To the sound of seagulls cawing over B Roll footage of New York City (what screams “Big Apple” louder than the flapping of beach-dwelling birds, right?) we return to Parsons and Miss Angela Lindvall for the “Project Runway All Stars Finale: Part One”! I love a good runway show, but I will happily watch 60 minutes of light drama as the creative process unfurls around the top three contenders: Austin Scarlett, Michael Costello and Mondo Guerra. I will also tune in for a little reality TV meltdown, which promises to rear its ratings-hungry head within the hour.
It’s important for us to pause here and focus solely on the biggest debate going on in our country right now: Austin Scarlett’s mustache. Angela likes him facially-hairless, Mondo compares him to Kermit (who is actually quite fuzzy, if you look closely) but it’s really up to you, America! Please vote:
Back to recapping: when Angela is like, “please welcome some familiar faces” the designers FREAK OUT and are all, “phew, oh okay” when we and they see that it’s Georgina and Isaac. Um, why? Who did they think it would be? It was either going to be these judges, the former judges, past contestants, maybe Tim Gunn, possssibly a family member. It wasn’t going to be, like, an ex-boyfriend or an old bully from junior high or a restless poltergeist waiting behind Door #2.
The judges share the challenge with the All Stars, which is to make a five-piece mini collection in five days. I’m a little disappointed ONLY because I wish they were given multiple weeks, a sick budget and had to make at least 30 outfits. And that the show could go on forever! But I’ll deal with five in five (also ‘cause we know there will be more due to what we in the biz, call “a twist”).
It’s Bring Your Early 30s Designer to Work Day and the All Stars visit with Joanna Coles in the Marie Claire offices. Anyone else love that Michael feels like Joanna Coles when he’s riding that big Hearst elevator in the sky, approaching the glass ceiling? The Gender & Sexuality Studies double major in me is all, “totally, right?”
There’s a little thing called the Curse of the Exposed Zipper if you’ve been watching the recent seasons of “Project Runway” and it appears Joanna Coles may have been the mastermind behind it all when she greets the fellas in her bright yellow zippered number. No word yet on whether or not she is also behind the (much worse) Butt Zipper Phenom. I’ll get back to you..
The editor aspect of the challenge is really one of the most intriguing prizes in “PR” history. I wonder who Joanna would choose for the job based on who she would most want representing the magazine. Knowing Joanna, her staff, and the mag itself, I see her choosing Mondo based on his vibe and style (the little blazer-dog tag-cool glasses combo is screaming “I’m cool and work at a magaziiiiine!” to me), Austin based on professionalism and how he’s handled himself on the show. Michael is obviously out because he hates bras and she loves them.
While watching “PRAS” last night, I received a text from my mom that read: “Mondo is being a bit of a drama queen.” After watching a second time, I’d actually use the more apt phrase “brat” what was with all that whining? I’m not going to say “I know how tough it is to be on reality television” because I don’t literally know. I’ve heard it is grueling, involves crazy hours with little time for sleep, I know it’s forcing you to live with people in seclusion and. I will say this: “I know how tough it is to have a job.” Right? Like, probably most of us have never been on reality television, but the majority of us have had really tough days, weeks, quarters, years, LIVES at work. Mondo’s mood swings make me question his love for what he does. No matter what has happened in my career, I’ve never been that miserable (that often!) about doing something I am passionate about.
Even Mondo’s caftan-creating half, Michael Costello is really frustrated with his moping. I’ll never have MC totally figured out, but I’m always drawn to him on TV when that really interesting, calming, diplomatic side comes out in the face of other people’s stress or adversity. Remember when he had those initial dramz with Mondo on Season 8? He calmly took it on the chin and remained peaceful, happy to see both sides of a frustrating situation (even though one side was him getting seriously sh*t on). That’s someone you want on your team. He must be a great father! And even though it’s really annoying to have someone be like “aww” when you’re upset, there was something really sweet and authentic about Austin and Michael’s venting session. MC's ability to remain equally faithful to himself and to his relationships with his other two competitors will come in handy when he has to act as the coin-flipper during model selection and, well, the rope in this episode's continued game of "tug-of-war."
Anyway, let’s focus on the fabulous for a second: the early designs for the All Stars’ mini-collections! Michael seems genuinely excited about where he’s going, telling surprise workroom guest Georgina about his vision, which is something she says she wants to see when she attends a runway show. His girl is going on a safari, Austin has Hasidic Jewish men in mind as his inspiration (new and incredibly interesting!) and Mondo chooses the appropriate theme of “therapy” for his collection. When Michael says: “I have to make something that’s going to wow Georgina. I have to make something that Isaac’s going to say he’s in love with. I gotta make something that Angela’s going to want to wear,” we are aware of how many things the designers have to balance and think about besides their own creativity and visions.
