Crafty Manolo » And the Winner Is…




And the Winner Is…

By Twistie

Tim Gunn!

Actually, no, it isn’t, but a girl can dream. In a perfect world, Tim would win pretty much everything, so there. And what he doesn’t win, Eddie Izzard can.

Anyway.

Read on to see what I thought about every little thing that happened last night.

After the righteous reaming all four designers got on the runway for their mini collections, they all have a bit of a crisis. And they all want to rework stuff. And Christopher is very whiny about the fact that the judges didn’t fall all over themselves to adore everything he did because he did it.

Christopher, honey, a word in your shell like: the world doesn’t owe anything to you just because you showed up for the party, dear. If that was all it took, well, you’d see a hell of a lot more party hats with sparkly diamonds on them walking down the street.

But with two days to go, Christopher has gone into full blown headless chicken mode. Don’t get me wrong, everyone has a lot to do and a lot to figure out, but he’s more or less trying to do half new looks along with finishing everything he’s already got and still failing to fit them to the models, and all I can do is sit back and predict chaos. Okay, I can hope that glory forms out of chaos, but I’m counting on it about as much as I’m counting on winning tonight’s lottery… and I didn’t buy a ticket.

The judges do take mercy on their playthings… er… the designers and give them another $300 and a trip to MOOD to visit Swatch… er… get more materials to fill in blanks and rework stuff the judges hated on. Melissa takes the opportunity to get some glorious orangey-red leather to add more color to her collection, and Fabio picks up some pastel striped organza to die for in hopes that it will elevate his collection. Dmitry gets some black silk to make a new blouse. And Christopher runs around in circles grabbing random stuff and yelling something about the sky falling.

Back in the workroom, Christopher, whose main problem with the mini collection was that he had nearly nothing fitted to his models, begins making lots of new stuff. That way madness lies. I want to slap him to shock him out of  his panic so he can get his act together. He looked so ready when Tim visited him at home, and now he’s entirely lost the plot.

And the models arrive for a fitting in the middle of all this. Melissa, Fabio, and Dmitry have all been adjusting here and there, but mostly working with what they already have, so they’re all in a good space for this fitting. Christopher… let’s just say he’s dripping marbles all over the workroom floor and doing pratfalls on them. It’s painful. He’s a hugely talented guy, but his maturity level isn’t quite there to handle this yet. Give the guy another year or two to marinate and truly find his voice, and I think he’s got a great career ahead of him. Unfortunately, the opportunity is right here and right now and he’s rapidly losing the reach to grab it.

Fabio has listened to the judges, created a couple slightly more luxe pieces in organza and stepped up  the layering. Where I was pleased before, I’m now heading into wowed territory. Dmitry has rethought several of his combinations and made a couple more simple pieces that allow the eye to rest a bit more. Melissa has also rethought her combinations for more dramatic appeal. She still has her red leather dress to make, but other than that, she’s good.

Well, she’s fine except for that fabulous white gown with about two inches of give at the bottom of the skirt. The poor model is completely hobbled because it needs a vent  somewhere below the knee, and Melissa is trying to blame the problem on the shoes. About the time I would be taking shears to the skirt so the poor girl can walk. Melissa decides it’s not that important.

Maybe Christopher isn’t the only one whose common sense is taking a long, liquid lunch.

As they’re all sewing away, Melissa comments on how calm Fabio is. Dmitry announces it’s eleven and time to go back to Yotel. Fabio looks shocked and says this is why he was so calm: he didn’t realize how late it was. Have I mentioned that I kind of love Fabio? Because I do.

The next morning in the workroom, Tim comes to consult with everyone and help settle those butterflies.

Tim loves Melissa’s bright leather. He is, however, less impressed and more perturbed by Dmitry’s plan of using silver leaf on his models’ hair. I, too, have concerns. Tim asks Dmitry to consider whether the hair will be so distracting that people won’t see the clothes. Speaking of concerns, Tim has quite a few when he sees how many new pieces Christopher is in the middle of making. He advises the lad to take a deep breath, finish what’s on his plate, and STOP MAKING NEW STUFF.

