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Project Runway All-Stars: Of Fashion and Business Sense

Last week on Project Runway, the designers had to create looks that incorporated lighting technology, be it actual lights or glow-in-the-dark neon strips.  The runway show was the first in Project Runway history to be held under black light.  Austin won and Jerrell was sent home.

The following morning, the designers have breakfast, and Kenley wonders out loud what the challenge will be.  “Probably designing something,” says Mondo.  Thank you, Captain Obvious.  Let’s narrow it down a tad, shall we?  Mondo later comments that this is the last challenge before the finals — which is traditionally the time for designers to fall apart and/or get too cautious.  He also notes that the remaining designers are pairs of friends:  himself and Michael, and Austin and Kenley.

On the runway, Angela tells the designers that they will have a client:   designer Nanette Lepore.  The winning design will be sold at her store.  Not only do the designers have to make something Nanette would sell, their design must also fall within a given price range.

The designers go to Nanette’s design studio and she tells them she wants a ready-to-wear for a retail customer.  As the designers then start sketching,  Nanette tells them that the simpler the design, the more they can spend on fabric.  Kenley tells us that she has designed for mass markets before, so she thinks she knows how to handle the challenge.  Michael plans to make a caftan.  Mondo tells us that he doesn’t sketch, as he can’t draw.  He just doodles stars and the like during sketch time.

Afterwards, Nanette and a woman named Kelly look over the sketches.  They tell the designers what their garments would probably sell for, how much it would cost to make them, and most importantly, how much they can spend on fabric.   They start with Michael and tell him a caftan is expensive to make.  He’ll have a budget of $48.00.  He looks unhappy about this, but sucks it up, calling it a “good lesson.”

Next up is Kenley, who is making a dress with a keyhole.  That will reduce the amount of fabric needed– but increase the labor costs.  Kenley can spend $41.00 on fabric.  Nanette believes that Austin’s coat would need a stiff taffeta fabric.  Kelley tells him, that despite the higher retail cost of the coat, he will have only $65.00 for fabric and trim.  Austin speculates that he’ll have a budget of $15.00 per yard.

Mondo confesses his lack of sketching ability to the women, who look concerned.  He explains his plan, and, based on his description, Kelly gives him a budget of $32.00  Ouch.  Kenley tells Michael he should teach Mondo how to sketch, and Mondo gets offended.

The designers then check out Nanette’s fabric room– after being reminded they have to stay within their budgets.  Kenley falls in love with a peacock feather print.  Michael picks out a jersey fabric.  Austin shows Kelly the taffeta fabric he’s chosen — and is pleased to learn it’s within his budget.  Michael says his new design is a bit less flowy, and is told he’s within his assigned budget.  Kenley is over her budget, but agrees to get a bit less fabric.  Mondo turns out to be under-budget by a few dollars.

The designers go to the workroom.  Mondo has an acute case of nerves:  He feels like he’s lost control and will fail.  Michael discovers that his fabric isn’t 100% print; it has a large white border.  He decides to scrap the sleeves that he’d planned.  Kenley decides to eliminate her keyhole, as she doesn’t think it will work with her print.  Austin thinks that’s wise, but Michael believes she’s making a mistake.

Mondo tells us that he’s scared.  It’s sad that something he loves is defeating him.  Michael feels negative energy emanating from him.  Kenley tells us that she never gets nervous.

Joanna and Nanette stop by to see how everybody is doing.  They start with Kenley and express concern because her dress is looser than they’d expected.  Nanette tells Kenley that a loose dress is harder to sell and that fit will make or break a sale.  Kenley insists that the dress is gorgeous.  Michael comments that Kenley is making her usual silhouette– while he’s making a caftan.  Kenley assures the women that the dress will flatter the model’s body.

Nanette notes that Michael’s dress is close to the original design, but that the neckline is too plunging.  He assures her that he’ll put a hook and eyelet closure at the front to provide a modicum of decency.  Joanna is again annoyed that Michael has made a dress that can’t be worn with a bra.  He promises to put a closure in the back, too.  Austin comments that Michael’s clothes are hard to wear if you’re not a model.

Austin starts describing his coat, and Michael expresses bewilderment as to what the judges see in his work.  Nanette likes the coat so far, while Joanna thinks it could be fabulous or hideous.  Austin believes the finished product will look expensive and luxurious.