The Top Three have so far welcomed/been haunted by two of the Ghosts of PRAS, but now it is time for Ghost Judge Angela to rap at their window (JK, there are no windows in their workroom dungeons) and bring them baskets of twists and more ghosts the defeated designers!
The Twists are as follows: the remaining/reigning All Stars have to create a sixth look to fit into their collections. Using scraps of fabrics from the season’s designs. With the help of an off-ed designer. Mondo picks Mila (as avid PRAS Blog readers, we know that these two share a special bond now, don’t we?), Austin chooses Anthony (watch this INCREDIBLE video of him explaining why he wanted to work with Mr. Williams) and Michael goes with his sometimes-nemesis April. Because homeboy likes a hard worker and the potential for drama.
I won’t say who I think will win, because I did get the chance to see the final runway show in person so I have a better idea of what the finished collections look like, but putting myself in the place of we, the viewers: safaris are fun and therapy is much-needed, but my interest is most piqued by Austin. Not just because I love him and not only because his initial pieces (Those PANTS! A wedding dress! A foundation petticoat!) are headscratchers for sure, but also because I live in a half-Hasidic neighborhood in Brooklyn so am surrounded by the men he is pulling inspiration from. It is really a site to be walking through my ‘hood at any time of day or night, in any season and see them in their grand hats, coats, sometimes furs. I totally get why the designer is drawn to the mysterious lifestyle and its corresponding theatrical look. Even Michael, who has been doubting Austin all season, says his collection looks most intricate. All three of the designers get versions of the "your collection is very 'you'" critique throughout the episode, but the connotation only comes off like a compliment for Austin.
I knew who the final three were when I saw the collections in person but it was surprisingly difficult placing which collection belonged to which designer. Check out a sneak peek at pictures from the "Project Runway All Stars" final runway and tell me every little thing you think about how the Top Three will place in next week's grand finale. Then, compare your predictions with Laura Bennett in her Finale: Part One recap on Lifetime Moms!
I'm happy to inform everyone that we can officially add "throw awesome parties" to the list of things Nanette Lepore rocks at (on top of designing gorgeous, feminine frocks, being a wonderful guest judge, saving the Garment District, having beautiful hair). On last week's episode of "Project Runway All Stars," the NYC-based fashion designer hosted the episode challenge, which was for the four remaining designers to create a look within budget, using her fabric. The winning look would be sold in her stores, 100% of the profits going to the Save the Garment Center Organization.
To unveil the winning look, Nanette and her sweet staff hosted a live screening of the episode where four "Project Runway All Stars" designers were cut to the three that would make it to the finale. With the Final Four in attendance, you didn't know what to look at the television screen or Austin, Kenley, Michael and Mondo! Torn between my official Lifetime duties and my responsibilities as Austin Scarlett: The Scarlett Harlots Fan Club press secretary, I alternated between the two.
When "Project Runway" Season 8 runner-up Mondo Guerra was announced as the winner of the night's challenge, there was applause for him, and hugs for the show's 4th place finisher Kenley Collins. But the night's grand finale was yet to come, as the winning dress was showcased on models (including the designer's daughter!) and racks throughout the store. Mondo's dress and the alternating, luxe fabrics were gorgeous in person. Nanette even took a second to show me the two small changes she made to the dress including adding darts at the bust and a black tie in the back to give the garment more shape.
Visit Nanette Lepore's online store here to shop Mondo's winning dress! Due to super popular demand, the dress sold out instantly but you can now place an order and the dress is expected to ship out by May 15 just in time for summer, so what are you waiting for?! Order now!
How would you make the ultimate outfit with Mondo's dress for Nanette Lepore? I'm thinking neon wedge heels and a sparkly clutch for night of flirting-and-dancing or black gladiator sandals and a vintage leather satchel for day/brunch with my girls — are you with me?!
Photos by Mark Irlando (Thanks, Mark!!)
Ugh, don't you hate when a precocious kid or adorable animal steals your thunder during an exit interview with a "Project Runway All Stars" designer at a swanky shindig in a SoHo boutique? I stopped to chat with Kenley Collins at the Nanette Lepore "Project Runway All Stars" live screening party last Thursday, while she was being admired by an 8-year-old uberfan. Find out who Kenley really designs for and what was going through the designer's mind when getting teased by the boyz on the show and bonus: meet the winner of "Project Runway" Season 23!
