I don’t know about you, but it sort of took me by surprise that Thursday night’s episode was the last regular challenge for this season of Project Runway. I know that they said it at the end of the previous week’s show, but I still wasn’t expecting the season to be almost over when I fired up the DVR to watch on Friday morning.
But I guess it is! We were down to five designers and two were to be eliminated so that we would have three Bryant Park finalists, but that didn’t happen, because that never happens. Well, it happened last season, but I think we all know that last season was an anomaly and we should pretend that the whole thing never existed. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s review how our final challenge shook out.
I’m not sure about you guys, but I loved the challenge and thought that it was one of the best and most creative of the season. The designers were treated to a mini circus performance (with no animals, thankfully – circus animals always make me kind of sad) and then instructed to create a look with it as their inspiration. Since designers use all kinds of wacky things to fuel their collections, it was nice to see our contestants forced to incorporate an idea that isn’t necessarily clothes-oriented at its core.
And, of course, they did it with varying degrees of ability and success. Seth Aaron and Emilio made outfits that were predictably great. Jay and Mila made outfits that were predictably mediocre. Anthony made the dress that you heard referred to in commercials as the “giant blue condom.” I’m not entirely sure that it looked condom-esque to me, but it was made out of a similarly synthetic fabric.
Let’s deal with Emilio and Seth Aaron first, since both of them are going to fashion week. Emilio won the challenge with a multi-patterned dress of stripes, polka dots and tulle that Princess Michael Kors said was his favorite look of the entire season. I’m not sure that I was that enthusiastic about it (it had something of a front-bustle that confused me slightly, but it was only noticeable from certain angles), but there’s no question that the dress was impeccably constructed (he even lined the skirt and train – you always win if you line things!)
Seth Aaron’s look edged out Emilio’s ever-so-slightly to be my favorite of the evening. I could look at the jackets that the man has made this season forever and not get bored. His outfit was a striped (there were lots of stripes in this challenge) ringleader’s jacket that defied gravity and looked absolutely impeccable on his model. It might have verged ever-so-slightly on “costume” territory, but I’d rather that a designer err on the side of the fantastical in a challenge like this.
While they were being critiqued, producers showed a mini montage of several of Emilio’s and Seth Aaron’s looks from the competition thus far, and it was readily apparent that they should both be put forward to Bryant Park – and they were! They’ve probably been the two most consistently good out of everyone, and I think that it’s been clear for several weeks that they should both go.
Which leaves us with the pesky problem of that third spot. Jay, Mila and Anthony were the three vying for it, and let’s go ahead and deal with Anthony right now. His dress was correctly judged as being the weakest of the five circus looks, and he made the poor choice of polyester fabric, which actually compelled Princess Michael Kors and Heidi out of their chairs in order to feel it for themselves. They were horrified and I don’t entirely blame them, no matter my love for Anthony (and it is huge, I tell you. Huge.)
His look just didn’t embody the magic and wonder of the circus in the same way that the others did, and he was sent home. Hopefully, if there is any justice in this world, he’ll get his own show or something. Or maybe I’ll just run in to him in Atlanta one day. That would be great. I guess it’s time for me to start stalking Anthony now.
But yes, right, there are still two designers. Jay and Mila. Their circus looks were both obviously not as good as those made by Emilio and Seth Aaron, but neither of them were bad, either. Well, ok, I thought Mila’s was kind of bad. It was a striped jacket over bright pants, and Seth Aaron’s version was so obviously better that the comparison of the two standing side-by-side on the runway didn’t do Mila any favors.
Jay’s was a Michael Jackson-esque military mini jacket with a pair of pants that Nina Garcia apparently liked quite a bit, although I had a tough time seeing the details on my TV because they were dark pants against a dark runway background. The only thing that bothers me about Jay’s aesthetic is that he often does a really wide-open neckline that won’t work on the majority of women (and will look really skanky on the rest of them), and I wish he’d modify his approach to the v-neck. Other than that, I think that his work this season has been mostly great, and I’ve enjoyed it more than I have Mila’s.
That doesn’t mean that Jay is in, however. He’s sort of in. And so is Mila. Really, they shouldn’t bill the final challenge as the thing that chooses the final three because, as often as not, it chooses the final two plus two more that will make collections and vie for the third spot. Jay and Mila will both head home and create collections, and…well, we all know the drill. This happens all the time.
I’m rooting hard for Jay to make it into the final three, and I think it’ll be fun to see all of our designers at home with Tim Gunn, as always. Who would you choose – Jay or Mila?