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Team Gretchen Now Accepting Applications

By CaitlinBergmann Fri., Oct. 29, 2010 ,5:00 am EDT

Fans all over the country are swearing that this is it. This time, really, they are no longer going to watch “Project Runway.” I’ve heard this many times before (I read the comments section), but this time, people may really tune out. Never has such an unpopular contestant won the whole shebang.

Project Runway Finale Full EpisodeI’m sure that Gretchen’s mom loves her. I’m sure she thinks Gretchen is the greatest thing to come along since penicillin — or nicotine gum — but I would be hard-pressed to find more than a few people who agree with that. Not only is the general consensus that Gretchen’s colorless global-hippie look is unappealing, but she doesn’t rate very highly in the personality department either. Her super-high opinion of herself, along with her habit of offering unsolicited advice, didn’t endear her to her fellow designers or the viewing audience. I think the term “Kvetchin’ Gretchen” was used quite freely on the Internet. (I looked up “kvetch” in the Yiddish dictionary, and it means “complainer.”)

Gretchen did well early on in the competition. I didn’t always agree with her wins (remember the plain black dress with the beady shoulder pads, and the jumpsuit with elastic at the ankles and the retractable neckline?), but the judges liked her aesthetic and especially her styling. We could rename this season “Project Stylist” for all the talk of styling victories and failures. But she lost her mojo and had nothing impressive to send out after challenge number four or five. Personally, she lost me after the party store challenge.

Mondo, who gained strength as the season drew to an end and endeared himself to the audience not only with his colorful creations, but with his personal struggles and short-shorts, was the clear winner for the season. In fact, he was so far ahead, in the viewers’ minds, that when I was doing a radio interview last week on the Derek and Romaine Show about the season in general, we didn’t even talk about who we thought would win. Instead we debated the entire time about whether or not we thought that Michael Costello was an idiot, or an idiot savant. (By the way, Michael called in and made it clear that he is an idiot by practically accusing his mother of emotional abuse during Tim’s visit on national TV and then wondering why she hadn’t called.)

Rate the Runway DesignsDon’t get me wrong; I have enjoyed this season — just more for the drama than the fashion. I’m not one of those who claim they only watch “Project Runway” for the creative process. And as much as I love Mondo, I did start to lose interest when it looked like a wrap four challenges ago. When I was watching the finale episode, with all its interview-segment tears and “this is my dream,” I was wondering what the hell I was going to write about. My particular flavor of wit tends to work best when there is a bit of controversy involved. For me, a model not showing up is not drama, it’s expected. There wasn’t even any significant product placement that I could make fun of. HILTON.

But then! This article was practically handed to me on a silver platter! It was a judging cage fight — a showdown, with Heidi and an unrecognizable Jessica Simpson in one corner making sense, and Nina and Michael talking smack in the other. It’s like Nina woke up one day and took back everything she had said to Mondo all season — or all designers of all seasons. “Gretchen has no color, and we want color; no, we mean color was yesterday.” “That’s so mumsy, and we want youthful; no, it’s too youthful. Youthful is yesterday.” “That’s clothing, not fashion. This show is about fashion. Who wears fashion? It should be commercial! Fashion is so yesterday.” Mondo = Seth Aaron = what was happening yesterday. (By the way, Nina, way to support your choice just six months ago of Seth Aaron as the next great fashion designer.)

Heidi and Jessica hold fast to their position in support of Mondo. Heidi punches Nina in the stomach while Jessica holds her down, but Michael Kors moves in to support Nina with an intellectual uppercut, and the two dumb blondes fall to the mat, taking all of America, with the exception of Gretchen’s mother, with them.

Gretchen’s win is not good for “Project Runway.” Who would travel to a mall to meet Gretchen? Which is exactly where Nina thinks she should be. Viewers in my season were hotly divided. There weren't ardent supporters for Team Uli, or Team Michael. The old gals and the gays were on Team Laura, and hated Jeffrey, but Team Jeffrey was a million strong and just as adamantly against Team Laura. Team Mondo is at full capacity. Team Gretchen is now accepting applications.