Project Runway All Stars: A Study in Scarlett

Slip into your favorite gingham romper, pour a couple of Mai Tais, and kick back, kids! It’s time for another visit to Project Runway All Stars. Last week, our ragtag team of also-rans spun 99-cent-store crap into sartorial gold, just like Rumpelstiltskin did. (Come to think of it, Mondo would make a great community theater Rumpelstiltskin.) This week, however, was all about what the French call “le chichi.” Designers were instructed to make fancy gowns for “high-society events,” like the opera, or a dog show, with none other than high-fashion superduo Badgley Mischka judging the proceedings. (That’s right, Penn Badgley and Mischka Barton have a fashion label together!)

This news affects the designers in different ways. Kara Janx feels unsteady right off the bat, explaining, “Evening weh I can do, although it’s not my ‘pa-boom moment,’ whereas it’s Austin’s ‘pa-boom moment.’” Yes, it seems Austin “the King of Couture” Scarlett is the man to beat in this challenge. He truly seems destined for a pa-boom. The designers have $300 and 24 hours to produce something dazzling. Michael Costello gets right to work beading an intricate pattern onto a feather collar that looks like something Cruella DeVille would wear to the office, maybe punching out a PETA protester on her way through the revolving doors.

Joanna surveys the workroom, stopping at Austin's space to point out, “Austin, this is your niche, and if you don’t win this, the world will laugh at you. It will bring you back to the most horrible places in your mind. Schoolyards. Summer camp showers. Perhaps the view from beneath your domineering father's clenched fists. And then you will be nothing but a failure, Austin, but this time, before the whole world. *Pause, deep breath, bright smile* So tell me, how is that frock coming?” For some reason this doesn’t comfort him. But Gordana is having none of it: “If you are so used to making something, just make it, and dat’s dat.” Tough love from the Gordita. There are a few dresses in here that are giving me pause for concern, including Kara’s and Sweet P’s, both of which look more suited to an Easter parade than an evening at the Met. But Anthony’s daring white get-up, which is cut down to a woman’s knees for prime cleavage-enhancing effect, looks like it could be a stunner.

On the runway, designers are told by host Angela Lindvaaaal (is that the right amount of As?) that the judges are looking for “style, elegance, and individuality.” Bam! Bring it, guys. Kenley starts the show out with a dramatic look I’ll call “Baskin Robbins Prom.” Jordana’s entry is a lavender backless gown with a glittery spiderweb on the bodice. Yikes! (But cool.) Rami’s looks a bit like a pink satin mummy. Mila shows a severe, sequined black dress, while Mondo imagines a Judy Jetson-esque frock with a geisha bow in back—a nod to Madame Butterfly. Jerell sends out a big, melted chocolate ice cream cone that does nothing for me. And, as the workroom foreshadowed, Sweet P’s dress is a dowdy mess (“It looks like you started a ballgown but wound up with a dirndl skirt,” says one of the Badgley Mischkas, then all the judges high-five each other over the word "dirndl"). April’s looks dirty, and Kara’s is underwhelming.

The judges’ top marks go to: Michael’s black dress, which is extremely backless save for a strip of crystals that ran across the model's lower back; Anthony’s skimpy white gown (a “dramatic showstopper”); and, last but certainly not least, Austin’s gold lamé-and-mosquito-netting triumph. “Tasteful is such a good word!” Isaac Mizrahi echoed Mischka in describing it. “Haven’t heard that word in a very long time. And that’s what that dress was to me: tasteful.” In the end, the King of Couture held on to his crown, while Sweet P. was sent to the great pea pod in the sky. (Well, she wasn’t executed or anything. She was just eliminated. Poor P.)


... Which was your favorite opera dress?

... It's early, but there are obviously some frontrunners here. Who do you think will make final three?

... Have you noticed that everyone is on their best behavior—even Kenley? When are we going to get some high drama up in here?

... Badgley and Mischka both hate red and black. What are your least favorite color combinations?

... "You're out." Just doesn't have the same ring to it as "auf wiedersehen," does it?

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