Lisa Raphael: On the show and in an interview for this blog, Isaac Mizrahi said that you design for the "real woman." Do you agree; who do you design with in mind?
Kenley: I think I design for... what’s your name? [Kenley turns to young fan standing next to her] I design for her [young girl], she is my market. Girls like her who are fun and young and cool. That’s who I’m designing for. This one right here. She loves my dress! This is my girl!
Do you agree with Nanette Lepore and the judges that you got too caught up with the peacock print and lost the keyhole from the original sketch?
I love the peacock print, don’t you? [Kenley turns to young girl, who shouts "Yes!"] What would you rather see: the peacock print or the keyhole? ["Peacock!"] Me too. Me too. You have good taste!
What was your favorite look from the season?
My favorite look was the light-up jacket. [To young girl] Did you like when I lit up the room with the lightning jacket? Yeah, we’re going to go with that.
Did you have Nicki Minaj in mind when you were designing that?
I didn’t have Nicki Minaj in mind, I had music video in mind, which is Nicki right now. But when I put the wig on her, I told them Nicki.
How was your experience been different this time around?
It was really fun. I went into it thinking I wanted to have a good time and that’s what I did. I had fun.
It seemed like fun, but then there was also a lot of teasing going on to the point where the boys were always picking on you in the workroom. How did you deal with that!
It actually was funny, they were really funny. They were pointing out my personality and who I am and I thought it was funny, so I laughed. And they kind of meant it as being funny.
[Little girl interrupts and asks: "Were you sad when you didn't make it?"]That's a good question! Maybe I've found my next intern tonight!
I worked so hard and I was so upset. But you know what, you go home and you move on.
Do you have a lot of young designers, like this one, that look up to you?
They want my advice on being a designer; the advice for you [Turns to little girl] is love what you do. And have fun, because if you don’t love what you do, it’s really easy to fall out of it.
Georgina was a guest judge on your season of "Project Runway" and she did not like your look, were you nervous to see her as a permanent judge on "All Stars"?
Yes she was, and it was a horrible gown I did — I was tired. It was a bad gown.
Which look would you have chosen for the win for the Nanette Lepore challenge?
I really like Austin’s coat. It was fabulous like Twiggy!
Photo: Mark Irlando
On the "Project Runway All Stars" Finale next Thursday, March 22, at 9 pm/8c, the top three All Stars will present their signature collections to a VIP Runway show crowd! But we wanted to give you, our biggest fans, a sneak peek from each designer to see what you can expect from their collection.
Peruse one piece from each designer below, and let us know from these sneak peeks who you think is going to take home the big prize!
Attention NYC “Project Runway All Stars” fans! Shop the styles of some of your favorite designers from this talent-packed season, including Kara Janx, Michael Costello, Jerell Scott, Mondo Guerra and Rami Kashou at this week's "PRAS" sample sale! All of the designers' creations are discounted up to 80% off, with prices starting at the low, amazingly affordable price of $25. The dress to the left is a Kara Janx frock that will be selling for $50 (original price $250!!). So, um, see you there?!
Who: Kara Janx, Michael Costello, Jerell Scott, Mondo Guerra and Rami Kashou
What: "Project Runway All Stars" Sample Sale
Where: 242 West 36th St (between 7th & 8th Aves)
New York, NY
When: Wednesday, March 14 at 11am – 6pm
Bonus: The All Stars themselves will actually be at the event, and nothing is better than a shopping party meet-and-greet with your favorite "Runway" stars!
Comment below or Tweet us pics with the threads you end up scoring at the sample sale!
Isaac Mizrahi, designer of fashion, judger of “Project Runway All Stars,” wearer of a fabulous array of notable footwear, took a very important call (mine, and other bloggers across the entertainment and fashion worlds) and let us into his world. From the truth behind his Teletubbies obsession, the secret behind his shoes and hints about what he really thinks about the designers, I’ve rounded up a few important things you might not know about Isaac below.
No, yall, he really loves Teletubbies.
Not only is Isaac totally Team Teletubbies, he even uses them as inspiration. “Well, I love Teletubbies,” Isaac begins. “I know, it’s very random but you know what? I actually did a collection totally inspired by Teletubbies a long time ago. With the primary colors and the sky and the grass, it’s clean and beautiful and futuristic, I just love it. It has personality.”
