Crafty Manolo » Polka Dot Queen vs the Polka Dot Princess or the Battle of the Yeti Coats

Polka Dot Queen vs the Polka Dot Princess or the Battle of the Yeti Coats

By Twistie

Well. The fur certainly flew in last night’s episode of Project Runway All Stars!

Sniping, trash talk, mutterings in corners… we expect all of these. But accusations of plagiarism? Not so often.

Let’s talk about it behind the cut, shall we?

So. The designers gathered at the runway to hear about their new challenge. Angela Lindvall shows up with a bunch of great, big, obnoxiously loud bags in tow. She tells Mondo that since he won the previous challenge, he gets to choose a bag first. And then he gets to pick who goes next, and so on. Austin is the last one left, but he’s delighted with that great big silver bag.

As it turns out, though, the bags aren’t what’s important. No, it’s what’s in them. Each bag contains a card with the name of a season on it. Austin and Kara have spring, Mondo and Kenley have summer, Rami and Mila get fall, and Jerell and Michael are the boys of winter.

Yes, it’s a head to head challenge! In each pair, one design will be on the top and the other will be on the bottom. The best of the top looks will win and the worst of the bottom looks will win the designer the boot.

So, trip to MOOD. Mondo and Kenley both immediately grab polka dots. Big polka dots. Kenley’s are white on a baby blue background, and Mondo’s are the same size, but white on a black background. Jerell seems convinced that Michael is following him around, and there is footage of Michael in the same places as Jerell including some of him looking in Jerell’s direction, yes. Then again, they are both going for winter weight stuff, and I’d be surprised if one couldn’t put together a similar montage of Austin ‘stalking’ Kara, despite the fact they bought very different fabrics in the end.

Back in the workroom, we get the usual clips of designers running down other peoples’ designs and work ethics.

And then it begins.

Michael was working on a vest as part of his look. When he started trying to put it together, it just wasn’t making him happy. Jerell, meanwhile, is trying a big, tweedy coat with leather trim on Kenley. And a little while later, Michael has changed gears and is making… a big tweedy coat. It’s a different tweed, a different leather, and a somewhat different shape than Jerell’s, but it is a big tweedy coat with leather trim in pretty much the same color palette.

Almost immediately Jerell starts making digging comments at Michael. Jerell, just freaking come out and say what you mean, okay? Put on your grown up pants. Of course, Michael knows exactly what Jerell’s talking about and it really would have behooved him to make some more changes in his design to differentiate the two more. And if he wouldn’t, Jerell might have tried that, too. In short, I don’t think Michael was deliberately copying Jerell, but I don’t think either one handled the situation well.

In fact, for the rest of the challenge, the tension is so thick in the room I doubt a weed whacker could have cut it. In fact, at one point Mondo suggests to Michael that they go get something to eat. Over spaghetti and salad, they discuss the situation a bit, and Mondo is very supportive of Michael. Then Jerell enters the room, catches the last phrase before they spot him, sits down at the same table with them and indulges in a bit more passive aggression. In the high point of the episode, Mondo deadpans that this is just like dinner with his family.

Eventually Joanna Coles comes into the workroom and gathers everyone to clear the air. Okay, it’s not fun, and again I don’t believe that Michael meant to copy Jerell, but when it gets to that point? Change. The. Design. Somehow. It no longer matters who’s right, who’s wrong, or even whether there’s blame to be attributed. The accusation has taken on a life of its own.

Other than that confab, Joanna has a look at what everyone is doing and gives her thoughts. She asks Mondo about the fact that he and Kenley are both using polka dots. After all, Kenley is known for polka dots. Mondo says that yes, Kenley is the polka dot queen “but I’m the polka dot princess.” Love it. He says that this is is mother’s sixtieth birthday and he’s disappointed he can’t be there, but he’s making an outfit to represent what he would wear to the party if he was a girl. It’s adorable in a slightly surreal way. There’s a reason I have a thing for Mondo.

Joanna loves the color Rami has chosen for his shirt. It’s the same shade of chartreuse she’s wearing, after all! She wonders if anyone but Kenley would want to wear Kenley’s design. She takes one look at Mila’s skinny pants and says she would know they were Mila’s anywhere.

Eventually, the big moment comes and the models take to the runway.

Longtime fans of the series have come to realize that every season there’s one challenge that just brings out the least inspiration in virtually every competitor. Folks, I think we found that challenge for this season. It’s been a long time since I have seen such a parade of insipid vs fugly on Project Runway.

First up, spring. Austin has made a pair of high waisted kakhi capris worn with a ruffled shell blouse in a floral print  featuring pinks and greens on an ivory background. This is paired with a baby pink shrunken cardigan with a ruffled edging of the print. It’s all beautifully made and I could see every piece on a department store rack and in a woman’s closet… but the complete effect wasn’t inspirational at all. Pretty enough and romantic, yes, but pretty darn safe.

Still, he did bother to put some actual design into the outfit. Kara’s look consisted of white palazzo pants, a boysenberry colored v-neck shell blouse, and an oversized light grey cardigan sweater. I’ve already owned every one of those pieces in multiple colors. There was literally nothing to any of them. Where’s the design, Kara?

Then we come to summer. Kenley created a baby blue and white polka dotted short romper with an off center peter pan collar and little loose cap sleeves. I have profound difficulty imagining anyone over the age of twelve wearing it… and I know the model was older than that. Still, it is impeccably fitted, though I do wish she had tried just a little harder to match up those dots properly. too many of them along seams came out very wonky. I know it’s incredibly hard to do, but if you’re leaving yourself that little room for error in a design, people notice these things.

