Truly, the only contestant who seemed even remotely prepared last night was Viktor, who had his collection almost completely in place, to the point where he was basically just nitpicking design details and making editing choices. (Meanwhile, Anya was still constructing entire garments.) The sense of incompletion must have been apparent to either Tim Gunn or PR's producers, who gave each designer $500 and one last trip to Mood to get anything they needed.
Really, Anya was the one who benefited the most from this gesture, and I'm sure Anya haters (and Josh McKinley) are quick to point fingers at some sort of favoritism and lenience with the crisis she's had the past two weeks. And I confess, it is odd to see a Project Runway finale wherein the Powers That Be give them more money and resources at the last minute without any 11th look strings attached.
But even though Anya needed it most, all four designers gained from the extra shopping trip, and, in Kimberly's eyes, it ended up evening the playing field. She set about fixing her bubble skirt - by doing it in black instead of hot pink, and trying to tie up all the loose ends on her garments. Viktor wanted a cleaner look on his ethereal gown, and chose to construct something entirely new with a sheer animal print. Josh McKinley ran around like a chicken with his head cut off, trying to do too many things at once - including a redo of his catsuit. After making a pair of lace-up neon green shorts (well, sure) Josh broke down and cried from exhaustion, and Anya was there to both comfort him and identify with him. Because homegirl had entire new garments to make - but this time she was relying on instinct, and had some divine black and white patterns picked out... if only she had time to construct!
Indeed, Anya was in a pickle this week, and once she got over her identity crisis, she seemed to embrace two ideologies: she was doing everything she could to get her shit together, but she was also preparing herself for the shoe to drop, because she was having to get her shit together at the eleventh hour. How heartbreaking was that speech to Tim? It ain't over til it's over, Anya! Drape zebra prints like the wind; you can do this! Whip out that crazy magic!
Time marched on, though, dragging all four contestants along, and before they knew it, it was time to head to the
But, someone still has to win, so let's talk about the collections, shall we? I don't know if I could pick a favorite, personally. There were a lot of things I liked about each one, and it seemed as well that the judges didn't have a clear favorite or frontrunner, either.
It seemed like Viktor would be the clear frontrunner, just based on his construction skills, and the fact that he had a complete collection before anyone else did. His inspiration was marrying Mexico and New York City - the beach girl, and the city girl. I'm not sure that synthesis was strong in all pieces; Heidi pointed out it looked like two collections: the sheer black pieces, and the pieces that used Viktor's own designed fabric. In general, I'd agree. The only outfit that seemed to synthesize both ideas was the one that had the sheer top with the mirrors, matched with the pants in that print. Nina Garcia hit the nail on the head when she said that using the print and chiffon together seemed like a missed opportunity. Maybe Viktor could have had the first three more city girl, the next four the synthesis, and the last three more beach girl, like an evolution.
It's undeniable that Viktor had some amazing individual pieces, though. That white leather jacket continued to impress, and stood out even more paired with simple black leggings and a black top. The blue mini-dress was one of my favorites, and Nina and Co. loved the other little dress, with the severe sleeves. There honestly was a bit too much black for my taste (why is it designers always seem to rely on this for their collections?) but it didn't feel drab - just dark, with all the leather and the sheer. The judges didn't love the sheer, though, and it seemed like Viktor came up short in terms of concept and cohesion, no matter his stellar construction.
Sometimes I actually think Kimberly's collection was my favorite. Everything was wearable, but still upscale and interesting. The color palette gelled much better than it did before, but still had variety to it. It was definitely urbanwear, but it wasn't inaccessible - it took basic ideas and made them interesting. Indeed, Kimberly described it as urban meets fashion-forward glamor, and I think she made that work. The judges commended her on the fact that she listened to their critique and channeled it correctly, which is something I've loved about Kimberly all along. Kimberly can course-correct without self-destructing!
My favorite piece was the all-ivory piece (worn by ANTM's Teyona - did anyone else notice?) and I agree with Heidi that I would have loved to see a bit more of that aesthetic in the collection as a whole. I love the idea that Kimberly can merge urban girl and working girl, with her chic and polished secretary-esque looks, and I wanted to see a bit more of that, truthfully. Also, some of the pieces were perhaps too quiet in their presentation - Michael Kors flirted with this idea by saying they were great clothes, but maybe not a great collection. I don't know if I necessarily agree with that, because I quite like the collection as a whole, but certain pieces it took me a few moments to really appreciate the design work. Nothing took my breath away when it rounded the corner, but a lot of the pieces I really liked once I took a closer look at them.
