Note: Do not read on if you have not seen Episode 6 of Lifetime's "Project Runway All Stars."
Sometimes you can just feel the drama coming. You know what I mean? Like snow, you can almost smell it inching nearer. And this season of "Project Runway All Stars" has been relatively sedate, so I say: BRING. IT. ON.
This week's episode begins with the designers seated companionably around a table at their hotel suite: "When I first got here I thought Kenley was obnoxious and annoying," confesses Mondo. "But I love to push her buttons."
Could it be? Should it be? Dare we imagine this is ... foreshadowing?
On the runway, Angela Lindvall is holding eight "getaway" bags, one for each designer. "Quite the bag lady," quips Jerell, who is fast becoming my favorite talking head.
Michael wishes her next line was, "Pack your bags! We're going to Paris." No such luck. Instead, she lets Mondo pick first because he won the last challenge. He opts for an orange leather tote.
Turns out though that the bags don't matter much. It's the luggage tag inside, bearing the name of a season that will shape this challenge. Two designers are thus assigned to each season and are to compete against each other when creating a look. "Let's make this a fashion face off," suggests Angela, as if the idea was spontaneous and as if a "fashion face off" is really a thing.
One person from each season will be in the bottom and the top in the end. The seasons break down like this:
Spring: Austin & Kara
Winter: Michael & Jerell
Summer: Kenley & Mondo
Fall: Rami & Mila
I feel like the designers are really well matched actually and I'm excited to see what they do. Plus, they're being pitted against each other. Way to manufacture drama producers! Good on you!
Each designer will have $200 and one day to create a sportswear look for a weekend getaway. They don't have to use the bags, but they should know exactly who their "girl" is.
Right away, Kenley admits, "It is intimidating that Mondo just won a challenge and he's my direct competition."
Mila sighs, "I have to go against Rami? Oh no." Her girl is a "New Yorker going to Marfa, Texas for the art festival weekend."
Austin's woman is also a New Yorker, going to her Hamptons house to check on her garden. (I think he means, check on her gardener.)
At Mood, everyone is looking around. Jerell says he is definitely doing a coat. Michael says he wasn't sure what he wanted. More foreshadowing?
Rami says, "My woman is going to spend the weekend wine tasting with her best friend. She wants to be comfortable so I thought of this really cool cardigan kind of look." He's all dignified and mature looking, per usual. Why does he seem 3,000 years older than all of these other people? In a good way, I mean. At least, I think that's what I mean.
Anyway, Jerell jumps straight into the coat because he says it "will require most attention to detail." About Michael, he says, "I think he's a great designer. Let's see what he's got. Let's do this winter, baby." They're pals.
Mondo is not feeling confident about his pants and top, for some reason. He's just not feeling the mojo. Kenley tells Kara, "My girl is like really just light, likes to have fun. She's going to Miami for an art festival."
"The Art Basel," Kara offers.
"Yeah, the Art Basel," Kenley agrees. Ladies, you'll need to drop that "the" if you want to fit in with the cool kids. That's not how they say it. Anyway ...
Mondo complains, "I feel like Kenley is doing the same thing over and over and she has this attitude like, 'I'm doing me. This is me.' But it's a very arrogant attitude. This is a competition. At least try something new." Word up. I totally agree. Let the s--t talking begin!
Michael is having some issues with his high-backed vest. "The fuzzy wuzzy was a bear fabric didn't turn out so good," he says. He throws it in the garbage. Mondo and Michael agree that they are both f----d. [Bleep!]
Says Mondo, "This is like wrestle mania. Well, fashion mania." Totally. Wait. How again?
After the commercial break, the self-loathing continues. "I hate myself right now," says Mondo. He is debating a skirt vs. shorts with Mila.
"A knee-length skirt?" asks Mila.
"Ew!" yelps Mondo. "No, mini."
And here is the moment we've all been waiting for: Jerell looks over at his competitor and he is not pleased. "Lo and behold, Michael is making the same jacket as me," he remarks. "Where'd you get the inspiration for that shape, Michael?" Ruh roh.
"From you. I glanced over and stole the idea from you," says Michael with what sounds like a bit like sarcasm, but, I mean, it also seems to be true. He appears to have stolen Jerell's basic concept for this oversized chunky sweater/cardigan jacket situation. Even the colors are the same.
"I think Michael was feeling lost," says Mila. "He doesn't do sportswear and he doesn't do winter. I don't think it was intentional, but you know what happens."
