What Can One Say!
Season 10 is one runway away from being history. How time flies. It seems like only yesterday that we were meeting the 16 designers for the first time. I grew so fond of them all. There was what's-her-name? Someone, don't remember who, left in the middle of the night. And didn't someone get eliminated and come back and go bye-bye again just as fast? Who was that? I know I loved that challenge where…Um…Where they had to do…? Darn, can't remember that either. It appears that except for a few standout personalities—disco Buffi, "HELLO KOOAN" and drama princess Elena—this has been a lackluster season in more than the personality category. Not one challenge, winning design or designer has had a "WOW" moment all season. Here we are at Fashion Week. Let's hope it's not too late.
Episode 14 opens up with a snooze as Mr. Gunn comes into the designer lounge to give each designer a hug and a pat on the back. Dear, dear me. This whole scene should have hit the cutting-room floor. How about some "fashion action" before the entire season is over? Not happening quite yet. Let's listen to Christopher whine a few more times. By mimicking Nina Garcia's critique of his lousy three looks, he shows the lack of appreciation he has for those moments. Golden Boy informs us that he has practically carried the entire season on his rounded shoulders. "They make me feel like they are doing me a favor by moving me forward"? Honey, in case you haven't noticed, they have been carrying your derrière most of the season in one way or another!
The next day at the 1407 Broadway workroom, the designers—even Golden Boy—realize they have a lot of work ahead of them to meet the judges' expectations. Dmitry is aware that he needs to inject a youthful edge into his collection. Golden Boy continues to complain about his critique. He doesn't see himself as a colorful person this season. He was confused as to what the judges thought they would see from him. I guess they were hoping for some fashion? Melissa has placed herself into a black and white box. Zero color.
What to do, what to do? In walks Mr. Gunn with the TOTALLY unexpected announcement (snooze alarm just went off) that we are off to Mood, apparently to try to save a few of these tired collections! Keep in mind that the designers of the decoy collections never get the opportunity to do more shopping or enjoy the words of wisdom from Mr. Gunn to improve their final collections. Maybe one season there won't be the "fix it" clause. Just show up and get it on the runway!
Mr. Gunn states that if there was ever a "make-it-work moment," this is it. We are dragged off to Mood, mercifully for the last time! With 30 minutes and a whopping $300, the designers, all except Christopher, seem to have an idea of what they each need to spruce up their collections. Golden Boy is not happy. "They just don't have anything," he says, referring to Mood's several thousand square feet of floor space stacked to the ceiling with fabrics from all over the world. Melissa chooses a beautiful "blood orange" leather hide. Yeah for color!
Back in the workroom, Golden Boy feels that Dmitry's collection could use a "little bit more originality, AND a little more creativity, AND a little more innovation." Yeah, and Christopher? You could use a "little more humility."
Hair and makeup time with the models isn't too unusual until we get to Dmitry's look. It appears that he is having the ponytails of his models silver-leafed, along with caterpillar-like eyebrows. It's not flattering and not in keeping with his collection's mood. Regarding hair and makeup, Christopher, it appears, doesn't have a point of view regarding his models' looks. Not a good time to be so indecisive. Just like with Mood, once you leave hair and makeup, that's it, buddy. No going back.
Back in the workroom, the models arrive, prompting more complaints from Christopher. I don't know what's going on with him, but he's getting on my last nerve, you know? Fabio, Dmitry and even Melissa seem chill under pressure. Maybe their confidence will rub off on him? It appears they are taking to heart the judges' critiques. Not a mimic among the three. Dmitry is working on making his looks younger. That's going to take some effort. Sophisticated they are. Young? Not so much. Melissa is fitting a simple white column of a dress, which looks super, but, child, the model can't walk in it! When I saw this coming down the runway, I was amazed that she didn't take one minute to just open up one side seam. That's all it would have taken: one lousy minute. For some reason she thinks it's the shoe that's the problem. NOT.
Next day, which is the last full workroom day, Fabio contemplates this moment. He obviously has enjoyed all the ups and downs on this crazy and exhausting ride, and he's not taking anything too seriously. "Wearing life as a loose garment" couldn't be a better expression for this humble, sincere and talented designer. Mr. Gunn's entry into the workroom brings us back down to the dirty business of fashion design. A couple of sponsor plugs and he says goodnight. I want a job like that!
