Note: Do not read on if you have not seen Episode 11 of Lifetime's "Project Runway All Stars."
Turning on the TV to watch this week's episode, I was a little afraid of what I'd find. Home visits with the remaining designers, but no Tim Gunn? Whoever heard of such a thing?
No one apparently, because the structure has changed.
The first news we receive is that Austin shaved his mustache. Mondo says, "He used to look like Errol Flynn. Now he looks like Kermit The Frog." In case you thought that was a compliment because they all drooled over Miss Piggy earlier in the season, think again. The comment was meant to be nasty and it's only the beginning.
Georgina Chapman and Isaac MIzrahi join Angela Lindvall on the runway to announce that, while designers usually spend months or at least weeks on "Project Runway" designing a collection, the final challenge will be much shorter than that and will involve designing a mini-collection to showcase specific talents.
The gist: 5 looks. 4 days. 3 designers. 2 nervous breakdowns. 1 winner.
The designers each have a $3,000 budget for fabric at Mood. (Lucky Mood!) They plug Neiman Marcus. All is right with the world.
Next stop? Joanna Coles' office at Hearst, which is admittedly a nice building, but the way these designers swoon, you'd think they arrived at Buckingham Palace to meet the Queen.
"I feel like I'm in a dream," says Austin. Maybe he's never seen those cool TV screens in an elevator before.
"This could possibly change my life," says Mondo. And, I think, yes, most likely he'll win.
JC greets them wearing a super cool yellow dress with an exposed zipper up the back and I'm coveting, for real.
That's when the seemingly rehearsed, scripted or at least required questions begin, as if they said to the designers, "Everyone think of a good question NOW." It's like an advertorial.
We open on an office overlooking Central Park. Three designers sit around a table with the Editor-in-Chief of a major magazine.
Michael: What do you basically look for in a collection?
JC: What you're looking for is a shift from the previous season and then when you're seeing as many as 50 to 70 shows, you're looking for themes. And then you're looking for people who are doing it really well.
Mondo: Blah blah blah something about theatrics in a show being necessary?
JC: That's not essential to showing a great collection.
Someone: Can you tell us about the guest editor position here at Marie Claire?
JC: You'll be working with Nina Garcia and her team. Then something about how much she loves to come to work everyday.
CUT TO: Talking Heads
Mondo: This prize is my dream job.
Michael: It's a route that I can take to help better my career as a fashion designer.
CUT BACK TO: Office - Day
JC: I will be thrilled to have any one of you join the Marie Claire team.
The designers go get inspired.
Michael sees the green in Central Park and wants to translate it into his collection.
Austin says, "I will be making a wedding dress, the ultimate dress most women will wear in their lives."
Mondo says, "This my moment to redeem myself." And honestly he's said things like that so many times now that it takes me a minute to realize he means for not winning his season.
He wells up talking about wanting to win. Ruh roh. Lots of pressure.
Mood & Workroom
They have only one hour to choose fabric at Mood.
Michael is inspired by African Safari.
Austin is thinking of a woman coming out of a Fragonard painting (Translation: 16th century French dude) meets modern day rock star meets Hasidic gentleman. Yeah.
Mondo says, "This is where you have to commit." He complains that he's not feeling it. What else is new?
Meanwhile, the workroom has been transformed overnight, which means some P.A. is really tired.
And it turns out Mondo has a mean streak: He seems to be venting his aggression at Austin. I'm not sure why he hates him so much, but it's as if Austin is the mother (just trying to be helpful!) and Mondo is a moody teenage boy. Anyway, he's disappointed by the fabrics he chose, which really doesn't seem like Austin's fault.
Mondo is really losing it. He confides to Michael, "This is a lot of pressure, Mike. I feel dead inside." Drama much? These people should read a newspaper and get some perspective. Better yet, read this recap weekly on The Huffington Post!
Even Michael is over his BFF's drama. He reminds us that he has kids he's away from and he finds Mondo's narcissism kind of insulting. Amen. Mondo is talented, but this is just too much.
