Project Runway All Stars finale (part one) leaves viewers in suspense

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Last night was the first installment of the two-part finale of Project Runway All Stars, and it posted one of the toughest challenges in Project Runway history. The remaining three designers were challenged to create "mini collections" of five pieces in only four days -- the shortest turnaround for a final runway show ever, as they usually have weeks to complete their collections.

The designers met with mentor Joanna Coles in the Marie Claire offices for some advice and inspiration. While Austin and Michael were over the moon about the chance to showcase their individual styles, Mondo seemed down and uninspired.

When the three went off to Mood to spend their $3,000, Austin and Michael worked quickly to find fabrics that would make their visions a reality, but Mondo's funk continued and he ended up unhappy with his purchases, saying, "I feel dead inside." This worried Michael, who noted that "when Mondo's in a bad mood, that's when he turns out his best work ever."

Michael was inspired by the spirit of adventure he felt going through the competition, and bought many different animal print fabrics to go with a safari-themed collection. Austin described his collection as "modern day rockstar mixed with Hasidic gentleman," whatever that means, using silks, brocades and leather. It took a while for Mondo to find his direction, but when he did, it came from a very personal place. He realized that the competition was "making him crazy" and decided to theme his collection on the idea of therapy, with Rorshach printed shirts and zigzag prints evoking shock therapy.

Just as all of the designers got in the swing of things, Angela came in to the work room (which was now divided into three separate, mini work rooms so each designer could have his own space) to throw a curve ball in true Project Runway fashion. She revealed that the designers would have to make a sixth look for their collections using fabric left over from their previous challenges. While this was hard on everyone, it was most difficult for Michael, who had structured his collection around a safari theme and hadn't used an animal print earlier this season.

Because the challenge had gotten more difficult, Angela also revealed that the designers who'd already been kicked off this season were back to help for 24 hours, and each contestant could pick one. Michael chose to work with April, Austin chose Anthony, and Mondo went with Mila.

When the hour was up, viewers were left in suspense as to what the finished collections would look like. Next week, in the final episode, all three designers will go head to head (to head) in a star-studded fashion show at a surprise location.

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