>> Thursday, November 19, 2009
So here we are. The Project Runway Season 6 Finale. Sigh. The finale seemed so much more fun the first time we covered it.
Perhaps the least fashionable thing to walk down the runway that day.
What, you weren't with us then? Gratz Industries field reporter Alan scored a ticket to the season finale at Bryant Park last February, and filed this report. We'll give you a moment to go and read.
Back already? Hmm. Well, personally, we're interested to see how we picked up on a couple of little things that we only now understand, post season. We'll get to those after the break. First, a brief recap.
We skipped our usual pre-precap recap (say that ten times fast) of the Getty challenge last week since there wasn't very much to predict in the first part of the finale. (Also, we weren't sure we could keep this a family blog and still talk about Gordana's aufing.) Not surprisingly, there isn't very much to report.
The highlights: Irina can't use trademarked material on the t-shirts no one is going to see beneath her outfits.
Seriously. What happened to this dress, featured prominently during Tim's visit?
Althea's original looks aren't working, so she shows up in New York with a line that is practically interchangeable with Irina's.
Carol Hannah, meanwhile, is dying a slow, painful death from the Black Plague. Which leaves Althea and Irina more time to bond! Here's a sample:
Althea: So, hey.
Scintillating. We were almost beginning to wonder if the producers had jumped Carol Hannah in the hall and were sitting on her until these two started scratching each others eyes out. They couldn't get them drunk enough though, so they sent them to the workroom where they could continue to give each other surreptitious looks and mumble things about each other.
Irina: Way to copy everything I do, Thiefy McCopycat.
Irina: Hmm? Oh, nothing.
Honestly, we're making this more exciting than it really was.
"I swear, Carol Hannah, you just get taller and taller every time I see you!
In a few years you'll be as big as I am."
Luckily, the producers are able to prop up Carol Hannah and wheel her in on a dress form base, and we finally have somebody who will talk in the workroom.
Lady Skeletor is not amused, ladies.
Michael and Nina show up to give some helpful advice like, "Don't use all black!" You can practically read the thought bubble over Irina's rolling eyes: "Thanks for telling me that NOW." Tim and Heidi are the next celebrity couple to visit, and surprise, the designers will have to create a 13th look. Do the producers coach these guys to look surprised, or did the designers really not see this coming?
"Hey guys! Epperson, Shirin, and Ra'mon were busy, so they sent us."
The designers get a little help though. Althea picks first, and of course takes...Logan!? Althea, you do understand he and his silver jeans will not be appearing on the runway with you, right? Okay. Your choice. Irina snatches up Gordana, and Carol Hannah ends up with Christopher. That may actually be a serendipitous pairing, as Christopher seems like a good guy to have giving you pep talks when all you want to do is crawl back into bed and die.
"Crying's fine--just hold the spew until I can get you to the bathroom."
Off the teams go to Mood, and the construction of the 13th looks begins. Back at the ranch, Carol Hannah's plague resurfaces, and she spends what should be the most exciting night of her life hunched over a toilet.
That's as good a segue as any to final Big Board of Shame™ for Season 6!
The judges didn't see fit to award a winner last week--probably because they decided to auf the winning dress, and couldn't decide what to do after that. Irina got a pass for her Slimer dress, Carol Hannah got a pass for a nice dress that had nothing whatever to do with her inspiration, and Althea was given a lifetime achievement award in lieu of actually having a top three dress that week. Gordana probably wishes someone would have told her there was no way she could win, that way she could have just sat around the workroom and relaxed instead of making a dress. Maybe taken a nap. Christopher gave it the old I-didn't-go-to-college try, but his moss-covered stone didn't roll.
So what do we do? Christopher and Gordana are both auf, so -4s for each of them. But what about the three going to Bryant Park? Don't the show-runners realize we have a system here? Apparently not.
We're not feeling particularly charitable about any of their final looks, but Althea's was clearly the worst. We're tempted to give her negative points for essentially having the third worst dress of the week (according to the judges) but it's hard to give negative points to someone chosen to go to Bryant Park. We'll give her just 2 points, and give the others 3 each. Call it a tie for second, with no winner. Or something. Bleh.
