Project Runway All Stars “Finale, Part 2” Review

We’ve got a Project Runway All Stars winner!

Picking up where we left off last week . . .

The finalists arrived at the Gotham Center for the finale, where each contestant had their own dressing area with custom Neiman Marcus accessory walls. Where can a girl get one of these for her apartment? I digress.

As expected, the designers addressed their respective last minute struggles as show time drew closer. Austin is completing an elaborate gown at the last minute. Michael is having fitting issues. Mondo is surprisingly zen considering what we saw in the first part of the finale.

Designer Tommy Hilfiger and Neiman Marcus Senior Fashion Director Ken Downing, Sr. served as guest judges for the final challenge.

The designers did a commendable job considering their time constraints. Each finalist brought a very unique perspective to the final runway show.

Although Michael still appears to be figuring out who he is as a designer, his collection definitely reflected the developing aesthetic we’ve seen this season on Project Runway All Stars. Of the three designers, Michael’s designs were the most commercial and accessible to those of us who are not necessarily driven by all things high fashion. I loved his jump suit and zebra print dress. Although we’ve watched Jerell basically own all things tribal, Michael handled the Serengeti-inspired prints quite well. I did not care for the Grecian draped white gown. We’ve seen so many variations of this same dress from Michael on Project Runway All Stars already.

Tommy Hilfiger appreciated Michael’s ability to create a line of clothing that could be sold as is. Georgina admired Michael’s masterful draping and fit. Isaac, on the other hand, was not impressed. Once again, we heard Isaac accusing a designer of being “uninspired.” He found Michael’s use of prints to be “boring and expected.” It’s hard not to take Isaac’s comments with a grain of salt considering he had his own line in the very commercial Target. While I’m sure Isaac’s Target line and high fashion lines vastly differ, the too commercial or uninspired critique seemed a bit harsh considering the source.

Austin’s collection had several brilliant, beautiful pieces but ultimately came off as a “look at all the things I can do” display instead of a cohesive collection. I concur with the judges’ love of Austin’s knee-length dress with the poofy bottom. It was both upscale and hip. I also have to concur with Georgina on Austin’s pink and black gown. It was an overworked mess. I don’t know many women that can pull off a ruffled waist and ruffled bottom on a single dress. If a tall, skinny model can’t pull it off, something has gone wrong in the design process. Despite that misstep, Austin’s leather jumpsuit was hotness personified. Again, I don’t know many people that could pull it off but it was amazing. Although it may not have fit into his collection, it was fitting that Austin would include a wedding gown. Known primarily for his wedding gown designs, how could he not include one in his collection? Austin may not be the Project Runway All Stars winner but he will not lack opportunities after the show, thanks in large part to that wedding gown. It was AMAZING. I actually thought it was the best look of all three collections. I have no idea how Austin pulled it off in such a short time period but Georgina would be well-advised to give him a job.

Austin’s beautiful wedding gown, unfortunately, did not distract the judges from the lack of cohesion in his collection. Austin may be better off with simply getting exposure instead of the win. As many past Project Runway winners have observed, the constraints and obligations of winning requires sacrificing a lot of opportunities.

Austin’s lack of cohesion left the door wide open for Mondo to be named the winner. I’ve been rooting for Mondo since the start of All Stars because let’s face it, he was robbed during his own season. Gretchen’s designs paled in comparison to Mondo’s.

Michael’s premonition last week about Mondo’s “madness” proved true. Mondo channeled his angst and self-loathing into a therapy-inspired collection that wowed the judges. Mondo’s custom-made Rorschach prints were the standouts of his collection. He continued his masterful mixing of prints and created a cutting edge collection. Mondo’s fashions were modern, funky and beautiful – with the exception of that awful red dress. I hated that print last week when that dress was “in progress” and the final product did nothing to improve my opinion of it. The rest of the collection was simply brilliant. I’m sure that his fashions are flying off the racks at Neiman Marcus as I type this review.

Project Runway All Stars is officially done and its nice to see Mondo get a little redemption. Getting a second opportunity to see Anthony, Austin, Rami and other talented designers was a great treat. However, I really missed Heidi and Tim and I look forward to another season of good ol’ fashion Project Runway.

Sound off on the finale. Did the right designer win?