Project Runway ended: not with a bang, not with a whimper, but with the giddy faux-posturing of a mousey yet sometimes very sharp ("Kenley's line looks really Holly Hobby.") designer from Portland, Oregon. Leanne may be a bit of a granola, but she's granola with an edge, like granola with dried cranberries, or steel-cut oats, or salt, or something. So what if Leanne's collection was the least wearable (skirts made of large layers of petals, while architecturally interesting and aesthetically beautiful, are flattering to exactly no one)? And so what if it was a little one-note (turns out petals aren't so interesting if they're on almost everything that turns the corner)? The Project Runway judges haven't voted for a wearable collection since Chloe: The Invisible Winner in season two, and we all know how that turned out. And even though Leanne's collection was very one-note, it was an interesting note. All in all, Leanne's win makes sense.
Personally, though, I would have gone with Korto. Leanne's collection was intricate and beautiful and very structured. But she managed to make a very fresh detail--those stacked waves or petals--seem almost boring in the space of 10 looks. We get it Leanne, you like waves. Korto's collection, on the other hand, was vibrant and detailed and most of all varied. She took classic, sometimes boring shapes (like halters) and literally gave them a slant of her own to make them look fresh. Also her colors, that green especially, were bold without being loud (unlike, say, Kenley's screaming fuschias and teals). The judges called Korto's collection a little overworked, which was a nice way of saying, "Pleating details, much?" but all in all I thought the collection looked very measured.
Which leaves Kenley, who was the clear loser tonight, and not just because she made Tim Gunn raise his eyebrow in exasperation. (Well, she was the clear loser after Joe's and Suede's decoy collections--if you haven't checked them out, I highly recommend you do so right now. Apparently, Bravo only gave them $50 to split to create those collections. There's no other explanation for Suede's polyester November Rain wedding gown, or Joe's misguided cowgirl motif.) Watching Kenley's collection, I felt like her designs were yelling at me, and not just due to the ringing of her nasally whine in my ears. Her first look was like Gwen Stefani's version of a saloon girl costume, and it only got worse from there. In truth, the whole thing looked very costumey--which is often how vintage looks. Kenley thought she was putting her own spin on things by hand-painting fabric, or exaggerating shoulders, or putting a creepy roped-off tumor on the side of hideous pattern dress, but as it turns out her spin isn't enough to make something aesthetically pleasing or interesting. And sometimes, her spin isn't even her spin: it's Balenciaga's, or Alexander McQueen's.
It was this last fact that bothered Kenley the most, that is, the fact that the judges keep calling her out on her lack of originality. Of course, as we've seen throughout the season, Kenley has a problem being called out for anything. And with being challenged in any way. And with being gently criticized by Tim Gunn. When Tim told Kenley that it might not be the best idea to show her McQueen knock-off wedding dress to the judges again, she practically imploded. "You know what? I'm sick of it. It's insulting," she whined so loud the sea beneath her dad's tugboat could hear her. "I did not take my work from anyone else." I'm surprised Tim could even raise an eyebrow in exasperation after all the snottiness she spewed at him. But in a miraculous turn of events, by the time Tim was leaving the workroom Kenley had softened into something semi-human. She told Tim he was right. Kenley is capable of listening!
Was it possible that Kenley had grown? It seemed so for most of the episode. When she found out Tim was the guest judge, she quipped that maybe she should have adjusted her attitude. Kenley is aware! And then when the judges reminded her that her work looked a hell of a lot like other, very famous people's work, Kenley actually took it in stride. She even acknowledged that it's important to know fashion collections if you want to, you know, be a fashion designer. "I have to do my research," she said. Could it be that Kenley had finally learned her lesson? Was she going to walk out of Project Runway without whining, or bitching, or claiming victimhood?
As it turns out, uh, no. "No one likes to be called a copycat. It kills me that that's what they think," she whined in her last interview, while ascending her personal cross she made from tugboat rope. "It's bullshit." Keep telling yourself that, Kenley.
Grade: BStray Observations:
--"Am I sad? Yes. Am I disappointed? Hella yes." Poor Korto.
--At least Korto won Fan Favorite, not that anyone would know, with this half-assed, reunion-free season.
--What was going on with Leanne's limp, greasy-looking bangs in the last interview/runway judging? She looked like she just stepped out of the shower. But in the Saturn spot and the photos online, her hair looked fine. Either it's a case of bad lighting, or someone handed her a can of that spray shampoo at some point.
--Tim Gunn looked so happy to be guest judge! I'm sure we all hope that J. Lo's aching bunion, or hammertoe, or foot exhaustion is feeling better, though.
--So, who's going to watch on Lifetime? I know a lot of people dislike Lifetime as a network, but they forget that pre-Queer-Eye, Bravo was just a repository for sub-USA-network movies.