Jerell is not amused.
Joanna Coles shows up and announces that she's heard about the face off. Really? How surprising!
First, she goes to Kara, who describes her woman as "Palm Beach casual chic, mother of two kids." Really? That's the fashion look she's going for? It just seems strange to me, but whatever. Maybe she's never been to THE Palm Beach. She's thinking high-waisted culottes, which JC thinks are chic.
Austin is also going for a high-waisted number, but he's making khakis and a shirt with "flat origami ruffles." They say the khaki for the pants is very American sportswear, but I think it looks sort of drab potentially.
Mondo's fashion back story is convoluted and confusing, which is maybe worrisome. "Today is my mother's 60th birthday," he explains. "My girl is representing me going to her party." Take a minute to digest that. Hmm.
Okay. Now, we'll resume: He and Kenley are both doing polka dots. JC asks if this bothers him. "She is the polka dot queen," he says. "I am the polka dot princess." To Kenley's amusement, JC dubs it, "The war of the polka dots!"
JC says Mila's pants are a signature. Mila trusts the fashion editor's judgment, saying, "She sees hundreds of thousands of designs, collections throughout the year." I doubt that because she needs to time to eat and sleep. But she does see a lot, I'm sure.
Everyone is getting a bit catty: "Rami's look to me is really hard to look at," says Mila. "I feel like the colors are not right together. It's like too much volume."
JC goes to chat with Michael and Jerell and discovers their disagreement over the similar cardigan jackets. Her solution? "Gather, gather, gather!" she says, like Kate Winslet during an Oscar speech, but perhaps less disingenuously. "We're going to have a team chat, which I like to do at the magazine when tension arises. What do you all think about this?"
Really? That's her conflict management style? There's no way. I have to imagine that this is just more fodder for drumming up drama. If her solution to arguments at Marie Claire is to ask everyone to weigh in and give their take on the fight, how are the editors not warring all the time?
Kenley points out that she tried on Jerell's jacket about five minutes into the challenge. Rami says to Jerell, "The only issue is that we saw yours first." In other words, yes. They all think Michael copied. I mean, he did! We all saw it, whether it was intentional or not.
Afterward, Michael says, "It's bothering me because Jerell is my friend." But he's not changing his design.
In the kitchen area, Michael and Mondo are talking trash. Michael says, "When you're doing good, people just want to hate on you." Mondo agrees. Generally, I like these guys, but I'm a little like, "What?" Delusional much? It seems like Jerell has a right to be pissed.
He walks in while they're talking about him and overhears a bit, it seems. There's uncomfortable silence until Mondo says, "It feels just like dinner at my family's house."
Michael looks down at their plates of pasta. "Spaghetti?" he asks.
"No, awkward," answers Mondo. Uh oh. But you still want to be the girl going to your mother's birthday party?
Jerell says he doesn't want tension and Michael agrees. Jerell suggests that Michael put himself in Jerell's shoes. But Michael is clearly worked up "I got to be accused of plagiarism," he barks. Then he imitates JC using an actual fake English accent, which is brilliant in its absurdity. Apparently, the attempt to quell tensions didn't work so well.
"You can keep your little vest," says Jerell, as Michael gets up to storm out.
"I'm going to wipe my f---ing ass with the vest," answers Michael. Okay, then. You wanted drama. Here it is.
Mila is adding leather to her cape seams. Rami is adding last minute touches from the Neiman Marcus wall. Just the way he says "handbag" makes me think he's not accessorizing well. Jerell is talking s--t to Rami because apparently Mondo is helping Michael accessorize his outfit.
"I see a side of Jerell that I haven't seen before," says Michael. "Really bitch? You want to play like that? We can play like that." You mean, the rational side?
Is anyone a little scared of Michael right now? I dunno. I just feel like Jerell's complaint is valid. He's upset that Jerell is talking behind his back, but didn't Jerell just catch him doing the same thing with Mondo?
Even ever diplomatic Rami gets in on the trash talking action, saying, "I"m looking at Mila's design. I'm seeing bubbling a bit on the cape. It's off balance. I personally prefer my look."
Jerell makes early predictions:
- For fall, he likes Mila's pants, but thinks Rami is going to win for his "amazing" top.
- For spring, he says it looks like "the oldest chick from the 'Golden Girls' [from Austin] or money [from Kara]." (Um. That's Estelle Getty to you and she was actually the youngest of the actresses. Sorry, but I got to defend my girls. Yes, I am a grandma at heart.)
- For summer, he thinks Mondo has got it. "Kenley's is cute, but how many girls are really wearing polka dots like that. Maybe Minnie Mouse?"
Time to find out ...
The judges are Georgina Chapman, Isaac Mizrahi and guest judge Cynthia Rowley. Wait, where is the hockey player? No lacrosse jock who interned at Glamour? No puppet?
Anyway, based on the runway show in which the models of the same season come out at the same time, I think Jerell's predictions seem spot on. Austin's outfit is just some kind of preppy floral '80s disaster. Kara's outfit is simple, but has strong pops of color.
For me, Kenley's look is a bit thrift store. And I generally like that kind of thing. But there's just something a little off for me about the too cute light blue romper with white polka dots. It's just too precious. Mondo does his thing, pairing patterns well again, black and white checks and polka dots.
When it comes to Rami and Mila, I can't tell because I can't see the construction. They're both kinda not my thing.
Finally, it's Michael's and Jerell's. I'm just pulling for the latter because I feel like it's more fair. Plus, I like the whole bohemian look he's created. I would wear it.
"Mine is better," says Jerell.
"He made something that looks like Moses would wear it. I made something that looks like Jackie Kennedy would wear it," says Michael.
The judges critique begins:
Austin's outfit is tailored beautifully, says Isaac. Adds Cynthia, "It's almost so dorky it's cool." And I'm starting to wonder if this is crazy-ville and they're going to like this outfit. "For me, on that girl, it goes a little moderate. She looks like a bore," says Isaac. Phew. I feel bad for Austin when they say, "I wouldn't go out to lunch with that girl" or whatever, but it really isn't working.
Kara's look is approved by Georgina alone: "I like the fabric choices. I wouldn't mind looking like that." Cynthia says, "I just don't see anything original about any of these pieces at all." Tell us how you really feel!
Still, Kara wins.
Kenley's romper is a hit. Cynthia says, "I really like this. I think it's really simple and chic." Maybe it's because she hasn't seen the same thing from Kenley every week? But no! Isaac agrees, "I like this too a lot." Georgina warns her about lining up polka dots, but basically they like it.
Mondo's look gets mixed reviews. Cynthia is confused about the accessories recalling different eras. he says his outfit is not flattering. Afterward, backstage Mondo is weeping. He says he is embarrassed because this win was supposed to be a gift for his mother. Tactful Kenley chimes in to comfort him: "Listen, they said they would never have lunch with Austin's girl." She laughs. Austin looks like he wants to throttle her.
Rami's jacket is beautiful, they think, but has too much draping around the neck. They're not into the shirt underneath though. I have to be honest: Maybe the jacket is pretty and detailed in person, but the whole outfit looks like a nightmare to me. Poor Rami.
Mila gets decent reviews. "I like a cape," says Angela, practically with a yawn. Says Cynthia, "I like the geometry on it."
It's the moment of truth!
Jerell's look is beloved by the judges. "I think the coat is gorgeous. The buttons bother me," says Isaac. Otherwise, they love everything about it. They say it has his tribal, bohemian style, but translated.
But wait! Michael's jacket is also a hit. "The belt is so beautiful. I mean, she's resolved," raves Isaac. Cynthia notes, "It's more of like an ensemble. It's definitely older [than Jerell's]."
And ... Jerell wins! Rightfully so, I think, both because of the drama and because his sweater thingy was beautiful and well-styled.
Deliberation & Decision
There are some good points during deliberaion.
"We have seen this look quite a lot [from Kenley]," says Georgina. Isaac agrees.
Isaac says about Mila's outfit, "I didn't think the fabric looked expensive at all."
That's when Angela apparently can't take it anymore and busts out, "Rami's look just made me kind of ill. Those colors!"
"Have we made our decision?" asks Angela.
"Reluctantly," answers Georgina.
The Winner: It's between Kenley and Jerell and Jerell wins! He wishes Michael good luck as he leaves the runway, which is classy to me. "I'm happy the judges were able to see the real McCoy," he adds.
Going Home: It's between Rami and Austin and Rami gets sent packing. Apparently, those colors were truly distressing.
Part of me also wonders, is it because he wasn't good TV? Because he was too mellow? But in my heart, I know that acid green just really wasn't working.
"Project Runway All Stars" airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. EST on Lifetime.