Project Runway All-Stars: The Big, Orgasmic Finish

Like Michael Costello, getting to the end of Project Runway All-Stars is all I’ve ever wanted, and I’m so close. And so are you! We have just one recap to go, and all will be revealed. If you recall, in last week’s “Finale (Part 1),” nothing of any significance whatsoever happened. “Finale (Part 2)” began with our three finalists squished into the backseat of an Escalade, all Mary J. Blige-like, where Austin, decked out in his finest Liza Minnelli-wear, purred about how he's having a “fashion orgasm.” Gross! Let’s break down the behind-the-scenes politics for a second: It’s pretty clear that Mondo hates Austin, and loves Michael, and Michael is neutral to Austin and loves Mondo and Austin does not really give a crap about any of it because he’s in the middle of a FASHION ORGASM. (All I can think of from that phrase is Austin Scarlett ejaculating sequins. Sorry.)

They arrive at Gotham Hall, a “glorious event space in the heart of Manhattan, accchhhhh … heaven,” Austin orgasms (god, I’m going to miss him), and it’s not long before the designers are scrambling to get their clothes fitted on their models. Joanna Coles, meanwhile, wants desperately to help, but they’re all, “You’re in the way, Joanna!” and she’s all, “But I want to be helpful,” and Mondo’s all, “Fine, lint-roll my back,” and she’s all, “Thank you!” Or something like that.

It’s nice to know that Angela Lindvall doesn’t just speak to the contestants reeeally slowwwly as if they are four years old, but to entire audiences that way. “Good eeevening lay-dees and gen-tuhl-mennnn, and welcome to a verrrrrry exciiiiiting zzzzzzzzzz.” HUH! Where am I? Why is Tommy Hilfiger sitting there? Is this American Idol? No, it’s Project Runway All-Stars. Tommy H. is just a reality ho, and the celebrity guest judge, accompanied by a buyer from Neiman Marcus. (But not the buyer who looks like Orson Welles on Fashion Star.)

Ugh, finally, the show. Did 14 years just pass? I think they did. Austin’s out first, and here is the description of his collection, no joke: “It’s called Austin Scarlett, and it’s the story of a vampire from 1860 who has lived many hundreds of years, and who now lives in Williamsburg and borrows clothes from her Hassidic dandy friends.” No one laughs. First outfit out: a pair of shorts with goiter pockets. Next, a short shifty dress in a lace pattern with weird goiter outcropping. Then, a black leather skirt with a little pink tutu sticking out of the bottom, like a bunny tail. Then a garish, metallic pink gown with black lace on it, and some super tight leather(ette) jump suit on a really skinny girl, and then a white wedding dress with giant white petals that's accessorized with a black belt and gloves. I didn’t really see the Hasidic influence except in the ringlets in the hair, nor did I see vampire.

Next up, Mondo’s “therapy” collection. Lots of bold colors, black and white and silver and pants and jackets and thingies.The Rorschach dress comes and it’s pretty cool. Then a silvery frock with some red in it. Honestly, I’m not sure how to write about these clothes. It was definitely less colorful and whimsical than we’ve seen from Mondo. Maybe this is Mondo, all grown up.

Michael’s collection also relies on monochromatics. It’s mostly animal prints, a little redundant but sexy, well-tailored, and aesthetically appealing. Still, to borrow from the Runway phrasebook, it lacks that “wow factor.” Or as Kara Janx would say, “There was no paboom moment.”

At judging, everyone expressed appreciation for Austin’s collection, though there were some concerns about the pairing of a wedding dress with some of the other looks. Mondo was called “masterful” in his selection of patterns and fabrics; Isaac thought Mondo’s collection was the most cohesive; Angela wasn’t wild about the lamé appliqué, okay? As for Michael, they all loved everything and thought it was production-ready. Georgina felt the animal prints might be a little too commercial, and Isaac loved the fleshiness, or whatever. No one knew what he was talking about.

When the designers were out of the room, the judges were a little freer with their thoughts. Austin “is an ideas machine,” Georgina said, but the Neiman buyer was worried that he has too many ideas, not enough focus. Tommy H. loved the workmanship of Mondo—“‘60s meets ‘80s,” and “Heejun is a little punk.” (Okay, he didn’t say that last thing.) The Neiman buyer thought Mondo “can get too cartoonish,” and Angela felt the show “fell short of what he is capable of.” Georgina stood up for him, however. Michael was a hit with the Neiman buyer, but Isaac hated all the patterns. M.C. Tommy said he could see his clothes “go into the store, and out the door.”

Enough deliberating! Just tell us the winner already, so I don’t ever have to hear Isaac Mizrahi’s voice ever again. Michael is the first out, and I feel bad for him. So it’s down to two, black vs. white, good vs. evil, tulle vs. polka dots, Mondo vs. Austin.

And Mondo wins! Austin’s face reads something like this: “F--K YOUR PARIS TRIP. I HATE YOU ALL. DIE. DIE. DIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!” but his mouth says, “Thank you. That is a wonderful consolation prize.” Well, that puts an end to that fashion orgasm. Mondo, meanwhile, wins it all, as he should have the first time around. (Never forget.) And we’re all happy for him. Right?

We’ll see you at the Mondo store at Neiman’s. Drunk. Always drunk.


1. Are you happy with the result? I have to say, I was sort of gunning for Austin at the end. He's just so whimsical and ridiculous and everything a fashion star should be.

2. Favorite look of the whole show?

3. Were you surprised with how good a judge Tommy Hilfiger was? After his bout on American Idol, I didn't have much faith.

4. Any parting thoughts about the season? Would you show up again for another?

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