‘Project Runway All Stars’ releases names of returning designers

PJAS3Project Runway All Stars, the series that fills the gaps when Heidi and company have off between seasons as former contestants vie for more glory, returns with a third season Oct. 24 with a new host, new mentor … and cast of familiar faces.

A remarkable three former winners — Jeffrey Sebelia (Season 3), Irina Shabayeva (Season 6) and Seth Aaron Henderson (Season 7) — plus a first runner-up — Korto Momolu (Season 5) — are back trying to win nearly $1 million in prizes. Other returning contestants include last season’s Austin-based Daniel Esquivel, as well as popular designers Michael Knight (Season 3), Viktor Luna (Season 9) and Christopher Palu (Season 10). The remainder of the cast includes Ari South (Season 8), Melissa Fleis (Season 10) and Elena Silvnyak (Season 10). And, of course, there’s some gay there (though not as gay as it could be — Sebelia is that rarest of breeds: a straight male fashion designer).

Other changes include Alyssa Milano and the new host and Marie Claire senior fashion editor Zanna Roberts Rassi as the new mentor. Isaac Mizrahi and Georgina Chapman are back as judges. Guest judges throughout the season will include Kristin Chenoweth, Michael Urie, Nate Berkus and former contestants Mondo Guerra (who won the first All Stars) and Christian Siriano.

The current season of Project Runway is currently on Lifetime Thursday nights; All Stars will replace it after its finale.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

“Project Runway” winner Mondo in Dallas tonight

Mondo Guerra, the waifish couturier who came oh-so-close to winning his season of Project Runway, only to return and finally take the title for the recently-completely Project Runway: All-Stars, will be in Dallas tonight — his first official public appearance since being named the winner last month.

Mondo will appear at the Celebrity Fashion Experience (benefiting Autism Speaks) at the Loft Space, 816 Montgomery St. The doors open for the red carpet event at 7 p.m. Several designers will present, including Mondo’s castmate from Season 9, Laura Kathleen.

Mondo was a fan favorite in his season, and became especially popular following the emotional confession that he is HIV-positive.

 

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

“Project Runway” crowns a gay winner — we just don’t know which one yet

Ever since Project Runway moved from Bravo to Lifetime two years ago, its entertainment quotient has taken a nose-dive. Season 8 was the most boring until the current season, an All-Stars edition which brings back players from Seasons 1 through 8. (Season 9 also crowned a controversial winner, someone who had been a designer for only a few months.) This version has been marred by dumb competitions and a substitute slate of less interesting judges. (No Tim Gunn! No Heidi! No Michael Kors! No Nina Garcia!… OK, that last one’s not so bad.)

But the one thing you can say about this season is: Whoever wins will be a gay guy.

That may seem like a ho-hum moment, but considering just how gay the show is — from the judges to the mentor to the contestants to the audience — it’s rather remarkable how poorly the gays have fared over the years. Last season, every male contest was gay (though one claimed not to be but… I mean, c’mon!); two were in the final three, but lost to a straight woman. Since the beginning, at least seven gay men have made the top three, but none has won since Season 4′s Christian Siriano. He may even be the last truly deserving winner.

That changes tonight. In the second of the two-part season finale, the three finalists are all gay: Austin Scarlett (Season 1′s fourth placer), Michael Costello (8′s fourth placer) and Mondo Guerra (8′s runner-up). Kenley Collins was kicked off fourth.

The fact Kenley and Costello stayed in the running so long — or that either is considered an “all-star” — is another one of the problems with the series: You become acutely aware what flashes-in-the-pan some of these designers were, and that they got further on the show than their talents would bear out. (Costello continues to steal others’ ideas, then drape a goddess dress to eke through.)

Mondo was the deserving loser a few seasons back, and Austin has become such a fun personality over the years (especially after his travel-fashion series with Santino Rice), so our loyalties are divided. But we’ll be watching for sure.

So … who do you hope wins?

—  Arnold Wayne Jones