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Every once in a while, a Project Runway designer comes along, like Jay McCarroll or Mondo Guerra, who shows a final collection which makes such a statement, that years later we still talk about its impact. After seeing the Season Nine finale today at Lincoln Center, we feel safe in making the prediction that none of this season's collections fall into that category.
Fortunately, none of the collections were complete disasters, like Suede's from the Los Angeles season, but unfortunately, there were no complete knock outs either. Maybe these designers aren't that talented, or maybe it's that this season's cast barely had any time to pull together their final collections. The Project Runway taping calendar keeps getting more and more compressed—we think too compressed. Either way, today's show was kind of a yawn and the collections didn't seem all that professional. We overheard a well respected designer from Season Two tell a friend, "Off the record, it was like I was watching a Pratt show—and not even a graduation show."
Today's show kicked off with the Heidi Klum, looking even more gorgeous than usual in a black sequin jumpsuit, walking down the runway to pose for photos with Michael Kors, Nina Garcia and guest judge L'Wren Scott. We weren't completely surprised that the producers stuck with their pattern of celebrity fashion designers as finale guest judges, but we were expecting someone more famous. There were certainly bigger names in the audience—Jennifer Love Hewitt, Andie MacDowell, Corinne Bailey Rae and Betsey Johnson. Oh well, we guess there are some pay offs to dating Mick Jagger.
We spotted a few design trends: sheer tops, leather, and neutrals—particularly beige—popped up in a lot of the collections. Unfortunately, almost every collection included poorly fitted clothing. In some cases, this may just have been a result of the designer choosing a baggier fit, which we suspect was the case with Olivier. But there was more than one occasion, where clothing fit so poorly, that we feared tops were going to slip open and reveal all. If just one or two collections had fit problems, we would have blamed the designers, but this year, almost all of them had these kinds of issues, so we have to wonder how much time for fittings the designers were actually allotted.
Some of the highlight of the nine designers' collections (we're guessing three finalists and six decoys) included Bert's sleek designs, with their flowing Seventies Halston vibe—the kind of clothing Jackie Onassis would have worn to Studio 54. We were surprised to find that we liked much of Olivier's collection—since we don't care for his designs on the show. He caught our eye with his use of leather and his oversized jackets. Viktor's collection was also definitely worth noting. It had bold photographic prints (possibly made from using the HP and Intel tools) as well as a lot of clothing with an edgy rocker twist. Viktor created a couple of leather pieces, including a black skirt with multiple zippers and a white cropped motorcycle jacket with crystals, which we now covet. Other parts of his collection veered a little too closely to the slutty side of rock, particularly a few sheer black blouses with wide, strategically placed stripes.
Going into the show, we were most excited to see what Anthony Ryan's and Anya's collections would be like, But perhaps our expectations were too high, as sadly, we were let down by both. Anthony strived towards fun, with short bob wigs and fun hats, but the clothing itself, including many tops with large masculine shoulders and others pieces made from drab prints, just didn't pop the way most of his designs on the show have. The main exception was a fab paint splattered white suit. Anya's tropical collection included a lot of loose print dresses, with quite a few looking like inferior versions of Uli's gowns from Season Three.
Laura's, Josh's and Kimberly's collections all included some fun and sexy pieces, like Josh's dyed plastic top, Laura's lace cut-out accented waists and gold spangled dress, and Kimberly's generous use of bright colors. But none of their collections reached out and fully grabbed us. Byron's collection didn't work for us at all, with its Mao/straight jacket-reminiscent tops and uniquely draped skirts—one of which we think had a hole in it.
Last season, after seeing the collections, we felt very strongly that Mondo was the clear winner. And frankly, despite his loss, we still do. This year, it could be anyone's game—and at this point, we're not even sure how much we care.
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