Project Runway Season 9 Finale Recap: And the Winner Is...

It seemed like a bad sign that the Project Runway Season 9 finale started with a visit from Tim Gunn telling the final four designers that they were all getting the “tremendous gift” of $500 to spend at Mood and improve their collections in whatever way they saw fit. Translation: Somewhere in a dimly lit, jasmine-scented office at Marie Claire magazine, Nina Garcia and Michael Kors were still clutching their pearls, torturing their assistants, and hurling verbal venom at the three-piece mini collections the contestants had shown last episode. And that must’ve had the show’s producers throwing a hail-mary pass and hoping at least one contestant would be in the end zone to catch it.

In the end, though, Viktor, Anya, Kimberly, and Joshua can hold their heads high: All four of ’em managed to pull off respectable showings at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, and while my favorite (whose name rhymes with Richter) didn’t take home the $100,000 cash prize, I’m not really upset by the end result, either. I just wish the judges had loudly and clearly announced that their guiding criteria had more to do with which finalist could launch a distinct and distinctly commercial brand than whether or not they showed originality, innovation, and a wide range of construction techniques.

But I’m getting ahead of myself here. Let’s start at the very beginning. No, I don’t mean the beginning-beginning, when Olivier could cut some holes in a dog bed, slip it over a slender woman’s head, and have Nina and Michael clutch hands and titter and squeal “Fashion! Fashion! It’s totally on-trend!” I just mean the beginning of the episode, where we had Kimberly attempting to remake her pink “booty” skirt in black, Anya declaring “I am a Caribbean designer,” and Joshua having a tearful meltdown — probably as a result of looking in the mirror and discovering he’d paired an pink knit tank top with violently gauche aqua boots. The whole first half of the episode — even Tim Gunn’s fly-by critiques — felt oddly perfunctory, although Anya’s trip to Mood marked her return to luxurious print fabrics.

And then — bam! — we had Heidi in sequins, Tim in a state of choked-up-ness, and our Final 4 ready to debut their collections at Lincoln Center. Here are my thoughts on the highlights (and lowlights) of what they showed:

Kimberly: Loved the metallic aqua top and miniskirt; those cream-colored slacks and delicate sheer top; and especially the dramatic, flowing, Anya-esque frock in blue, pink, white, and green print. Not so fond of the half-back blouse, that black sparkly bag top, and the overworked “bubble” skirt. And of the four finalists this season, Kimberly’s overall show seemed the most disjointed. Could Nina be right that Kimberly simply needs more time to develop her craft?

Joshua: I appreciated that Season 9’s most controversial contestant gave us what Heidi correctly called a “gutsy show,” but the whole of his collection wasn’t really as great as the sum of his ambitions. His final look — with its plastic alien-skin collar — looked like a giant hefty bag from the neck down, and made his model’s backside look more sprawling than a suburban outlet mall. His central print was alarming in its tackiness. And that split-thighed lime-green short with the insane crotch actually made me gasp an audible “WTF!” from my living room couch. (Nina’s support of said garment in any scenario should’ve resulted in her immediate ouster from the show.) That said, Joshua’s sheer plastic card-dealer’s vest was undeniably unexpected, and his purple one-shouldered sack dress was draped beautifully.

Viktor: In the judges’ defense, my final note on Viktor’s collection was “two sheer skirts too many?” But while Nina kept calling those frocks a “wasted opportunity,” I still thought that the guy deserved the win for giving us jacket, sundresses, gowns, pants, and coats in a variety of silhouettes and colors (including self-designed prints!) that managed to work together in perfect harmony. The long, narrow blue-print gown was almost as sensational as Mondo’s black-and-white circle dress from last season, the glass-mirror blouses were fun and flirty, and the midnight blue halter-topped dress was sexy without any vulgarity. Plus, Heidi really should buy the white leather jacket with pearl-sleeve detailing and wear it to her next casual red-carpet event.

Anya: Whether or not you agree with her win, there’s no denying Anya is a master at choosing spectacular prints and fashioning them into garments with major-league movement and sex appeal. That opening gown with gold-chain halter and a print that was reminiscent of the sea and sand, was one of the best garments we’ve seen all season, and Anya’s new bathing suit and cover-up were seductively elegant. But like Heidi said, it would’ve been nice to see a sweater or a pant — or anything that didn’t look like a giant bolt of gauzy fabric hastily stitched into a saucy caftan. Plus, to paraphrase MK, not every woman has the luxury of floating around the world in a caftan at all times.