Annotated Big Board:Irina: 28 points (Three 1st places, Three 2nd places, One 3rd place, Five safes)Carol Hannah: 23 points (One 1st place, Three 2nd places, Two 3rd places, Six safes)
Althea: 23 points (Two 1st places, One 2nd place, Three 3rd places, Six safes)
--------------aufed--------------Ra'mon: 3 points (One 1st place, One 2nd place, Two safes, One 3rd worst, One Auf)
Shirin: 8 points (One 1st place, One 3rd place, Six safes, One Auf)
Epperson: 6 points (One 2nd place, One 3rd place, Five safes, One Auf)
Gordana: 3 points (One 1st place, One 2nd place, One 3rd place, Five safes, Two 3rd worsts, One 2nd worsts, One Auf)
Nicolas: 0 points (One 1st place, One 2nd place, Four safes, Two 3rd worsts, One 2nd worst, One Auf)
Johnny: 0 points (One 2nd place, One 3rd place, One safe, One 3rd worst, One Auf)
Louise: -1 point (One 3rd place, Four safes, One 2nd worst, One Auf)
Malvin: -3 points (One safe, One Auf)
Christopher: -4 points (One 1st place, Two 2nd places, Three safes, Two 3rd worsts, Three 2nd worsts, One Auf)
Ari: -4 points (One Auf)
Logan: -8 points (Six safes, Two 3rd worsts, Two 2nd worsts, One Auf)
Qristyl: -8 points (One safe, One 3rd worst, One 2nd worst, One Auf)
Mitchell: -10 points (Two 2nd worsts, One Auf)
Scoring: 1st place (4 pts), 2nd place (3 pts), 3rd place (2 pts), Safe (1 pt), 3rd worst (-2 pts), 2nd worst (-3 pts), Aufed (-4 pts)
- We'll start with Gordana, who probably should have won that last challenge. At the very least, she shouldn't have to take the full brunt of an aufing in her point totals. But an auf is an auf, and she's really auf. She ends up tied for third among the dearly departed.
- The best of the rest? Shirin. Consider what a final challenge would have been like with her and Epperson, your #2 aufed designer, in place of Christopher and Gordana, and you'll begin to have a vision of the lost season that might have been.
- Christopher's turn to the Dark Side--or at least negative territory--is complete. He came into the last challenge at an even zero, and his aufing seals his official Big Board record at -4. After rising as high as first by mid-season, he is now tied with Ari, of all people. Talk about coming full circle...
- Althea slips back with Carol Hannah--or Carol Hannah steps up with Althea, whichever way you want to look at it. Either way, Irina's got a decent lead on them going into the finale.
And finally, we're not the first to note that Irina, Althea, and Carol Hannah all made it to Bryant Park without ending up in the bottom three once all season. (Again, you can debate the Althea/Gordana thing all you want, but we have a hard time putting her in a "bottom three" when she was one of the three chosen to go to Fashion Week.) This was strange, we thought--three finalists who have never been in the bottom three all season long. Had that ever happened before? Had anyone ever made it to Bryant Park without hitting the bottom three all season long? Do we have answers for you, true believers?
Of course we do. A bit of digging turned up some interesting facts. First of all, it has never happened before that all three finalists were never on the bottom all season long. That's a first. But none of them is the first to make it all the way through unsullied.
One of the reasons it may feel so unusual though, is that no designer in the three previous seasons was able to accomplish the same feat. That's right. Leanne, Korto, Kenley, Christian, Rami, Jillian, Jeffrey, Uli, Laura, Michael--not one of them made it through to the finals without ending up in the bottom three at least once.
Which of the previous finalists made it through unscathed? Only three of them. Two from Season One: Jay and Kara. (Jay, interestingly, also never won a challenge, until winning the whole shebang!) And only one person made it all the way through without hitting the bottom in Season Two: Daniel V. It should be noted, however, that Danny V. had immunity the day he ran Chloe down the runway in an auf-worthy mess. But they are the only three, before this season.
It's a rare thing to make it through without ever hitting the bottom three, when you do the math. So what does it say that this season doubled the number who've done it? You could argue that these three were juggernauts, and bound for glory and fame. You might also argue they didn't have much competition--particularly late in the season, when they were all most vulnerable. Here at Gratz Industries, we definitely fall in the latter camp.
Oh, and the finalists who had the most bottom three finishes before squeaking through to Bryant Park? Season One's Wendy Pepper, and Season Two's Santino Rice, who were each on the bottom six times. For Santino, that was the bottom three six out of ten times. For Wendy, it was six out of nine. Ouch.
On that note of abject failure, it's off to the preview!
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SPOILER ALERT: As we point out each week, we don't have any prior knowledge of what's to come, other than (usually) the guest judge, (sometimes) a vague idea about the competition, and (occasionally) whatever preview videos Lifetime chooses to air. Using all these sources of public information, we make guesses about who will be in and who will be out. Often bad guesses but, (we hope!), fun ones. If you prefer to be surprised by this week's episode, well...you probably won't be anyway, but head on out now.
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Project Runway Season 6 Finale: We've been there and done that, as we said at the outset. A lot of these pictures are ours, taken from the very back seat in the very back row of the tent. (Luckily, our field reporter had a good zoom lens.)
Alan sat right about here.
This is what his view looked like, without the zoom lens.
Check out the creepy stalkers behind the judges!
The first surprise of the night: the guest judge. Would it be a big Hollywood star? Scarlett Johansson? Demi Moore? Tina Fey? (If only!) Drumroll please...this year's celebrity guest judge for the finale is...Suzy Menkes? The announcement was met with a resounding "Who?" in my quarter. But then, most of us weren't international fashionistas. According to Wikipedia, Menkes has been the head fashion reporter and an editor for the International Herald Tribune since 1988, and has written several books, particularly about British Royal style. Her work in fashion has also earned her the Legion d'Honneur in France and a British OBE.
