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The Finale: Another Shocking Win Equals a Whole New Batch of Conspiracy Theories

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, 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 Thirteen of Project Runway—the finale of the finale. After surviving devastating critiques on their mini collections in the previous episode, the designers now have to address the judges' criticisms before they show at Fashion Week. Joshua must change key elements of the designs in two of his garments. Kimberly must dump most of her accessories. Viktor must edit his outfits. And Anya must make a whole new collection.

But how can Anya make a new collection when she has no money? Hmm, let's see, what happened the last time Anya needed more fabric? Yes, once again, Tim Gunn takes on the role of Fabric Fairy and arrives with cash—$500 for each contestant to spend at Mood to improve their collections. At this point in most seasons, the finalists are surprised with the twist of making an extra garment. This time around, however, the designers are just given extra money, either because the producers think that all their collections are too weak, or because they want the beautiful and likeable Anya to win. Your interpretation of this depends on how into reality show conspiracy theories you are. If you believe in them, we've got a few more from the finale which we've been wondering about—some of which have already begun making the rounds on the Internet...

Anya makes good use of her money and creates more sleeveless Uli-style gowns, all of which are better than her originals. Giving the non-Anya designers more money, however, isn't necessarily the best idea. It results in a general panic, with each of them immediately dumping some of their finished designs in favor of creating new, and sometimes weaker, pieces for their collections. Kimberly tries redoing the fuchsia bubble butt skirt in black, but can't get it to work. Why she'd work so hard to try and maintain the one design in her collection that all the judges loathed is beyond us. Viktor dumps some gorgeous pieces he made out of his own original fabric that he designed with the HP technology. He replaces them with too many sheer black garments. Josh decides that he doesn't have enough neoprene pieces in his collection (because after all, how many really are enough?) and makes more, including a pair of neon green neoprene shorts with weirdly unflattering pockets. Hey Joshua, Body Glove called, they want the '80s back.

As the four designers get ready to go to the tents, Anya, realizing that she threw together most items from her collection at the last minute, gives what is basically a concession speech. She knows her collection isn't what it should be and expects to lose. Although Tim tells her not to think that way, it seems obvious that he too feels the win is out of her grasp.

And then it's time for the Lincoln Center Tents! We were there at the live show back in September, so our commentary on the collections will be a combination of what we saw then and what was shown on television. The actual live show was made up of nine collections, including five decoys. The designers showed in the following order: Laura, Bert, Bryce, Anthony Ryan, Viktor, Kimberly, Olivier, Anya and Joshua. The reason we're sharing the order is that something is amiss on the televised version. The cameras keep cutting to the decoy designers sitting together in the audience watching the four final collections.

This makes no sense for a couple of reasons. First, each of these designers had to come out to introduce and walk with their collections. So how did they all get to their seats unnoticed? This would have been particularly difficult for Olivier, whose collection came late in the show, in the midst of the actual finalists' collections, and who therefore would have had to repeatedly go back and forth to his seat. Second, we find it hard to believe that Project Runway's secrecy obsessed producers would make it that obvious to the live audience whom the decoys were. (Unfortunately, we couldn't see those seats from where we were sitting). So we're wondering if they were filmed at a second showing of the final collections—or if this was some kind of editing trick. Then again, maybe they just ran back and forth very quickly.

Our judges this week are Nina Garcia, Michael Kors and special guest judge, model, designer and Mick Jagger paramour, L'Wren Scott. What can we say about L'Wren Scott—aside from the fact that she's probably the tallest Project Runway guest judge this side of RuPaul? Also, she seems to be very focused on the idea that women designers are great at designing for women. A fact our closet tends to agree with.

Back at Parsons for the judging, Kimberly is the first to go. Her urban sophisticate collection looks a lot better and more expensive on television than in person—particularly the greenish metallic ensemble which looked very cheap on the runway. The judges like her viewpoint and designs but say that she needs to develop more as a designer. If the judges think Kimberly needs more time to develop, then we figure that Anya, who probably has yet to master sleeves, is out of the running.