Then again, the girl Mondo wants to be at his mother’s birthday party… is a serious throwback to high school in the eighties. There’s a loose, cropped black and white polka dot shirt worn over black and white printed shorts with black piping along the openings of the pockets. As much as I love Mondo… this I cannot love.

For the fall, Mila produces her dark grey skinny pants with zippers on the ankles, an awkward camel colored cloak with broad strips of black emphasizing the edges, and a bright red knitwear extra-long-sleeved shirt. Nothing about it is terribly imaginative, and the construction on the cloak isn’t exactly the best I’ve ever seen her do. If Mila has a strength, it’s her meticulous construction, and I frankly don’t see it here.

Then again, Rami has truly laid an egg of monstrous proportions. His color choices of royal blue and chartreuse are perhaps not the best considered of all time. Don’t get me wrong, I happen to love both colors. And if chosen with extreme care, it might be possible to come up with shades of these two colors that love one another and come together into something wonderful. These were not those shades. This was not that wonderful thing.

He started off with a pair of very skinny charcoal grey pants with a raised seam down the front of the leg. Then he topped that with the chartreuse cowl neck top with the really heavy, oddly draped cowl. Then he topped it with the royal blue wrapped and draped coat with the royal blue leather shoulders and the heavy, cowled draping at the neck and cinched it tight at the waist. Oh. Dear. And when the judges asked to see the look with the coat open, everyone agreed it made the coat a bazillion times better… except that it showed off the Frankenstein puckered zigzag stitching across the torso that made the model look like her breasts were not only two different sizes, but placed on an angle.

And finally we come to winter and the battle of the yeti coats.

Michael’s look consisted of a furry, tweedy tunic and coat in a black and brown stripe worn over black leggings that extended over the heels of the model’s shoes. I feel compelled to point out here that black patent leather stilettos were not the best choice of footwear. The tunic features a very slightly cowled turtleneck and the coat has become really more of a vest, while the shirt underneath has tight black sleeves and big cuffs of the yeti cloth.

Jerell has created something that looks more like a flapper coat in a bold brown and ecru classic tweed edged at the bottom with a black, white, and grey almost ombre stripe. The collar is a black yeti cloth with huge brown furry polka dots. There’s a huge decorative (as well as practical) horn button and three quarter sleeves.

Frankly, the two things that look most alike about the two looks are the color palette and the fact that both used black leggings and at least some furry yeti cloth. I like Jerell’s better than Michael’s, partly because I love a good Boho flapper inspired work and that’s what he’s created here. Also, the styling was miles and miles and miles better. Ankle boots and a beret made for a better winter look than sunglasses and stilettos.

All the same, the judges are all aghast at how alike the two looks are. They also seem agreed that Michael has no particular style of his own. Then again, they’re finally saying something about Kenley being a pretty one-note designer.

The judges declare that Kara, Kenley, Mila, and Jerell are on the top. That means Austin, Mondo, Rami, and Michael are on the bottom. No matter how you slice it, that means someone I wanted to get to the finale is going home.

Jerell is declared the winner, and I think that was the right choice. Frankly, the other three were standing there in the winner’s circle mostly because the judges threw darts at pictures of the designs to decide which was less awful. At least I’m guessing that’s how they did it. Frankly, I would have been hard pressed to decide in a couple of those cases. Nearly everyone went to crap all at once.

But when it comes to who did the worst job, there really was no great surprise. The Frankenboob shirt sent Rami home.

Farewell, Rami! I think your work has grown tremendously since you were the king of draping and only draping. What’s more, your generally mellow, drama free personality has been a breath of fresh air in the workroom. I’ll miss you… but I have a feeling this is far from the last we’ll hear from you.

2 Responses to “Polka Dot Queen vs the Polka Dot Princess or the Battle of the Yeti Coats”

  1. Sarah R Says:

    Really, this was one of the worst challenges I’ve seen. Kara’s look could have been made much better with a bit of accessorizing (a wide belt, maybe??) and Austen’s looked like a fantasy out of a 60’s ladies tea wherein everyone shopped at the Doris Day store (he really needs to get over that). It was nice to hear the judges talk about Kenley’s one-note (I couldn’t believe that they loved her outfit- it looked like it belonged on a beach somewhere in 1951, worn by a polka-dot-loving toddler). I actually liked Rami’s color palette, and even liked the outfit at first glance, but the Frankenboob horrified me when I got a closer look at it (I was washing dishes, so I got only fleeting glances at the runway show). I couldn’t believe that he did such a poor job on the shirring. Really, it was horrible. I knew when I got a closer look at it that he would be the one to go. That jacket was fantastic, though, and had he paired it with a different top (or even just gotten this one right- it looked like it had been sewn by Godzilla), this might have ended much differently. Sad, very sad, because I also picked him for a finalist.

  2. ZaftigWendy Says:

    Frankly, I was hoping Michael or Kenley would get auf’d (I miss you, Heidi!). Michael, because all his stuff looks to me like it’s made for a high-class hooker, and Kenley, because she only makes clothes for 1951 Barbie.

    This is the first time that Jerell made something I really liked. His was CLEARLY the only winning garment on the runway.

    (Oh, and I wouldn’t be at all upset for Mila to go home. I’ve had my fill of colorblocking.)

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