On the other hand, Tim has no concerns left when he visits Fabio’s table. He looks at the new pieces Fabio has made, and feels an epiphany has been reached. There’s discussion of goosebumps and a delicious looking hug that makes me want to be in the middle of a Tim Fabio sandwich. Not smuttily, but just to share the happy. Even watching it makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.

With three hours left to go, Melissa decides it’s time to cut out her red leather dress. Ah, Melissa, High Priestess of the Last Nanosecond. She may be doing something a bit wacky, but at least she knows what it’s going to look like when it’s done and how it needs to be made to fit her model.

Fabio and Dmitry, meanwhile, chill out and have something to eat while joking about doing crossword puzzles. Because they’re that ready.

At the end of the day, Tim arrives to give the designers their fifteen-minute warning. He asks why Chistopher looks so stressed out. Christopher says he still has two whole looks to make. Tim snaps “Oh that’s ridiculous, you don’t have two more looks to make!” Christopher insists that he does have two more looks to make. Tim tells him he has fifteen minutes to do so.

When Tim returns fifteen minutes later, champagne in hand, Melissa and Christopher are still hard at work in the sewing room. Melissa runs out muttering about having something half done, but Christopher tries to weasel in one more seam. Tim calls for him to stop being ‘petulant’ and come out.

As the four share a champagne toast, Christopher hasn’t stopped being petulant. In fact he does kind of a nasty impression of Melissa. Points off for serious lack of class there.

Come two in the morning, all the designers are up and dressed and looking, Dmitry says, like vampires. Well, they are all pale from lack of sleep and they are all wearing black, so I can see how he got there. Yes, it’s time to head out for Lincoln Center to start putting together those early morning fashion shows.

So as Dorothy and her comrades… er… Melissa, Fabio, Dmitry, and Christopher (I leave it to your imagination who is who… but if you’re not seeing Dmitry as the Tin Man, Fabio as the Cowardly Lion, and Christopher as the Scarecrow, you’re just wrong) head down that imaginary Yellow Brick Road to Lincoln Center, they overshare about their nerves… particularly Christopher who brings up bodily functions gone awry that I’d rather not hear about. They take a moment to gawk at the runway and all those chairs.

And then they’re off and racing to get everything done in time.  Now Melissa regrets not doing something about that white dress, but it’s too late. The audience files in, including PR contestants past, guest judges, and designers’ families. Then the judges walk the plank… er… runway. The guest judge is one time singer/actress and now full-time diet shiller Jennifer Hudson. She is captioned as a ‘Performer.’ Sad, really.

Anyway.

As the judges settle in, Christopher has one last crisis backstage. The model wearing his evening gown gets tangled up in all the layers and tulle at the bottom and at the last moment, Christopher needs to cut some off, hopefully preserving his lines at the same time. Oh, and this happens right as he’s being told to line his models up.

While Christopher has one last bout of palpitations backstage, Heidi welcomes everyone to the show and says a few words about Project Runway’s tenth anniversary. She should be proud of her little show. Not only is it beloved by millions of devoted watchers, it’s well-regarded in the industry and has helped launch the careers of a lot of designers who are known now more for their creations and who they’ve dressed than for the fact they appeared on reality television.

Now that he’s on stage, Christopher looks a lot calmer. He dedicates his collection to his family and his boyfriend.

With ten looks per collection and four collections… yeah, I’m only going to give general impressions and maybe a couple key pieces each.

Christopher has a couple really spectacular key pieces. I’m particularly taken with a really shiny black snakeskin jacket with three-quarter sleeves that features a high standing collar and a front opening that sits on the diagonal. I’ve never seen anything quite like it and I want it. And when I want anything black or snakeskin, let alone both(!), let alone shiny, too, you know it’s something unique. It was highly editorial, but also something that could be worn believably in the street.

Unfortunately, with all the new work he did, he still sent that blah and pointless little sweater and shorts number down the runway, albeit with a different jacket. This is the one in patches held together with chainmail rings that I admired so in his workroom.  Love the jacket, but it still doesn’t make up for those damp squid pieces. Extra points to anyone who knows where I got the expression ‘damp squid’ from.

