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Watching Project Runway With Guest Judge Nanette Lepore And The All Stars

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Last night, we attended a viewing party for the latest Project Runway All Stars episode at guest judge Nanette Lepore's Soho store. Although at times it was difficult watching the episode in a noisy party environment, it was worth it—because we got firsthand scoop about the show directly from Nanette and her guests Austin, Kenley, Michael and Mondo. Plus, we got to see the episode's four competing dresses up close...

Kenley was the first All Star to arrive. She looked smashing in one of Nanette Lepore's red lace dresses. Despite losing this challenge, and her loud heckling of "Thank you!" to the television when she was called "stubborn," Kenley was extremely gracious to everyone, particularly to the party's host. Nanette Lepore was concerned that Kenley had to hear her negative criticisms during the broadcast. Fortunately, this was not the snarky Kenley of Season Five. The All Star designer was very respectful to Nanette. She even raved to us about having Nanette Lepore as a judge, saying, "She was amazing. She's a real working designer that sells ready-to-wear clothes, and that is what I'm all about so I valued her opinion the most."

While Kenley lit up the room wherever she went, Mondo, in an enormous wizard-like hat from Barcelona, shared with us why this was such a dark season for him, despite his repeated victories.

The reason I went on the show was to really challenge myself artistically. But when I was actually there I was like, "What the hell did I get myself into again?" I wasn't in the best mood during the whole series. And this whole challenge was difficult for me because by this point I was really ready to leave. I wanted to give up for this challenge. [Fortunately], Nanette was super sweet and understanding.

Austin and Michael both had a good time mingling at the party. We noticed that Michael tended to watch himself when he was on the screen, but surprisingly, Austin, who we've always thought looked a lot like David Bowie, didn't.

When Mondo's eventual victory was announced, two models came out, each attired in a copy of his winning dress. The sale version of the dress includes a thin black tie belt at the waist. Ironically, the models put these belts on incorrectly—tying them in the front instead of in the back, so Nanette Lepore and Mondo had to rush over and fix them. Mondo didn't seem fazed seeing his dresses on the models, but when he spotted a group of his designs, mass produced and hanging on one of the store's racks, he was very moved.

The other three designers' dresses from the episode were also up on display. As we said in our episode recap, we thought Kenley's looked much better in person than Michael's. We would have auf'd him this week.

The one person we really wanted to talk to about the episode, however, was guest judge Nanette Lepore. We finally got our chance at the end of the evening. Nanette was very gracious and extremely candid in answering the obsessive fan questions that had been plaguing us about the episode.

We'd been wondering why Project Runway had never before done a business-oriented episode like this and and asked Nanette if she had brought the idea to them. She responded, "Yeah, we pitched it to them. I think they saved mine for the penultimate challenge, because they knew it would be a great lead in to the Neiman Marcus-win finale."

We also were extremely curious about how much input her opinions had on who won the challenge, since she would be selling their design in her stores. Nanette explained, "I couldn't tell. I don't know if there was already some way they wanted it go. I just felt like I was really strong about my opinions—and I felt like my opinions made a difference."

As we were about to head home, we asked Nanette one final question: How did the All Star designers ended up using all her old fabrics for the challenge? Nanette laughed, responding, "I have so much fabric up there in the storage room. My husband is dying for me to get rid of it."

· All Project Runway Posts [Racked]
· Nanette Lepore [Official Site]