Friday, October 17, 2008

Project Runway Finale Recap - You Don't Know What You've Got Til It's Gone

So if I wasn’t so drunk with excitement and Budweisers from two nights straight of dancing and singing along to TV on the Radio (more on that later), I’m not sure I would have made it all the way through the snooze fest that was the final episode of Project Runway on Bravo. The show moved slowly while watching the final three ladies finish up their collections, which for Korto that meant producing TWO NEW garments, their model search, that was filled with many reality TV models and finally presenting their collections to the audience at Bryant Park. So with this quiet season and even quieter finale, let’s get straight to the goodies: the final collections at the tents.
The behind the scenes madness that usually is the precursor to the runway shows was all but non-existent this time around except for the last minute ditching of celebrity judge duty by Jennifer Lopez. Tim Gunn happily stepped in, announced his impartiality and took a seat next to Nina, Michael and Heidi. One of the greatest moments wasKenley, who upon finding out that Gunn would be a judge, said “Maybe I should have adjusted my attitude”. So now onto the clothes…

Let’s be honest, this go around might have been the only time that I knew within a second of the first garment coming down the runway, which designer was the architect behind it. Kenley, who did not take Tim’s criticism in losing one piece the judges commented on last week presented first. She quickly got teary eyed while introducing her collection and thanking her family. Her shapes were severe, her fabrics were hand painted and the collection overall was colorful and was so very Kenley. There were three items I loved: the green top/black skirt combination, the hand painted floral dress and the black/fuchsia 50’s prom dress meets 80’s Madonna . Most of the other looks looked less refined and not very expensive. While the collection had a common theme, there was not a true sense of cohesion. And to be honest, I was expecting Kenley to really knock it out of the park with her 40’s flair, but unfortunately I thought a good portion of the collection fell flat.

Korto was next and she introduced herself, her point of view and her collection with determination and she also thanked her family. Right off the bat, I love the first few pieces of her collection, which were composed of what looked like saturated linen in greens, khakis, oranges and blues. The two issues I had with her collection were that most pieces looked overworked and through television, the fabric looked stiff and uncomfortable. There was more cohesion within her collection than that of Kenley’s but it could simply be that her look is very strong and original. Overall, there were a few pieces I liked, but the collection, much like Kenley’s, didn’t have that luxurious look I believe you need to deliver at Bryant Park.

And then there was Leanne, who came out simply thanked her family and explained her determination to get there. From when the first piece came down the runway, I was entranced with her collection. Her pieces were light and airy, yet incredibly architectural. The pallet was fresh and I could imagine myself, after losing about 15 pounds, in almost all of the pieces. Not sure if it was excessive drinking that I had done earlier that night, but I felt this could have been one of the strongest final collections ever in the show’s history. The look and feel behind the pieces was a wonderful mix of modern style, feminine shaped and strong details. And I want the long strapless light blue dress to wear on my wedding day. So Leanne feel free to forward that to me c/o of The Spielster.

Here are the best looks from Kenley:

Here are the best looks from Korto:

Here are the best looks from Leanne:

Anyways when it came to judging, it was more than obvious that Leanne was the one to beat. In regards to Kenley, they felt a few of her pieces were reminiscent of other designers’ garments, which honestly I didn’t get, Overall, they felt she had a strong style, but needed to learn more about the industry to excel within it. She was auf’d. Then it was Korto’s turn. While they loved the inspiration behind her collection and the colors of her pieces, they felt she has a heavy habit of overworking her garments and stripping them of their beauty. They also felt that while the overall look of the collection had a bit of similarity to it, there was not a concentrated cohesion to it. She was auf’d. Leanne was voted the winner because of her ability to present a full and satisfying collection. Her collection was the strongest, had cohesionand was truly a new voice in fashion. Michael wanted to make sure she was more than a one petal pony, but the rest of the judges agreed her pieces were the winners. She was able to present the audience with various pieces from gowns to mini dresses to halter tops to sailor pants and it was all intertwined flawlessly. Leanne Marshall definitely deserved to win in my book.

All in all, it was a lackluster season and I don’t think it was because of a lack of talent. I feel stronger people went home too early in the season, like Kellie, Wes and Daniel and others, like Suede and Blayne, were given way too much rope to hang this season on. I wish that Bravo had put aside some of the bitterness it was obviously harboring for the show moving to Lifetime, if that ever happens, and put together its strongest Project Runway ever! This season was drama less for a reason. It felt like every designer was there for a reason and I truly believe that lackluster ratings and even more lackluster challenges are something Bravo executives should be ashamed of. I am proud of the final three and believe that they all such a distinct vision of their collections and the voices behind them that the runway show was a success. I just wish Bravo had taken notice of it. And now I guess I will just count the crow’s feet around my eyes until Top Chef comes back.
Next week in honor of Project Runway and its fifth season, I will be doing a daily countdown of favorites: all-time designs, best characters, best feuds, best final collections, and overall the top three designers to be on the show. Dear readers, I would love to hear any suggestion. Drop them in the comments or email them to me.

More on Project Runway:

  • BravoTV chats it up with Leanne
  • Blogging Project Runway
  • TV Guide’s PR Roundup
  • NY Mag’s Take