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Ep. 10: In Which the Designers Finally Get Down To Business

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It's Week Ten of Project Runway All Stars and Faux Heidi, aka Angela Lindvall, announces to the designers that their latest challenge will bring business and fashion together. Each All Star must design a ready-to-wear dress for designer Nanette Lepore under her guidance and using a real budget. The winner's dress will be made in New York and sold in Nanette Lepore stores nationwide—with profits going to Save the Garment Center. This worthwhile challenge is different than the Project Runway norm. The designers are assigned something practical, which can help them in their careers, instead of being told to design clothing for people on stilts.

The All Stars start sketching their designs in Nanette's studios. At this point, we learn for the first time that Mondo doesn't actually draw his designs. He just doodles stars and hearts. We feel a strong sense of recognition as we are reminded of our tenth grade trigonometry notebook.

Nanette gives the designers feedback on their sketches and then has them "buy" their fabric from her studio—we immediately recognize colors and patterns from her past and current collections. Next, Nanette has the designers work with her "coster," Kelly Keough, an expert in determining what a design's retail price will be and how that cost breaks down. Kelly informs the All Stars what their designs will cost to mass produce and how much that leaves them to buy fabric. We're really intrigued by this and would love to learn more about what Kelly does and how she does it. But we don't get that chance, because now it's mentor time...

Nanette joins Joanna Coles as she makes her rounds this week. Once again the "Women can't wear bras with your dress" issue comes up with Michael. Why? Because once again, Michael makes a sexy draping dress that is too low cut in the front and back (and Michael says Kenley repeats herself?). Nanette explains that if women can't wear a bra with a dress, the dress won't sell well. The designer then goes around the room giving interesting practical advice to the All Stars on what actually works in the marketplace. This makes us wonder: in ten seasons, how can this be the first challenge that actually focuses realistically on the business side of fashion? (Look for our upcoming Viewing Party coverage where Nanette explains to us how this challenge came about.)

Our judges this week are Isaac Mizrahi, Georgina Chapman, and, of course, guest judge and temporary mentor, Nanette Lepore. You'll get no complaints from us about Nanette as a judge since we love her aesthetic, appreciate her real-world advice to the designers, and respect her support of the Garment Center. And we're not just saying all that because her people know where we live.

Our top two designers this week are Austin, with a cranberry swing coat that looks more like a dress; and Mondo with a boxy dress made from giant stripes of different materials. Mondo uses a wider variety of fabrics in one dress than some designers use in their whole collections. Much to Mondo's surprise, he wins. This means he'll be going to the finale. Is there any question now of who will be winning All Stars? Was there ever?

Our bottom two designers this week are Kenley, who omits a keyhole cutout from her initial design plans, thus making her peacock print dress too simple; and Michael, who makes a green low-cut caftan reminiscent of J Lo's legendary Versace Grammy dress. Or more accurately, reminiscent of the copy of said dress, worn to the Oscars by Trey Parker. Or even more accurately, reminiscent of most of Michael's own dresses from this season.

Of this week's four designs, we think Kenley's would have fit best into Nanette Lepore's stores. Furthermore, after seeing all the designs up close at the viewing party, we think it looked much better than Michael's caftan-schmatta. But this season Michael is Teflon. No criticism sticks to him. So we bid "Good bye" to Kenley, the last remaining female designer.

The details of next week's All Stars finale have been kept even more hush hush than usual. Supposedly there is some sort of fashion show, albeit not one which took place in the Fashion Week tents. So stay tuned... Meanwhile, look for our coverage of the All Stars viewing party we attended at Nanette Lepore's Soho store, and then next week, join us when we visit the very first Project Runway All Stars sample sale!

And now, for the Top Ten Moments of Project Runway All Stars Greatness...

10. Angela Lindvall says that the grand prize winner's designs will be sold at Neiman Marcus, "The finest luxury retailer in the United States." Perhaps instead "Faux Heidi," we should call her "Faux Trump."

9. Nanette Lepore tells Mondo his sketch looks "Like a tin can with a string sticking out." It makes us want to play telephone.

8. Austin is excited about the level of luxury he has been able to achieve in his look, explaining, "Not all of the dresses look very expensive in my mind." Trust us, not all of the dresses looked expensive in person either.

7. Michael shares that his dress is for a woman who, "Just got out of the swimming pool," but forgets to add, "And then trips over its long hem and winds up back in the pool."

6. The rarely articulate Faux Heidi says, "I would not feel flattering in that dress," as though the dress would make her lose all her ability to flatter.

5. About his design, Mondo explains, "The dress alone speaks for itself." Unfortunately, it says, "I desperately need a belt."

4. Nanette Lepore didn't like Austin's choice of fabric. Which he got from her fabric room.

3. The judges complain that Michael doesn't get his point of view across. We think Michael POV is quite clear. It's "I like draping."

2. Isaac shares, "I don't like to objectify women where they're just out of control sexy." Oddly enough, Isaac, with you we were never concerned about that.

1. Regarding his dress, Mondo says, "I almost threw in the towel." But then he decides just to add a stripe to it from the towel.

· All Project Runway All Stars Posts [Racked]
· Nanette Lepore [Official Site]
· Save The Garment Center [Official Site]