And now, the end is here.
And so I face that final curtain.

First off, before we get to recapping the Project Runway Season 6 finale, a big thanks to all the kind souls who found their way back to this blog each week to read my corny jokes. Being a sports writer, I don't often get to crack wise about pop culture, but these Project Runway recaps turned out to be just what the doctor ordered for me this fall. They often made me forget about the plight of newspapers and the stress of real life -- my wife and I are about to have our first kid, and it could happen at any moment, so I'm glad I got this knocked out in the nick of time so I wouldn't be typing away in a delivery room, trying to fit one last joke in between my wife's contractions.

I think we all pretty much agree the show has been pretty ... meh this season, and the judges' final selection only confirms those feelings, even if it was probably the correct one. But the snark has made it almost worth it! So buckle up, and let's take one more ride to Bryant Park, shall we? 

At the fair Hyatt Hotel, we lay our scene. Civil blood is about to make civil hands unclean.

Carol Hannah is brushing her teeth while Irina and Althea drink orange juice that I bet Tim Gunn got up at dawn to squeeze by hand. Carol Hannah is sick, sick, sick, and is trying to suck it up and stay on her feet.

"I feel bad, but there is really nothing I can do to help her," Irina says. Anyone who really believes Irina gives two thimbles worth of a damn about Carol Hannah's health at this point should really see if they can buy the Brooklyn Bridge from Bernie Madoff because I hear he's willing to move quickly on a deal if you'll pay cash.

Cut to a talking head of Logan, who says he's impressed with and proud of Carol Hannah. He comes over and gives her a hug, which gets him an evil look from Althea and Irina. You know what? It seems obvious at this point that Logan is Jake Ryan from 16 Candles and Carol Hannah is Samantha. If only John Hughes had lived to see this play out in real life.

Gordana is barking at Irina like she's a military general tasked with crushing a revolution, and Irina is her first lieutenant, which is odd considering it's the other way around. "You have to finishing everything today," Gordana says. "You must!"

Carol Hannah is fighting off the flu like Michael Jordan in the 1997 NBA Finals, and Christopher is playing the role of Scottie Pippen as she cries into his arms. I wonder if in her dehydrated state if she thinks she's really hugging Logan.

It's time for a hair and make-up session with Collier Strong. Carol Hannah tells him her looks were inspired by gothic architecture and fairy tales, and I think we all know what that's code for -- make 'em look like Bella from Twilight, y'all. Now that I think about it, Strong looks like he could have been a vampire in a different era -- like the Buffy the Vampire Slayer era -- back when vampires were badasses instead of moody emo teens who wrote poetry and tried to work up the courage to hold your hand.

It looks to me like Irina is putting the finishing touches on a giant bear suit. Seriously, it reminds me of what Han Solo wore when he went marching into the sub-zero temps on Hoth to save Luke Skywalker after his speeder crashed. If one of her models tries to cut open Michael Kors with her light saber so she can crawl her skinny butt inside his guts for warmth, I'm going to be so pissed.

Tim enters the workroom wearing a stunning fuchsia tie and a stern look on his face. He wants to remind Irina that she's taking a real risk with her all-black collection, which looks like Phantom of the Opera crossed with the Road Warrior.

Minutes later, Althea is showing Tim an outfit with pointy shoulder pads that I'm pretty certain was inspired by the Michael Jackson movie Captin EO. (I saw it at Epcot Center in Disney World when I was in the third grade -- in 3D no less -- and I swear to God, it was like giving a 10-year-old LSD.)

But wait a minute: Althea is explaining the make-up she wants to give her models when Tim mentions that it sounds a bit too much like what Irina's doing. Irina rolls her eyes (of course she does) and then adds "That's Althea!" under her breath, which is pretty rich considering the judges had to zing her in last week's episode for fashion plagiarism. Somewhere in his parents' basement in Virginia, disgraced former New York Times reporter Jayson Blair is sitting around watching this in his underwear and wondering why he can't be a guest judge if this kind of hypocrisy is going to be condoned. (And yet, somehow, he'd still be as qualified as Lindsay Lohan.) 

Tim asks Althea if there is "anything else you're getting concerned about?" and Althea bursts into tears.

I bet in the next shot, she belted out, "Yeah, I'm concerned Irina might stab me with a pair of scissors!" but the producers edited it out.

