Saturday, March 24, 2012

Project Runway All Stars, Finale: Destiny's Child

You can't stop an avalanche as it races down the hill
You can try to stop the seasons, girl, but you know you never will

Destiny is a force to be reckoned with, dear readers, and there's no clearer example of that than this whole circus called Project Runway All Stars. Oof... that comes off looking insanely jaded and bitter, I know, but I promise that ultimately I'm much happier with the way this all panned out versus the last two seasons of Runway.

So before I dig myself a bigger hole, I should probably just get to reviewing the finale...

There's not much to report back in terms of any pre-show drama. Held at the gorgeous Gotham Hall, the final runway challenge ended up being a lot nicer than I anticipated. It certainly did not have the same excitement as New York Fashion Week, but it was still a great space packed with onlookers. There was a lot of frantic running around before the show started—Austin bumping into anything within a 15 foot radius of his body, Michael's clothes suddenly not fitting his models, Joanna Coles lint rolling Mondo's back—but before I knew it the models were sashaying down the runway.

And although the camera barely gave each look 3 seconds of airtime, I still managed to furiously type out judgments on all the collections. Let's break them down in order of appearance.

Austin Scarlett

I mean, did you expect anything less than a collection inspired by "a vampire from the 18th century who now resides in Williamsburg and borrows clothes from her Hasidic dandy friends" from Austin Scarlett? Of course not. Of all the designers this season, Austin had the biggest ideas and the most imaginative inspirations. In some cases—that gorgeous lacquered lace dress and the show-stopping wedding gown—those inspirations translate into looks that transcend the confines of reality television and truly take your breath away. Unfortunately, it can also backfire and get in the way of producing garments that actually flatter the woman wearing the piece of art (hello, ridiculous pants in Look #1). You can identify the great idea that each look began with, but sometimes the embellishments got in the way: the tulle tail in Look #3, the odd additions of volume to the gown, etc. I found the collection to be more cohesive than the judges, but there were too many individual missteps to make this a winning collection.

Favorite Look: #2

Mondo Guerra

I've certainly had some issues with the way Mondo conducted himself this season, but there's no denying that he turned out the winning collection. There was a wonderful sense of cohesion with all six looks and, for the most part, he presented a more sophisticated and chic version of the aesthetic we have come to love from him. Yes, that Rorschach effect is reminiscent of what we saw from Viktor last season, but don't forget that those seasons filmed at the same time. Anyway, who cares? That dress was hot! Of course, the collection was not without its flaws. Once again, some of his detailing skewed a little too twee and cartoonish—namely, the buttons and pockets in Look #2 and the enormous pants in Look #4—and the "last minute look" (#3) could've used a bit more love. But considering this collection was created in only four days, it was quite the impressive showing.

Favorite Look: #5

Michael Costello

If we're being honest here, the biggest mistake Michael made was using prints in his collection. Why would you use prints in a competition against Mondo?! It's a losing strategy, and it ended up biting him in the ass here. Each piece was something that would sell like gangbusters at a department store, but the unimaginative use of animal print did not provide the sense of fantasy and showmanship the judges were looking for in a finale collection. The sophistication of the collection sometimes came up short and the clothes looked a bit on the cheap side (see Look #1 and Look #4), but there's no doubt that he has a promising future in ready-to-wear resort clothing.

Favorite Look: #2

ConDRAGulations to: Mondo. A-duh. We all knew it was coming the moment they announced Project Runway All Stars, and everything played out as planned. I'm left wondering if perhaps the producers played up Mondo's whiny, ornery personality to try and throw us off the trail and lessen the effect of this season coming off as Project Runway: Mondo's Redemption. Whatever the case may be, he won this thing fair and square with a great collection, and when was the last time you could say that about a Project Runway champion? So conDRAGulations, Mondo! Use some of that $100,000 to send Gretchen Jones an Edible Arrangements basket.

And that's a wrap on Project Runway All Stars, my friends. Casting has already begun on Season 10 and it will be summer before we know it. I'm excited to see our old friends Heidi, Nina, Michael and Tim... but do you think there's a chance we could get Georgina and Joanna to join the ranks? I'm going to miss them!

What did you think of the finale? Are you satisfied with the way All Stars panned out? Are you looking forward to Season 10, or are you just going to bask in the glory of a Mondo victory and call it quits? Thanks for joining me this season, and stick around Please Welcome Your Judges for more reviews, recaps and pop culture bitchery.

[Image Source: Lifetime]
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