The good thing about the collection is that there’s the cool print and a lot of individual pieces that many women would covet and be able to work versions of into their lives. There’s a new edginess to the whole thing that I find potentially intriguing, especially if Christopher can find a way to integrate it more easily with his trademark hyper-feminine style.

The downside is that there are a number of rushed pieces in the collection. He didn’t take the time over fit he needed to, and so there’s a lot of so very all but going on here. And since he was chopping and changing so much at the last minute, the sense of a cohesive collection is gone. It’s now a random selection of pretty clothes that don’t add up to a single statement.

Still, he gets a lot of applause and rightly so. There was some really good stuff that showed huge potential on that runway. As I said before, give Christopher a couple years and I foresee a lot of success for him. He just needs to figure out precisely what he’s saying and stop second guessing himself.

Melissa is next with a show she describes as being about ‘death to life’ which she finds a great idea for spring.

One of my favorite looks in Melissa’s collection is a simple ankle length sleeveless black sheath dress worn with a vest of the crackle leather that features long, dagged points in front and an asymmetric neckline in back. The look is simple and easy enough to imagine in thousands of women’s wardrobes, but it’s still dramatic enough to photograph for a fashion magazine.

The pants I disliked in the mini collection looked a lot cooler paired with a long white top and a vest much like the one above only in black leather with a black mesh back.  The shorts and top from the mini collection are now shown with a white crackle leather bolero with a high collar, worn over a bright red leather vest. I’m loving the look for the runway or the camera, though I can’t imagine it being worn that way in the street. On the other hand, I can definitely see every piece in the look being worn in the street… just not all at once.

As for the long white dress, I wish it wasn’t a complete hobble skirt because otherwise I love it. It’s a simple white column with a bare back. The difference is that in the back the left strap is white while the right one is a much thinner black leather one on the diagonal with five strips of black leather connecting it to the white strap.

The final piece in the show is the bright red leather signature asymmetric dress. I adore the color, but feel I’ve seen the dress too many times before from Melissa.

Again, a lot of gorgeous clothes, and in this show they made a real collection. The one thing I have to worry about with Melissa is whether the judges will find enough that they feel is new in it. I feel as though it’s all beautiful, but it’s all a little expected.

With that, Dmitry takes the stage.

I’m liking his white floating panel dress better on a different model. I think it was just on the wrong person before. And the fringe sleeved jacket looks a bazillion times cooler paired with black harem pants and without the bra. Also, with the models styled with I Dream of Jeannie pony tails, the whole collection does read younger than it did before. I’m even liking the silver leaf, which is just a touch around the base of the pony tails. It’s theatrical but not distracting.

There is a short dress in the Greek Key pattern with a leather fringe and a sequined ballgown with a massive skirt composed of fringe that hark just a tiny bit too much back to his earlier career as a ballroom dancer for my personal taste, but they are very well made and don’t look out of place to me in the collection as a whole.

The piece I’m madly in love with is a black cocktail dress with a single long sleeve and some really elegant fan pleats over the bustline. I think it’s leather, which is both unexpected and cool. It has a tulip skirt with a very high opening softened by a panel of black netting over the legs in front down to the knees. If I could have it in another color, though, please, because I just don’t do black.

Then there’s the silver sequined cocktail dress. This one I would take in the color it’s in because I totally rock silver. It’s got a soft, drapey feel with a slightly cowled neckline, one fluttery short sleeve on the left arm, and another graduated tulip hem. It’s simply sublime. If it landed in stores tomorrow, I predict it would be sold out by the next day.

Last, but far from least, comes Fabio.

Now that his tie-dye crop tanks are shown under a layer of white organza and he’s added shorts in the stripe (cream with multiple shades of pastel blue) and a couple pale grey pieces, the collection as a whole looks a lot less low end crafts fair and more Fashion Week. Also now that I see the plastic canvas necklaces from a distance, I see what Heidi saw in them. I still think the material would need to be seriously reconsidered for sale, but for theatrical purposes they do work. Also, the pants the judges and Tim hated are gone.