Georgina Chapman shows up. She's so pretty and I'm loving her geometric white tunic sitch, belted at the waist. Would that only look good on her?
It's revealed that Neiman Marcus gave Georgina her start. We get it! You all love Neimans. How much did they pay?
Georgina describes what she's looking for in a collection: "I want something to excite me. That's an incredible idea."
Then, a little shockingly, Mondo continues his hissy fit with Georgina. She says, "Mondo, you look like you've had enough." Presumably, he's fidgeting or rolling his eyes or has said something that got cut out.
"I'm just tired of people telling me what I'm capable of doing. I'm not happy right now," he says, like a spoiled child.
Don't get me wrong. I totally understand feeling that way -- put upon by other people's expectations -- but get it together! This is an opportunity, not a death sentence and you're on national television acting like you deserve sympathy for being on a reality show you signed up for. Twice.
"So, do you need to take a moment?" Georgina says much more diplomatically than I would have. Then, she shares that she used to have breakdowns with every collection. She's a saint. I'm not sure Joanna Coles would have been quite so patient. I know I wouldn't have been.
But Mondo is still in a foul mood.
Michael says, "Sometimes maybe he does only think about his feelings."
The next day, Mondo pronounces, "This experience has seriously made me crazy. That's my inspiration. I'm doing a collection called, 'Therapy.'" OK. Maybe also consider getting some while you're at it maybe?
But Austin is still some kind of evil competitor is Mondo's eyes, even though he seems kind of sweet. "Whatever he wants, he usually gets it," complains Mondo about Austin. Really, Mondo? Take a look in the mirror. Instead, Mondo adds with heavy sarcasm, "That's become my motto, 'Good for Austin.'"
Whoa. Projecting much?
Meanwhile, I'm looking at Mondo's inkblots and thinking where have I seen that before? Hmm.
Austin says he's always been fascinated by Hasidic men because of how they dress. Would peyos wigs be offensive?
Mondo has a man crush on Issac Mizrahi, who shows up to lend moral support.
"Please enjoy the process or else we will be able to tell," he warns. Foreshadowing for Mondo? Isaac brings a CD with three songs on it and the designers must each pick one. Michael and Mondo just go ahead and decide without even asking Austin, but he accepts the leftovers with a positive spin about liking the guitar. And he's the brat?
Angela shows up to announce an "All Stars Twist," not surprisingly. Each designer must create just one more look out of fabric scraps from previous challenges and with the help of one former cast member.
6 looks. 5 Neiman Marcus name drops. 4 mean Mondo quips. Etc.
Austin is psyched. Mondo is pissed. Michael is just sweet and clueless. Same as always.
Mondo picks Mila because of her technical abilities, approach to design and work ethic.
Austin picks Anthony because they share a similar couture aesthetic.
Michael picks April, who is surprised that Michael chose her because their aesthetics are different, but she pledges to do a great job.
The former contestants give their respective designer's feedback, the best of which is that Anthony doesn't like Austin's lace shawl because "it looks like dead white lady."
Meanwhile, this inkblot thing is really bugging, so I do a search and find that, on "Project Runway" Season 9, during a team challenge involving winner Anya Ayoung Chee, they used inkblots as an inspiration. I knew I'd seen it before.
JC shows up to give feedback. With Austin, she almost seems sad, like she knows he won't win, but wants to reassure him that he worked really hard.
With Mondo, she applauds his sense of humor, even though I'm pretty sure he chose "craziness" as an inspiration without irony.
She says Michael's stuff is super recognizable as his and that "resort" is a strong commercial choice.
After she leaves, Austin gives Mondo a 30 minute warning before they need to be finished. Mondo says, "Thanks, girl." Then under his breath, he adds, "Now be gone." Mean. Mean. Mean.
The three finalists are almost in tears as they talk about wanting to win. But we won't know what happens for another whole week!
The season finale of "Project Runway All Stars" airs Thurs., March 22 on Lifetime.