You weren't the only one sad (and surprised!) to see Rami go home.
Coming into "Project Runway All Stars," Rami Kashou was seen as a definite frontrunner so it was a shocker when he went home on Episode 6 for us at home and Isaac on the panel. "I think I was the most shocked to see Rami go. When it happened, I felt like we could hear the gasp across America. Honestly, that was a very rough week because it was about highs and lows and was sort of a trick week for judges. We were extremely honest about our answers and our scores and that’s how we judge things, we score. The lowest score got eliminated and that happened to be Rami. It was a shock to all of us and he was such a great competitor and such a great thinker and such a great artist and it was just shocking, I hated it. I mean I hated every week eliminating but for me the most profound loss I felt for was Rami."
He thinks Michael is Most Improved.
When asked who’s grown the most since their time on “Project Runway,” Isaac says: "I think it’s Michael actually. I think he’s grown the most since his first season. I remember thinking about Michael when I first watched him [on Season 8] and thinking, ‘wow, he really needs to come a long way.’ And by the end of that particular season, I thought he did great, he really learned a lot. By the time he came to “All Stars,” he really was learning. He really involved into a really, really good [designer].”
He had a love/hate relationship with "Project Runway."
"I had watched [previous seasons] selectively," the PRAS judge admits. "I have not followed it obsessively. You know what? It’s my work so it was something I was both attracted to and repelled by. It was the subject of my life so as much as it’s interesting, I also kind of want to run away from it sometimes. So I watched it and I didn’t watch it."
Isaac + DVF sittin' in a tree!
Diane Von Furstenberg, mistress of all that is printed and wrapped was Isaac's favorite guest judge from this season. "I think she’s so eternal herself, like she’s such an icon and when she opens up to say something, it’s incredibly entertaining and it’s wise and stylish. I love watching her, I love being around her. The [designers] really, really learn from her because I think they respect her for being such in icon in so many ways, not just in her work, but the way she presents herself, her, look, everything about her. She really is just an inspiration as soon as she walks in the door."
On many seasons, we see a menswear or a "real woman" challenge. I asked Isaac which All Star he thought would pull out the W if these had been posed.
"Let’s see, that’s a good question," Isaac comments, praising my stellar journalism skills. "It's really hard to say because the chips fall where they fall each week and it’s always a big surprise. Men's clothes? Maybe Rami would have done very well because he has tailoring skills? And if it was plus-size or regular-size people, maybe Kenley because Kenley really thinks about the real woman all the time when she works and her almost 'fantasy creation' is always something extremely wearable and really abbreviated and witty. I think real women really respond to that, so I think it would have been Kenley." Good answer, Isaac. Good answer.
What question would you ask Isaac and the other PRAS judges?
We’ve reached the Final Four on our “PRAS” journey, but as Mondo explains, it’s really down to two: Team M&M vs. Team K&A. Mondo and Michael are Season 8’s besties with testes, a modern take on the Bert & Ernie, Odd Couple of yore. I know Michael lives in California and Mondo in Colorado, but I like to believe they’ll grow old together like the Golden Girls. (Mondo is Sophia-size but Dorothy-esque in demeanor, and his bedroom is obviously print-y like Blanche’s. And Michael is just Rose.)
Then there’s K&A, Kenley and Austin. This pair is classic Gen Y New York. Just a gal and her gay, posting Instagram pics of their unlimited champagne brunches in the city and vintage shopping sprees at Brooklyn boutiques. They’ll live out their elderly years together “Grey Gardens”–style in a Hamptons bungalow, sharing headscarves and costume jewelry, talkin’ about the good ol’ days while an ancient Tim Gunn sits suited up in the corner, nodding occasionally from his rocking-chair throne.
Um, anyway, back to Flatotel, where poor Kenleyrella whips up a batch of scrambled eggs for the boys, who beat her with a broom and tell her ModCloth is on the phone for her.
Coming off the heels of last week’s light-technology challenge — a favorite for me! — Angela announces yet another cool theme for the Fab Four, this one a little more down-to-earth. The designers travel to Nanette Lepore’s studio, which still exists in the ever-shrinking Garment District (never mind all those pesky signs that only read “Fashion District,” we swear it’s “Garment” — Google it!). I had no idea that Nanette Lepore, a designer I own one dress from (Loehmann’s — shh, don’t tell!), was NYC-based and fighting for the mom-and-pop shops of the Garment District. Go, Nanette!
