All images courtesy Lifetime.com
Previously on Project Runway: Part 1 of an unexpectedly 2-part finale saw Tim visit each of our three finalists in their natural environments to check out their finale collections. There was the most awkward reunion ever between Althea and Irina, where you could almost see the producers gritting their teeth in the editing room because they'd been hoping for a catfight. CH arrived with the Martian Death Flu but did her best to carry on. The "surprise" challenge was a 13th look to be completed, with good ol' Christopher, Logan, and Gordana to assist. We were left with a cliffhanger of CH's health taking a turn for the worse. Ruh-roh!
Continuing the next morning, CH is still feeling as bad as she did the night before. In the workroom, Logan comforts her, braving her cooties to give her a hug. Irina is stressed like crazy, and Gordana is in brave-the-tornado mode, allowing that due to all the pressure, Irina is "not hundred-percent cool as she normally is." (Gordana has an incredible gift for understatement, not just here, but I've noticed it throughout the season. Is it cultural? A language thing? Just her personality? Whatever it is, I salute her.) Althea is wearing a big slouchy hat indoors. I'd roll my eyes at the wearing of a winter hat indoors, but CH is wearing arm warmers and Chris is bundled up too, so maybe it was actually cold in there.
CH has a mini-breakdown where she feels so terrible she doesn't know what to do. "It wasn't supposed to be like this," she sobs, which might sound slightly precious coming from anyone else. Even Meana Irina feels bad for CH. Then there's this really bizarre, awkward transition where Althea suggests it's time for them all to get going to their hair & makeup consultations. There's so much awkwardness in this finale! I don't think we've ever had a finale with three contestants who had so little chemistry with each other onscreen.
Irina's got felt hats for her "armor inspired" looks - oooh, they're one of those runway-show accessories that I can't decide whether they're ugly or awesome, which I love. It could go either way. She wants a strong, dark, smoky eye. Althea wants a look that is not a "clean glamor," but dirtier, almost smudged. CH wants soft and pretty. "Tell me about your collection," says Garnier Hair Guy to CH. She unconfidently replies, "It's based on Gothic architecture and... fairy tales?" "Oh," replies Garnier Hair Guy, hilariously. We get lots of shots of Product Placement and then it's back to the workroom, where Gordana, Christopher, and Logan have been hard at work on finishing garments. Fitting time!
Agh, fur! My eyes! Irina, seriously, I know I get all cranky with you about everything but you could be the nicest person ever who farts rainbows and daisies and I'd still say, PLEASE stop it with the fur. Said fur is currently part of a hooded vest. Althea's got some serious knits going on. CH is super-happy with how well her models are fitting the clothes.
Time for Tim! Irina's 13th look is really cool, a black dress with layered strips of fabric. She shows Tim one of her felt helmet-hats with a chain that goes under the chin, and Tim warns her against making things look too costumey. I have to disagree here; maybe it's a personal preference thing, but I like my runway shows with a heaping helping of drama. Otherwise, it's just skinny chicks walking in clothes.
Althea's got a super-duper SciFi-shouldered top going on for her 13th look. Tim expresses his concern that it's "too 80's." Which it is, except has Althea even been alive long enough to realize that? Then something weird happens: when Althea explains her makeup look: a smokey, smudgey eye, Tim points out that it's the same look he just heard from Irina. The implication seems to be that yet again, Althea is copying Irina. I don't know whether that's what Tim was actually implying, or if the Magic of Editing made it appear so, but Althea is visibly crushed, and when Tim asks her if she has any other concerns, for a moment she actually can't answer because she's trying not to cry. I'm starting to feel almost as bad for her as for CH. Tim kisses his hand and puts it on her hand as he leaves. I don't know if that really makes up for making Althea cry, but what the hell, he's Tim.
(For those of you keeping track, Irina has now invented Giant Sweaters, Knitwear, and the Smokey Eye.)
CH is now feeling "okay-ish." The blue she's using for her 13th look is a color she wanted to use more of in her collection. The gown is a Rami-esque draped, one-shouldered affair.
Fast-forward: Next day! CH is feeling better, or at least less horrible. We have another whole day? Seriously? When do we get to see the clothes, already? Well, we briefly see some clothes, on the muse models, as the designers choose which of their outfits to showcase. Gordana pauses for a moment to get some coffee and Irina cracks the whip on her. Pressure-cooker on high!
Running around, sewing, pinning, more running, suddenly it's 4:00, with one hour left in the day. More fast forwarding as it's 4:50 and Tim comes in for their final gather-round, to tell them they have until 5:00 to finish working, and they all stand there like "Shut up already, we need to be working right now!"
Irina sees something that she can finish faster than Gordana and literally takes the work away from Gordana, telling her to go do some menial stuff instead. Stressy! There's no time and everyone's tempers are shortened. Everyone's paranoid that they're going to forget something in the workroom.
With everything packed up for Bryant Park, the designers head home to attempt to sleep. They're awakened just after 3 the next morning for Runway Day! Finally, Runway Day! I feel like I've been watching this episode for hours. There's a funny moment where Irina opens the door so the three of them can exit the apartment, but the latch is still hooked, and all three burst into laughter. Irina goes through the door first, followed by Althea, then CH. Foreshadowing?
I always love the shots with the finalists walking along the runway in the empty Bryant Park, looking like kids at Disneyland. Nice shoes, CH! Soon, the backstage is filled with activity, as models arrive and are painted, pulled, slicked, and curled into their looks. The seats start to fill up, and Heidi, Nina, and Kors arrive, looking fabulous together. Hey, is that Gina Bellman in the audience? Backstage, everyone is already running behind, and Tim is starting to stress out. The dressers broke a zipper on Irina's dress. That sucks. One of CH's models is wearing something backwards. This makes me giggle more than I feel it should.