Back in the L'Oreal makeup room, Christopher describes his models' look…as he sees himself: tough, powerful and sexy. Hey, you left out "modest." Fabio's look is soft and understated. He loves it and wants a shot at wearing it himself. Go for it! Melissa is smart in adding color to her models' look. We aren't going to see much of it anywhere else!
One more critique by Mr. Gunn awaits the designers. Melissa seems to be up to speed and in great spirits. Mr. Gunn loves the "blood orange" leather, as do I. It's a strong choice to brighten up her otherwise colorless lineup. Golden Boy quips, "She's so pretentious. Shut up, it's f***ing red." I spontaneously smacked the little bugger's face on my TV screen. Ouch! Mr. Gunn grimaces also as Dmitry describes his "silver leaf" effect on the models' hair. Sorry, but it looks like they couldn't get all the foil off their hair after having their roots done! Christopher's time to shine is next. He still seems to be in no-man's-land as far as owning what he will show! Where's the story, energy and direction? Fabio apparently has had his own pale but colorful epiphany. He has added a fresh and young narrow awning stripe to his collection. The pieces look as if they were intended all along. Tim is thrilled! Yeah, designers! With 15 minutes to go, Fabio and Dmitry are on track. Not the case with dear Christopher and Melissa. Oh well.
Finally we are at Fashion Week! No more little twists. No more manic trips to Mood. Just one big freaking runway show to get through! The designers enter the tent. Dear Christopher utters, "We're not in Kansas anymore." Or Massapequa!
Heidi, MK, Nina Garcia and guest judge Jennifer Hudson walk the runway. Heidi looks stunning from the neck up. Absolutely not a fan of what she's wearing. If that gown had been in a challenge I can only imagine the comments we'd have heard from MK and Nina Garcia. Let's get the show started.
Christopher is up first. Deconstruction and reconstruction are his themes, which translates to "Mom's car accident and putting her back together." Finally we get to see looks that are worth seeing, pieces that are interesting and well-styled. My favorite piece of his entire collection is the black python jacket with asymmetric closure. Beautiful! There are throwaway pieces (shorts and tanks), but they are mostly worn with something that has enough interest to carry the look. But not always. The final ombré strapless gown is a letdown for his finale piece. It just doesn't belong in this collection! I was very glad the model made it off the runway standing up. It was touch and go there for a second or two!
Melissa is next. Her inspiration is "death to life." OK? To me, Melissa's collection had no surprises or new looks. Everything was well executed and styled, but for the most part we have seen it ALL before. Her first look is her basic wide-collar jacket, reworked here and there. The second look is a basic long "tank dress" worn under an open crackled-leather vest. Nice—but for a sales showroom, not the runway! The third look is another variation of her "condom" dress, done as a tunic. A white crackle-leather one-shoulder dress is ill-fitting, awkward and shows a lot of side boob. I was stunned when her model inched her way out onto the runway in the long white gown. She couldn't walk. She was literally hobbling down the runway. I wanted to reach out and rip open a side seam or two. That is all it would have taken to make it wearable. Her finale piece, the "blood orange" leather dress, is just another interpretation of what we have seen many times.
Dmitry's collection is shown next. The first thing that catches my eye is the unflattering hair and makeup. The eyebrows look like they were applied by a drunken sailor. I'm not loving the silver-foiled hair either. It's too conceptual for such a staid collection. The first look, a crisp white dress with angular shapes held together with sheer fabric, is tasteful and chic. The second look, a jacket in the same technique, is a bit of a missed opportunity, being that it is shown with the most pedestrian camisole and skirt possible. An interestingly banded white trouser is paired with a detail-overloaded sheer black blouse. Where's she going? His geometric woven and leather fringe dress is eye-catching, as is his fringe jacket with soft draped pant. A look that definitely didn't need to walk the runway is a basic yellow skirt with stitch detail and an even more basic, ill-fitting, one-strapped shiny camisole. My least favorite of all his looks is a confusing shiny black one-shouldered dress. I am at a loss for words to describe all that is going on with this thing! It looks as if it's in the middle of an identity crisis. Dumpy at best! What follows, though, is a fresh pale yellow dress in geometric shapes paired with interestingly beaded cap sleeves. It's frustrating that Dmitry nails it in one look and totally misses in the next. And the next just arrived, in the shape of a dark silver sort of 1930s Ralph Laurenlike dress. OK, but nothing exciting at all. His finale dress brings out the ballroom dancer in him. Again, it's nice, but this neckline and silhouette have walked runways since the dawn of time.
