Well, folks, there you have it. The end of Project Runway Season 8 has come and gone. And before we get talking about the conclusion of what was arguably the series' most dramatic season to date, I'm going to protect the innocent...
SPOILER ALERT! If you haven't yet watched last night's Project Runway Season Finale and Reunion (and have somehow avoided the onslaught of blog posts, Facebook statuses and tweets), look away before you turn to stone!
Now that that's out of the way, can we all yell out a collection "WHAT THE F***?!"
Do you feel better now, dear readers? Nope, me either. Let's talk.
With Michael Costello ushered quietly out of the building before he punched another wall, the three finalists (Mondo, Gretchen and Andy) received a cryptic invitation to Parsons, which was really just a way to get them to the reunion. After last season's shit show of a reunion, I had incredibly high expectations. I wanted Ivy screaming, Jason wearing his crazy bowler hat, Michael Costello crying and Tim slapping people. Instead, we watched 15 minutes of montage clips. And then everyone argued about whether or not Gretchen was actually a bitch (turns out she just plays one on TV). Ivy did manage to get in a few heinous eye rolls and I remembered why I hated her so much. And, fine, I cried again when they showed the clip of the moms. Just let me.
With the reunion gone in a flash, the remaining designers crept closer and closer to the finish line—Mercedes Benz Fashion Week at Lincoln Center. Since they could only show 10 looks on the runway and had made an additional look for the previous challenge, each designer had to discard one look, a welcome chance to edit and solidify the perfect line-up. There was a lot of talking about how much each designer grew as a person and how wonderful the journey was and how much they loved each other. Finally they got to the clothes!
Images from Imaxtree
Up first was Gretchen, with her collection entitled "Running Through Thunder." It was certainly a cohesive collection that brought out the Bohemian ready-to-wear aesthetic we've come to expect from Ms. Jones. The styling was much improved over last week: her models looked much more sophisticated and way less granola (although I would've liked different hair styles with the hats, it was a bit too frizzy for me). I loved the jewelry and a few of the individual pieces, but didn't think this collection really had a "wow" moment. The biggest reaction I had was to the pants in Look #3, and it wasn't a positive response (those pants are gross). And I questioned the taste of the midriff tops, jackets without tops underneath and those super short shorts.
Bottom Line: Pure Gretchen. Not my cup of tea.
Images from Imaxtree
Inspired by his Laotian heritage (and perhaps catfish), Andy's collection was an odd mix of romantic softness and futuristic edge. The headdresses were perhaps the most intriguing part of the collection, which is bad news if you are competing in a fashion design competition. I really wish he had amped up the interest and used more variety of color instead of relying on silvers, grays and that one shade of green (which is questionable at best). The best use of the color combination was the first look—love the bolero jacket and the capri pant. The bathing suit was a total misstep, but the flapper/chain dress that followed it was gorgeous. There were several looks that were too plain to be included in a 10-piece collection, and a lot of the pleating in the shorts and pants looked sloppy.
Bottom Line: Not a great showing for Andy, but the promise for an exciting future is still there.
Images from Imaxtree
With a clear point of view, incredible range and spectacular construction, Mondo's Mexican-inspired collection was hands down my favorite. His ability to combine prints and use bold colors is unbelievable, and his showmanship is among the best we've seen in Project Runway history. The plaid bubble dress is adorable, and the glittery rainbow top with the black shorts that followed could be the perfect party outfit for any woman. There were perhaps one or two looks I could've done without (the silver skirt in Look #8 and the color-blocked tunic), but this was by far the strongest collection of the bunch.
Bottom Line: The obvious winner.
Now, dear readers, we know this is where things got a little whack-a-doo. After quickly dismissing the notion that Andy was going to come anywhere close to winning, the judges (Michael, Nina, Heidi and guest judge Jessica Simpson) got in a battle royale over whether Gretchen or Mondo should be crowned the winner, an argument I found baffling, confusing and frustrating.
Listen, you know it's not looking good when the two people on your side are Heidi and Jessica Simpson (who looked just awful stuffed into that Michael Kors dress), but Michael and Nina were just talking crazy talk. Yes, Gretchen's collection was ready to throw on the racks and there are many women out there who will buy her clothes in droves. And, sure, maybe they are trend, though that argument is debatable. The fact is, the judges were judging a fashion show. A fashion show is supposed to be dramatic and exciting and, most importantly, get editors, stylists and buyers interested in your clothes. We all know when a look goes down the runway that the styling and the headpieces and the accessories are not exactly what will end up in stores. Those things are done for the sake of putting on a show. Magazines aren't going to photograph those clothes as they appeared on the runway. The stylists will mix and match and pull the items that excited them on the runway, because that's their job. C'mon, Michael, take your own advice and read a magazine! There were so many pieces in his collection that could be incorporated into the everyday woman's wardrobe—take one of the print blouses and wear it with jeans or take one of the skirts or pair of shorts and wear a black top with it. For Michael and Nina to use those arguments against Mondo was just ridiculous.
And the winner of Project Runway Season 8 is...
Gretchen. I told you it wasn't a good sign to have Heidi and Jessica on your side. It's been a long time since I've adamantly disagreed with the winner of this show (Team Uli for life), and it just caps off a season full of baffling eliminations and oddball decisions. Mondo will always be the winner in my eyes, and I cannot wait to see what he does in the future.
So, yes, a disappointing end to a dramatic season. But after the trainwreck that was Season 6, I don't think we have too much room to complain. This season brought us incredible personalities, fun challenges and one lovable impish gem/runner-up.
What did you think? What was your take on each of the collections? Were any of you happy with Gretchen's victory? Did you feel bad for Andy being quickly cast aside? And how does this season rank for you among the best/worst of Project Runway? Sound off in the comments!