Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
Welcome to week fourteen of Project Runway—the finale! The competition is down to just Gretchen, Andy and Mondo. We can't remember a season where the winner seemed more obvious—to us and to everyone we know. But we're not the judges, so we realize it's conceivable that Mondo might not win. But that could never happen...Right?
The first part of this extended two hour episode is dedicated to a Season Eight reunion. All the designers return to the Parsons' runway, where we get to relive lots of moments we've already seen, including Tim Gunn telling Andy, "Jackie Kennedy would not have camel toe." We don't learn much new information, except that Project Runway's Golden Girl, Peach, has a large gay following, and that the other designers are constantly asked if Gretchen is really that bitchy. Gretchen counters with the obviously ghost-written retort, "I'm not a bitch, I just play one on TV." But mean girls Ivy and April insist that's not true. Yes, now that Michael Costello is beloved by all of America, they are forced to turn their fangs on one of their own.
After some preparation, it's time for the show. The designers head off to Lincoln Center's new Fashion Week Tents. Things are very chaotic, particularly for Mondo—one of his models doesn't show up, and his wrangler mixes up the models' walking order. But Mondo must immediately resolve these issues, because Fashion Week waits for no man! Although it does wait for one woman... (During the filming of the episode, there was an obscenely long wait before Gretchen eventually appeared with her collection—but this was edited out for TV.)
Flashbacks to New York City, circa 1983, pop up all over the Runway. Mondo channels audience member Betsey Johnson's playful vintage clubwear. His striking collection includes last week's lovely Pierrot-like polka dot evening gown, a strapless bubble dress which desperately needs to live in our closet, and a heinous sparkly skull top, which the judges, for some reason, love.
Gretchen's collection might best be dubbed as "Slutty Explorer." It brings to mind the urban tribal clothing of that Eighties New York staple, Putumayo. Three of Gretchen's designs include those horrible beige diaper shorts we saw her working on last week. These outfits would make the ideal attire for any gogo dancers who wear Depends on safaris. Gretchen's collection is cohesive. It cohesively makes us cringe and yawn.
Andy's modern Laos-wear collection is Asian inspired-but not heavily enough so you'd notice. Well, Nina would, but we didn't. There are a lot of beautiful pieces, mostly in gray, but with a few chartreuse designs thrown in, which really pop. It's stylish, but next to Mondo's, the other collections both pale in comparison. And not just on the screen. We were there in The Tents, and even live, Mondo's collection struck us as the obvious winner. But again, we're not the judges...
Our judges for the finale are Nina Garcia, Michael Kors and our special guest judge, actress, singer and fashion impresario, Jessica Simpson. We're somewhat familiar with Jessica's youthful designs, because we've frequently seen them discounted at Loehmann's. Jessica is attired in an unflattering black sequin dress, which should have been enough to disqualify her—not only from being a judge, but also from being allowed within a fifty foot radius of the tents. Much to our surprise, Jessica turns out to be the finale's judging voice of reason. Yes, that's right, Nina and Michael do the unthinkable, they make Jessica "Chicken of the Sea" Simpson seem smart.
While all the judges immediately agree that Andy's collection isn't strong enough to win, Jessica and Heidi argue that Mondo's exciting collection, whose pieces they both agree they'd wear, should be the winner. Nina, however, thinks that Mondo's collection is too young—which would be a more valid argument, if the fashion industry didn't have a history of leaving the elderly on mountain tops to die. Michael Kors and Nina both feel that Gretchen's ready to wear collection is less "costumey" than Mondo's, and that the designer has her finger on the pulse of current trends. It doesn't dawn on either of them that Seventies Bohemian Grandma, may be the only look Gretchen is capable of doing. Perhaps she's not a visionary and she's just got good timing.
After a long contentious debate, the seemingly brain damaged Michael and Nina eventually get their way, and Gretchen is declared the winner! All across America, viewers throw bricks at their television. Is there anyone else out there, besides Gretchen's Mom, who actually thinks Gretchen should have won?
And in our As Tears Go By count, Mondo cries four times, Gretchen and Andy both cry three, and Tim, Peaches and Ivy each cry one time, making for a total of thirteen sob sessions. Added to our previous sixty nine that makes eighty two crying jag for the season. This must be the most Runway tears, ever. Congratulations to this season's sobbers!
And now for this week's Top Ten Moments of Project Runway Greatness...
10). When Michael Kors snarks to Jessica Simpson, "Hello, read a magazine!" she looks worried that she might actually have to.
9). Gretchen says that she is still learning to "Pump up the drama." Gretchen needs to pump up the drama the way Christine O'Donnell needs to pump up the crazy.
8). Lifetime bombards us with commercials for their new series, "The Fairy Jobmother." Who would want to watch a show starring a domineering European woman, who critiques the performances of vulnerable, emotional people, who are just looking to further their careers—Oh. Nevermind.
7). Andy's collection includes a bathing suit which needs electrolysis.
6). Heidi suggests that she and Jessica both have Mondo make them polka dot evening dresses, which they can then wear together. America's tabloid editors start preparing their "Who looks better?" columns, as Jessica decides that she has to wash her hair that day.
5). Andy puts on makeup before the final collections. Bet he didn't do that on the fish farm.
4). When the Nina and Michael praise Gretchen's accessories, Heidi declares, "It's not a jewelry show it's a fashion show." Nina and Michael—Try to remember, your series is not called "Project Stylist."
3). When the designers arrive at the tents at 3 AM, Gretchen lays down on the runway. There are no models there to step on her.
2). Jessica Simpson says she'd love to wear these runway designs on the red carpet some day. The designers smile back politely, thinking, "But you'll rip the seams!"
1). Tim Gunn gets his first new hairstyle in eight seasons!