Project Runway All Stars Recap: An Animal-Themed Challenge Turns Catty (Plus, Who Was Accused of Copying?)

“How much nipple is too much nipple?” These and other important questions were tackled on Wednesday’s episode of Project Runway All Stars, which sent the remaining 11 designers to New Jersey’s Turtleback Zoo for an inspirational walk on the wild side.

With a hissing snake draped on her shoulders, Britney Spears-style, host Alyssa Milano announced that the contestants needed to “create a runway look to attract the most attention on a wild night out.” The designers could each choose one animal from the zoo (first come first serve!), incorporating all of that creature’s characteristics — not just the way they look — into their ensemble.

While some designers lucked out with dynamic animals like lions and giraffes, others were forced to make do with slightly less-exciting sources of inspiration. Why Irina Shabayeva willingly chose a wallaby, I’ll never know.

Speaking of Irina, she stirred up some drama in the workroom this week by suggesting to Dmitry Sholokhov that Michelle Lesniak was “copying” his aesthetic, an assertion that had everyone buzzing. Once Anthony Ryan Auld brought the issue to Michelle’s attention, she confronted Dmitry about it directly, earning my respect forever and ever. Here’s their entire exchange:

MICHELLE: Do you consider us friends? … If we’re friends, and you have something to say to me, wouldn’t you say it to my face?
DMITRY: Yeah, so what’s your issue?
MICHELLE: It’s not my issue. I’m just hearing things from people, and I would hate for it to be coming from you, because you’re my friend.
DMITRY: Michelle, why are you trying to put the blame on me?
MICHELLE: I’m just trying to make sure you’re not saying things behind my back, because we’re friends.
DMITRY: I’m not.
MICHELLE: OK.
DMITRY: It’s not me who’s saying it. It’s everybody else, darling. I don’t have to say anything.

A few things about this: First, I hate when men call women “darling” during a confrontation. It’s a lame tactic to try to undercut someone’s confidence. Also, this argument accomplished nothing, save for Michelle making the discovery that “you can’t trust anyone.” (On a reality TV show! Can you believe it?)

Anyway, Michelle ended up getting the last laugh by winning this week’s challenge with her porcupine-inspired gown, which judge Isaac Mizrahi loved so much that he wanted to wear it. Dmitry fuming the whole time made Michelle’s victory that much sweeter.

Juli Grbac‘s unflattering, poorly proportioned monkey dress landed her in the bottom next to Sean Kelly, whose giraffe-inspired look was deemed “inexpensive and dated.” In the end, Juli was sent packing.

Was Juli the right one to go? And do you agree that Michelle’s winning design was a Dmitry knockoff? Drop a comment with your thoughts on this week’s Project Runway below.

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