Mondo Guerra Recaps 'Project Runway': Holy Whac-A-Mole-Y!

The "All Stars" champion shares his thoughts on the season's second unconventional challenge, which required the designers to make garments out of materials found at the Coney Island games.
Helen Castillo and Bradon McDonald in the workroom.

Project Runway kicked up the kitsch and doubled the fun this week with a little field trip to Coney Island. The designers teamed up to take their Yoplait inspirations from the boardwalk to the catwalk, using carnival game prizes for materials. 

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Some pairs showed it takes two to make a thing go right, while others proved "team" is a four-letter word.

Holy whac-a-mole-y!

In the Workroom

Tim Gunn and the button bag sorted the designers into seven teams:

  • Alexander & Justin
  • Kate & Helen
  • Jeremy & Ken
  • Sue & Sandro
  • Bradon & Karen
  • Dom & Alexandria
  • Timothy & Miranda

Ah, the button bag -- faithfully pairing designers with their nemeses since 2004.

While they were hopeful about their partnership on Coney Island, back at Parsons, Timothy and Miranda's hometown hang-ups came to a head. Miranda's sewing room slamfest sent Timothy spiraling into self-doubt about his place in the competition.

It took a good cry in the corner with his stuffed unicorn and some words of encouragement from his model's card to convince Timothy to stay in the game. (I lost count of how many cries it took Miranda to cope.) Apparently, Team Wisconsin carried some extra baggage for the trip to New York. Yikes…

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Sandro, on the other hand, forgot to pack his manners when he basically brow-beat Sue into submission. Male chauvinism? Not cute. Sandro's mood swings and low blows are getting worse with each challenge. Can somebody please get this guy a stress ball and then give Sue an award for putting up with him?

After last week's explosion, Mt. St. Helen was looking to redeem herself. So when she was paired with Kate, Helen put aside her initial misgivings. To everyone's surprise, the two hit it off and forged a new friendship. What's the female version of "bromance"? "Womance"? That's them.


On the Runway

Lavender-locked Kelly Osbourne guest judged this week.

Let's start with the safe teams:


Jeremy & Ken

I love this look. Between the proportion, styling and impeccable construction, I got that this was a fun woman who was still in charge. I would have never guessed this design was made from a sombrero, stuffed animals and plastic blow-up toys. Those pants look like metallic leather.


Sue & Sandro

This design was kind of a snooze. I don't see either Sue or Sandro's aesthetic in this look. The bodice is well-made, but the rest of the dress needs help. Prom at the recycling plant. (I bet her date's tuxedo is made out of duct tape.)


Bradon & Karen

The silhouette is a little whacky, but I don't mind that. The swirl of colors and textures is really exciting. This design intrigues my imagination. It's like a walking piece of abstract art. I love that.


The Best and the Worst

Dom & Alexandria and Kate & Helen celebrated girl power at the top, while Timothy & Miranda and Alexander & Justin landed in the bottom.

Dom & Alexandria

The judges were all smiles when this whimsical look walked. I loved it too. But when I shared this photo on my Facebook page, fans pointed out a strong resemblance to Japanese character Domo-kun. Rip-off or not, this design has great energy and character and captured the spirit of the challenge in a fun, unexpected way.


Kate & Helen

This was such an exciting moment on the runway. Love the texture and manipulation of the sombreros, and the pop of red really stood out from the other predominantly blue designs. I see a true collaboration between both designers reflected in this dress too -- Kate's ladylike taste made modern with Helen's edge and innovation. A knockout.


Timothy & Miranda

Oh, Team Wisconsin. If there was ever a challenge to rise to the occasion, this was it for Timothy. Instead, he and Miranda couldn't move beyond their personal issues to make this a successful design. There's no disguising that it's a blow-up whale when the eyeballs are looking up the skirt. And the judges were right: That life jacket was not saving this look.


Alexander & Justin

Secretary of the sea...! What happened? Justin realized too late that he and Alexander had overdone it. These two designers have excellent taste, so this was a disappointing look coming from them. Too many details, not enough editing.


The Judges' Decisions

Helen made a major comeback this week, bouncing back from the bottom to snag the top spot, along with immunity for next week.

Three strikes and you're auf-ed for Timothy, whose excuses finally wore thin on the judges. He and his unicorn were sent home.

Mondo's Last Word

I was impressed by Helen's turnaround. She and Kate reminded me of Michael Costello and me in our own team challenge during season eight. Helen showed humility and gained an ally in the competition. And I believe it was Helen's eye that kept her team's design fresh and forward. Congrats, Helen! Nicely done.

Alexander and Justin were lucky Timothy and Miranda aired their dirty laundry on the runway. It distracted the judges from their own design issues. But I'm glad that both guys were spared to design another day. That was a close one!

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I think Timothy was secretly relieved to be going home, so everything worked out. It's tough being misunderstood -- I can appreciate that. I'm sure his passions are intact and that he'll continue to create his own brand of unicorn sustainability.

Hopefully Miranda can resolve her issues and rebound. All Project Runway alum need therapy after the cameras turn off -- trust me, I designed a whole collection about it. But as Michael Kors once said, "Fashion is not for sissies." Time to dry those tears and put on the game face.

Got something to say? Tell me about it in the comments. See you next week!

Project Runway All Stars champ Mondo Guerra is back to dish on the designs and drama of Project Runway season 12. His exclusive collection of eyewear with national optical boutique SEE hits stores this fall. He has also partnered with Merck for "I Design," a national HIV/AIDS education campaign that underscores the importance of patients tailoring treatment goals with their doctors. To learn more about Mondo, visit