Ms. Lepore herself, wearing one of my fave colors, tells the designers that they’ll be creating a ready-to-wear look made to fit a certain budget and manufactured locally. The winning look will be sold in her stores and proceeds will go to Save the Garment Center.
Upon first listen, Austin is nodding emphatically, Kenley is pretty confident since she does this sorta thing all the time (red flag, RIGHT?), Michael is making a Day Caftan, and Mondo is a little nervous. The All Stars have to sketch and meet with Nanette and her coster first … and Mondo doesn’t sketch. Or he does, but he draws something that Nanette likens to a tin can with a string hanging out. Is Mondo’s sketching a “can’t” or a “won’t”? Is it that he can’t sketch like I can’t kill a cockroach to save my life (I probably could. To save my life.)? Or is it that he can’t sketch like I can’t whistle (I purse my lips together and blow, but nothing happens.)? But he can “can’t” as much as he wants after that incredibly uncomfortable conversation at Nanette’s studio, where Kenley was like, “Hey, Michael, you should teach Mondo how to sketch,” and Michael was like, “HEY, RUDE, we’re in someone’s studio and you’re embarrassing my Bert!” Yikes. Open mouth, insert saddle shoe.
Nanette’s workroom visit is a little scary; this woman is business. She is bummed when Kenley tells her she’s scrapping the keyhole, and also is like, “Girl, this dress fits like crap” (she’s right), to which Kenley is like, “It’ll fit better!” which (spoiler alert) it won’t. And I don’t understand why not, because Kenley’s dresses have fit so perfectly all season.
Nanette is more intrigued by Mondo’s design, which is looking less like a tin can and more like a dress with every stitch. Joanna is worried that you can’t wear a bra with Michael’s caftan (you can’t, unless you consider those sticky things that look like chicken cutlets “a bra”), and at this point we kind of have no idea how Austin’s will work out and/or whether Nanette likes his coat.
I love this episode. I’m a budget shopper/working girl (aw, did you guys think I was a socialite, blogging in my spare time between fashion shows and charity galas? How sweet!), so I loved seeing the process of making a garment I still couldn’t afford. I also didn’t realize until now that the common links between the final four are that we have two who made it to the finale in their respective seasons and didn’t win (Mondo and Kenley), and two who were cut right before the finale (Michael and Austin).
Mondo used the word “defeated” 75,000 times, so this challenge was his. Not really because them’s the breaks in reality-TV land, but because he seems like the type of person who needs a challenge or adversity to rise above. I’m not totally sure how we get from tin can to potato sack to winning, but I do love the idea of Mondo’s dress. I agree with Angela that it’s my least favorite of his looks this season, and with Isaac that oh my god it needs a little more of a waist … and I could do without that bottom ruffle, but I think Nanette, in the end, was really drawn to it. Sketched to it, even. My favorite version of Mondo’s dress was the pit bull dress from the workroom (pre-bottom ruffle). Stay tuned to the blog, or check out Twitter and Facebook for pics from last night’s Nanette Lepore event, where Mondo’s dress was showcased.
Austin’s coat rocked. It was beautiful and sophisticated, and it’s too bad he didn’t go bolder in a different color, even though I do know a ton of girls who love their dusty jewel tones. The Scarlett Harlots can all rejoice now that our boy is in the finale. One inspirational haiku for the road to Fake Fashion Week:
Journey nears the end.
Cherubic Austin tall a-
bove two short brunettes.
Michael did what he does best to win in the clincher over Kenley he made a dress that a lot of women want to wear, including those pretty ladies cooing in adulation and “hint-hint, make me one of those”tion from the judge panel. He made a Day Caftan that is… a Day Caftan, but we’re all like “OO, pretty!” He sells a dress and a lifestyle that’s not just or even at all rich, it’s just fun and desirable. And who doesn’t want that?
Kenley, girl. What happened?! In her original sketch and meeting with Nanette, there was a keyhole in her dress design, and Nanette LOVED IT. Her eyes lit up when Kenley pointed out the keyhole, she commented that it was sexy … so what happened to that keyhole? It seemed like in the preliminary meetings, Kenley’s pitch was most on par with Nanette’s aesthetic, and the designer actually seemed most excited about her look, so it’s sad that veering from the original pitch and into printed-peacock territory sent her home.
This means Prince of Patterns, Don Drape-r and “Miss Scarlett if You’re Nasty or Isaac Mizrahi” make it to the finale. Tune in for Part 1 next Thursday!
