulders, that was lovely.



His model looked like she was going to kill someone, but does that make it high fashion?  The sparkling lights on the shoulders were a major misfire.  The whole thing was a dud.  He’s next for the chopping block, don’t you agree?  Prepare for an emotional meltdown to rival Three Mile Island.



I was disturbed by the light in her mouth, that objectified the model in a way I didn’t care for.  I loved how the judges asked the model to hitch up her granny skirt, and voila!, it was 10x better.  Shame on Jerell for not coming up with that himself.  He might have squeaked by.


My dear Clowdia asked me this week when PR 10 is going to start.  According to the PR website, they’re doing pre production now, with applications due on March 15th.  Is it possible that they’ll be rolling in time to be showing at September Fashion Week?  That doesn’t seem too likely.  They’ll probably be airing in November, with the designers at February 2013 Fashion.  Heavy sigh, it’s such a long time to wait.  I’ve been thinking of revisiting season 5, the season with Jerell, Kenley, winner Leanne, our gal Korto Momolu, Stella (who was into leathah), Blayne (pixie surfer type who wanted to marry Mary Kate Olson), Suede (who referred to himself in the third person), Straight Guy Joe, and Keith the Weepy Mormon!


One other thing: wasn’t Tim Gunn divine on the red carpet at the Oscars?  Nina looked like a dream, but her delivery was a little stilted.  She had a serious case of “I am reading my lines off that teleprompter.  Which is RIGHT THERE.”


Tenth episode


Is it just me, or is this season flying by?  Maybe it’s because last season was so awful, and it sure does help that the episodes are only an hour long.  Let’s all say a little prayer that they keep the one-hour format with season 10.


I was crazy for this challenge because it brought the designers into the real world.  I’d never heard the word “coster” before, I think it might have been (to use my favorite phrase) “a first in Project Runway history”.  It was also great seeing the designers working with someone who was stern with them.  Diane von Furstenberg had them to her studio, and they pilfered through her fabrics, but she was more sparkly and sweet.  Nanette Lepore was not sparkly, nor was she sweet.  She expected a lot of them, and she should.


I’ve been waiting for ten seasons for a challenge where everyone does something extraordinary, and the judges struggle to choose the loser.  This challenge was the flip side, which often happens late in the season, when the designers are getting worn out - - everyone did something below their usual standard, and the struggle was to choose a winner.


You have to see this hilarious photo of Austin and Kenley as Big Edie and Little Edie from *Grey Gardens*:



Not a lot of personal drama this episode, which is appreciated.  I think he was focused on his task.  I liked the design of the coat, but agree that the fabric was a little crumply.  Also the color was a little flat.  But then he was limited to a weight of fabric that would work for his design, something that works as outerwear, in a color that spoke to him, and at a price he could afford.  I love that he designed it so the belt makes three different looks, that was very crafty, and I imagine it would be a big selling point.



What is it about Mondo that is so compelling?  I’m always rooting for him, he is such a dear soul.  I can’t quite place my finger on it.  His dress was so cute, very Mondo, and a very inventive solution for working on a tight budget.  Though I agree that the shape was a little boxy and unflattering.  Nanette is selling it on her website:


Notice that she added a tie at the back, to give a waist.  Reminds me of Heidi taking the arms off Mondo’s polka dot gown:


The dress had issues, and needed reworking, but it was the best of the four.  And it’s retailing for $298, and it’s sold out!



First off, how stupid is he, not taking the fabric off the bolt to look at it?  Serves him right, being surprised that it has a big ass white border on it.  I’m sure this isn’t the only textile in the world with this issue.  And furthermore, he is off in his own little world.  This was supposed to be a mass-produced, ready-to-wear garment, and this is ready-to-wear only for a woman who weighs 87 pounds.  He said that he’d add a hook-and-eye to the front and back to make it work for a woman wearing a bra - - but he didn’t do that, and I’m surprised Lepore didn’t call him on that.  And it was just plain too long.  I loved how they mentioned it, and he said it would be very easy to fix - - well, why didn’t he see that himself?



It’s a hateful thing to say, but I’m so pleased to see her leave.  Her work has been generally well-made, but so one-note.  She can have a career doing variations on the same dress over and over, with tweaks to the design, using different fabrics, but she’s not as strong as Mondo and Austin (jury’s still out on Michael).  And clearly her bad attitude bit her in the ass.  The girl needs to learn to shut her trap.  How hard is it to listen to someone’s critique, the critique of a major designer and the editor of a major magazine, and say, “That’s a very interesting perspective, I’ll be sure and think about that” - - and then do exactly what you want?  When Angela mentioned her attitude in her pre-auf spiel, Kenley shuffled her feet and tossed her hair around in a way that clearly said, “I don’t have to little to this s- -t.”  She is trouble, and she deserves to go home.


*             *             *


It breaks my heart a little that Rami isn’t in the final - - he, Mondo, and Austin should have been the final three, but that yellow post-autopsy blouse Rami did was a horror show.  Ah well, that’s show biz.