Last is Fabio's collection, "Cosmic Tribalism." The lightness and ease in this collection was refreshingly beautiful. Fabio's design style is very different in feeling and vibe than what I am usually attracted to, but I instantly became a fan of his as each look came down the runway. They seemed to float with a calming lightness about them. His first look, a long asymmetric tunic in ivory, was worn over a semi-sheer tee with a soft printed bandeau underneath, along with shorts in a narrow blue multicolored awning stripe. Following this was a long, almost maxi-length, asymmetric tunic splashed with powder blue, and a softly tailored gray pant. Each look continued to build and reinforce his Cosmic Tribalism vibe in a modern and uncontrived way. I can see the love for this collection in Nina Garcia's eyes as it floats by! Little dialogue bubbles in her brain saying, "EDITORIAL, EDITORIAL, EDITORIAL" are floating above her head. The layering, which could possibly render a look heavy, in this instance added to the freshness and coolness of his pieces. Fabio's final ensemble, a stunning sashed ivory robe over a soft pink tunic and gray trouser, could easily be transported to a Paris runway along with this entire collection, en masse!
Now the not-so-fun part: eliminations! On the runway with one model each, the designers have one last opportunity to influence the judges. Dmitry selects my all-time least favorite design, the little black identity-crisis dress, to bring on the runway. Why? MK's nose grows a tad when he comments about "battles in Hollywood" over who would wear this dress. The long black gown, he states, verged on costume. Other than that, good. Nina loves the yellow dress with beaded shoulders. Not "old lady" at all. Well, that's good! NO ONE mentions the freaky eyebrows and silver foil?
Melissa is next. Again, not sure why she chose her look, the white crackle ill-fitting dress with side-boob detail. She offers a very complicated and long explanation about her direction for these looks. Nina looks impatient! MK states, "Suddenly I was in love with the jacket"? Honey, we've been looking at it all season! Not quite buying that he likes the wrinkled leather one bit. MK does crucify her for her "hobble" gown. Nina likes the red dress—another design that keeps popping up as much as the jacket. Melissa is complimented on hair and makeup.
Christopher whips out Mom's X-ray to reinforce his direction: dark and haunting. Just how I envision spring. I was actually pleasantly surprised, considering his voice-of-doom moaning and groaning the last few days. These looks were strong and, for the most part, new. MK doesn't see the gown at all in this collection. He loves the one-shoulder dress, which is very similar to a design of Fabio's (and my stone-colored gown from last season's runway!). Nina wanted more romance.
Fabio is last. His was obviously my favorite collection. Heidi "loved, loved, loved it!" She appreciates his colors and ethereal approach. Nina feels it's sophisticated and cool. MK also loves the entire vibe. "You made a fashion statement that was different but that could be interpreted into real life," says MK. Jennifer Hudson comments that he completely owned it. The colors are what spoke to her. She feels he nailed it!
"OK, now why should you win 'Project Runway'?" Fast-forward, please!
Christopher and Melissa didn't rock the judges' world. They each showed nice, wearable looks. What was missing from each was a strong point of view that was actually new and exciting. Almost all that they showed is already out there in stores. Basically they just added a twist or two here and there to personalize their designs. Double aug.
That brings us to Dmitry and Fabio. Dmitry definitely showed some "wow" pieces. By better editing a few underwhelming looks and replacing them with ones that said something, it would have been a cohesive and strong collection. Fabio's collection from start to finish, to my eye, made a complete statement. A runway show is not just about showing clothes on models. More importantly, it is about creating an image that the viewers will take with them after the show is over. Nina Garcia, in regard to Fabio, sees he has what fashion today is all about: an element of surprise. MK reinforces this idea by stating that a designer's job is creating what a customer is not even aware yet that he or she wants. Heidi states that she had no idea until she saw his collection that this direction would be something she would want, and now she does!
So it makes plain sense that this panel of expert judges would select Fabio as Season 10's winner, doesn't it? Certainly! But we have not taken into account the hidden factor: PRODUCERS, and their inability to let the designer with the best collection EVER win.
Congratulations to Dmitry. End of Season 10. Zzzzzz….