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Project Runway: All-Star Challenge, Review

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It should come as no surprise to any of us that Lifetime, after having paid an amount that would probably feed a small country to wrest Project Runway from Bravo, presented a Project Runway-Fest that ran three and a half hours long on its heavily promoted opening night, Thursday, August 20. I covered the first episode of the new season last week. Herewith a review of the prequel to Episode 1, Season 6; Project Runway: All-Star Challenge. Because if you're anything like me, that is to say a massive fan of this show and the franchise in general, you watched this two hour special with great gusto.

Brilliant, I tell you, brilliant -- the idea to do a two hour special featuring many of our favorite contestants from past seasons of Project Runway. Talk about being on the edge of your seat. Watching the eight designers return to their digs at Atlas and their workroom was deelish; kind of like going back to college after you graduated and sleeping in your dorm room again. Only you don't have to do it yourself.

The eight alums were Season 3 Winner Jeffrey Sebelia (AKA Neck Tattoo Guy or, as he puts it, "the guy who made someone's mom cry") -- now with a handlebar mustache; Daniel Vosovic (Season 2); Korto Momolu (Season 5); Uli Herzner (Season 3); Sweet P (Season 4); Mychael Knight (Season 3); Chris March (Season 4 -- the big guy with the wild laugh who is now doing things like wrapping Beyoncé in aluminum foil to make a body mold from which to design her tour costumes); and, of course, Santino Rice (Season 2 -- "Project Runway didn't make me -- I made Project Runway" -- good to see his ego is still intact). Not for nothing, but no one from Season 1 could make it? And how about the very fierce Christian Siriano from Season 4? I'd have so loved to see him and Santino go at it.

So, natch, as soon as the designers stash their bags in the rooms at Atlas, they're summoned to the roof for a champagne toast with Heidi and Tim. Everyone mingles and kibitzes; Santino immediately puts it forth that he's the winner, of course (by the way -- he isn't -- snicker). The magic eight have been brought together for one grand mega-challenge that will take place over a period of a few days; the prize is 100K, which has been the cash prize for the entire season in previous years. One of the designers calls it "Project Runway on steroids." I call it Project Runway meets the Twilight Zone.

The fun begins the next morning. After checking out their all-star workroom (tricked out with their names writ huge on the wall next to each workspace -- and a gigantic beautiful lounge right outside the door), the great eight are marched off to Mood. Holy Déjà Vu, Designers. The 100K Mega-Challenge, announced by Nicole Kidman by video from her movie set, requires them to design a red carpet look for the premiere of Nine, Kidman's next film. (It's never stated, by the way, who will wear the dress on the red carpet).

It all shakes out as you might predict. Santino tramps all over everyone's last nerve with his running commentary and cruel insults. You (er...I) practically cheer aloud when he doesn't win. Sweet P and Uli are very simpatico in their aesthetic and fight over their models at the model casting. Chris falls asleep everywhere, snoring loudly -- but still manages to design an amazing collection. Jeffrey is channeling Ringo Starr in 1970 with the stash -- either that, or Derek Smalls in Spinal Tap. And after they have worked for a few hours on their designs, Tim Gunn comes in to work the workroom and advise them to, yes, "carry on."

At a surprise dinner that evening, the designers find that they have an extra day to work on their premiere outfits. However, for old time's sake, they must also design an extra look using the materials in the restaurant they have just eaten in. Like a scene out of Fellini's Satyricon, the group leaps up to tear the room apart for items to use. Everything from the tablecloth to the light fixtures is destroyed in seconds.

The judges for the all-star challenge are Michael Kors, Nina Garcia, and guest judge Diane von Furstenberg. Santino's collection is silvery, form-fitted, stripper sleazy. He's so in love with himself he can't even see how inappropriate it is. Mychael's work is -- I hate to say it -- kinda pedestrian and nothing special. Uli's outfits are simultaneously serene, sophisticated, and exotic. Korto's collection -- thoughtful, beautifully made. Chris, sleep-deprived or not, has turned out a gothy, punky, fashionable look. Sweet P presents a very elegant and fanciful look, like Clara from the Nutcracker walks the red carpet. Jeffrey not so much; ugly, glittery and uninteresting. And Daniel Vosovic goes with a fake dirt look that doesn't speak to me so much (but what do I know) -- very Battlestar Galactica.

The judging panel is entertaining as always. Heidi doesn't like that one of Daniel's models went bra-less: "boobs all over the place, it made me dizzy!" Korto and Daniel are the two left standing at the end and Daniel ends up the winner. Which makes another decision that I am truly puzzled by, as I thought her collection was superior to his. Off go the All-Stars back to their careers as we keep the channel on Lifetime for the first episode of season six. Let the games begin!

Project Runway airs on Lifetime Thursday nights at 10PM EST and PST; 9PM Central.

Read my review of Project Runway's first episode, Season Six here

Read my review of Models of the Runway here