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Project Runway All Stars Recap: Winter Is Coming; Fall Takes a Fall

Weighed down by eight tacky-looking weekend bags, Angela explains that this week's challenge is to make activewear for a client who is off doing something (anything), somewhere (anywhere), on the weekend (any weekend or occasion, really). Such vague challenges always produce maddening results because the designers inevitably develop looks with very different goals in mind, and then the judges never keep their critiques consistent.

After each designer picks a bag, they realize they're actually not important at all, but the luggage tags inside are: They reveal that the contestants will be matched up to compete against each other in four "fashion face-offs," with each duo making a look appropriate for a particular season. In other words, the producers need more conflict, and constructs like this usually provoke some good old back-biting and the odd tear here and there. But this season, the all-stars still want to play nice, at least outside the confessional booth.

One person from each pairing (Austin vs. Kara for spring, Kenley vs. Mondo for summer, Mila vs. Rami for fall, and Jerell vs. Michael for winter) will receive a high score, the other, a low score. Kara and Austin briefly try to psych each other out, and Mondo and Kenley joke around in that not-actually-joking way once they realize they've both bought polka-dot prints. But this week all the workroom drama comes from Michael and Jerell. And really, just from Michael — because after his first few design ideas fall flat, he decides to flat-out copy Jerell's chunky cowl-neck coat.

Needless to say, this doesn't go down well, and the tension between the pair soon grows thick enough that Joanna Coles, during her critiques, calls a "group meeting" to discuss the not-so-veiled allegations that plagiarism is at work. She gently questions Michael's conduct, which spurs some interesting discussion among the designers, though most of their perspectives seems drawn along the workroom cliques' lines. Later, over dinner, Michael and Jerell bicker some more — mid-mouthful even. Michael's particularly annoyed he had to defend his ethics to Joanna — though he'll now have to defend the terrible British accent he put on, too. (In other Michael news, did his eyebrows suddenly get extra-sculpted? After taking his model to hair and makeup, they appeared almost triangular. Perhaps he took some of his frustration out with tweezers.)

There's a neat little twist on the runway, with each pair of seasonal looks walking out together before getting their individual turns. The comparative process certainly helps the judges critique the designers' work against each other with abandon — the harshest comments coming from this week's guest judge Cynthia Rowley, who seemed much meaner here than on 24 Hour Catwalk. Jerell wins, as his aesthetic lent itself perfectly to the challenge. And in an auf'ing coming out of the far left field, Rami is eliminated for a sick (in the bad sense of the word, sadly) lime-green blouse that belied the otherwise beautiful draping.

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