“Project Runway” Recap: The Finale (Part One)

No matter how great/crazy/tragic a designer may be, the star of The Finale, Part One is almost always Tim Gunn. Forget weeks of creativity and craftsmanship—there’s nothing better than watching this refined man navigate a tandem bike or traditional Caribbean feast.

So I was a little disappointed when the most ridiculous thing he attempted this episode was riding on a boat in San Francisco while asking Melissa’s parents about ther creativity. Sure, it’s a fair question, but the answer would have been actually interesting if they were gathered around spit-roasted pig.

But I’m getting ahead of myself: The episode started with Heidi delivering the Fashion Week rules we’ve come to know and love: the finalists all get a $9,000 budget and a five weeks to work their magic. While 35 days seem like eons compared to their usual schedule, it still averages out to about only three days per look, which is a damn challenge (unless you have an army of fashion elves).

Supposedly, only three will get to actually show at New York Fashion Week—we’re told the judges will cut one based on three looks that are representative of the contestant’s complete collection. Here’s the breakdown, designer by designer:



Christopher, safe

Inspiration struck Christopher while he was looking at an x-ray of his mom’s spine and as he opened up the fabric with the image of his mom’s backbone on it, I couldn’t have agreed more with Tim’s exclamation, “Oh good heaves—it’s literal!”

Vertebrae. So… edgy?

His home critique goes well; Tim bops along without much derailing. But when it came down to picking three looks for the show, Christopher panics. Nothing fits! Nothing works! It results in him sending down three beautifully done but painfully normal (and basically identical) looks. Clearly, there was better stuff that didn’t make it out: his home visit had some amazing jackets, and there was this beautiful gown lurking in the background.

It made sense for Christopher to be called “safe”—he’s had too many solid designs to leave. Honestly, this “chaos” could just be manufactured by the producers to create an underdog story next week. I believe his best work is just a few unfinished hems from being runway ready.

Fabio, safe

It was fairly predictable what we’d get from the other semi-finalists, but only Fabio could deliver a Cosmic Tribalism collection where each look had a named persona. Tim loved the overall concept, but took issue with most everything else: the clunky shoes, the average pair of pants, and the lack of a clear customer. (I guess “Flintstones enthusiast” isn’t a lucrative demographic).

Then the three-look show happened, and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed what Fabio presented. Yes, the bowl cut wigs were distracting, and—I’m agreeing with Nina here—it felt a touch junior (read: inexpensive). But there was color!  And necklaces! And demented shoes!

I was glad that Fabio was safe—he won’t win the season, but it’ll be fun to watch those colors clunk down the runway.


Dmitry, safe

Everything about Dmitry’s collection was going smoothly. And then the challenge happened, and I couldn’t stop screaming at the television (we’ll table the white dress because that’s obviously perfect). Why all sheer? And so much bra-show! Sure, they are well-made bras, but they managed to pull focus away from the arm fringe (and it’s not easy to distract from distracting arm fringe).

These are clearly some great pieces, but they’re just arranged in the most distracting way possible.

The judges rightfully dinged Dmitry on styling that didn’t let the simplicity of his designs shine through. Fair warning: if he wants to win this season, he’ll need to better orchestrate the beautifully-tailored insanity.


Melissa, safe for some reason

Self-confidence is great—it’s an amazing character trait that can propel you through job interviews, dates and beauty pageants. But when you lose it, especially right after you had massive amounts of it, it can lead to disaster. Disaster being defined as ratty black wigs that look like they were snatched off homeless women.

Yeah, I’m not sure what happened here, either, and truthfully I’m surprised that Melissa didn’t get sent home. She’s always been a touch imperfect, and sometimes the results are was charming. This time, it was just bad.

So, yes, that means all four designers get to go to Fashion Week. Gasp! Shock! Amazement! I probably would have auf’d Melissa, but now they all have two days to tweak and refine before the real finale.

What do you think about how this episode played out? Are you glad everyone made the cut? Would you have judged more harshly? Tell us in the comments.

Jason Sweeten is a contributing writer for Queerty. And he knows that there are photos of the final collections already out there, but looking at them feels like cheating.

Photos: Barbara Nitke/Lifetime