Of course, if the “overcome the odds” edit wasn’t enough to give away the winner, it became abundantly clear when Kors started talking excitedly how he could envision the Anya handbag, the Anya dress, the Anya firstborn to save the planet. And thus, Kimberly got auf’d, Viktor got auf’d, Joshua got a momentary flutter of excitement that Nina really really liked him, and then Anya was declared the winner of Project Runway‘s ninth season.

And just remember, if you’re not 100% thrilled with the result, at least Anya bumped Gretchen’s name off the top row of the Runway Hall of Fame plaque. If that’s not reason enough to pop a printed caftan into your carryon and head to your private jet for an island celebration, I don’t know what is.

(p.s. #ViktorWuzRobbed)

What did you think of the finale? If you disagreed with the Anya win, do you still find it more palatable than last year’s Gretchen-palooza? And what was your favorite outfit of the night? Sound off below. And for all my reality TV news, views, and interviews, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. lish says:

    One day your in and one day your out? B.S. The judges should be allowed only to view the outfits without the designers present, and then let the chips fall where they may. The premise of this show is you are to be judged on the week’s garment, not on past performance. The biggest injustices this year – Oliver going home over Anya and Kimberly, and Anthony Ryan not being voted out for the sportswear challenge with his skorts/shorts/clown pants, w.e. Both Kimberly and Anya in the band challenge made outfits not even worthy of a kindergartener. No one in their right mind would wear either. Orange baby shirt with numerous little brown buttons? Can’t even rememeber Anya’s, just that it looked awful and was made terribly. I would bet that if Oliver had made it to the finals, although he might have seemed a little boring, would have put out a killer innovative show, more than can be said for what we had to sit through yesterday – the tacky (Josh’s green shorts or plastic raincoat dress), gawdy (pink bubble skirt with white bubble jacket? or table cloth-like blue and green top) boring (most of Viktor’s outfits, some pretty but nothing special), and “put together in five minutes” (It seemed that Anya through her flowy last minute $500.00 purchase materials together in the last day. Please judges, stop pushing people you want to win and just get back to the original premise finding actual talented designers not afraid to take risks and put in hard work.

  2. MiaBeea says:

    Mondo robbed last year — Viktor robbed this year.

    First time I thought Cayley Anthony jurors made a better decision than his supposed group of judges. Plan on never watching that show again.

  3. GMC says:

    All I can say is “Project Runway” = Project favoritism. The judges do not know good and saleable fashion at all.

  4. Whatever says:

    When Uli Herzner did an immpeccably sewn flowing beach collection in Season 3 she was a “one hit wonder”

    When Anya does a beach collection in Season 8 held together with saftey pins, sewing tape and her models are sewn into her garmets she’s considered genuis and is rewarded with $100,000.

    Sorry I’m not drinking the Kool Aid…

    • bob says:

      uli was the first person i thought of when i saw anya’s collection. uli had a VERY similar aesthetic (i remember the judge’s praising her use of prints as the finest in project runway history) but was deemed runner-up with designs that were more varied and innovative than what anya presented. chalk it up to a weaker finalist selection, but i thought it was silly that anya was praised for a fairly weak collection.

  5. Amy says:

    Viktor was robbed — this might be the last project runway I watch. They’re just not getting it right. . .shame on those judges

  6. Jill says:

    I think Viktor edited his way out of the win. Notice they didn’t like the black designs. He should have kept his gown that he showed last week. Last week, I thought it was his to lose. This week, not as impressed…too much was left out.

  7. Avisha says:

    Anya was chosen because of her potential, clear point of view and previous good work. Whilst Viktor had that during the season, he lost it in final runway show with that absurd see-through business. Your fault Viktor, for not stepping up / over- editing.I still love you though :) Josh’s designs were interesting but not commercial or even aesthetically pleasing.

  8. Barry says:

    The extra $500 killed Viktor and gave it to Anya. If he hadn’t bought all of that sheer fabric and remade his collection and if Anya hadn’t had the opportunity for an almost total re-do then it is likely that Viktor would have won. On the other hand, Mondo’s stuff is actually selling in stores and nobody’s heard boo from Gretchen (thank goodness) since last year. Anya’s got great style and a fantastic eye but needs more time to learn. Just glad that they didn’t give the win to Joshua. Were they on crack heaping praise on that awful print and those vile shorts?

  9. Gina says:

    I was really confused by Nina’s comment to Joshua that she didn’t like the shorts in person, but liked them in photos. Is that really a good thing?

  10. bob says:

    i would be very curious to hear what the judges thought of the “decoy” fashion shows presented by the four other eliminated designers. would anya still rank on top? i was very surprised when looking at the collections that my favorite one was from laura kathleen, who, although having some highs during the challenges, was ultimately a disappointment during the competition. i know a lot of other fans really took to bert’s as well. hopefully next week’s “behind the seam” special thing-a-ma-bob with tim gunn will elaborate more on that.

