Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Project Runway: "Finale: Part One"

Illustration for article titled Project Runway: "Finale: Part One"

Amelie is out being a famous author tonight, which makes me very happy because now I get my chance to gush all over this season of Project Runway.  Yeah, I know that the general tone of the blog this season has been less than enthusiastic, but my crazy happiness about the show being back in New York and only having like, two designers who were clearly incompetent in the initial pool has led me to overrate Season 7 wildly!  So let's get to the coronation of Seth Aaron, because I'm just Hot Topic enough to want one of that man's jackets.

But first we have to endure the drawn-out elimination of Jay (I predict, 90 minutes before the event), whose style has always been a little … timid to me.  Last week's half-hearted "I made a colorful top, didja notice?" outfit is a perfect example.  I don't think that Bangs The Elder is much of an improvement, with her one sort of low-rent superhero costume mode, but at least it's a style.  The only question remaining to be answered is whether the finale next week will be a sausage fest, or whether we'll edit out a Y chromosome somewhere in there.

Part one of the finale is always one of my favorite PR episodes, what with Tim making the rounds to America's budding designer's families' dinner tables and driving various rental cars.  And there's that wonderful moment where months of work on a collection is revealed to be not that much more impressive than what they regularly did with twelve hours during the competition!  First stop: Vancouver, where Seth Aaron displays fifteen outfits in various shades of black, gray and bronze, and comments that he wants to take twenty to New York and "edit there."  Tim thinks it's too "classic Seth Aaron" with the zippers and impeccable jackets, and advises him to start over, which was clearly a shock to some Real World contestant from some season (sorry, I'm not familiar with the reference).  I'm happy to see that Seth Aaron takes the advice seriously, but I think his aesthetic and skill is strong enough to win over this rather wishy-washy competition without big surprises.

Next up: Emilio Sosa in New York, who presides over a nice montage of his roots in the Dominican immigrant community and South Bronx.  His collection is colorful, but if I were Nina Garcia, I would be questioning the taste level.  On the rack, at least, it looked rather vintage … in a matronly way.  Tim critiques "a serious lack of sophistication" and says "it looks old."  And as usual, Emilio argues with him.  He's won challenges by ignoring Tim, but I love Tim so much that I get a little mad when someone says he doesn't know what he's doing.

Then it's the dueling last-placers.  First Mila has her turn in Los Angeles, on a rainy day with a collection in black and gray "with touches of aubergine."  Cue the cutaway to the Dalmation (black and white, how unexpected!).  Tim has more good words about this collection than the two previous, and I can't argue.  Love her or hate her, Mila has a strong sense of what she likes, and her collection is full of unambiguous lines and angles.   Jay in San Francisco is the last stop, and he shows a samurai/geisha inspired collection that has plenty of concept, but no wearability.  It would be the only thing of its kind on the runway at Fashion Week, that's for sure, but is this a line you would want to finance with L'Oreal's money?

The big revelation when the group gets to work is that Jay and Mila have three hours to put three looks on the runway. Mila is a little less confident seeing Jay's color palette.  Both cry on cue for the confessional.  I'm sure it's emotional to be so close to your dream and so forth, but these guys don't have the excuse of being sleep-deprived and stressed out by reality show manipulation at this point.  To the runway, where Heidi appears sans baby bump to start the show.  Mila's three looks were chosen well, with a bold jacket, a boxy dress, and an unexpected slinky cocktail dress.  The judges praise the cohesion and worry about the retro vibe and the monochromatic palette. I'm not sure I get the unifying factor of Jay's three pieces, which start boring, go to catsuit-y, and end weird.  Up close, the details in Jay's clothes come through … maybe too many details; the judges say he might need to edit.  Then Kors throws in the stinger: "What I love is that there's nothing about these clothes that's retro."  (How about the Jetsons-esque retro-futurism of the shoulder fins, Michael?)


Michael is a strong Jay partisan in the discussion; Heidi goes for Mila and accuses Michael of redesigning Jay's clothes to remove their weaknesses.  (One of the more interesting judges' discussions we've ever been privy to, by the way.)  The director coyly intercuts Nina grimacing: "Ooo, I can't decide!"  It's necklace versus neckerchief, bangs versus fauxhawk!  And the verdict is Mila, just like I predicted 90 minutes ago!  But I'll admit that I didn't expect Jay to produce a collection with so much outlandish energy.  I'm glad that I'll see three collections with wearable pieces and a minimum of art projects on the runway next week.

Stray observations:

  • Family activities in which Tim Gunn participates during his North American tour: Pictionary, trampoline, reminiscing about the immigrant experience, psychoanalyzing the decor, Filipino food, toasts to dreams.
  • It looked like Jay didn't take Tim's coat when they entered his studio, in such a hurry was he to hear Tim's critique of his "student work."
  • Mila and Jay have a heart-to-heart in the Presidential Suite before everybody else arrives. The fact that I love the long scarf Mila was wearing during that scene tells you everything you need to know about my fashion sense.
  • Add to the wishlist alongside the Garnier products, Campbell's soup, and HP touchscreen computers: Westin Heavenly Bed.
  • Another reason to love this episode every season: Tim in his leather jacket!
  • If you didn't know how to pronounce "aubergine" before today, consider yourself educated.
  • Signature Jay line: "The shinguards won't zip all the way up her legs."
  • Signature Mila line: "He's got color.  Not good for me."