Well, the time is finally here: the Project Runway two-part season finale. Despite what I thought might happen, no one is eliminated in this week’s episode. That means all four finalists – Char, Sean, Amanda and Kini – will all show at Fashion Week and compete for the prize. Though we don’t actually make it to the final runway shows – they’re saving that for next week, of course – a lot happens in this penultimate episode. Not very much of it is interesting, mind you, but a lot happens nonetheless.
I haven’t said it enough, but something I feel very strongly about is the need to bring Project Runway back to one hour in length. Even during the most dramatic weeks, 90 minutes feels excessive and this week really drags along because there’s not even a challenge (or a Korina temper tantrum) to make things interesting. The episode goes like this: everyone gets along and makes a collection and things mostly go okay and also they go to Italy. It’s seriously uplifting and sweet and I’m very happy for all of them, but snore. This is some boring TV, you guys. I guess I can’t have it both ways – I was glad they didn’t produce unnecessary drama by eliminating someone in the final moments, but I was also disappointed that like, nothing happened? I suppose I’m just a whiner.
The finalists are given $9,000 (was it always so much money?) and five weeks to make a 10-piece collection to show at New York Fashion Week. But first. how about a little inspiration…in Rome, Italy! Yes, thanks to some sloppily managed product placement on the part of Best Western hotels, Tim Gunn takes the final four to Rome. Their three-day whirlwind vacation is meant to give them the inspiration for their collection – plus, they can buy some fancy-schmancy Italian fabrics, if they choose to do so.
There is no drama! Everyone loves each other! Tim makes his usual home visits and everyone receives generally good reviews. Char’s family makes me cry and Amanda has an awesome orange cat. Kini’s family throws a full-on luau for Tim. Sean seems the most together in terms of his collection, but Tim doesn’t think he’s pushing hard enough. Sean’s main concern is whether or not to use fringe – he’s been warned already by Nina Garcia not to be a one-trick pony, but dammit if that Sean Kelly just doesn’t love him some fringe. What to do? (Spoiler alert: he uses fringe)
Instead of an elimination challenge, the judges request a three-piece preview of each designer’s collection. It’s again quite nice, if not a little dull, that they’re being so generous. There’s no last-minute look to create or fabricated drama from eliminated contestants. There’s no additional challenge or unexpected cut in time. There’s nothing at all but honest and helpful feedback from the panel and then some more time to work. So uh, okay. I’m on the edge of my seat for this, clearly.
Up first is Sean, who’s been deeply inspired by his trip to Rome. The collection is based on the betrayal of Caesar and it moves from white to black – symbolizing the betrayal – and then to splashes of blood orange, which I guess symbolizes all the stabbing. The judges? Love it. The collection is clean and sophisticated and exciting. When asked just how much fringe he uses, Sean vaguely replies, “Enough?” which I think is pretty funny. Nina warns him again about showing more than one trick on the runway, but they generally give him positive feedback. Personally, I think it’s a pretty cool collection, though I’m well past being over the whole fringe thing.
Char is one of the contestants who chose to buy some fancy-schmancy Italian fabric – and if you ask me, it’s perfectly Char. The pattern is bright and vibrant and youthful and cool, just like her. The judges love her use of color, but they don’t think her looks are cohesive enough. Nina flat out rejects one look, telling her to cut it from the collection entirely. Well, okay then. The judges want to see more of Char in her looks – Char is quirky and carefree, but her collection seems to be holding back. Char promises to give more oomph. Obviously, Char is the underdog here and everyone is rooting for her, but I don’t think she has a chance at winning. I really love her striped jumper, though.
Amanda’s collection is…exactly what you’d expect it to be. If you said, “a whole bunch of 1970s boho-style maxi dresses with slightly offbeat detailing,” well then you’d be right. Because duh, that’s exactly what she makes. Not that it isn’t good, but it’s certainly lacking in variety. The best thing about her collection, in my opinion, is the styling and accessories, which really bring the whole thing together. Amanda designed and commissioned custom jewelry for each piece and they are cool as hell. Nina is obsessed. However, Nina also tells her to let up on the bohemian look. Amanda decides to take her advice and plans to cut at least one maxi dress into a mini.
Finally, there’s Kini. Now, you’d expect Kini to be done with his collection far in advance and you’d be right – he actually complains that he’s bored in the workroom, which is pretty shocking for a Project Runway finale. I think maybe it’s that insensitive remark that causes karma to kick his cocky butt into gear. Because, Kini? Well, he’s in trouble. The judges hate his collection. Heidi immediately slams it, calling it “old lady” and dated. She thinks he’s much better than this. Zac Posen agrees and demands that Kini step it up – his looks, especially the black coat, are too 90s and not sexy. Everyone hates the styling, the hair, the makeup. Basically, Kini has to start over and he has about 24 hours to do it.
Next week: the finale! Who do you think will win?