Here it comes again - - “a first in Project Runway history”: three men in the final.  Twice they’ve had three women, but they’ve never had three men.  Irina, Althea, and Carol Hannah were called “Charlie’s Angels”.  I’m afraid these guys will be called The Three Stooges.

Finale: Part One


What is this business with the six looks?  I was completely confused.  My first thought was, “THIS is what they call a finale?”  No large-scale runway show, no home visits, no fol de rol?  Richard talked me off that ledge and said that it might still be some kind of ramp-up to the finale.  I googled it, and Huffington Post has a story on it, with photos of one look each from the three, at what looks more like a real fashion show.


If you’re afraid of spoilers and don’t want to click on that link, I’ll tell you that the Huff piece says, “The designers presented their final looks at a taped private event this year, jettisoning the long-standing tradition of competing on a runway at New York Fashion Week.”  OK, I feel better now.


The private work rooms are marvelous, but they’re no substitute for home visits.  I would have loved to have seen Joanna Coles cavorting with a Dalmation, eating peculiar food, bounding on a trampoline, and handling turtle poop.  But the visit to her office was a nice substitute.  What a glorious view, and she’s so warm and honest, I adore her (of course part of it is that she thinks *I* have such spectacular taste).  And I liked the visits from Georgina and Isaac, and appreciate that they didn’t actually look at any work in progress, they just talked with the designers in the common room.


A few exclamations: Mondo, snap out of it!  Michael and Austin, mind your own business!  And Austin, enough with the hair already!


The business of choosing a helpmate was interesting.  I was sure someone would snap up Rami right away, but it makes sense that they would bypass him.  I think the three of them still view him as competition and not as a colleague (let alone helpmate).



His collection sounds very hit or miss.  I don’t believe anyone’s ever attempted a combo of high glamour movie star and Hasidic gentleman from Williamsburg, and there might be a good reason for that.  That black gown with the pink poufiness at the hem, that looks extremely costumey.



Can we just agree that Michael is coming in third?  We all know that there’s going to be very little variety, and Joanna will be on Bra Patrol, maybe even sounding a siren (I would pay cash dollars to see that).  His fabrics look like they could go full tilt tacky.



Honey, you can’t have it both ways: you can’t waste a whole day in a funk and then complain that you have so little time.  I understand that we’re not always in control of our moods or our muse, but it’s part of the business.  Learn how to push past it.  His collection looks promising, but this Rorschach inkblot business was just done in season 9.  Here’s Viktor’s gorgeous gown from the “design your own fabric and put on a runway show” challenge:


Will Viktor be at the show, sounding his own siren?

I am MOST curious to see how this all pans out.




Hoorah for Mondo!  I think we all had our hopes up, no?  Yikes, the Gotham Hall, how gorgeous is that.  Richard has been to an event there and says it’s an amazing space.  Why aren’t we having our wedding there?  Oh, right, we can’t afford it.  Limitations, reality - - always cramping my style.


That moment with Joanna Coles going over Mondo with the lint roller - - one of the greatest moments in Project Runway history.  I had a feeling at that point that he would be the winner.


Can you believe they got Tommy Hilfiger to be the guest judge?  He is big time, and articulate.  A general comment about all three shows: I wasn’t entirely satisfied with any of them, they all had misfires, but Mondo was clearly the leader of the pack.



He wouldn’t have won, but he really shot himself in the foot by explaining his convoluted concept to the audience.  Fragonard vampire Hasidic rock star.  Of course the judges are going to say he has too many ideas, he just told them that.


  1. Pink weirdo shorts and black jacket.  What was he thinking with those shorts.  They weren’t flattering.  They were high style, but not really wearable.  The jacket was fab.

  2. Lacquered lace dress.  Lovely, effortless, the high point of his collection.  The Neiman Marcus guy said it was one of his favorites from all three collections.  Love how the judges bandied about the words “lacquered lace” with such breeziness.  I need to incorporate it into my everyday conversation.

  3. Pink blouse with black pleather skirt.  Cute, harmless.  But why did she have a shower pouf hanging out of her butt.  The judges were kind not to mention that in the critique.

  4. Barbie ball gown.  Hated this.  Full blown Barbie.  Not fresh, not young, not fashionable.

  5. Catsuit.  Very cute, maybe a little too Pink Ladies in a revival of *Grease*.  This was his add-on look, with leftover fabric, and it was fully integrated with the collection.  That was the case with all three designers, actually.

  6. Wedding gown.  Lovely, but as the judges said, completely removed from the overall spirit of the collection.  And I hated the black gloves (liked the veil, though).



Hm, going through his collection look by look, I have plenty of negative comments - - but he has such exuberance in his clothes and such a unique viewpoint.  And we can’t discount how much we just plain like Mondo, that’s part of the experience, though his has no impact on the clothes on the rack in a department store.  BTW, do you think Gretchen is pooping her pants over his win?


  1. Polka dot blouse with bow at neck, silver mini.  Sharp look, but very reminiscent of the first look from his collection during his season - - a polka dot blouse with bow at the neck, with shorts.

  2. Black and white dress with overlarge buttons and potholder pockets.  The judges called him out for the buttons (remember his other collection was also over-decorated), but no one called him out for the potholder pockets, those were awful.

  3. Sleeveless top with leggings.  Sharp look, but the blouse was a little shapeless.  Also, is it now OK to wear major heels with leggings?

  4. Jacket, slacks, and Rorschach blouse.  The highlight of his collection, a jazzy look that would look good on many women.  The Neiman Marcus guy loves the Rorschach, so do I.  He thought the pockets were too big on the pants, but they can tweak that.  No one mentioned the one red sleeve on the blouse, I thought that was brilliant.  Isaac used the word “wit” to describe Mondo, and that’s exactly the word for the one red sleeve.

  5. Rorschach dress.  Nice shape, and of course I love the one red sleeve, but again, it’s a bit of a rerun, this time of the controversial polka dot gown from his previous collection.  The same shape, and with the print down the center and black on the sides and sleeves.  And the boobs were a smidge droopy.  I wonder if Mondo has an understanding of how to flatter a woman’s body.

  6. Red filmy lamé gown.  Not wild about this.


His collection seems to be more about the fabrics, less about the design.


  1. Beige print palazzo onesie.  OK.  Backless.

  2. Black and white print dress with vest.  The vest was extraneous, it was like him saying, “Look I can do separates.”  Dress - - backless.

  3. Black and gray zebra print dress.  Can you believe it - - not backless.

  4. Zebra print long-sleeved romper.  Very sharp, highlight of his collection.  Also not backless.

  5. Bustier and pants, black and white print.  Loved it, but the boob cups looked a little wonky, a little rumpled.  Not backless, but strapless.

  6. White gown.  Hate that open sternum look, it’s unattractive.  Backless.


There was a moment captured backstage after the show, before the judging, where Michael was talking about whatever, and all I could see was Rami in the background.  RRRROOOWW…  I thought the judges did a good job with the critique, they were constructive and didn’t go into too much detail.  It’s clearly about choosing the winner at this point.  I was amazed to hear not a word about styling from the judges, that was a nice change.


Love how Austin said, when handed the plane ticket to Paris, “Thank you, this is wonderful consolation.”  They edited out his full response, which was, “Thank you, this is a wonderful consolation - - so much nicer than the Rice-a-Roni I got when I was on Press Your Luck.”  And when he walked off, smiling sweetly, and gave that fey little wave to the judges, and said, “Farewell” - - I expected him to say, “You’ll be hearing from my lawyers.”


I went to Neiman Marcus to see if they had any Mondowear, and they don’t - - yet.  I’ll keep you posted.  I’m such a sucker, I entered the drawing for a chance to meet the winner (aka Mondo) and the Neiman Marcus guy, so they’ll probably be sending me Mondograms now and then.  I’ll keep you posted.


Thanks for sharing this ride with me!  It’s been a blast.  I’m already pumped up for PR Season 10 (how cute was Tim Gunn on the commercials, BTW).  Maybe, in honor of the 10th season, they’ll make that coffee table book I’ve been talking about for years?  Photos of all the final collections (including the decoy collections), follow-ups with former designers, interviews with Nina and Michael and Miss Piggy and everyone.  I’d pay $75 for such a tome!



Rami mentioned in his exit interview that he was doing an Effen vodka ad, which would run in April, so I've been on the look-out for that.  I found it today:


I thought Effen was sexy slangy name for a vodka, since I assumed it was used in the context of "that Rami Kashou is so effen hot", but it turns out that effen means "smooth" in Dutch.  I guess I should have known that.




I just went to the PR website to see if they've announced when season 10 starts.  They haven't.  Last I heard they were aiming for an August premiere, but you never know with these people.  Anyway, I saw this story posted on the website - - Emilio Sosa (from season 7, did a collection in seven shades of puke and didn't understand why Seth Aaron was chosen as the winner) is up for a Tony.  He designed the costumes for *The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess*.


I hope things are good with all of you.  My friend Frank sent me this from the NY Post:

‘Runway’ bedlam

Last Updated: 11:55 PM, June 24, 2012

Posted: 11:53 PM, June 24, 2012

A Psychologist was brought in after one contestant had a meltdown and another dramatically quit Heidi Klum’s Lifetime show “Project Runway” on Friday. Sources tell us one contestant, a male designer, “had an episode as the show filmed at Parsons School for Design. A psychologist was brought in to talk to him, but he seemed too nervous and it was decided he should leave the show.” Just hours earlier a female designer and contestant disappeared from the set. The source told us, “She just ran off in the middle of the night. The next morning she wasn’t in her bed, her suitcase was gone. Producers went to her home, and her doorman said she was upstairs but didn’t want to see anyone.” The source said she disappeared from the Atlas building in Midtown West, the show’s official accommodations for designers. We’re told the woman was “paranoid” after being placed with the bottom contestants following the last challenge. The source continued, “We lost two designers in one day. This has never happened. They seem to be under a lot more pressure.” As a result, show judge Michael Kors was brought in Friday to speak to the remaining contestants, “calm them down and give them a pep talk.” One added, “The show is in its 10th season and has been filming for a week, and there is a lot more tension and pressure on the designers.” A rep for Lifetime didn’t get back to us.


Can't wait for the needless drama!

LOVE, Chris

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