We then see Tim angrier than we've ever seen him. The background, not shown but told by Tim in an interview with the LA Times, is that there was a miscommunication amongst the Bryant Park staff about getting the models out of their clothes so the garments could be steamed. He points out that they should be lining up right now, but they can't, because maybe 10% of the models are dressed, and we are shown him animatedly chiding each of the designers. Althea interviews that if Tim's going hysterical, things must really be FUBAR. Truer words rarely spoken. The usually unflappable Tim is very highly flappable, trying to light a fire under people's arses and get the models dressed and in line. His "I'm so aggravated" face is like the equivalent of someone else smashing a plate-glass window with a rock. You don't piss off the Gunn, people!
Finally, models are wrested from the hair & makeup people ("They have to go right now, I don't even care anymore" says Irina, slightly desperately), and it's Time to Start the Show!
There's the creepiest TV Magic thing where they made it look like the designers were actually there and introducing their collections (as well as doing a walk-and-wave at the end). I don't get it: we all know they weren't really there with the audience, and that people weren't really cheering. Why the fakery? It's got that same rings-hollow thing that those digital simulated-voices have when you call 411. *shudder*
Anyway, the collections themselves, I'll post about in more detail during the week. In brief:
Althea shows first. Her show opens with a sweater with ridiculously impractical uber-long sleeves, and continues through skinny dresses and harem pants, a blazer with a jacked-up back, some strong shoulders and tight pants, and mostly, models who can't walk. Oh lookie, Jaslene! Love her. Althea's collection is all drab, color-wise: gray, gold, silver, black, with a little splash of green. It's pretty much what I expected from her design-wise, but much better-executed than what she's produced previously in the season. Not really anything exciting, though.
CH opens her show with an amazing draped dress in neutrals -- the length is a bit weird, too short to be cocktail, but the dress is too "dressy" to be casual. We get a potscrubber skirt with a paper-bag waist, some beautifully detailed tops and dresses, a Viktor Rolf-esque table decoration (I saw someone call it a "fluffy butt plug" and nearly died laughing), a disco housedress, and more models who can't walk. The colors are muted, but very rich-looking.
Irina opens her show with immediate visual impact: an amorlike sleeveless bodysuit-like top over leggings and knee-high boots. There's a lot of Jillian-ness in these pieces, I have to say. What's disappointing is that almost everything is black, which makes it hard to see the detailing: Christian Siriano had the same problem. Some beautiful coats and leggings and collars, and I think the hats worked out OK in the end. Why can't most of these models walk?
Backstage, we get initial feedback from attendees. Hey there, Epperson! Marc Bouwer thinks this is the strongest group of finalists PR has ever had. I think Marc Bouwer may have smoked too many bowls before the show. Cute Shirin has a cute piratey scarf on her cute head, and likes Althea's collection. Ari Fish says -- whoa, what the fuck? This chick is so cracked: Moe Howard haircut with gigantic, thick false eyelashes. Anyway, she likes Irina's collection. So does Louise. Nicolas and UA go with CH.
Finally, time for judging. Wow, we've got some tired-looking, bored-sounding judges who completely fail to sound excited about any of these collections. Heidi, Kors, and Nina are joined by Suzy Menkes, who has the best fucking Ed Grimley hair ever.
Irina's up first. She explains her inspiration: the struggle to be a total bitch and still manage to sleep at night. KIDDING! It's about being able to be strong and survive in a big city like New York, but still be feminine. Kors says what all of us were thinking, which is that this concept is so not new. Menkes remarks that the show had good cohesion, with good flow. Heidi thinks it looks really well-finished. Nina compliments the plagiarized t-shirts, saying how great it is that Irina's giving them a glimpse of herself, that she's communicating. Irina and Irony: two peas in a pod! However, there is some concern that despite Nina's advice about using so much black, Irina went ahead and kept color out anyway. Nina gives this very funny "tsk tsk" look to Irina, who sort of smirks and looks contrite at the same time (a pretty remarkable feat).
None of the judges thought that CH had a cohesive collection. They're right, sadly. They loved the draping, the structured elements, the fact that CH works with difficult materials. Heidi is surprised that the blue draped dress was whipped together for the 13th look. But we all know that on PR, if your collection isn't cohesive, you're dead.
Althea wanted to give her input on The Talk of the Future. Kors points out the plus point that Althea's collection contains lots of pieces that could be purchased on their own and mixed into a wardrobe. Nina found it "refreshing" to see the little bits of color that Althea used. Kors loved those harem pants, saying there are a million women who would love to own them, and that they were flattering. Michael honey, is your contacts prescription current? No one, but no one, looks good in those things. (To Althea's credit, those pants were part of her 13th look.) Menkes wonders where knitwear fits into the futuristic theme. Althea points out one element of one piece. Hm. Nina feels the collection tried to hit too many notes.
After the deliberation and lots of drawn-out drumbeats, CH is given the auf. Really? Althea scored higher? We were surprised. And the winner is... I bet you'll be completely shocked... Irina.
And so, the Worst Season of Runway draws to a close. While Irina definitely did have the best, most cohesive collection, it's always a little painful to see a Big Ol' Meanie-pants win stuff. Still, that's life, isn't it? Season 7 begins in January, back in NYC where it belongs, with Kors and Nina promised to us in every episode! Let's hope that this season was just a low point.
Throughout the week I'll post more extensively on the finale collections. That's a lot of images, so I'll spread them out.