It’s hard to make feel-good television when you’ve asked four talented designers to put together 10-piece collections to show at New York Fashion Week, then announce that one of ’em will be sent to the guillotine right before the big day. It’s all very, “Here’s three wrapped boxes filled with hundred-dollar bills, and one that’s filled with a bomb. Best of luck!”
Fortunately, Project Runway wiggled out of this conundrum with a kumbaya ending to Part 1 of its Season 10 finale, in which Heidi Klum channeled her inner Oprah and essentially shouted, “You’re going to Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week! And you’re going to Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week! And you’re going to Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week! And you’re going to Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week!”
Okay, maybe some of those feel-good vibes were muted by Michael Kors, Nina Garcia, and Heidi kvetching about the presence of hideous wigs, poorly paired separates and a definite lack of color. But seeing how the contestants had five weeks and $9,000 to put into their garments, I didn’t object to the tough critiques.
Tim Gunn’s visits to the designer’s homes — which Melissa pointed out is like a reward in and of itself — felt more rushed and less emotional than in seasons past, though there were a few choice Tim-isms. I especially liked our dapper mentor looking at a table full of confections laid out by Christopher’s parents and exclaiming, “This looks so very caloric!” And of course, there was Tim’s befuddlement over Fabio’s strange combo of draped blouses and (literal) crazypants: “I’m mystified by this pant!”
The designers were asked to present three looks apiece to the judges to help them decide who would be the last pre-finale cut. Here’s my rundown on what we saw, from worst to first:
Fabio: I don’t get the judges’ fascination with “Cosmic Tribalism.” To me, Fabio’s collection looked like a bunch of pastel tie-dye nightgowns paired with middle-school art-class jewelry (think woven straws and finger paints), all of it having sat in a laundry basket for a week. And I’m not being mean, seeing how Fabio himself seemed delighted with the “gentle flopping” of his silhouettes as they came down the catwalk. Nina was right, however, when she insisted the collection wasn’t luxe enough to be deemed a runway success.
Christopher: His overall collection looked intriguing, but as Nina noted during her critique, “I see very little clothes here!” Two pairs of skimpy shorts, a barely-there bustier, and a couple of drape-y things that barely showcased a custom-made print using his mom’s back x-ray? This was practically self-sabotage, though I think Christopher is still a real threat to win it all — especially with his bleach-distressed leather and what looked to be an exquisite gown.
Melissa: I hate-hate-hated Melissa’s black pants, which made it look as if her model was carrying a full, front-loaded diaper. That said, her “obsidian dress” was a sophisticated, structural delight, and that crackled cowhide jacket was a real showstopper. I even liked the exaggerated sleeves, even if Nina got all Red Queen shouting “off with her cuffs!”
Dmitry: The judges seemed overly obsessed with the way Dmitry paired his separates and styled his models, but to me, he was the clear winner. That architectural white dress with the intricate cutouts was innovative and gorgeous, and the jacket with fringed arms was unlike anything we’ve seen in recent Project Runway history. And yes, I saw some Guggenheim in the waistline of those sleek white pants. With shapes this blindingly perfect, who needs color?
Anyhow, that’s my take on the proceedings. Who’s your pick to win Season 10? Take our poll, then sound off (thoughtfully) in the comments!