Last week, Wetpaint Entertainment attended a Project Runway All Stars screening party at the Paley Center for Media in New York City, where we had a chance to chat exclusively with some of the most memorable All Star contestants. Designers Kara Janx, Austin Scarlett, Michael Costello, Mondo Guerra, and Kenley Collins opened about the decision to jump back into the
lions' den workroom and their biggest fears about returning to the show.
"It was like, this could be hell, or this could be amazing," Season 2 semi-finalist Kara told us, summing up the mix of excitement and bone-deep fear that all of the designers seemed to feel.
You might think Kara's extra years of post-Runway success would give her a competitive edge, but she didn't see it that way. Indeed, she thinks spending so much time focused on higher-level design and business decisions put her at a disadvantage. "I literally had to go to my factory and sit down at a machine the day before we went on the show to see — 'oh my god, let me see if I can sew a zipper.'"
Austin Scarlett, Season 1's flamboyant, gown-making marvel, has been out of the Project Runway workroom for longer than any of the remaining All Stars, and his career has taken off. So why bother returning? He saw All Stars as a chance to showcase his work and honor the show's amazing success.
But even the King of Fabulous had his worries. If he appeared terrified during the couture challenge in Episode 2, it's because he was. "I felt like the producers kind of had me in mind when they chose to do that challenge. It was like, Oh, God, I better not screw this one up."
Unlike Austin and Kara, the Project Runway experience was still fresh in Season 8 contestant Michael Costello's mind, and his biggest fear was the return of a former nemesis, Ivy Higa. "I was so worried … no one was going to like me, or that for some reason stupid Ivy was going to be on the show and it would have been hell again."
For Season 8 runner-up Mondo Guerra, the sting of coming in second was hard to overcome, but it wasn't enough to keep him from heading back to the workroom. "[I was most worried] about losing, to tell you the truth," he said. "I was really scared about failing and letting the people who were really rooting for me down."
Meanwhile, Bettie Page look-alike Kenley Collins, who was painted the villain of Season 5, admitted that getting another harsh edit "was a little bit of a concern," adding, "I didn't want to do it again because it hurt my feelings … the way people thought I was as a person. I didn't want to put myself out there again."
Eventually, family and friends convinced Kenley to give the show another shot. "You just have to make sure there's no room for bad editing." Three episodes in, Kenley's definitely remained out of the unflattering spotlight — but only time will tell if she kept her notorious attitude in check for the entire season.
Despite their worries, all of the contestants seemed happy with their decision to return to the show, raving about their fellow contestants and the friendly atmosphere of All Stars.
"The best part has been meeting fabulous friends like Kara Janx and Kenley Collins," Austin gushed, gesturing at Kara and Kenley standing near by (they waved back and laughed), "and everyone else."
Tune in to Project Runway All Stars Thursdays at 9 ET/PT on Lifetime.
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