  11. LauraHolt says:

    It was clear that they wanted Anya to win. This isn’t the first time that a surprise twist has benefited a mistake that Anya has made.(Remember when she lost her money and they conveniently announced a second look and gave them $50 bucks more?)

    Having said that, I’m not upset by it. I really like Anya as a designer and a person so I’m really not bothered by the preferential treatment she received.

    Had Viktor not gotten repetitive with those black sheer dresses I would have been upset for him because he was the most consistent contestant in terms of tastefulness, design, construction and tailoring. Although I mostly always thought Anya’s clothes were beautiful, Viktor made the only clothes that I could actually see myself wearing. While Viktor’s attitude was generally okay I really liked Anya’s attitude and personality.

    With much glowing and IMO unwarranted praise heaped upon Joshua I was genuinely concerned he would win. As I cared for neither his design aesthetic or his foul disposition I didn’t want him to win; especially after the sneaky twerp won Top Chef Desserts.

    I was happy to see Anya, a very decent, sweet and thoughtful girl, win the show. EVEN if she isn’t as technically proficient as some of her competitors she is super talented. During the course of the show she made some great pieces and I respect that, in many cases, the clothes were things she hadn’t ever done before (pants, jackets etc.)

    To Those of you that say Viktor got robbed, you have to admit he thought he had it in the bag. I can see why he thought that. I thought it too. Everyone else’s stuff was unfinished and not particularly pretty. I think if Viktor had been at the end with people that had his same level of technical expertise and taste he would stepped his game up and created looks that would have slayed anything that Josh, Kim & Anya could have done that week.

    Am I the only who noticed that Viktor made the comment that he’s giving them what they want so he can win and then do what he wants? It sounds like he didn’t design everything as he would like. I hope he can live with that regret.

    Finally, WTF was up with that Oliver kid?

    Every time the cameraman found his miserable, hollow, dead-eyes, vacant face it took me out of the show. AND his fair was a hot mess. He looked like he just escaped from Bellevue to sneak into the show in the hopes of stabbing a fellow contestant. I’d love to see Oliver work through his obesity and breasts issues. He should have to be a personal stylist for The Biggest Loser show.

  12. Zoe says:

    I’m actually really happy with Anya winning. I’m just glad it wasn’t Josh. They seemed to be hinting during the episode that Josh was going to take it. And I really, really HATE Josh, not only because he’s an ungrateful slimeball, but his clothes were an awful, technicolor hipster mess with absolutely no cohesion, and I did not understand why the judges were gushing over him. I honestly would’ve been happy with anyone other than Josh winning. I liked Kimberly’s clothes, and I don’t think I can properly express my love for Victor’s printed pieces. I just really, really hate Josh.

  13. Anna says:

    I like Anya and I like her aesthetic. However, Josh was right. She didn’t deserve to win. So many contestants in the past have been eliminated for simple silhouettes, lack of variety, and poor construction. Take away her interesting prints and her pieces are basically all the same. She hasn’t even made sleeves! Her choice of fabrics and prints carried her much too far given the simpleness of everything she did.
    I really, really think Victor, or even Josh, should have won last night.

  14. Elise says:

    Guess I’m in the minority here, but I believe Josh got the shaft last night, not Viktor. I believe Viktor completely screwed himself by putting out a totally schizo collection. The only reason Anya won was a makeup call for the oops of naming WTF???? Wretched the winner last year over Mondo. Had the correct winner been named last year, they could have afforded to give a slightly less likable person the title this year with the (by far) most daring, imaginative, and cohesive collection. And hey, at least Josh always admitted he was a biatch, had issues with his mom’s death and desperately wanted to win. Wretched was just talentless, ugly from all angles, and, well, wretched.

    • Tim says:

      I didn’t care for Josh that much all season, but just based on that final collection, I think he should have won. It was bold and creative and well-made, and just had a real high-fashion look and feel to it. If not Josh, then I thought Viktor should have won. Anya’s collection was a bunch of flowy, colorful garments, but did not look like high fashion to me.

  15. Hauer says:

    I predicted Anya’s win from the very beginning of the season. She’s got a great eye, an ease and prodigy of fashion. Learning to sew in 4 months? WOW! All the judges and even Tim Gunn were incredulous about her skills, but time and time again, she proved to rise to the top despite setbacks. Losing her money at Mood…hmmm, and still winning that challenge!
    Viktor is amazing and highly trained as a tailor, plus, incredibly artistic. However, as Heidi said, he showed two different collections in the finale. His extra $500 drove a wedge into his collection, instead of enhancing what he already had.

