It’s Part 1 of the finale, and oh, there is sadness in my heart. Even after a lackluster season in terms of design and fashion, it was an undeniably entertaining one, with some good characters and some truly horrible people. And while you may not remember any of the designs, you must admit that it’ll be a long time before you get over the nightmare that was Ivy. Onwards!
Previously, the designers were asked to do a look based on NYC, which resulted in some pretty blah designs. Michael, Gretchen, Mondo and Andy were chosen to compete for three spots at Fashion Week, and April was kicked out because … well, mostly because she wasn’t very entertaining to watch, and also because the judges are insane. By all rights, Gretchen should’ve been sent home.
Heidi meets the Final Four at the runway, where she congratulates them and gives them $9000 (dang) and 6 weeks to create a 10-piece collection for Fashion Week. She brings out Tim who tells them that he is very proud, and that they can expect a visit from him in a few weeks. I’ve always thought that that would be the best part of getting to the top 4, you know? Screw Fashion Week, I want Tim Gunn in my house.
One month later, Tim is in lovely Hawaii to visit Andy. Andy’s family has a giant, beautiful farm, and I confess I’m surprised that Andy has such humble beginnings, considering how funky and modern his designs are. Apparently his family (who were originally from Laos) raises catfish, and Tim literally JUMPS and squeaks when Andy pulls one out — and I will love you forever if you make me a gif of that moment. Hee. Tim is totally grossed out, and he is wearing galoshes and still looking like the most dapper man on the planet. I always love the home visits.
Tim next meets Andy’s adorable family. Andy cries about how much he loves his family. They feed Tim coconuts. Then they take a visit to Andy’s huge studio/workroom space, and Andy shows Tim a photo of his grandfather, who used to be an elephant herder, which is just about the damn coolest thing ever. Andy says that he ordered some special fabrics from Laos, but that they only arrived a couple of days ago, so he has no finished pieces to show Tim. That’s … not good. Even if Andy is fast (and we know he is), he’s missed a whole chunk of time in which he could edit the hell out of his pieces. Tim does the best he can with some sketches Andy shows him, but how much advice can he give on those? Wasted opportunity.
Suddenly we’re done with Andy, and I’m sad that all the home visits are so short this time around. Next, Tim goes to Palm Springs, CA, to visit Michael Costello. We meet Richard, his partner, who is helping him pack. Michael’s made a lot of progress — he says that he took inspiration from the sky and the colors, and how his silhouettes were inspired by feathers. That’s not terribly original, and his collection seems decidedly scattered. He has 12 looks, plus 6 ‘rejects’. Tim calls it “design diarrhea” and tells him to stop making new looks and to EDIT, which was always the biggest critique the judges had for him.
Then Tim gets to meet Michael’s friends and his adorable son, Giovanni. Note that there are no family members there aside from Michael’s son. Richard tells Tim that Michael’s family has never been supportive of his dream, at least not until he joined the show. Jeez, this Richard isn’t averse to airing the dirty laundry, hmm? Michael tells us that his family wants him to conform to their rules and traditions, which include getting married—to a woman. Tim is appropriately shocked at that. Apparently, Michael’s family didn’t even know he was gay for a very long time, and that his boyfriend outed him to his family. That’s a bit weird, isn’t it? You get this feeling that Michael’s never really had any control over his life, what with people pushing him in all directions, which is depressing. Poor Michael.
We next go to Denver, CO, to visit Mondo. Mondo lives in a brilliantly pink house with a lot of gorgeous patterns on the walls. He tells Tim that he’s being inspired by Mexican deathheads and vintage circuses, all kind of gritty and creepy. It’s pretty amazing, and that’s why Mondo should win. No one else has this kind of vision. So his collection will be a mix of the circus and the Day of the Dead. It’s all incredibly bizarre and cool. Tim tells him to not give the judges a feeling that he’s trying too hard, but overall the critique is quite positive. I can’t wait to see his collection. We meet Mondo’s boyfriend, Ben, and the rest of Mondo’s family. His mom tells Tim that she tried to make Mondo more macho, so he could fit in better, but eventually they gave up and just let him be Mondo in his full glory. He is all kinds of cute as he plays the piano for Tim and looks super proud of himself. Aw!
Next we go to Portland, OR to visit Gretchen. Her mom is helping her move, because she just broke up with her boyfriend, and her bank account is completely empty. So Gretchen has no money, she has no place to live and just went through a breakup. All while making a collection. Damn. It’s terrible for Gretchen, especially since she’s pinning all of her hopes in winning a reality show that, let’s face it, she has no chance of winning. But it’ll probably bring her exposure so she can sell her ugly clothes to hipsters in Portland, who I’m sure eat that stuff up. Still, though. Poor Gretchen. Tim does his best job of being supportive by telling her that if he hadn’t gone on a bad relationship he would have never come to New York. Tim is just the sweetest.
We next go to her workspace, where she tells Tim she’s using her southwestern roots as inspiration (doesn’t she always?), as well as bringing in design elements from other world cultures. It’s all very happy-hippie stuff. She has a pair of bloomers that Tim holds up like they’re the ugliest thing he’s ever seen, and he warns her to not let her work become too costume-y. I’d be more worried about the fact that her color palette is making me want to both puke and curl up into a corner and sob—seriously, the whole thing is sad, which I guess makes sense when you think of what she’s going through. But, holy hell. She’s made some funky pieces of jewelry, but it all looks cheap. She had $9000! Where did that all go? She tells us that she knows she’s made something worthy of a win, which …OK I get why she does that, but good lord woman, you’d better be ready for some serious disappointment. We then see her mom again, who tells us that Gretchen’s always been a control freak. Gee, really? Anyway, her mom is nice and they have a quiet little lunch.
Then the home visits are over, far too quickly for my liking. We’re now at Fashion Week and all the designers arrive at their fancy suite at the Hilton. Mondo tries to goose Michael (“Did I scare you?” “Your pants scare me!”) and everyone is really happy to see each other, which warms my cold, shriveled heart. I’m glad that Gretchen and Michael seem to be friends now.
Tim comes in with the Velvet Bag of Evil, and though everyone freaks out for a second, we find out that the Hilton is giving them a choice of three fancy vacations. Damn. They’ve really spoiled the designers this season, haven’t they? Previous contestants are probably feeling very jealous right now.
They go to the workroom, where everyone unpacks. Tim comes in and lays down the final “surprise” (though it’s not at all surprising): Make an 11th look so they can show the judges a three-piece mini-collection along with two looks that they’ve already made, and thus they’ll try to win one of the three places at Fashion Week. They have a budget of $300, and Tim tells them to really impress the judges. Everyone scrambles to sketch and try to make something that will make sense with their collections.
After a quick trip to Mood, Tim checks in on them at the workroom. After a minor freakout, Mondo scraps the first look he was doing and decides to go with something else. Michael still doesn’t know which two pieces to show along with his new one, and Tim is surprised and tells him that it shouldn’t be so hard. