'Project Runway' finale recap: And the winner is ...

Janell reports on last night's Project Runway finale. Grazie, Janell! And air kisses, Heidi-style!:

Previously, oh it was sad. Michael C only showed one color to the judges, and they made him cry and sent him away. Tonight: Fashion Week!

We start one day before the runway finale. Mondo straight-irons his hair while Gretchen watches. They all eat breakfast together and the conversation can be summed up thusly: "Whoa, dude."

They get a note to meet some old friends over at Parsons. Oh, look, it's all the eliminated designers whose names I can't remember, including the dreadlocked girl who got booted in the first episode. She doesn't get to say anything. The finalists come out and Heidi and Tim introduce lots of flashback clips that everyone watches. Now, this reunion takes place the day before the runway show, which puts it on Sept. 8. So when they're taping this, only six episodes have aired. That includes the group challenge where everyone piled on Michael C and then later when he won two challenges. Sadly it does not include the elimination and return of Poison Ivy, so they do not yet know how bad she looks.


Heidi asks everyone how life has been since the show has aired. Peach says she has a huge gay following, and Valarie got a marriage proposal via Facebook. AJ says that he gets recognized on the street, and people want to know if Jason is really crazy (remember him from The Hat? He doesn’t get to talk at the reunion, either), if Ivy is really mean (she showed signs from the beginning, but that wasn’t even the worst), and if Gretchen is really so witchy (but with a b).

Gretchen defends that she’s just a confident girl and society shifts that to the role of the witch. Ivy has been eye-rolling and head-shaking a lot, so Heidi asks her what’s up. “It’s fake,” she says. Heidi asks her to clarify, and Ivy goes off on Gretchen complaining about other designs. April pipes in to agree, claiming that she knows because she lived with Gretchen. First, April, you didn’t live with her the entire time. Second, Gretchen stuck up for you and said you should go to Fashion Week. Third, I re-hated you a few episodes ago and your hair looks stupid. Michael C defends Gretchen and says she means well. Mondo says it’s not fair to pick on Gretchen. I know Gretchen comes off “confident,” but she’s also been very reasonable and admits when she’s wrong. Plus, we all know Ivy’s crazy. Moving on!


Flashbacks of fun times, sad times, emotional times. The end.

It’s still the day before the show. In the workroom, Gretchen tries to un-casual her clothes and add drama. Tim comes in to chat and hear how the finalists interpreted the judges’ comments.

Mondo presents a finale gown, which Tim isn’t feeling, so Mondo tosses it in favor of the polka dot long dress he made last week.

Andy shows Tim another bathing suit with twisted fabric connecting the bottom piece up to the top and shoulder. Tim says it looks like hair growing out of the bottom, but Andy says he doesn’t feel that way.

Gretchen is trying to minimize the accessibility of her collection and heighten the aspirational aspect. She says she’s still learning about creating drama in a look.

Tim pep talks everyone, and they get hair and makeup consults. Mondo and Andy have homemade hairpieces to work with. Then they fit all the models. At the end of the day they go back to the hotel and have another “whoa, dude” chat.

At 3 a.m. they get up and ready. We go from early morning quiet to backstage craziness. Andy made new pants, but he’s still sewing and Tim gets the models to vote against the pants. Mondo panics about his lineup, Tim tells him to start moving. Stress. Showtime!

Heidi comes out and introduces the judges, including guest judge Jessica Simpson.


Gretchen starts the show. She comes out and gets weepy as she welcomes her mom and sister, then tells us that the collection is called “Running Through Thunder.” She’s got a lot of brown/gold prints, some short shorts, some pants with inlaid leather. Some models wear platform heels, some have hats, they all have heavy metallic necklaces. It’s pretty cohesive, says my jargon-dropping brain. Also, I’ve wondered if real people wear those short shorts. Gretchen is wearing them, although they’re under a see-through skirt. I’m glad to see them off the runway. Not that I’m really glad, I still don’t get them.

Andy is next, he’s wearing very large pants and sneakers. His collection was inspired by his heritage and dedicated to his mom. Everything is kind of silver and green. He has silver pants that are folded into layers (describing them terribly), the hairy swimsuit is mostly covered up with a robe so you can’t see the part Tim hated. The headpieces are wire with stars shooting off, I kind of like it. One short dress is silver with fringe all around. His new pleated green dress closes the show. I find it all soft and pretty, no sign of the warrior woman.

Mondo pompadoured up for the show. He says he was inspired by his Mexican heritage, and dedicates the show to his spiritual guide, Grandma Betty. His music is a little bit techno, and he’s got a variety of black and white prints, with some skinny colored belts and shoes. One oversized shirt has a big print of a skull from Dia de los Muertos with some hardware bedazzling it. Another shirt has a big cross print. I couldn’t see it last week with just the three pieces, but all together I can get the Mexican vibe from the turquoise, yellow, and pink accents plus the Aztec shapes. It’s cool.

