Another season of Project Runway has come to a close. Last night we saw the top three show their collections at Bryant park, and we watched one of them walk away with the grand prize. After last week's episode full of Tim Gunn (yay!) and anxiety over finishing the collections in time (not so yay), I was hoping this episode would just send the collections down the runway with good long shots of each look and focus on some quality judging time.
Instead, the episode dwelled too much on the behind the scenes drama. I didn't need to see Tim Gunn's (mostly editing induced) meltdown or more of Carol Hannah crying because she was sick (I did feel bad for her, but we established that last week). During the shows the camera kept cutting to random audience members making me want to scream, "Stop it! Show me the clothes!" Even the judging felt rushed, which is sad because we had all our judges together. I did think it was telling that they had a guest judge last night. If I remember past seasons correctly, it's usually just Heidi, Michael and Nina because they know the designer's history so well. This wasn't the case this year. In fact, I don't think they even discussed any of the designers' past work on the show when considering who should win.
On to the designers. Carol Hannah pushed through her stomach flu and sent a very pretty, feminine collection down the runway. Her collection featured structured draping, which she did beautifully. The judges praised this technique the most, Nina loved her first look (left). Heidi cooed over the blue, draped Grecian number (middle), which was actually Carol Hannah's thirteenth look. Guest Judge Suzy Menkes loved the "upturned pyramid" dress (right) and wondered how Carol Hannah manged to create that structure. Overall, the judges thought Carol Hannah won the nights award for "best use of color," but sadly still didn't take the color far enough. The also complained that Carol Hannah did not have a connective thread that created a cohesive collection.
Althea wanted to go back to the future with looks based on 1950s and 60s Sci-Fi flicks. I came into the night with the lowest expectations for Althea, but she surprised me. Her collection was a great showcase of sportswear and knitwear with several pieces I (and the judges) would love to walk away with. Michael praised Althea for her sportswear pieces adding the line had good consumer appeal. Nina loved that Althea added a few splashes of color, but wanted more. Heidi like the metallic top and skirt ensemble (left). Michael loved the khaki pant look (middle), which was Althea's thirteenth look. Nina disliked the the final few pieces of the collection because they didn't seem to fit. The judges loved her individual pieces, but thought, like Carol Hannah's it wasn't enough of a collection. Guest Judge Menkes thought the pieces were great, but they didn't make for a great show. All the judges agreed that she has a good instinct for what is cool and what people want now. Althea did have to defend her inspiration (with pieces like the collar on the sweater on the right) since the judges didn't see the furturistic theme strongly enough in her collection.
The final designer, Irina, created a collection for the strong women surviving the city, New York City specifically. While the judges loved this idea of clothing as shielding for a strong woman, Michael criticized that this wasn't a new character. The guest judge found it to be the most cohesive collection. Heidi made her usual default comment that it looked expensive. Michael praised her attention to detail and her work creating the hats and bags and pleating. The guest judge observed that even though the clothes were strong, they empowered the models rather than over-powered them. Nina loved the t-shirts Irina made. She felt they were a great personal touch and gave a sense of self when the models pulled away the armored outer layers to reveal the shirts underneath. Nina did criticize the almost entirely black collection, and Irina seemed to realize how all black can drown out some of the detail and hold her collection back from being successful in magazine editorials. Michael thought Irina's final look (right) was a bit too much. He wondered if all the designers felt pressured to end with a "bride" look. Overall, the judges thought Irina was a sure win expect for her lack of color.
After some deliberation, they brought the final three back for the moment we've all be waiting for (and when I say waiting, I mean long hours of wondering when this season would end or get better or at least stop being so boring). Carol Hannah was the first to go, leaving Althea and Irina to wait in suspense. In the end a well coordinated collection with great showmanship triumphed, and Irina was able to celebrate her victory. Mean-a Irina won me over. Her collection was fabulous. I didn't have a problem with all the black. She deserved the win and she seems driven enough to make the most of her prizes. The most touching moment was seeing her daddy walk out onto the runway crying after her win. Irina's voice-over said she thought she finally got the approval she wanted from her father, and he certainly did look proud. Congrats Irina.
Were you happy with this long, tedious season's ending? Did you think Irina deserved it? Do you think someone else should have won? Did Irina win you over like she did me?