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From Beauty Queen to Fashion Queen
"Project Runway" Rewind: Back in September, I flew to the East Coast for two things: to host a "Fashion's Night Out" event in West Virginia (technically "The South" but still East Coastadjacent) and then to attend the Mercedes-Benz NY Fashion Week "Project Runway" show. It was two days before the tenth anniversary of 9/11, and traffic in Manhattan was at a standstill. I barely made it. I watched NINE yes, NINE shows (five "decoys" and the four finalists). There was a whole lot of mess (little Bryce, I am talking to you!), but there were some shining moments. I SWORE Laura Kathleen was one of the finalists. Hers was one of the strongest collections. I was wrong. And I thought Joshua's was all over the place and too "kooky" ('80s neon-green "bicycle shorts"?). I would have bet one of my Hermès ties that he was a "decoy" (wrong again!). But one thing stuck out: Those glorious dresses from Anya. I thought, wow, if she made it THIS far, and with barely knowing how to sew … Atta-Gurl!
A Gift of $500 … to Anya!
Let's see how it really turned out. As of last week, the Top Four finalists showed the judges three looks that were supposed to be representative of their collections. Anya suffered. Her pieces looked like she had made them in three hours. Under any other circumstances, she would have been OUT. But the judges decided to keep her. "She has come this far …" they argued. Going into the final two days before the Finale Show, she was the underdog. Out of the blue, Monsieur Gunn walks into the workroom and provides them all with a "gift." The conspiracy theorist in me felt it was intended for Anya, as a "GURL, you better 'Make It Work' and redo your damn collection!" She did.
The Susan Lucci Award Goes To …
How are the rest of the finalists doing? Viktor inexplicably buys some see-through, stretch cheetah print that has nothing to do with his collection, to add some new looks. As they showed him going through his rack, editing out some of his custom prints, I thought, "Oh dear, he's heading down the wrong path!" Kimberly is making more of those not-so-flattering "booty bump" skirts (NO!), and Miss Joshua is doing his best Soap Opera Digest Award Performance of how he has "NOTHING … to come home to … not even a job!"
Kimberly: Hoochie Fabulous
It's New York Fashion Week show time. Statuesque (6'3") designer L'Wren Scott (a.k.a. Mick Jagger's "Main Squeeze") is the Guest Judge. Kimberly is up first. Her collection was inspired by the Urban Brooklyn Fashion Girl, or as I like to call it, Hoochie Fabulous. It was very Rachel Roy meets Baby Phat, which is good and bad. Good in that it's sellable (minus the "booty bump" skirt), colorful (that blue-green metallic shift dress with pockets is fab!), and I can see the girl who would wear it. Bad, because it's already out there; not so new, directional, or "winner of Project Runwayworthy." The judges liked it, though, saying it was "a great collection."
Viktor: A Tale of Two Women
The collection began strong. His prints were marvelous. That first look — the printed dress with the strong shoulders: Done and done! The printed pants, jeweled tank and jacket look: UBER-chic! I can see this girl. I know her! She lives in NYC East Village, is a trust-funder, loves fashion, and interns at Marie Claire with Nina. But then, that girl went into dominatrix, sheer-chiffon, those-are-my-undies and where's-my-whip mode! When I am teaching my students about creating a collection, I always say, "Think of ONE girl, one vision and the pieces she would have in her closet. This is what a collection should look like. Does each piece, each look, seem like 'Yeah, that's that one girl'?" Kimberly got it. Viktor did not.
Joshua: A Neon Jazzercize Class and a Met Ball After-Party
Oh Josh-y. I'm obsessed with his black jersey gowns with plastic collar accents. Hot. Hot. Hot. So "Met Ball" after-party at The Standard NY Boom Boom Room. And that one scuba-plasticized look with the bra top underneath: so Proenza-Schouler! But then he went into Olivia Newton-John "Let's Get Physical" territory with the neon-green laced-up bicycle shorts. I don't want to see those four words together ever again. I think he also suffered from the same "two-headed woman" syndrome that afflicted Viktor. Here were two girls in his collection, and one would not hang out with the other. The judges, however, LOVED his entire collection. Nina, in fact, wanted to photograph it all and couldn't get enough of those '80s neon-green shorts. They deemed Joshua "most improved" and complimented his styling and editing. My heart started beating a very nervous beat with the thought "Is Joshua going to win this whole thang??"
Anya: Beyoncé Sipping Champagne
Then it was time for Miss Anya. She showed a very cohesive, feminine, sexy "Resort Luxe" collection. Although the minute the show finished, my first thought was that it was very similar to Uli Herzner's collection from Season 3 (take a look, you won't believe the similarities!). But I think in a head-to-head competition Uli's was better and more polished. With that being said, Anya's first plunging-neck caftan gown was GA-GA gorgeous. Her prints were fabulous, and I could see photographs of Beyoncé sipping Champagne in Capri with almost EVERY single dress. Did it seem "one-note"? Yes. Were the shapes simple and very "Pattern Class 101"? Yes. Could she have done without a couple of those awkward-fitting short tunic dresses? Yes. But it all looked like ONE girl. And surprise, surprise: Miss Caribbean Queen WINS! (Joshua: You can collect your Susan Lucci Award now).
The Sash and Crown
Well, after watching the entire season, it doesn't come as much of a surprise. This season was almost scripted for Anya to win. It was a Made-for-TV movie: "From Beauty Queen to Fashion Queen." She was the Cinderella "heroine," Viktor and Joshua were her "construction stepsisters," and Kimberly was one of her loyal besties. And in the end, she perseveres, puts on a great collection and voilà: She gets her crown! Atta-Gurl. Anya will be great for the "Project Runway" brand: She speaks well (hello, she's a former beauty queen!), women EVERYWHERE will want her clothes — well, at least for their vacations in Hawaii or cruises to the Bahamas. And, as Kors summed it up, I can also see Anya necklaces, Anya bags, and Anya big straw hats … and if I were Beyoncé, I'd have my PR team get in touch with her to send them to me ASAP!
Posted in: season 9 finale