This week on PRAS: We've hit the final four: Austin, Kenley, Michael and Mondo battle it out in what Mondo so accurately describes as "the last challenge before the final three." New York City designer Nanette Lepore is this week's guest judge, and the winning look will be sold in her stores across the United States. The theme this week is "saleability." The designers are challenged to create a ready-to-wear look for the retail customer. Profits from the sale of the winner's look will go to Save the Garment Center, an organization dedicated to encouraging, highlighting and promoting "Made in NYC" and "Made in America." Also, did you guys know Mondo doesn't sketch? Like, at all? Well, he doesn't.
Well, it only took an entire season, but Project Runway All Stars has finally given us some truly fascinating content. After a sketching session, each designer consults with Nanette and her coster, Kelly, to see how much each outfit will cost to produce and sell; the difference between the retail cost and the manufacturing cost determines each designer's fabric budget. BRILLIANT. Michael's "fabric-eating" (Nanette's word, not ours) jersey jumpsuit will retail for about $350, leaving him with a $48 fabric budget. It's on. (Kenley: $350 retail/$41 fabric budget; Austin: $500 retail/$65 fabric budget; Mondo: $300 retail/$32 fabric budget.)
Continuing the trend of getting interesting at the last minute, Mondo's "I don't sketch" thing comes up again. His meeting with Nanette Lepore is awkward since there are no actual sketches to look at in order to estimate costs. Immediately following that painful exchange, Mondo walks out into the front of Lepore's boutique and hears Kenley talking smack -- apparently she doesn't think you're a "real designer" unless you can sketch. She throws up her hands in frustration when Mondo gets pissed off. What's a pin-up wannabe got to do to get a little understanding?
The anger is assuaged, at least temporarily, when the designers are set loose in Lepore's own fabric floor. They shop and work with coster Kelly to "purchase" their fabrics and then it's back to the workroom to battle for their spot in the final three. Plans begin to go awry when Kenley's peacock-printed fabric won't allow for the keyhole detail she intended, and Michael's fabric has a print that stops short of the fabric's border. Quelle horreur! Michael's caftan will have to be sleeveless! Mondo feels completely defeated and he's Grumpy Gus in the workroom.
When Joanna finally brightens the workroom door with her smile, we see she's brought along Nanette Lepore. Joanna describes this as the most important challenge because it decides the final three, and it's also where "art and commerce meet." Why can't PRAS have been addressing interesting issues like this all season? Seriously. Can someone tell us? As Joanna addresses the designers, everyone stops working...except Kenley, of course. Joanna pulls out her best British schoolmarm: "Kenley! I'm talking to you!" and Kenley snaps to attention.
Naturally Joanna and Nanette visit Kenley first, and they question the fit of the dress. Luckily for them, Kenley immediately tells them that they are wrong and that she is right. Now that everyone is on the same page at Kenley's station, Joanna and Nanette move on to Michael, whose design matches his sketch but does not match a woman's need to wear a bra. Joanna calls him out for that -- again -- and they all agree a couple of hook-and-eye closures will do the trick. Austin's critique is pretty tame, but we cut to a quick solo interview with Michael in which he confesses he doesn't know what the judges see in Austin's work. Did we mention Michael was making (ANOTHER) caftan?
Michael: Lepore loves it, and says she would put it in her suitcase and go. Georgina calls it "sensual without being overtly sexual." Angela and Georgina point out that it's too long, and Lepore revisits the dress's open back, saying, "Backless things don't really sell that well, as sexy as they are."
Kenley: Georgina isn't sure the peacock pattern lends itself to the dress's design; Angela calls the print "very Kenley," but criticizes the seam placement. Lepore calls it wearable, but misses the keyhole that was in the original sketch and says it was the one special element that really made it stand out. Isaac Mizrahi calls it "a nice dress," but tells Kenley he kept waiting for it to become something more inspired. Ouch.
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Mondo: Isaac Mizrahi loves the dress, and calls the color placement "masterful." Mizrahi wishes the cut were a little slimmer in the waist. Lepore points out that the straight shift isn't a good cut for all body types, and Angela thinks the high heels were overdoing it. Georgina isn't excited, but calls his use of fabric strong.
Austin: The judges only realize Austin's dramatic swing coat is a coat after he describes the garment on the runway. Isaac says he likes it, would never have guessed it was a coat ("I thought it was a little taffeta dress or something.") and, most importantly, that he's now willing to overlook some of the things that bothered him when he thought it was a dress. Although all of the judges think the fabric choice was wrong -- it's quite wrinkly -- they all agree Austin made a beautiful garment.
Winner: Mondo Out: Kenley Final Three: Austin, Mondo, Michael