You probably got done watching tonight’s Project Runway All Stars with one huge question still lingering on your mind: How does a pig feel about wearing giraffe print?
I have no idea. But I did get to enjoy a pre-screening of this week’s episode–where the remaining designers have to create a red carpet look for the effervescent style icon Miss Piggy–and sit in on a panel discussion afterward with a few of the all stars themselves. Marie Claire editor Joanna Coles moderated, Isaac Mizrahi spewed wisdom, and Austin Scarlett stole the show. But would you expect anything less?
This whole season has sort of been a make-it-work moment for Project Runway, what with new judges and old personalities all trying to breathe life back into a show that, for the most part, seems pretty much out of tricks. So far everything has been noticeably drama free–three episodes in and Michael Costello STILL hasn’t gotten on anyone’s nerves (except for maybe April but she’s always brooding anyway), and the closest we’ve gotten to a cat fight was tonight when Austin tried to run off with Kara’s accessories.
But that doesn’t mean the designers haven’t been feeling the heat. Gathered at the Paley Center for Media on Fifth Avenue and 52nd Street, Scarlett, Costello, Kara Janx, Mondo Guerra (TEAM MONDO!) and Kenley Collins chatted about why they decided to come back for another season, what it’s like dealing with a new panel of judges and how they all really really really love working together.
Let’s be serious. Everyone knows Mondo Guerra SHOULD have won season eight, but it’s ok he didn’t because now he’s back and we get to see those whacky creative juices at work once again. Entering the workroom only ten months after leaving it, the quirky designer says it’s like he never left. Except now he’s surrounded by–let’s just go ahead and say it–a lot more more talented people. And that’s perfectly cool.
“It makes you work a lot harder,” he says. “I went back with the confidence like, ‘wow, I’m here again,’ but that said there’s so much pressure. And then you get there and realize that these challenges are really designed to make us or break us. It’s scary.”
Scary, but also inspiring. Michael Costello, who somehow managed to piss off everyone and still make it to the top four alongside Guerra, says it’s constantly having other creative minds around him that enables him to produce his best work. And judging by his win tonight, he may have a point.
“You do look around the room and you see what everyone else is doing and you say hi to everyone, but it’s more of a thing, like, everyone in the room you’re good with, and you have relationships with them and you talk to them,” he says. “I like the intensity of it. That’s why I signed up for all stars.”
As for Scarlett, who incidentally was “channeling Margaret Thatcher” tonight in a pearl beaded cardigan, he says his fire comes from within. Perhaps too much so, at times.
“That’s probably the hardest part: the distractions, or getting too into it,” he says. “Sometimes there’s such a short amount of time that the real problem is trying to get yourself out of your design and take a step back.”
But while racing the clock to come up with couture gowns made from party supplies might sound challenging, the contestants aren’t the only ones working outside their comfort zones these days. Joanna Coles, stepping in for Tim Gunn as mentor this season, says she can’t find anything to wear ever and new judge Georgina Chapman (the designer behind Marchesa) says all her clothes are too shiny and glittery and red carpety for reality television. However none of the newbies seem to have it so bad as model Angela Lindvall, who’s hosting in the shadow of TV’s favorite supermodel.
“I must say I was a little scared because I like my anonymity and I kind of jumped head first into my fear and was like, ‘Ok, I’m going to do this,'” she says. “Not to mention I’m filling the shoes of Heidi Klum’s role, which I know how loved she is by America. But I jumped headfirst in and I had a blast.”
So what’s in store for this season? No one really knows except for executive producer Rob Bagshaw, who promises that challenges will only get harder. And with the stakes as high as they ever have been–we’re talking a floor boutique at Neiman Marcus AND a guest editorship at Marie Claire–let’s cross our fingers that the best designer (ahem, Mondo) wins.
Important side note: The Paley Center currently has most of the runway looks from tonight’s episode on display through February 2 and they’re actually incredible up close. Be sure to check them out if you have a chance!
Romi’s polka dot dress that looks like “a candy factory exploded.” It probably should have won, but whatever.
Apparently Miss Piggy was born in the 60s. Mondo is so wise.
More sound words from the designer:
“With every challenge you really have to stay true to who you are as an artist and as a designer. Don’t ask so many questions and don’t second guess yourself and just go for it.”
Austin’s dress with the enormous bows is disappointing, but alas. Gordana’s grandma night dress without enormous bows is even more disappointing.
Mod meets Wednesday Adams. Weird. Thanks Mila.
[blurry awful images my own]