Ever since the Gretchentastrophe of Project Runway‘s eighth season, a certain sense of dread has surrounded the edicts set down by the show’s judges.
With their taste level in serious question, it can sometimes be hard to quell the concern that Nina Garcia and Michael Kors will steamroll Heidi Klum into rewarding some silly emperor for slipping off his robe — and those of his models — before they come down the catwalk.
That feeling certainly was alive and well when, last week, the Season 10 Top 4 showed off three looks from their Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week collections, and Fabio received copious praise for concocting what appeared to this commoner’s eye to be a saggy pastiche of pastel tie-dyed sports bras and housedresses, topped off with plasti-craft accessories from the early ’80s. Yeah, the guy has an unbelievably sweet personality, and his looks were different, but using the severed neck and head of a mangy emu as a macabre scarf would be different, too. (Cue Nina cooing, “that sounds very editorial!”)
The first hour of Part 2 of the Season 1o finale, however, felt less like a setup for a Fabio victory and more like a way to convince us that young and exuberant Christopher had earned the top slot by the sheer force of his exhaustive work ethic. With puffy pink lids and bags under his eyes that were deeper than La Kors’ reserves of sarcasm, Christopher was quite literally the face of everything the Project Runway brand tends to value: Youth, ingenuity, the willingness to die on camera in an effort to “make it work.”
Once the judges got involved, however, it appeared as though the tide was turning back toward the very sweet guy whose color palette was inspired by Jordan Almonds (as MK noted) and whose silhouettes turned every woman into a shapeless sack. Whereas I saw a Dmitry-vs.-Christopher showdown, the judges were all about Fabio-vs.-Dmitry. Why the face?
Before we get to the results, here’s my quick take on the Top 4’s final 10-piece collections:
Christopher: The season-long front-runner definitely turned up the volume from last week’s muted, barely dressed debacle. That final gown, with its gradiations from mauve down to purple-black, was ribbony perfection, while his blue tench coat was a structured triumph. And while I loathed the opening leather skirt with a full left thigh on display (why did the judges go bananas for it?), the accompanying maroon “distressed fabric strips” blouse was as flawless as it was delicate. On the negative side, that “mom’s back x-ray” print looked a wee bit too phallic down the front of some models’ skirts. Yikes!
Melissa: No doubt the blood-orange leather dress with the exaggerated scrunchy collar was the biggest show-stopper of the final episode, but as a whole, her black-and-white garments lacked a sense of innovation and surprise. Sure, the white leather jacket with cray-cray collar was a winner that most women would kill to have, but that look was negated by other garments — the sad mesh shorts, the weird leather bathing suit, and the basic (but chic) obsidian dress. Nevertheless, while the judges panned the white, floor-length gown that left her model struggling to take even the most teensy of baby steps — what a slow and painful stroll that was! – I had to agree with guest judge Jennifer Hudson that, at least standing still, the look was hot.
Dmitry: Holy cohesiveness, Batman! Last week’s patterned jacket with leather fringed sleeves (paired with hip genie pants) was joined by its even more glamourous cousin, a gorgeous fitted cocktail dress with a sheer paneled center and fringe-bottomed skirt. I also adored the metallic draped dress, the feathery bottomed gown with fitted sequined bodice (a wee bit remniscent of Dmitry’s ballroom past, without going tacky) and that black cocktail dress with a fan-paneled bodice that made its way to the final runway judgment. There wasn’t really a weak link in the entire chain, and aside from those wonky eyebrows on his models, everything was finished with the precision of an ’80s-era Soviet gymnastics routine. To quote J.Hud, “It’s rich, honey, it is. It’s everything.” To my eyes, Dmitry dominated the season from the candy-store challenge all the way through the finale, and his final collection was no exception. Bravo!
Fabio: The last-minute striped shorts and skirt were pretty enough, but ultimately nothing you couldn’t get at Ann Taylor, no? And while that white organza top added a little more sophistication to the collection, I can’t sit here and pretend that I really understood what had the judges so in rapture. Very few of Fabio’s garments seemed to find beauty in the female form — unless beauty is defined by making everyone look like they’re smuggling a few dozen potatoes in their garments. When Heidi (whom I consider the Project Runway voice of reason) said she “loved, loved, loved it” and Michael started to translate it to something that could work with a wet-haired gal at the beach, I began a deep and unadulterated panic that lasted until the final results.
And speaking of results…
Eliminated first: Christopher
Eliminated second: Melissa
[At this point, Christopher declared he’d be really upset if Fabio didn’t win. Again, what am I missing?]
I don’t know about all of you, but I’m popping open the champagne. As Dmitry noted when Tim Gunn showed up with an impromtu toast in the workroom the night before the runway show: “Aww, alcohol.”
And with that, I turn it over to you. Were you happy with Dmitry’s win? What did you think of his final collection? And if you didn’t think his was best, who would you have named the Season 10 winner? What about Heidi’s va-va-va-¡whoa! runway day dress? Express yourself thoughtfully in the comments section!
And if you want an immediate heads-up on when my Q&A with Dmitry will post on TVLine, sign up to follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!Follow @MichaelSlezakTV