The next morning, Carol Hannah says she feels a little better, and that she doesn't think she's going to die after all. Irina and Althea seem a little disappointed, and it gets me thinking: Wouldn't it be awesome to have an all-star season of previously bitchy Project Runway designers? Tell me you wouldn't love to see Irina talk smack about Santino and Kenley while occasionally making out with Jeffery?

Yo, models in the house! They begin their final fittings by dancing around in their underwear. (Ladies, must you throw yourselves at Logan like this?) I've mostly refrained from commenting on the models because I mostly like to pretend that their half-hour show, Models of the Runway, never happened. But let me just say that if Carol Hannah wins this thing, someone is going to need to explain it to her model, Lisa, like five times using flash cards and hand signals because I'm convinced Lisa would lose in a game of Scrabble to one of the workroom sewing machines. She is that dumb. She makes Carrie Prejean look like the president of the MENSA celibacy club.

Gordana is still having flashbacks to dictators of yesterday. "I know you see me with coffee, hon. But I working, trust me!" she tells Irina.

Tim gathers everyone around. He has a special announcement. "Do you know what's about to happen?"

Everyone is silent. It pops into my head that Tim might announce that he's going to take everyone to a Knicks game. Oh, the horror, the horror.

"Tomorrow you're going to be showing at Bryant Park!" Tim squeals, and all the ladies squeal with him.

One more time, with feeling! Happy working song! Happy working song! Let's all sing a happy working song!

Cut to the next day. It's 3:14 a.m., according to the Hyatt digital clock next to someone's bed. Seriously, who knew that Carol Hannah and Althea had to get up this early to put on all that eye make-up? I mean, it makes sense, but damn.

Everyone is ready to take on the world! Except ... Irina can't open the door. It won't budge. I briefly wonder if the real twist this season is that Heidi has turned this into Saw VII, and the three of them are going to have to cut off one of their own limbs to make it out of the hotel room. (No wonder Nina and Michael wanted no part of this season! Jigsaw was obviously involved.) But, my fears are quickly put to rest when it turns out you just have to pull the door open, not push it. It seems Irina is a graduate of Gary Larson's School for the Gifted.

Cut to backstage at Bryant Park, where Tim is slowly losing his mind. None of the designers is ready, or even close to being ready. He is indignant. For the first time ever, I wonder if he might slap someone.

"This is crazy! We've got to go! We should be lining up!" he exclaims.

I feel so bad for Tim because he's one of the few people on this show whose standards never waver. I'm afraid he's about to  snap like Michael Douglass in Falling Down. If that does go down, and there is a fashion God, you just know that Kenley Collins and Victorya Hong have to stumble into the crossfire.


Heidi makes her first appearance of this episode, coming onto the runway in what I can only describe as the worst outfit in the six-year history of this show. As I alluded to last week when I saw the preview for the finale, she looks like she got stuck in traffic behind the Straight Talk Express and had to borrow clothes from Cindy McCain just to get to the show on time. It's a shiny pink pantsuit and I feel blinded by its neon glow. Her giant butterfly brooch also appears to be contemplating an attack on her face.

Michael and Nina are on hand to collect their checks do their jobs and the guest judge for this week is someone named Suzy Menkes, who we learn is the fashion critic for the International Herald Tribune. She looks a little like Dolores Umbridge from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, but I'm just thrilled that between the Herald-Tribune and the Los Angeles Times challenge, I think Project Runway has done more for newspapers this year than I have. By the way, Michael is again wearing sunglasses indoors, a look that was either inspired by Kanye or the FBI poster of the Unabomber. I can't decide.

Collection time. Althea's goes down the runway first. She has lots of knits and sportswear. I've been ragging on her all year for the way her designs tend to lack bra support, but she seems to have reigned in the twins this time. Her collection isn't bad, but I'm underwhelmed, which sums up the way I've felt about her all season.

In the crowd, we see a quick shot of Nicolas, who has dyed his hair brown. I wonder if he's trying to hide from Georgian gangsters in Irina's family.

Carol Hannah's collection is next, and it's obvious she has some beautiful dresses, although I'm not sure what ties it all together. The sad truth about the final challenge on Project Runway is that whomever figures out some goofy accessory to go with their collection usually gets major points for "tying everything together" even if the accessory is kind of a joke, like Jay McCarroll's spray-painted, noise-canceling ear phones in Season 1. I'm at the point now where I believe if you got 13 paper crowns from Burger King on the way to Bryant Park and then put them on the heads of the models, you'd get credit for "tying together the collection." 