So she's definitely a high-caliber fashion professional--but not exactly the kind of name most people were expecting. And having seen the celebrities rolled out as guest judges this season, it's even more surprising.
Work it, Tanisha!
Another surprise, at least in rereading our former post, was that even then, among all the other models cast for the lines, Tanisha stood out. She owned it. And the outfit Althea puts her in looks smokin' on her. From a distance, it looked like it fit like a dream.
Althea's collection came out first, and was dominated by large knit sweaters and black headbands.
Carol Hannah's came out next (not that we knew who these lines belonged to then, of course), and reminded not a few people of Rami Kashou. In a good way.
Irina's collection was the last to come out, and it got people talking. Most importantly, the judges.
Irina's collection was dominated by large knit sweaters and black headwear.
Um, wait, didn't we say that once before? Oh yes. On Althea's collection. Thing is, even back then we noticed the similarities. "Like the first runway show, this designer incorporated a lot of long-sleeved knit tops," we said then. It was odd that both of them had brought such similar aesthetics.
"So basically you're just aping everything Irina does. Good strategy."
In the previews, Tim continues the comparisons. When asking Althea about how she plans to style her models, Tim is perplexed. "It sounds like what Irina was telling me." No kidding. Big knit sweaters and headbands are Irina's thing, like them or not, and it's more than a little suspicious that Althea has brought the same look to Bryant Park.
To be truthful, we're a house divided on this issue. Wendi thinks it's no big deal: neither one of them invented the oversized knit sweater, so it's fair game for anyone. Alan disagrees. Yes, the look was already around, but it must be admitted that big sweaters and headbands were part of Irina's shtick from the beginning, and Althea came late to the party. In one of his blogs, Nick Verreos argues that it would be impossible to hang around a bunch of other designers for too long without picking up on their aesthetics and echoing them a bit in your own looks, but after a few months away from everyone else, this stuff smacks of unoriginality.
So who will win?
In the previews, the Amazonian Princess of Piecing just wants it all to be over.
The Countess of Condescension just worries that she's forgotten something. Just about the only thing that could keep her from winning is if she sent a naked model down the runway, right?
And Carol Hannah, the Belle of Barf, just wants to not throw up. Poor Carol Hannah. No one, absolutely no one, deserves to be cough-up-a-lung sick on the biggest day of their lives--and on national television to boot. She's so sick she doesn't even get to take the traditional "I can't believe we're really here" tent tour:
Althea: ... Irina: ...
We just feel awful for Carol Hannah. "This wasn't the way it was supposed to happen," she sobs into Christopher's waiting shoulder, and we couldn't agree more. We have a feeling we couldn't really enjoy tonight's episode very much even if we were pulling for someone to win, just because she's having such a miserable time of it and we sympathize.
Tim, about to get neo-classical on someone's ass.
As the collections are prepped for the runway, Tim shares our season-long frustrations and scolds everyone in sight:
"We should be lining up!"
"This is crazy!"
"I am about. to. lose it."
But the show does go on without a hitch--at least it did from our perspective in the audience. If you're curious to see the collections before the show tonight, or want to come back and see them in more detail, Blogging Project Runway has links to them at the top of their blog. You can also read the comments too--they're mixed, but in general readers thought Althea's collection was weak, Carol Hannah's was intriguing but hit and miss, and Irina's was the hands-down winner. Collection number three was also the favorite of most of the fashionista crowd interviewed by BPR the day of the show.
America's Next Big Fashion Designer
We're with the rest here--Irina will win. Again, surprise surprise. She's been the clear favorite all along. As Uncle Nick blogged last week, the title is hers to lose, and she doesn't lose it. Her collection is the only one at Bryant Park with any unifying aesthetic--which might also be said of her body of work on Project Runway Season Six. Like her vision or not, she has one. More consistent judging might have helped the others develop their own unique visions, but by the end Irina was the only one who seemed to have something to say.
Besides, aren't the judges using the Big Board totals to hand out lifetime achievement awards now? Irina has been the strongest designer, statistically, throughout the run of the season. So she automatically wins, right? (Sorry, still smarting from the Gordana debacle.)
Irina for the win. Poor sick Carol Hannah as the feel-good story in second. Althea gets sent off first, forever fueling the debate about whether Gordana should have been there in her place. May they and every one of the designers who made us laugh and cry an wince this season enjoy long, successful, and enjoyable careers in fashion. (Seriously. We mean it.)
And the most controversial season (in so many ways) is over, and we turn our hopeful eyes to Project Runway Season Seven, due to bow before we know it in January. The Queen is dead; long live the Queen! Thanks so much for checking in each week to read our little blog, and we'll see you all next season!
Gratz Industries: We watch the previews twenty times so you don't have to!