The thing with this collection is that there aren’t a lot of pieces that scream WANT at you… but everything I see makes me feel like it would be fun to wear and make a great frame for me. It makes me want to play with the more standard things I already own and add some special bits of this… but I would choose them based on what brought out the best in me. There’s a slouchy knee length tunic and a swirly grey skirt worn in different looks that both tell me how great I would look in them… along with one of those decadent draped vests. I want to play with the pieces until I find what makes people look at me and smile the most. It’s a very different vibe from the other three shows and one I think doesn’t get a lot of play in the fashion world, but it’s one that makes happiness bubble up inside me.

What did audience members think? Debra Messing and Eila Mell are both rooting for Melissa, especially after seeing that red dress. Bonnie Brooks, president of Lord&Taylor, and season two’s ‘Uncle’ Nick Verreos think the laurel should go to Christopher. Stephenie Meyer (author of the Twilight books, for those of you living under pop culture rocks) and Joanna Coles both believe that Dmitry blew away the competition. Season eight’s Valerie Mayan and season nine winner Anya Ayoung-Chee were both swept away by Fabio.

My guess at this point is that it’s between Dmitry and Fabio and down to a matter of taste and whose merchandise the judges believe will sell better… which has me pretty much feeling sure I know who’s winning. But you never know which way the judges will jump. After all, I watched the collections come down the runway and bet the farm on Mondo back in season eight… and damn if the judges didn’t give it to Gretchen. Oh, and seven seasons later I still say Uli was robbed.

Back at the Parsons runway, the designers nervously await the judges’ critiques.  They needn’t worry. This part is pretty much a lovefest. Heidi tells them how happy she is they all listened to the earlier critique and acted on it.

Michael Kors tells Dmitry there would be fights in Hollywood over who gets to wear that leather dress on the red carpet. He thinks the clothes look expensive. Nina praises the styling improvements and says his work is editorial. Jennifer Hudson believes she knows Dmitry from his clothes.

Heidi thinks that Melissa’s clothes reflect her perfectly in their toughness. Michael Kors adored the fact that Melissa did chop the cuffs off that one jacket like Nina told her to. His one negative comment: the hobble dress. Jennifer Hudson, however, thought the dress was cool… if it was fitted more at the waist and less at the ankles. I agree about the ankles, but think the waist shaping would make it an entirely different dress for an entirely different woman. Nina thinks the make up and hair were ‘spot on’ perfection, and loves the red dress. When Melissa says she made that dress the day before, the judges are all suitably impressed. Nina is also impressed by the fact that Melissa’s work reads sexy but never vulgar or slutty. Jennifer Hudson thinks Melissa could be one of the models. I feel slightly burpy at that.

Michael Kors likes the bang Christopher started his show with, the spattered leather pieces, and use of print. While he thought the evening gown at the end was a lovely dress, though, he felt it was a little out of place in that collection. Jennifer Hudson wants Christopher’s wool skirt with the leather overlay (sold separately!) and the completely exposed right thigh. Heidi mentions the snakeskin jacket that I still can’t believe I’m so in love with and a simple toga-inspired dress in the spine print for praise. Nina wishes she had seen just a little more of Christopher’s signature romanticism.

Heidi loved, loved, loved Fabio’s collection. She calls the collection etherial, fluid, and fresh. I couldn’t agree more. Nina calls the clothes sophisticated and cool. She loves the ‘easiness’ of them. She feels he has finally managed to translate his own style into the clothes he’s putting on the models. Michael Kors loves that the pieces of the collection could be mixed and matched in real life. He calls the draping ‘effortless’ in a good way. Jennifer Hudson loves the colors and the layers.

The models are released from the runway so Heidi can ask each of the designers why they feel they should win.  Christopher feels he deserves it because he wants to launch his career. Fabio feels he has grown as a designer and gotten past his fear that he didn’t deserve a real career in fashion. He believes he’s ready for the clothes to have his name on them. Dmitry says he’s been chasing this dream all his life, creating clothes of consistently high quality. “Winning Project Runway will give me the wings to fly.” Melissa believes she has pushed herself during the show to grow as a designer while staying true to her vision and she just wants the chance to take her career to the next level.

Heidi releases the designers so she and the judges can have a chat about who wins and who goes home disappointed.