Next is Viktor, whose collection includes the strongest pieces. His leathers and prints are fabulous—as in, "We'd love to buy them" fabulous. But half his collection is made up of sheer black pieces, with strategically placed black opaque strips. As we posted back in September, we thought those transparent pieces looked too slutty. It turns out that the judges agreed. Although we would have given him the win despite this, Viktor is the next one auf'ed.

This means that Joshua and Anya are the top two: Anya and the anti-Anya. The judges think Joshua's collection is gutsy, well-made and that women would like to wear it. We'll give them gutsy. Anya's collection looks like what it is—clothing thrown together in a couple of days by someone with good draping skills, limited sewing skills and a great eye for picking out prints. When we watched it on the runway in September, it seemed obvious that Anya hadn't had enough time to fit her models. The dresses were so loose on them that we feared there'd be a wardrobe malfunction. The judges fail to notice this, or at least fail to mention it. After much deliberation, Heidi ends up bidding "auf Wiedersehen" to Joshua, which makes Anya our winner.

For those of you keeping score at home, of the four seasons of Project Runway which have been shown on Lifetime, three have had female winners. We have to wonder if this is due to some directive from the top. Perhaps they think women who watch women's television want to see women designers. Don't get us wrong. We think Anya has a great eye and a lot of natural talent. We just question the judges flip-flopping on their previous stances on a myriad of design issues, and awarding the prize to the very likeable yet inexperienced beauty queen who spent next to no time throwing together her final collection.

A very important note—we'll be doing a one on one interview with Anya later this afternoon. Despite our reservations about her win, we look forward to speaking with the always gracious designer who doesn't seem to have an aggrandized sense of self—unlike some, well one, of her competitors. We'll hopefully be able to get you a couple of juicy quotes later today and then share the whole interview with you on Monday!

And now for the Top Ten Moments of Project Runway Greatness.

10. After the four designers make it to Fashion Week, Kimberly asks Anya, "Do you think the boys are genuinely happy for us?" Cut to Joshua sticking pins in an Anya doll.

9. Joshua snarks, "Kimberly's booty skirt is not my favorite. It's not something I would try to make, drape, sew, or even try to sell." Just insult.

8. About her trip to Mood, Anya says, "I saw about ten black and white looks in five minutes. It definitely was a sign." Yes, a sign that she was looking in the black and white print section.

7. In a pre-runway critiquing session, Tim speaks to Kimberly like a stern father. We think it's safe to say he's not her Dad. For many reasons.

6. Regarding her last minute designs, Anya openly admits, "It's not my best work." If Anya had sent a model in a garbage bag down the runway, we suspect the judges would have praised it for its elegant simplicity.

5. Joshua introduces his collection to the audience saying, "My mother is not here with us today." Joshua, wait until the producers finish editing the show, because by then, she might be.

4. In discussing his collection, Viktor says, "I think everybody has that rock and roll in them." The editors cut to a smiling L'Wren Scott, who literally has had rock and roll in her.

3. Regarding Anya's collection, Heidi says, "I wish she would have layered it a little," then adds that she wished Anya would have made a sweater. Pssst, Heidi, you may not have noticed this over the past thirteen and a half episodes, but Anya has only attempted one sleeve.

2. Joshua explains that he picked one of his models because she has short hair, saying, "I want to make you look like me." Ironically, her eyebrows are less artificially arched.

1. After seeing the collections, Season Two's Nick Verreos says, "It's a tough call," and later gushes effusively over all the collections on After the Runway. If you'd really like to know what Nick thought of the collections, check out the title to our live coverage from September.

Addendum: We just interviewed Anya, who addressed many of the above issues and talked to us about the realities behind the show's editing. Stay tuned for info on Anya's design background, what she wished Project Runway hadn't shown, why we saw the designers of the decoy collections in the audience at the Fashion Week, and the answer to the question everyone wants to know, "Can Anya make sleeves?"

· All Project Runway Posts [Racked]