    Her style is distinctive, and like Michael Kors, you can easily recognize her clothing line. Brand recognition. That’s all important in today’s fashion and retail market. I would love to see her handbag, shoe and accessories collection; follow in Christian Siriano’s footsteps.

    Touche Michael Slezak for recognizing Gretchen’s win last year, and calling it Runway’s debacle.

  16. aemps says:

    i liked Anya during the season, Josh’s drama didnt move me much but on the finale his collection was the most cohesive and runway looking, i still dont like him but if it were to be judged based on that day itself i think he did have the stronger piece but between him and Anya i guess she was the more “producers choice” (based on what she can become) Viktor is the “commercial choice” cause everything he did (well most- the sheers were disastrous) is very wearable and extremely marketable and all are impeccably made, both Josh and Anya are “editorial” and Kim is “individualistic” or reflects a very strong minority voice. they were all very different designers and i guess it does come down to what the producers like. Bottomline for me is that it was not a very good season as an overall show. I dont really have any angst at the winner (i like kaftans so), but i envy those viewers who have managed to see PM in its prime.

  17. Jenny says:

    I wanted Viktor to win, but anything is better than the Gretchen disaster last year!!! And I was glad Josh didn’t win. I didn’t really connect with any of the contestants this season. Last season was much better except for the horrific ending!

  18. siriusgirl says:

    Viktor should have won. Only Viktor’s vision and artistry, refined design aesthetic, and superior skill level matched the high standards of previous Project Runways. P.R. seems to be declining with every new season. I haven’t agreed with the last two seasons’ winners: commercialism has taken over on P.R., and the quality of the clothes and of the show itself has suffered.

  19. In reading through the comments, it was nice to see what I saw, that Kimberly had fans because to listen to the judges, she could not design. They didn’t have anything back to say about her final collection, thir comment was she needs more time. Why? I thought her clothese were great even the “bubble skirt” as labeled by the judges. So the models had no butt, who wants that.

    Project Runway needs young, fashionale, knoweldgeable DESIGNERS, not a project runway version of american idol judges.

  20. Sylvia says:

    I really, really liked Kimberly. However I had to agree with Nina she needs a little more experience in developing what is her signature look. I just thought KImberly was so sweet and she was always nice to the other contestants and so respectful. However I am in agreement that Anya should have won because she has the best style and taste. I loved her look, she is beautiful and everyone loved her. I loved her edgy, hip, classy and sexy style that had a certain ease. She looks like a fashion designer and I feel that is important. I think a designer should represent their brand through their own appearance and style. I can see Anya becoming very successful not because she is the best seamtress and that doesnt matter anymore she can hire great seamtress and simply direct them to create her vision. She has the best style I have seen on Project Runway in a long time. I was a little surprised she won but I do get it. There was a moment I thought Victor had it in the bag. I can see wanting and buying Anya’s clothes and asscesories. Her look is beautiful and interesting.

  21. Spud says:

    Honestly, I thought Victor and Anya should have been the final two. Their collections were the only ones that I really liked. But I agree with the judges that Victor’s sheer looks were “missed opportunities.” I wouldn’t have minded him winning, but Anya gave a consistent and beautiful show of fashion.

    And don’t start comparing Anya to Gretchen. I agree with here, it would have been a Gretchen-sized disaster if JOSHUA had one. Anya, I’m perfectly happy with.

  22. carann says:

    Viktor was ROBBED!

  23. Miss Kat says:

    Anya won?? Wait a second here…I thought it was project runway, NOT project gluestick or Project pin it to the body so you dont have to sew it. Yes, she may have 110.000 in the bank but that does not mean she earned it or deserved it. Bush/Cheaney were elected for two consecutive terms, Sarah Palin abandonded Alaska after winning her seat for a bigger seat in the WhiteHouse and we all know those wins were NOT deserved either!! The other designers who made it to the final three should be down right pissed off right about now. The person who so called kissed ass and won,should have been on a show called Project HoodWinked at best! Her designs are sloppy, ill fitting and sewn terribly. BOOOO!!! Project Runway..BOOOOO!!!!

  24. Anya Sux says:

    Anya is an annoyance who should’ve been out in the first episode. She has no range of style. She justs drapes stuff over a naked model and calls it fashion.

    I agree #ViktorWuzRobbed.

    Viktor was so F-ING robbed!

    Anya sucks. :-)

  25. Rachel says:

    I really love pr all star because MONDO won. And least this time they saw hes worth and he bagged the biggest price ever. Thnk God they have diff set of judges, maybe they let him loose to gretchen so that he could take home the biggest price evar.. But i still thinks he should hve won over gretchen. And anyas designs were replica… Tssssss