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Project Runway All Stars Recap: Going, Going, (Opera) Gown

Perhaps we missed these in our giddy excitement at last week's premiere, but aren't this season's opening credits glamorous? (It's worth noting Gordana's glam figure in particular, welcome proof that she can stand up straight and pose too.)

Right after those, it's straight into the challenge reveal — again, these hour-long episodes are a glorious respite — with Angela, joined by design duo Mark Badgley and James Mischka of Badgley Mischka, announcing that this week the all stars get to go glam and dramatic, designing gowns worthy of a night at the opera. Of course, their time frame to do so is very limited.

After the obligatory HP product promo-blitz that now encompasses the designers' sketching session, it's off to Mood. (Bonus points to Anthony for wearing a "Thank You Mood"-emblazoned tee in both the workroom and his confessionals.) For the most part, these designers are too smart to freak out, fall over fabric bolts, pick gaudy polyester blends or, you know, lose all their money. But you can always count on Michael to bring some histrionics to the cutting table, this time with a wholly unnecessary freak-out over the fact that both he and April choose red fabrics. He flails, he stomps, he picks a different fabric... and that's the end of that.

It's quiet in the workroom, because again these designers are too smart to fight or gossip or waste any time whatsoever when they've been tasked with producing an approximation of couture in less than a day. There are a few murmurs when April boldly decides to dye her dress ombré-style, and then it's already time for Joanna Coles's crit sessions. She's worried about April's time management, thanks to her dip-dyeing session, and thinks Kenley's polka-dot confection and Anthony's cream charmeuse gown could look too bridesmaid/bridal, respectively. There's been a definite lack of Kenley's attitude so far this season, and dare we say we're missing it?

Still on her rounds, Joanna offered Michael the briefest hint of her underwear-themed catchphrase to come, questioning how his dress would support a real woman's bustline (spoiler: it wouldn't, and Jerell helpfully points out that nip slips at the opera are bad news — perhaps even worse than your iPhone's alarm going off mid-performance). She then asks Rami who he's intimidated by in this challenge, and this seems to set off a round of angsty confessionals from designers saying they just know Austin's going to win it.

These confessionals prove oddly prescient. Mark Badgley and James Mischka (who, confusingly, sit "in reverse") join Angela, Georgina, and Isaac to watch twelve really quite high-quality looks come down the runway, which is impressive given the designers' time and budget constraints. In another round of polite and insightful judging, Anthony's draping, Michael's feathers, and Austin's gold lame were deemed the week's best designs and, yes, Austin takes the win. He's just giddy about it. Less successful are the designers who took their chances on brighter colors and/or prints: Kara, April, and Sweet P (tw0 weeks in a row!) fill out the bottom three  spots. Despite the apparent consensus among the designers that April's ombré had failed badly enough to send her home, the judges nix Sweet P for her dirndl skirt and mismatched blouse.

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