On an intellectual level, I can really appreciate Joshua's collection. I think he managed to synthesize his two ideas more convincingly than Viktor and Kimberly - his tailoring meets draping effect really worked, and came together beautifully. And some of the quieter pieces, I would definitely wear! The little black dresses and the tank tops, and the skirt he paired with the neoprene top? I dig! Even disregarding the difference in our tastes, it was clear that Joshua put forth a show that was signature to him without alienating his audience. While I'm not sure if I agree with Michael Kors that he made neoprene and plastic desirable to all women, I do think he used them tastefully and interestingly. And Nina was right - those neon green corset shorts actually did photograph well! Consider me impressed with the editorial level that Josh pulled off.
But I didn't love that fabric he chose (you know the one) - I just don't really grasp how the fleur-de-lys is a design symbol you want to use, except on the bedazzled t-shirts with Paris cityscapes in sepia that they sell for middle-aged women. (Ouch.) But his styling was flawless and uniform, and really supported his clothes. In the end, Josh made good decisions without sacrificing his identity, and I can get behind that.
Anya really pulled her shit together, didn't she? Honestly, I know that there were a lot of v-necks and no sleeves, but I really did like almost every piece she sent down that runway. And the Caribbean thing isn't really my style! (Look to Viktor or Kimberly for design aesthetic more up my alley.) The prints! The colors! The movement! It was all very appealing. And while some were simply a flowy dress with a deep V, others were actually constructed interestingly, especially for a fabric that doesn't hold a shape.
The judges seemed to congratulate Anya most on a) simply getting her shit together, and b) having a marketable brand. Queen of the "Make it Work" moment, she managed to design with both instinct and precision, and came out with a collection that had a cool, cohesive vibe from start to finish. But is that a bad thing? Is that a result of Anya being unable to do anything else other than the Caribbean Cool Girl because of lack of sewing experience? It's a tough call. And the judges warned against that - Michael Kors said it would have been nice to see a variety, and Nina Garcia wanted it to reach a broader market in terms of retail. But it was still clear branding that had potential for a serious business, and in the end, Nina even said she was proud of Anya for doing clothes that reflected her own aesthetic.
All of Anya's strengths can also somehow be subverted into criticism, so in the end, I guess you either like her or you don't. I like her. I like her clothes, I liked her collection, I like her as a person.
Of course, this works out well for my state of mind post-finale, because the winner turned out to be Anya herself! Were you shocked? I was, a little! I thought that between Josh and Anya, it would be Josh, but in the end, Anya's raw talent and branding got her through, no matter her sewing skills.
I loved to see the other contestants be so gracious about their runner-up positions. Kimberly graciously said she already felt like a winner, and Viktor continued his streak of weirdly extended metaphors by saying winning would only be the cherry on top of a sundae he'd already gotten to eat. Or something. (I can't judge, though. I'm the Queen of the Mixed Extended Metaphor, and we all know this. Sigh!) And they all declared themselves proud of each other, and held hands. Aww!
So, another season of Project Runway is behind us, and overall I'd say it was a good one! I'd like to look back at this season and not remember it as fraught with drama surrounding Anya's sewing skills and Josh's temper problems - and I don't think I'll have trouble doing so. There were good contestants, from Olivier's bitchy mumbling to Bert's transition from grumpy outcast to beloved workroom dad figure. I still wish my Double Named Southern Charm Wonder Twins, Laura Kathleen and Anthony Ryan, had made it further, but honestly this Final Four deserved to be there. And if you want to see the other decoy collections, check out Tom and Lorenzo's full coverage:
This wraps up the Project Runway write-ups here at SHE BLOGGO, and I only let two episodes pass me by! (Sorry, Olivier and Laura Kathleen - I didn't give you a proper sendoff.) Any suggestions on what to blog next? I might do another reality show, or maybe delve back into scripted TV... In the meantime, tell me: did you think Anya deserved the win? Whose collection was your favorite? And, as always, thank you for reading!