Designer Nanette Lepore is the guest judge on this Thursday's all-new episode of "Project Runway All Stars" where the final four (!!) compete to make it to the finale. To celebrate her episode, Nanette is hosting an exclusive screening party Thursday night (find out how you can win a ticket below) AND doing a Q&A for fans on Twitter Friday afternoon.
Spend your lunch break this Friday with Nanette Lepore, who will be will be Tweeting with fans from 12:30 to 1:30 pm et on March 9. Follow the official "Project Runway" and Nanette Lepore Twitters to find out more.
Plus, one lucky fan in the New York area can win a ticket to the exclusive "PRAS" screening party! Visit the Official Nanette Lepore Facebook page here to enter for your chance to sip champagne with the Final Fab Four and get an up-close look at this episode’s winning look.
So what are you waiting for!? Enter to win and get your burning questions ready for Friday's chat!
I know for yall it's cons, but for me, the only pro to seeing one of my favorite designers go home on "Project Runway All Stars," is that it means I get to call them up on the telephone and talk to them about life (Elisa), boys (Anthony), how hot they are (Rami) and clothes, duh (all, definitely Mila). So when Ange announced it was Jerell's time, I put some PJs on, popped some popcorn and got ready to gossip with the designer. Enjoy our sesh!
Lisa: What was your first thought when you heard Pharrell Williams was the guest judge?
Jerell: I really like Pharrell. I think he is extremely talented and I think he single-handedly changed the way people dress in the hip-hop community. He kind of ushered in this change to pastels and all these Easter colors which you know you’re hanging out on the wrong side of the track, it makes it a little more enjoyable, it makes it a little safer, when everyone’s dressed like Easter Sunday.
So true! Did you think you would do well with this challenge? Did you think your aesthetic would line up with Pharrell's?
I did think I would do well with this challenge, not that I’ve ever worked with lights or anything like that, but I’m pretty comfortable working outside of the box. I’ve kind of allowed myself the creative freedom to throw myself at anything. I think maybe for some other designers, they have these very strong ideas of who they are and what they do and this is what it is and I think for me, I’m a lot more flexible in my ability to just go with the flow and have fun.
And in your exit interview, you said that you thought you did the best in terms of working with the actual lights.
I really liked the way I incorporated the lights, more than most of the other outfits. I did think that Austin’s dress was gorgeous but it still looked like Christmas lights sitting on top of a dress and it was kind of the challenge to incorporate these lights. I just don’t feel that in most of the cases, lights were incorporated harmoniously. I think that my downfall was certainly that long-*ss black skirt but I never design things specifically for the blacklight and my intention was to control what the eye saw And also the sandals were super regrettable and I know better than strappy sandals and stockings but we all know that’s gross.. So, did it quite work? Not like I expected clearly but hey, it was what it was.
But I liked the movement of mine. I liked that you had these controlled points of light that didn’t have all these jumper cables and color-packs and all this sh*t everywhere.
I think it’s safe to say that throughout the competition, you’ve exuded a certain (high) level of confidence. Is that the true Jerell or are you panicking on the inside?
No, it really is my approach to life in general. First of all, I think there’s nothing wrong or right in fashion, it’s all a matter of opinion and taste and you just have to create the pieces that inspire you and you like. So that’s really what I do and there are going to be people who love it and there are going to be people who totally don’t love it and there’s not a single designer that’s alive today or ever was alive that everyone loved. If you’re a minimalist, maybe it’s Calvin Klein or maybe you like Prada and you don’t like Calvin Klein. It’s like a form of art, you get to paint what you want to paint, create what you want to create and the audience that appreciates it is going to gravitate toward it.
In a situation like “PRAS,” it’s almost like this amazing day camp experience, you don’t have to worry about what’s going on in real life, you’re there to create your art and that’s such a fun thing. And of course there’s the prize money and the cameras and “Oh, what are they going to think!?” I think maybe some of the other designers have a hard time just being in that moment where for me I’m like, “Nah, okay so we’re going to beg for people’s clothes off the streets and now I’m going to take this stinky shirt and I have to make something cute with it!” That’s where my head is. Not, “What are they going to think, how are they going to react?!”
There’s been a lot of debate about Heidi, Michael and Nina vs. Georgina, Isaac and Angela. Where do you stand in that argument and Joanna vs. Tim?