And of course, Irina has tied together her black-and-bearskin-rug collection with tiny hats that are a cross between equestrian helmets and infantry helmets from World War I. Lately, I feel like if I needed to hire someone to design a dress for Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner) on the second season of Alias, when she was a badass female double agent, Irina would totally be my go-to girl. But that doesn't mean she deserves to win the overall Project Runway crown.

After the designs wrap up, we get quick comments from Epperson, Johnny, Shirin, Louis, Nicolas, and Ra'mon. I'm sort of curious why we didn't hear from Qristyl, but maybe they were handing out free vowels on the other side of the room and she didn't have time for a talking head spot.

Back at Parsons, the judges say they love everyone. Menkes appears to have forgotten to take the roller out of the front of her hair, which is something I thought only happened on the Flintstones. 

In addition to $100,000 and a spread in Marie Claire magazine, the winner also gets an all-expenses paid vacation to Paris. It doesn't say whether Logan will be there when you arrive, shirtless on the bed and eating strawberries, but I'm going to just assume that's how it's set up until I'm told otherwise.

This recap is swelling in size like Klum's pregnant belly, so we're going to cut right to the chase. Irina's collection gets high marks, but Nina does remind her that she was warned about an all-black series of outfits. Michael Kors also says he's seen the "warrior woman character" before and there is really nothing new here, but I get the sense they're just trying to throw me off the scent.

Carol Hannah's collection earns raves for several different pieces -- including her whipped together 13th look, which Heidi loves -- but also criticized for not having something to tie it all together. (See! Burger King crowns would have been perfect right here! Ta da!) Menkes does praise Carol Hannah for "having real desire!" and suddenly I think Menkes is quite the saucy English minx.

Althea earns props for being "plugged into the street" which doesn't make any sense, but Nina says she could see several of her outfits appearing in the pages of Marie Claire. Right next to the "20 New Sex Positions You Can Try Tonight" articles, I suspect.

The judges talk it over in a fairly uneventful conference session. But then begins my favorite part: The last bit of spooky drum music we'll hear this year. I can't help but wonder, who is mixing this stuff? And is it piped into the runway room when Heidi is putting on her SERIOUS FACE.

I keep imagining some poor guy in a sound booth somewhere getting screamed at by Harvey Weinstein: "More drums! I said I want more drums! Ok, now give me some xylophone! Damn it, I said more xylophone! Now give me some weirdo feedback that's a little bit like the sound check at a Pink Floyd concert!Yes, that's exactly what I want!"

Poor Carol Hannah. I guess she wasn't quite Michael Jordan with a case of the flu after all, because she is the first to get eliminated. If only she had grabbed those Burger King crowns like I suggested. I'm surprised Heidi decides she's going to kiss Carol Hannah even if it means maybe catching the swine flu. 

Suddenly it was down to two, so that means it's time to re-cue the scary bongo drum music.

"Dum, dum, dum! Dum Dum dumm! (More drums! More xylophone! More cowbell!)

Congratulations to Irina, says Heidi, and everyone's favorite ice queen melts down and cries openly on the runway. In a moment so awkward words cannot do it proper justice, Althea has to hug Irina twice, then sit there and wallow in her shame and disappointment as Irina gets heartily praised by the judges.

As Irina cries, I notice that even her nail polish is black. I'm sort of stunned her tears aren't made of crude oil.

"I'm definitely proud of myself," Irina says. "I think it does deserve a pat on the back because I had some stiff competition."

Sorry but ... what are you talking about, Irina? You talked trash just about everyone in the room for 12 weeks straight and now want to call them stiff competition? Egads. 

Suddenly Irina's father is crying. The silent black man is also up on stage, and so are Irina's mom and sister.

"I don't think I've ever seen my dad cry," Irina says. "I think he's finally going to take me seriously".

Suddenly Nina is crying. Twice, she wipes a tear from her face as Irina's dad bawls openly.

Well, if that doesn't sum it up, I don't know what does. Let the record show that Season 6 of Project Runway made Nina Garcia cry. I don't know if it was from empathy for the emotions of it all, or because she was in tremendous pain from watching such a weirdo season.

Still, I suspect I'll be back, one way or another.

Thanks again, kids. And as always, auf wiedersehen, baby.