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And Then There Were 3

By CaitlinBergmann Fri., Oct. 22, 2010 ,6:00 am EDT

If I had to choose one word to describe this week's episode, it would be "painful." (This may have something to do with the fact that I'm writing this in the airport after two hours of sleep and a hella early flight, but I'm blaming the show. Ha!)

I don't know what's harder to see: Gretchen's struggle with many pieces of her life changing at a very inopportune time, Michael C.'s response to being outed and what can only be described as the terror of telling his family, or the completely blissful and beautiful life that Andy lives in Hawaii. Okay, so that last one is only painful for those of us who are watching with jealousy ... not so much for him. But, still! Did that remind anyone else of Swiss Family Robinson a little bit? Cutting sugar cane, the fish, where he lives? Pretty awesome.

Having already seen all the finale collections during Fashion Week, it's probably a little harder to write about this episode. It is always interesting to see what the top three (or four) choose to base their collections on. All of the mountains of "Project Runway" pressures aside, I can imagine that Gretchen has it the toughest right now. Design is such a personal thing because it is kind of an extension of you — your personality, the way you see things, the mood you're in at that moment. If there's something in your personal life hanging over your head, it can come through pretty clearly in your work.

As far as the collection beginnings go, here's what I think:

Michael Costello, Season 8 Finale Part 1Michael C.Nina really hit the nail on the head when she said he isn't bringing much new to the table, but rather showing something that has been seen before quite frequently, albeit in a nice way. Beautiful clothes are beautiful clothes and there's clearly a place for that in the world (thank goodness!), but I think I'd have a hard time picking out Michael C.'s designs from the myriad of others out there. What makes him "him"? He's claiming an "effortless chic" aesthetic, but many of the pieces he showed were too overworked. It doesn't take many trims and tricks for there to be too much. I can easily pinpoint what makes Andy, Gretchen, and Mondo's aesthetics theirs, but it's a bit fuzzier with M.C. ... which is why he was the right choice for the out.

Andy — I like Andy's color palette, details and overall looks, but I think he could use an editing eye. The headpieces, though interesting, are really distracting. Accessories are meant to complement and support the looks, not dominate them. Andy is a bit like me in the way he designs. He gets in trouble when he has extra time and continues to add things. The trick is learning to step back and edit things out. His 11th look was the best because it wasn't over thought. Lack of time forces you to go with your instincts and trust your judgment.

Gretchen — I'm not really feeling this. "Approachable" is one thing, but I'm finding a lot of her looks underwhelming for the runway. I'm not a big fan of her color choices either, but that is really just a matter of personal taste. Gretchen seems to go in two different directions when she works: "downtown cool" or "pretty hippy." I prefer the downtown cool of the earlier looks she showed in the season and wish she'd gone more that way.

Mondo — I think Mondo's going to win. He's super innovative, fresh, and takes giant risks. I'm not in love with the long polka dot dress (it reminds me of Cruella de Vil), but I do enjoy the fun vibe of the collection as a whole.

I've often wondered through this season how genuine Michael C. is. He obviously plays a bit of a character and tends to cause a little drama, but how heartbreakingly real was that emotion? I know everyone from my season always said the worst would be to get cut right before the final three, and now we've seen how crappy that really feels. Brutal. "Project Runway" should win an Emmy for "Most Likely to Make You Cry While Watching" this season.

Now the big question: Who are you rooting for?!

See you next week!

P.S. Sorry for the lapse last week. Did you miss me? :) First, I was at this event in L.A., then this one in Baltimore (with Jay Sario!) and then it was Bridal Fashion Week in New York. Wheewww!