I really enjoyed this new batch of judges. I have a lot of respect for the original judges as well but it was great having a fresh set of eyes. I mean honestly, like from watching Season 9, the original batch is getting slightly over it. Like, “we’ve seen that, we’ve seen this,” whereas this batch I felt this excitement from them, like they were all excited and wanted to engage.
As far as Joanna vs. Tim: I love Tim, I have so much respect for Tim. I was shocked on my original season to see how genuine he really is. It wasn’t just for the cameras, he cared. He wanted to see you do the best work you could do, which I thought was amazing. However, there was this Tim Gunn curse. If he came around loving what you were doing, then you might want to change some sh*t up because normally what he liked and what the judges liked weren’t quite the same thing.
For Joanna, having her there, she brought a woman’s perspective, which was refreshing, and I think that she helped us look at the clothes in a [new] way. Especially being a gay male designer. For us, it is, like the fantasy of the overall thing, whereas she is also looking at it from a very practical standpoint. She has breasts, she wants a bra. I have to confess I’ve never had to wear a bra a day in my life.
Well, the girls are small they’re perky, but they’re small! So yeah. Also I think she dressed fantastic. I loved all her outfits and she was fun. I really have a lot of respect for her.
In Mila’s exit interview, she talked about the cliques that formed, but from watching, I don’t really know where you fall into them. You seem like you kind of floated with everyone and hung out with everyone. Did you have your own crew on “All Stars”?
I got along with most everyone. Honestly, I will make myself laugh in my studio by myself because that’s just what I am. But I really loved Anthony, he was like my roommate there, he was funny. Rami is cool, he was kind of crazy; he’s like no-nonsense at the beginning when he’s trying to figure out if he can pull it off so he doesn’t want to put up with you until he’s got it figured out. Me and Michael, we would do this thing where we would talk like these two old Jewish women who had it all and lost it and we would go on for hours and hours and hours talking about working at Radioshack and remember when we walked back from the Hamptons.
What about poor Kenley? She puts on such a good face but I feel like she was the punching bag in the workroom!
No! I have to say, she was so pleasant to be around. She was super cool, we got along really well. I have my little jabs and shit and she was just rolling with it and having fun. I’m proud of her because coming off of our original season, I don’t think she was aware of how she came across and I think going into this, she was mindful of what she would say and girl is still loud as f*** but she managed to find her filter and for her, that’s important.
What do you have planned now after All Stars?
Well, I just launched my lower price point line because during the original season, there was a disconnect. I just didn’t have any product that was available at a price point that was attainable. The line is called Catastrophe: Jerell Scott for Everyday Consumption and it’s available on jerell-scott.com. Most women aren’t size 2 or 4, 5’11” models. Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, and want to find things that express their personality that they are comfortable in. That was my objective, to create these pieces that definitely fit into that.
Also one of my big pet peeves is when you spend a lot of money on something and then you go to a party and someone has the same thing on makes me sick! So I’m doing very limited runs so you don’t really have to worry about spending $2000 on this dress or this top and the chances of you running into somebody else wearing the same thing are very slim. I hate when you think you are just the cutest thing and then it’s like, who wore it better, b*tch? Who invited you to the party?!
The question I originally ended these interviews with was the obvious, “who do you want to win?” but you all have been evading the question so instead we’ll do word association; I’ll name the last four designers and then you’re going to tell me the first thing that comes to mind... Mondo?
Michael: Ready-to-wear… has-been-worn.
Austin: Upper East Side cotillion!
Well, I know you’re working on your lines but I think we’d all like to see you back on TV. Maybe a little red carpet correspondence or something?
That is definitely something I am wide open to! I think the world needs a little more me!
Honestly, I’d tune in to any form of “Project Runway” the designers could make shoes for dogs or outfits for paper dolls or just have to create new designs out of objects in the room on a never ending cycle until there was nothing left for the models to wear but Brother sewing machines and HP tablets. But even I can agree that no challenge is as good as a really exciting, never-been-done-before challenge like last night’s: using lighting technology to make a look that can strut right off the runway and onto the stage with guest judge Pharrell Williams. And no one is more overjoyed by this idea than Austin.
Although the designers get a modest Mood budget, they first stop at the Barbizon Lighting Company, (which is not to be confused with the revered Barbizon Modeling School. Class of ’99, if you’re curious). Here, Kenley hears Judge Isaac’s voice in her head, telling her to do something new and considers light bulb pasties. Perhaps Isaac’s warning to Kenley was foreshadowing for this challenge, where she’ll have to travel past her Betty Draper happy place and find greener Gaga-like pastures if she wants to make it to the next episode.
