And so, it was over. In a storm of 90s prints, shadows and maybe-Nazi inspiration, the final three collections walked at Bryant Park and a winner of Project Runway‘s seventh season was chosen. Now that it has all come to pass, have we learned anything? Are we better for having watched it? Why did Jay have to be such a raging jerkface in the reunion, therefore canceling out any goodwill toward him which I might have built up over the season?
The finale answered one big question and launched a thousand more, most notably whether or not this show is still worth watching. My answer: sort of. But before we talk about that, we have to discuss how this whole thing went down and the collections (or lines? Princess Michael Kors says that’s an important distinction) that constituted the grand finale.
This finale, unlike almost every one that has come before it, included no surprise 11th hour challenges or extra looks to make – everyone showed up, put their clothes on their models, and got judged. The producers tried to make us believe that it was an issue when several of Mila’s and one of Emilio’s models didn’t show, but as soon as Tim Gunn made it clear that there were alternates ready and waiting, the bloom was off of that rose.
One by one, the excited designers came out to explain their inspiration and thank their families. Seth Aaron was first, and I very nearly missed it when he said that he was inspired by 1940s German military. For a second, I was like, ok, yeah, military. Uniforms. Tailoring. Right. But then I realized…wait, Nazis. That was the 1940s. That’s a little weird.
I’ve read some reactions that found his inspiration offensive, and I can understand why people might. Dictatorial regimes tend to include a lot of useless pomp and circumstance, however, and that often begets the need for extremely sharp (albeit somewhat unnecessary) dress uniforms – I found it hard not to stare at the costumes when I first saw Inglourious Basterds. Plus, much of the Nazi wardrobe was supplied by Hugo Boss, so there is a somewhat interesting sartorial element. I fully believe that good art can come from extremely dark places, and Seth Aaron mostly seems like an overgrown kid that wouldn’t even consider that the German military was, like, totally heinous, brah.
And his clothes? They were easily my favorite of the three presentations. His designs had McQueen-esque flourishes here and there, particularly reminiscent of his houndstooth-heavy work, and the graphic patterns and bold shapes were indeed a little military-reminiscent. As was to be expected, his jackets were tailored perfectly and it looked like an ultra-glam Hot Topic collection from time to time, as Mila somewhat accurately noticed. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
You certainly got a sense, however, that the clothes told a story that reverberated to the back of the house. His was the showiest of the shows, and it was also so rich in pattern and structure (and, somewhat surprisingly, in bright color) that Nina deemed it “very editorial.” Watch out, designers – when Nina decides that she could put a collection in that ladymag that she works for, it’s got a good shot of winning.
Next was Mila, whose collection looked exactly how’d you expect: black. Then some grey. And how about some white? Just for a twist, let’s add some dark purple on a couple of the looks. But not too much – Mila wouldn’t want to give anyone the impression that she intends to embrace color at any time in the future. Her collection was cohesive and capably tailored, and I actually liked it more than I expected to. I prefer my runways to be conceptual rather than commercial, and I found Mila’s collection interesting to look at. Color me surprised.
Speaking of conceptual rather than commercial (or the other way around, actually), Emilio rounded out the top three. He called his collection “Color Me Bad,” which was kind of hilariously awful, as was his “signature” pattern. Signature fabric is one thing for a handbag or wallet, but a dress? Count me out. I didn’t hate his collection – in fact, I want his blue coat – but as Princess Michael Kors so aptly noticed, it’s not a collection, it’s a line. With the exception of the gorgeous gold gown at the end, those weren’t runway clothes that Nina could put in her precious little magazine. I was disappointed that Emilio went so commercial because I think that he’s a good designer, if a bit of a jerk.
The judging went exactly how you would expect it from those descriptions: Mila was too expected, Emilio was too commercial, Seth Aaron was just right, save for the weird purple torture device that he called a final look. And he was victorious! They didn’t even take off points for his weird haircut! His kids and wife ran out and he said that he was so happy that they were proud of him and it was adorable. I wanted to join in the group hug and perhaps slip Seth Aaron the card of the girl that does my hair.
Before we knew what hit us, it was time for the reunion. We didn’t get one last season so I was pleased that we had one this time, but then I became significantly less pleased when I realized that all of the models were there. I still don’t care about the models and Lifetime can’t make me!
In stark contrast to reunions of the Real Housewives variety, Nina Garcia and Tim Gunn spent most of the reunion trying to make the designers be nice to each other. They prompted a lot of apologies about various buffer-interview snark, including Anthony’s declaration that Mila is some kind of 50-year-old harpy, which sounded surprisingly apt when the remark was recounted. Because Anthony is wonderful, however, he managed to both apologize and make another joke in the process, thereby providing yours truly with a title for this post. Anthony is the reality tv gift that keeps on giving.
I wasn’t aware of most of the model drama because I try to avoid the terrible model show, but I was aware that Ceri had talked some relatively pathetic smack about Jay’s aesthetic in the past. I don’t know why the models feel qualified to comment on the clothes, since last time I checked their job didn’t require them to be knowledgeable about fashion or trends, but she did and it aired and we all knew about it.
When that incident was brought up, instead of taking the high road, Jay managed to look like a smug little a-hole and make a really uncreative, mean-spirited comment about Ceri’s teeth and legs. Not that either of those things had anything to do with the issue at hand – some men are just gross misogynists, and their first line of defense against a woman is to call her ugly in some way. He looked so disgustingly proud of himself after he said it that it only magnified how shocked everyone else was, and Tim Gunn made him apologize like everyone’s favorite gay uncle.
That unpleasant incident was at the end of the episode and left a bad taste in my mouth about the whole thing. I enjoyed this season more than the last, but besides Anthony, there weren’t many interesting characters to keep the narrative arc of the show going. I’ll probably keep watching the series, but I’m not sure if it’s worth it to continue recapping – do you guys want more Project Runway recaps when the new season debuts?