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

Project Runway: “Finale, Part I”

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Two hours is just way, way too long.

Project Runway likes us to have a good time, so it went out of its way to make its finale excruciating—a two-part, four-hour extravaganza that is designed to make us all despise these remaining contestants and curse the day we were born, until next season when we tune in all over again. It’s not that I don’t like our designers, or their clothes, for that matter, but two hours is too many hours. The four remaining designers have to present three looks from their collection as a “runway preview,” and based on the strength of their designs, one final contestant will be eliminated before Fashion Week. This is the most heartbreaking elimination possible, needless to say. But this bloated format drags down not just these last two episodes but also the whole season—what should be a climactic moment instead feels like it drags on endlessly.

Daniel, Patricia, Stanley, and Michelle have all earned their time off after the main competition, and with $10,000 and four months each, they retreat back to their homes to do something with all of that money and time that is hopefully worth showing Tim Gunn when he comes by to visit. I enjoy any part of Project Runway that is just “Tim Gunn Doing Things,” so it’s wonderful to see him mince around on the snow outside Patricia’s pueblo or sit down to a kale-salad lunch with Stanley’s partner and niece. But there’s a lot of excess fat in every scene, and it drags on and on and on. I do like the designers, but all of this with their families and their visions and their creative processes doesn’t quite do it for me.

Things start to move a little faster once we get back to New York, but even then, it’s still not a lot. Because this is theoretically the teams season of Project Runway, the ghosts of challenges past have to come and “help out”—which at this point has become such a tired plot device that it doesn’t even merit the screen time offered to my favorites. The only fun part this offers is when Layana legitimately starts bitching about Patricia’s collection to Samantha; I have no idea why Layana’s opinion is still relevant, but it’s kind of funny, especially because Patricia almost catches her at it.

If anything, towards the end of a season of reality television, it should be harder to fill out a whole episode—there’s fewer contestants, fewer dramatic moments, fewer clothes to critique. So why veer in the other direction and add time? Presumably it’s so that we can get the full experience of each designer’s collection—and let me tell you, they are some boring collections. Most of the designers do not have a sense of cohesion within their collections, and the time off seems to have given them space to fall back into the same old habits. Patricia gets wild, Stanley gets boring, and Daniel gets dowdy.

I found myself rooting for Patricia’s collection, but there are some phenomenally messy elements bringing down some great pieces and textiles. I never thought the horsehair cape would work until I finally saw it on the model, which is what we’re always saying about Patricia, but the collection did not come together for me at all, even though I adored the blue smurf hat and matching dress, with the metal sequins and washers sewn on. I think her clothes could be the most runway of anything we saw tonight—she has the theatricality that everyone else is lacking. Heidi and Nina are frustratingly wary of her vision, but I never seriously thought she was going home.


Stanley’s collection is very well-tailored with some sumptuous fabrics, but it is otherwise rather staid. He didn’t do a great job pairing anything together, but his on-screen presence is still the most pleasant. His entire line screams ready-to-wear, which is fine, but hardly Fashion Week material.

And Daniel’s—well, Daniel’s collection is a hot mess. He falls back onto the same devices he was doing before—structured old-lady jackets over trousers that range from unflattering to upsettingly outdated. But what struck me more than that was that his entire runway preview is black. It’s the most uninteresting set of outfits to grace the stage, and I really wonder what he was thinking, sending out three essentially department-store ready-to-wear outfits onto the runway as possible contenders for Fashion Week. The judges make short work of him, and he is sent home with his collection.


The only designer who has her ducks in a row is Michelle—who manages to turn out a collection with cohesion and vision, both in vision and execution. Her theme is a lone wolf trying to find her pack, which ends up steampunky and military in nature, in a way that is clearly of her vision but is also, I think, not all that she’s capable of. It works rather well. Going into Fashion Week, she’s the clear front-runner.

Stray observations:

  • Daniel’s hair! Daniel’s hair. DANIEL’S HAIR?
  • Heidi: “Michael Kors isn’t here, so I’m just going to say it: I’m underwhelmed.”
  • Speaking of Kors—he’s judging the finale!! KORS/POSEN SHOWDOWN!
  • Heidi’s face while looking at Patricia’s blue outfit is also rather priceless.