Project Runway All Stars recap: Nanette Lepore’s budget-friendly challenge does Kenley in

In an episode more political than the United Nations…thing, the tenth week of Project Runway All Stars may go down as one of the most low-stakes-high-stakes episode in this storied series. (It probably won’t.) While on the surface it felt like any other second-last ep, it struck me like a bolt of slinky jersey that one of these guys’ dreams is about to be dashed. And that could be a scary thing to witness.

Read our waggish summation »

Let’s Make A Budget-Conscious Outfit

Angela materializes like a latter-day Jessica Rabbit, all side-swept hair and glassy, dilated pupils. She makes good entrances but at this point, I have to assume that she’s trippin’ on Ambien or something—all she needs is that rubbery-lipped Lohan look to take it to the next level.

Anywhoozle, in an inspired move, the Stars are challenged to whip up an ensemble for designer Nanette Lepore. This is one of them “real world” challenges! The winning design to will be sold in Lepore’s boutique with the proceeds going to the Garment Center. Project Sweatshop +5

At Nanette Lepore/In the Workroom

“It looks like a tin can with a string hanging out” is the most damning sentence ever uttered on Project Runway Any Version. That being said, I predict that Mondo will win! Mondo has continuously shown that, besides his astonishingly small hands, he’s unbeatable when he’s down. Mondo Guerra: Down ‘n’ Deadly.

Kelly, Nanette Lepore’s coster, has her name written in all-caps on her calculator, which makes me think that there’s some Office Space–style drama in the House of Lepore.

Kenley picks a ridiculous peacock print and there’s a bunch of controversy surrounding a keyhole in the bodice. It seems symbolic, her rejecting the keyhole that had appealed so much to Lepore. Could the lack of keyhole keep Kenley from making it to Fashion Week? “Foreshadowing” +5

It’s almost indecent to see Austin wearing an old T-shirt instead of a billowing silk blouse. It’s like seeing Jesus play the saxophone or something. Sacrilege -2

I think the screen print might be him and Santino, so that vastly improves the situation. It’s Cool I’m Fine +2

Joanna Coles and Nanette Lepore are the most uncomfortable-looking blondes on this show. Take a chill pill ladies, this is entertainment! Do Some Mirroring Exercises -1

A Li’l Shout-Out to the L’Oréal Paris Beauty Grotto

Who are these poor makeup slaves? There are so many of them and they literally get about eight seconds of screen time wherein they’re forced to put up with Austin demanding something called Cerise Noir which, to be frank, I also want. CERISE NOIR CERISE NOIR OOOH, CERISE NOIR +3

On the Catwalk

Austin has this old-timey Givenchy flair that is utterly endearing. I love his swing coat because while it did look a bit papery, it had an intention that went beyond the kind of thing that any of the designers are doing.

Michael! Michael figured out how to play the game this year, amiright. This dress is so casual corner I can’t even deal. He has a beautiful model, and his dress is basically a big arrow pointing at a hot model. Damn You Michael, I Never Take Off Points For the Runway! -3

What did I say about Mondo?!? Deadly, small-handed genius that he is, he made a really sweet little dress just when you thought he was at the end of his tether. Styling, sweet. His model seems sweet. Shout-out to you, Mondo’s model. Sweetness all-round.

Kenley’s dress is the equivalent of this sucker from season five, IMHO, in that it’s this dreadfully on-the-nose but well-fitting disaster sack that she’s really, really confident about.


While all the contestants were standing on the runway waiting for the results, I had this totally crystalline understanding of why each designer did or didn’t deserve to move forward: Mondo overcame his weaknesses and created a look that fit the brief and surprised Lepore with his imagination. Michael made a successful schmatte—he learned from his final critique in season eight, where the judges claimed they saw no continuity—and played to his strengths. Kenley repeated her error from season five: she was stubborn and made something that was more for herself than for her clients or employer. And then there’s Austin, the contestant with the most ups and downs this season—sometimes all in one look. His place in the top three is the most satisfying to me.

Top Three: Austin, Mondo, Michael. It’s the way it had to be.

Total: 9