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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!