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.
When we look back at the past seasons of Project Runway, we tend to remember each by a distinguishing characteristic. Although he didn't win, Santino's larger than life personality, including his amazing Tim Gunn impressions, dominated Season Two. For Season Four, we remember the petite "fierceness" of Christian Siriano. And when it comes to Season Six, the designers are overshadowed in our memories by the cornucopia of reasons why the show should never film in LA again. We suspect that when we look back at the just completed Season Eight, we'll always think of it as the season which Mondo Guerra should have won.
We don't say this just because week after week Mondo's designs were victorious. Nor, because he nobly defended and became best friends with Michael Costello, after initially siding in with the mean girls against him. Nor was it even the bravery he displayed when he shared his HIV+ status with the judges and the world—one of the most moving moments of television we've ever seen. No, the reason Mondo should have been declared the winner of Season Eight, was because he had the best Fashion Week collection of the all the designers. In no other season was there this big a differentiation amongst the final collections.
Overall, we liked Season Eight. We enjoyed the new ninety minute format. It gave us the opportunity to find out more about what happened in the workroom and during the deliberations. It was also refreshing getting a chance to see a nicer side of Heidi Klum, a bitchier side of Tim Gunn and every side of Mood's adorable Boston terrier, Swatch. We didn't mind the exorcism of the models' storylines either, as we've always found the designers' travails much more interesting. And we were thrilled to see fun, high profile designers as guest judges, like Philip Treacy, Betsey Johnson and Cynthia Rowley.
Sure, we wished there'd been more genuinely talented designers in the cast. And yes, we hated the mean girls—but were happy to see Michael Costello outlast them all. Our biggest problem with this season was Gretchen Jones. Not so much her annoying, overbearing personality, because truthfully, by the end of the season, we had started feeling sorry for her inept lack of self-awareness. No, our issue was that the judges selected Gretchen as the winner. Why did she win with a collection that contradicted almost everything the judges have said and done for eight seasons?
We can only discern that the powers that be at Lifetime decreed that this year, in order to appeal to their demographic, Project Runway must have a female winner who created accessible clothing. Ironically, judging from all the people we've spoken to and the message boards we've read, many of the women of Middle America feel that Mondo should have won—and this includes viewers who felt they were too old and/or not thin enough to comfortably wear the majority of his designs.
But it's done. Another season of Project Runway has come to an end, so once again, we can start getting sleep on Thursday nights. After Gretchen's victory, many people have proclaimed that they will never watch the show again. But we know we'll be back—and we suspect that you will be too...
And now this season's top ten of the Top Ten Moments of Project Runway Greatness...
10). Jason thinks that by wearing a bowler hat, he will "intimidate" his competition. Learning how to sew might have worked better. [Week 1]
9). April describes her sheer black top over shorts as, "Crazy-ass asylum," although it might more accurately be dubbed, "Frederick's of Hollywood catalogue, page ten." [Week 7]
8). In response to Tim's harsh words about her during the previous episode, Gretchen says, "I am not a manipulative person." Then Christopher pays her to let him paint a fence. [Week 6]
7). When Kristin shows Tim the shrug she wants to make for her dress, he jumps back, shrieking in horror as though he'd seen a mouse, a severed head, or Emilio Sosa. [Week 4]
6). Ivy says, "You talk shit about people and you sabotage people and that's why you're here." Surprisingly this is directed at Michael C and not her mirror. [Week 11]
5). In the Garnier hair salon, Christopher agrees that he wants his model to look, "Like Marilyn, but beat up." And if they can't pull that off, he'll settle for a damp Mary Jo Kopechne. [Week 2]
4). Gretchen explains that in the previous challenges, the other contestants, "Really understood why I won before they even knew I was going to win—they were rooting for me." Gretchen also believes she'll be wired large amounts of money from Nigeria. [Week 3]
3). April says she wants a pony, possibly because her designs are a bit reminiscent of the one trick kind. [Week 9]
2). Valerie describes the designers' rooms at The Atlas apartments as, "Way better than camp." Obviously this was the kind of urbane sophisticated image The Atlas was seeking by being on Project Runway. "The Atlas apartments, better than lanyards, Daddy-longlegs and bug juice." [Week 1]
1). After sharing his story, Mondo says, "I've held onto this for such a long time, I thought that maybe I can help somebody else in the same situation." We're sure you have, Mondo. [Week 10]