While Austin searches the store for “delicate strings of light,” (even though we all know he has some in a hatbox back at his apartment marked: “Gossamer Strands of Phosphorescence” in perfect calligraphy) Mondo informs us that the Season 1 designer is becoming a prima donna. Everyone watching LOLs because the sky didn’t roll out above us last Tuesday and decide to gradually become blue over the days that followed. For the best response to such a claim, I turn to the man himself, who explains what it’s like to be him and grow up with the name Austin Scarlett in the following clip:
If you couldn’t visualize what the final designs might look like during the Barbizon shopping spree, Mood only adds to the confusion with the fabric selections: pink taffeta, stiff organza, black tulle, zebra print and an odd quilted orange. (Time out: WHERE IS SWATCH? Is it in his contract that he’ll only work for Tim Gunn?) But what seems obvious is how this challenge will go down: Mondo will win, Jerell will come in a close second, Michael will be in the middle, Kenley, with her plaid ball gown and Austin, with his starry night dreamscape will be in the bottom and Kenley will go home because I’ll chain myself to Austin and cry until Georgina lets him stay.
But I don’t have to remind you that this is “All Stars” or the twisty-turny world of reality television. Do I?
Our Top 5 is tense and the social climate is only a few degrees above “icy” in the workroom. Poor Kenley. Maybe it’s all in good fun and better editing, but I can’t help wincing every time someone makes fun of her directly to her face and she just laughs it off. Homegirl is a real trooper. I’m going to have to ring housekeeping at Flatotel to find out how many mascara-stained pillowcases they had to chuck after filming.
But the Oscar for Best Cinematography goes to the cameraman who gets this shot (pictured right) of Austin and Michael’s passive aggressive Judy Jetson not-fight.
Austin compliments Michael’s garment saying: “That’s looking gorgeous by the way… kind of Judy Jetson.” (Translation: “Your draping sucks, FYI.”)
Michael agrees: “Judy Jet yeah, perfect. I love that actually.” (Translation: “Why don’t you come over here and say that to my face, GownBoy?”)
Austin waits a beat, blinks, cocks his head, puts his hand on his hip and retorts: “I do too.” (Translation: “I’ll suffocate you with leftover tulle in your sleep.”)
Not only is this episode’s challenge the best we’ve seen in a long time, Pharrell Williams is a stand out guest judge. It’s clear that the designers are excited to see him on the judging panel; he represents a part of the fashion world under-represented on the show and his presence encourages the All Stars to create pieces fit for the music world. Inhabited by Fergies and Gwens and Gagas and Katy Perrys, this is a scary and exciting world where image is everything, debatably sometimes more than the sound itself.
I celebrate Austin’s win, not only because he is one of my favorite human beings on TV/the planet, but because his design rocked the challenge and was true to his non-neon aesthetic. His dress looked like a dreamy, starry sky but was still cool. And as an added bonus for the Austin lovers (Austinettes? Scarlett Harlots?) out there, Pharrell was so drawn to both his dress and Austin himself. When he told him, “you’re a star, man,” my viewing party and I were all smiles and happy tears at home.
Mr. Williams also loved Kenley’s outfit, which I was on the fence (pun intended, I guess?) about. I think Kenley pushed herself past what she’s most comfortable with, and like Austin, found a way to give the judges what they want while staying true to who she is as a designer. I thought she had Jerell’s problem as well, with a look that was riding the line between hip and matronly a little too close for comfort. But the biggest problem with Kenley’s look is that no one mentioned Nicki Minaj. Was that, like, in someone’s contract? Do Pharrell and Nicki have beef I didn’t know about? These are the great mysteries of life.
Michael’s look falls in the middle for me it was like the first draft of what I bet would eventually be an amazing stage costume. But in the first phase, it was more really awesome Halloween costume.
Mondo says his look is love or hate, but for one of the first times ever his outfit is neither. It’s just “meh.” And if you can pull off “meh” with neon and under a black light, especially when your looks are usually so oo-and-ah-worthy, you’re deserving of the bottom this week. Unfortunately.
Remember that time this season Jerell did a look that was “Coming to America” meets Gwen Stefani? If only he had lit up the runway with something more like that this time around. Although at this point with only three episodes left in all, we’ll admittedly be missing more of him than we will his actual fashions.
Head on over to Lifetime Moms to check out Laura Bennett's Episode 9 recap, featuring a title that I wish I had thought of first.