Thursday night saw the end to our long national nightmare, also known as Project Runway Season 6. Three brave but dubiously qualified women took the catwalk of battle and squared off with their marginal design talents and delusions of grandeur, and only one would be left standing among the tattered ruins of swatches and…felt helmets?
That’s what those were, right? Whatever, it’s probably best to not ask so many questions, as the answers have been unsatisfying for the entirety of the season (although I’ve got another one – how was it that the designers were shown introducing their collections on the runway when all the press from the event said that they made no appearances and that the designers were not identified? Was that staged?) At this point, I would recommend some serious suspension of disbelief while Carol Hannah, Althea, and Irina all send their models clippity-clopping down the runway and pretend like they’ve made professional-quality collections.
Even the stoic and composed Tim Gunn was reduced to a bit of a tantrum by trying to organize these three “designers” into a passable runway show. When they’re pushing Tim Gunn to that kind of behavior in front of a camera, it’s obvious that this entire thing has gone pathetically wrong at some point.
We’ll dispense first with Althea, since I liked her collection the least. In fact, when I think back on it, hardly anything comes to mind – there were no chatter-inducing standout looks, and if you can’t get people to talk about your collection, you’re sunk. Fashion is a field that’s ruled by hype and trends and the Next Big Thing – if no one’s talking, no one is buying. Her best look was probably the one that they were forced to add to the collection after arriving back in New York, and if that one overshadowed all the others, then what had she been doing for all those weeks that she was at home? Watching Gossip Girl on DVD? Actually, if she had been, the clothes probably would have been better. As they were, it was a lot of 80s derivative and some wonky tailoring.
And then Carol Hannah. I actually like, oh, about half of her collection. The other half looked like it belonged in the closet of a woman dowdily making her way through the later parts of middle age (not that there’s anything wrong with that – it’s just not runway fodder). Just as Althea did, Carol Hannah had some issues with cohesion (although I’m not convinced that anyone other than fashion people actually care about cohesion – if someone just wants to buy a sweater or a dress from a line, do they really care how well that sweater or dress goes with the stuff that they’re not buying?), but at least all of her clothes managed to fit beautifully. She’s easily the best tailor of the group, but she’s got some work to do on her design chops.
Unlike Althea’s collection, however, there were actually looks that I remember. My favorite, of course, was the grey-lavender dress with the inverted tulle skirt. If Carol Hannah had made a collection of pieces that were on par with that dress and played with volume and proportion in the same interesting, artful way, then she may have actually had a serious shot at winning this season.
Of course, she didn’t have a chance, because her collection wasn’t entirely interesting (or entirely anything), and because the scowling, whining, blame-passing, smack-talking juggernaut that is Irina could not be stopped. Her collection was blackity-black-black, which was mostly ok with everyone but it made Nina give her the sort of withering look of which I hope I am never on the receiving end. You see, Nina told them when they got to New York for the runway show that all-black collections don’t get much editorial, and apparently she thought that would mean that Irina would change her entire collection to something different, given no time or resources.
I was kind of on Team Irina on this issue – that would have been valuable advice to give the designers BEFORE they were sent off to do their collections. But the day before Bryant Park? What was Irina supposed to do, exactly? Even if she had made her 13th piece something not-black, it wouldn’t have been cohesive with her collection and then they would have complained about that AND the fact that she still had so much black.
She won anyway, because even in all black, her collection was still head and shoulders above either of the other ones. Mediocrity ruled the day, just as it had all season, and we all bore witness to a fate that had been long ago sealed (by my estimation, approximately when Epperson was eliminated). And now it’s over, and hopefully we’ll all be able to forget it quickly and move on. Maybe after the next season gets going, we’ll all look back and go, “Remember that weird season of Project Runway that got delayed forever and then totally blew?”
We’ll find out sooner than we all expected – the next season premieres January 14. All this show needs in order to be good is a decent cast, and I’m holding out hope that they found one. Until they prove it, I shall continue to title my recaps with TS Eliot quotes.