After the show, various fashion people talk about what they love. Jay Manuel from America’s Next Top Model is there! Hey Mister Jay! He liked Gretchen’s look.

And now for the judging. Heidi says they were blown away, Nina says they’re all stars, Jessica says she loved many pieces. They tackle the designers individually.

Andy: Judge Michael loves that the collection is personal, he says that an Asian theme can turn costumey but this didn’t. He loved the layered pants and both dresses, but didn’t feel a lot of diversity. Heidi didn’t feel “whoa” from the first look, but felt lots of sassiness, and loved a weaved top. Nina says he started the Project Runway experiences hard and edgy, and she is happy to see softness but thinks he went too far that way. Jessica loved the silver fringe dress.


Gretchen: Nina says it was fantastic, had lots of choices, loved the leather-patched pants. She calls it modern, easy, ready to wear, and likes that Gretchen added hair and makeup to look sexier. Judge Michael liked the vibe of “the girl” in the show, it looks relaxed. The judges all love the jewelry, which Gretchen designed but didn’t make herself. Heidi says the prints got repetitive but feels the girl is hip and now. Jessica thinks there was no “pop” extravagant piece.

Mondo: Judge Michael says he is Molto Mondo. Heidi says he made some things special and loud, but also some things beautiful and quiet. Her favorite was the skull shirt that he beaded and studded. She also liked a tunic dress with pink fabric on top. Mondo says it was based on an Aztec pyramid. Nina loves the color, prints, and a strapless dress, but she was overwhelmed by the decorative pieces, it started looking teenager. She thinks he needs to edit down. Jessica loved the personality and effort in every piece, she and Heidi both want to wear the long polka dot dress. Judge Michael still thinks it’s costumey, and is surprised that Mondo has it on the runway with him again when only Heidi liked it before.

Heidi asks them all why they should win. Mondo says he’s grown as a designer and person, he loves himself more. Jessica says he’s going to make her cry. Gretchen says she’s grown as a person, stayed true to herself, and if she wins she can immediately make them proud and get people into her clothes. Andy says it would be a dream come true.

Now the judges discuss amongst themselves. They talk about Andy, they loved lots of his stuff but it’s too safe. Jessica asks if the judges scared him off, heh. Judge Michael and Nina didn’t like the star head pieces. They decide that Andy is out. Aw.

Now there’s a big debate between Gretchen and Mondo. Nina and Judge Michael vote for Gretchen, because she listened, has a good eye and knows what’s going on in fashion and what’s coming. Heidi and Jessica vote for Mondo, it’s fun and fresh. The argument gets bigger, whether they want daring or ready-to-wear. Jessica and Heidi would both wear pieces from Mondo, they say. Nina: “I want to see you wear that polka dot dress, Klum,“ and Judge Michael agrees. I wish she would. Nina says Gretchen has more range and would sell at a department store, Heidi counters that it’s safe and not fun. Nina thinks Gretchen is more current. Judge Michael feels that fashion is in a sportswear moment, by the way. Jessica doesn’t like that all of Gretchen’s clothes are loose, and Judge Michael literally shouts “Hellooo! Fashion is changing!” Now Nina and Judge Michael think that Mondo didn’t listen to them last week, or at least not as well as Gretchen did. Jessica is enjoying the fight. Heidi wonders if they’re looking for ready-to-wear or couture, and Judge Michael says they want the next great designer. It’s all very suspenseful.

The designers come back out. Heidi gives props to all of them. She says Andy was intricate and sophisticated, but missed some modern edge. He’s out. His family is backstage for hugs. Now Heidi says it was the toughest decision in Project Runway history. They liked that Gretchen listened to them, she has a finger on the pulse of fashion. Mondo has evolved and he’s a master with print. They believe there’s a place for both of them, but the winner is … Gretchen! Hey, how shocked were you?


Mondo interviews that he’s not as insecure and self doubting as he started out. Gretchen is excited. Nina says it was a tough deliberation but she has faith that Gretchen can be a star. Jessica says the designs are amazing, and she can’t wait to buy them, and her sister will rock them. Tim comes out and says “wow” a lot. Gretchen is excited to get her possessions out of storage.

OK, people, what do you think? I agree with the argument that Gretchen is more accessible and every day. Mondo was just so different he grabs your attention more, though. Pretend you’re someone who wears high fashion to highly fashionable events, what will you wear? Personally, I’d wear Mondo’s because it kind of winks to the world, whereas Gretchen’s says, “I’m a hipster bohemian serious person,” and I just can’t take myself that seriously. Plus, the short shorts.

Thanks for the great run, everyone! See you next time on the runway!