Mondo jokes about his terrible sketch and lays out bands of fabric to show Joanna and Nanette how his dress will look.  He explains his dress will be easy to wear.  Nanette thinks the dress will look like “play clothes:”  great for a date or a trip to the flea market, but not for the office.

Austin tells us that being eliminated at this stage would break his heart– especially since that’s what happened to him in Season 1.  Throughout the episode, everybody talks about how they really, really don’t want to be eliminated.  They talk about how upsetting it would be to be sent home just before the finals.  On that note, it’s time for everybody to go back to the apartment.

The next morning, everybody gets back to work. Austin wishes he could have lined his dress.  Kenley is happy with her look, while Mondo is on the fence about his.  The models come in for their fitting, and Michael’s model worries aloud about the dress falling off.  Austin thinks Michael’s dress is very inappropriate– and Michael’s model seems to agree, as she wonders which of her breasts will escape.  Austin thinks that he, Mondo, and Kenley should be the Final Three.

Kenley is confident she’ll be in the finals, while Mondo thinks she needs to match up her patterns.

Then it’s off to the runway.  Angela greets the designers and reintroduces them to Nanette Lepore, who is the guest judge this week.  She then reminds them that the challenge was to make something both timeless and salable.

Austin made a knee-length red coat with long sleeves.  It has a belt made of the same material.  It’s a nice color, but it looks sort of rumpled.

Michael apparently channeled his inner Anya and made a caftan out of green and yellow print.  It has short, flowy sleeves and a deeply plunging neckline.  It’s also deeply plunging in the back.  The caftan is floor-length and then some– it looks as if the model has to kick fabric out of the way while walking.

Mondo made a sleeveless mini-dress out of several different fabrics.  The top is a black fabric decorated with bands of red and lavender.  Below that is a band of black and white print.  Below that is a band of lemon yellow fabric.  Below that is a striped, tan, orange, and magenta skirt.

Kenley made a short-sleeved knee-length dress out of a light aqua fabric with a peacock pattern.  The prints, unfortunately, don’t match up, so it’s very obvious where the seams are.

The judges start with Mondo, who said he’d been in a “dark place” and wanted to make something fun, flirty, and colorful.  Isaac thinks the dress needs a slimmer waist and Nanette wonders out loud how it would look on a curvier woman.  Angela thinks the dress would look better with sandals, which would make it look more casual.  Georgina asks if he went with fabric or design, and Mondo answers that he’d stuck to his original design.  Georgina admires his use of fabrics.

Michael tells the judges that he wanted to use a print.  He also wanted to create something feminine and timeless.  Nanette would love to take it on a trip with her.  Georgina thinks it looks more sensual that sexual; Isaac agrees.  Angela thinks it’s too long.  So does Georgina, while Isaac dislikes the strap across the back.  Nanette agrees that the open back could be a problem, as backless items don’t sell very well.

Kenley says she fell in love with the peacock print and that she wanted to make something flattering.  Georgina and Angela agree that Kenley’s failure to match the print is “problematic.”  Nanette wishes she’d put in the keyhole, as that would make it more commercial.  Isaac says it’s a good dress — but not an inspired one.

Last up is Austin, who has the model show that his coat can be worn in three different ways:  belted, cinched, or in full swing.  Isaac comments that he hadn’t realized it was a coat– which does make a difference.  He’s still bothered by the wrinkles.  Nanette comments that some fabrics look better for retail than the runway.  Angela loves the color and thinks it would sell well.  Isaac says that even a coat should be pressed.

The judges then deliberate.  Austin’s coat had a beautiful design, but Nanette questions his fabric choice.  Georgina is impressed by the many fabrics Mondo used in his design, while Angela thinks the dress is too boxy.  The judges consider Kenley’s dress a disappointment, and Nanette comments that she does not take advice.  Michael can be hit or miss and he lacks confidence.  He made a pretty dress, but relied too heavily on the print.

Angela thinks Kenley’s clothes would appeal to a younger person, while Michael’s would appeal to somebody older and more sophisticated.

The judges announce their decision.  Austin is safe, while Mondo is the winner.  That leaves Michael and Kenley in the bottom.  Michael’s dress can’t be worn by every woman, while Kenley is too stubborn for her own good.  Michael is in, and Kenley is out.

Next week:  The finalists face a four-day challenge and some of the eliminated designers return.

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