Before revealing Project Runway's first all-star winner, let's delve into the final runway show, featuring designs that were created in only four days.
[Spoiler alert: The following contains information from the finale, including a description of the designs and revealing the ultimate winner.]
The collection: Summed up in one word: glamorous. We're not certain the collection really reflects an 18th-century vampire who borrows clothes from her Hasidic dandy friends, but we give him points for a wacky and imaginative description. It's a strong collection in mainly vibrant black and pink solids. Standouts include a lacquered-lace dress that recalls cobwebs, a sparkly jacket that looks like nori (seaweed wrap) over a pink origami-influenced pantsuit and a very Austin Starlet-Scarlett white wedding dress with white "petals" and punky black accents.
The judges say: They all appreciate his ideas and "big, epic thoughts" and artistic, feminine eye, but some of the collection didn't fit. Is it current? Is it period? Somehow he didn't mesh the two.
The collection: Themed around therapy, the collection is classic Mondo: a smart mix of patterns and textiles, separates that play with proportion and very graphic details. Highlights include his opening outfit pairing a polka-dot top over a grey skirt, a fresh and modern tweedy pantsuit and a perfectly tailored Rorschach-inkblot dress that's downright inspiring.
The judges say: They acknowledge he's the "master of mixing fabrics" and that he's cohesive but also adds wit to his design. They're impressed by his workmanship, styling and attention to detail. Tommy Hilfiger even sees him as a "true artist." Neiman Marcus' fashion director Ken Downing felt Mondo had to edit down certain elements such as the oversized buttons and cartoonish pockets.
The collection: Inspired by the Serengeti, Michael's collection is elegant and accessible. There are animal prints galore, but he structures the designs well, taking him outside of his usual drapey comfort zone of eveningwear (although there's one white draped gown in there). In particular, an ivory pantsuit with a subtle snake-print design stands out, along with separates that are so seamlessly fitted that they look like one piece. There's much of his signature backlessness though, which is the bane of women who want to wear bras, as Joanna Coles has pointed out often.
The judges say: They agree that this is the most cohesive and commercial collection of the night and that it exudes subtle sex appeal. Isaac Mizrahi felt it wasn't that sophisticated and that Michael should have stretched more to sell a fantasy.
In the end, the judges gave the ultimate prize to Mondo Guerra and two tickets to Paris to the runners-up.
"I can't believe it. Being on Project Runway All Stars is the hardest thing I've done," said Guerra. "I can't take this for granted, I can't take my art for granted. I have to celebrate that or it could get lost very easily."
Did the right designer win?