When it comes to Project Runway, I often think that button bag is full of lies: I mentally blame a producer if some fabric mysteriously “disappears” or a so-so designer makes it to the top three after a crying jag. But this is reality TV—fake stuff happens.
But every single finale, my cold heart melts. There’s something moving about watching these people walk through New York at its earliest hours and finally arrive at the Fashion Week tents. There are no more flaming hoops., no sponsor’s color palette to incorporate, no surprise look to crank out at the eleventh hour.
Here, showing their realized looks, the gang didn’t seem like contestants—they seemed like real designers with real dreams that were finally being realized.
The entire episode went by without any hard right turns: Tim chaperoned the designers back to Mood to make final edits and tweaks (or if you’re Melissa, design a completely new dress). Jennifer Hudson showed up as the finale’s guest judge. But so did Debra Messing, who seemed eager to prove she could step in if Hudson couldn’t fulfill her duties.
Lets look at the Final Four’s collections:
I’m so sad for what happened to Christopher. There was a part of me that felt he was going to win this thing; that his poor performance last week was some kind of fluke that’d be resolved with an extra bit of polish.
But when Tim came in to call time, Christopher looked horrified, which resulted in a celebratory champagne toast that was anything but. Just moments before the show, a model kicked the inside of his gown and ripped part of it—the once cocky designer just couldn’t catch a break, which just broke my heart.
Overall, Christopher’s show was likeable—and the only one to use prints—but there was a fatal lack of cohesion. He made a bunch of pieces but not a collection.
This was the type of collection we’d expect from Melissa: not much color and lots of high collars. She designs for someone not that far from herself (according to J-Hud, she could have even been one of the models). The only obvious error was the white gown that her model couldn’t walk in. The rest were… good. Not amazing, not wildly different. And not strong enough to win.
I never thought Fabio could take this competition—“head-turning” is just not a word I use to describe his aesthetic. But the transformation he made from last week to this? Ridiculous. Turning up the luxe and turning down the insane hair, Fabio clearly listened to judges’ comments and put on a spectacular show.
His collection was light, ethereal and colorful. Even Christopher and Melissa were rooting for him after they were eliminated.
Fabio’s designs weren’t as precise as Dmitry’s, but there was something freeing about his clothes. Heck, I even preferred his inspiration over the Mad Russian’s. (Cosmic tribalism trumps organic architecture every time.)
Either way, it just wasn’t enough. but Fabio did leave with Hedi telling him that now had wings. So there’s that.
Giant eyebrows take the title!
Dmitry was the clear choice almost from the start but the judges almost seemed like they were going to pull a fast one and give it to Fab. A case could be made that Fabio needed the win more than Dmitry, but that’s not how PR is played. (And we’d have a repeat of Season 8 with Tim Gunn speaking openly about his feelings on with Gretchen and Mondo.)
When Heidi gave him the good news, Rasputin showed genuine elation, exclaiming, “This is the biggest day of my life. I just won Project Runway and I don’t know how the fuck I made it to this point. I’m beyond happy and proud.”
Good for you. Now go home and sleep for a month.
Jason Sweeten is a contributing writer to Queerty.