As I predicted, Christopher and Melissa are quickly out of the running. Christopher, while he had the great print and some really gorgeous pieces was a little unfocused and chaotic in creating a collection. They feel he hasn’t quite found his voice yet. As for Melissa, well, Michael Kors summed it up: there was no sense of surprise for those who have seen her work up to this point. It’s all beautiful and fun and clearly her work… but it looks like the same things she’s been making all season. There really isn’t a sense that she’s taking things to another level or experimenting beyond her comfort zone.

I’m sad to see it turn out that way, because I do think both designers are tremendously talented and Mr. Twistie was actively rooting for Melissa… but I cannot in this case disagree with the judges. The flaws they see are the same ones I saw.

As for Fabio, again Michael Kors hits a nail squarely on the head when he says that fashion is about knowing what people want before they want it. Heidi says she never would have thought that what she wanted was layers of pastels, but now that she’s seen it, she wants it. The question, says Michael Kors, is can he do it all the time?

Michael Kors could see Dmitry’s fringe sleeve jacket on all three women sitting around him, though they are very different women. Heidi and Nina are both in love with the shorter professional ballroom dancer dress. Jennifer Hudson thinks Dmitry is ready for the career he wants. Nina sees dollar signs in Dmitry’s collection.

So who should win? I find Jennifer Hudson’s take interesting on this question. She feels that no matter what, Dmitry will have that career, so she thinks Fabio should win because he needs the nurturing. Michael Kors feels that Fabio is the more conceptual designer while Dmitry is the more commercial designer. I am more certain than ever that I’ve called this one.

The designers are brought out to hear their fate. Bye-bye, Christopher. Bye-bye, Melissa. My guess is that both of these talented folk will be quickly snapped up by some house or other to nurture them into the careers they want. They both have a lot of talent waiting to be tapped. Worst comes to worst, I foresee both of them showing up on a later season of All Stars, ready to duke it out and more ready than they are right now to win.

And so it comes down to Dmitry and Fabio, whose collections are literally the yin and yang of the runway. Dark, structured, polished, and now from Dmitry, light, fluid, slouchy, and what might well be next from Fabio.

And the winner is…

Dmitry!

No matter which way it went, I know I was going to be thrilled for the winner and sad for the loser. Both these guys are tremendously talented and have a lot to offer. which one do I see myself wearing? Well, I’m more of a Fabio gal. I look better in unconstructed pieces with funky, artsy touches. But I can darn well appreciate the heck out of Dmitry’s work and I would definitely rock some of those pieces myself.

I have no doubt that Lord&Taylor will move a lot of units of Dmitry’s clothes. I equally believe that one day sooner than he might think, Fabio’s clothes will have his label in them and be selling to those with the vision – and the style – to wear them well.

Congratulations, Dmitry!

Next week… well, stay tuned to this space for season two of Project Runway All Stars. I’ll have no end of opinions about that, too.









One Response to “And the Winner Is…”




  1. Sarah R Says:

    I was really thrilled that Dmitry won- I thought he was the only designer to consistently put out beautiful clothing that was well-made and impeccably designed throughout the entire season. At least this time the judges got something right! I’m also with you- Uli got robbed. I haven’t seen Mondo’s season yet (I spent several years without cable) but after seeing him on All Stars, I’d be willing to agree with you there, sight-unseen. Anyway, at least justice was done here!

    I’m surprised Christopher’s collection wasn’t criticized more for taste- he had at least 4 looks that I thought looked too expensive hooker for a family television show. I was very pleased that the judges got it right there, too- as you said, Christopher is an incredible designer, but he really needs to percolate for a while. Melissa’s looks were great, but blah, though I loved some of the leather. And Fabio…well, I wasn’t feeling that collection, but it was obviously very well executed, and a very cohesive and complete storyline. In that respect, I think it was better than Dmitry’s, but as far as design goes, I thought Dmitry took that. Fabio’s stuff was something I could have come up with as a kid trying to make myself without a pattern, but he did it with expensive materials so it’s ‘chic’.

    Anyway, I’m going to return to my biochemistry, and wait with anticipation for All Stars next week!













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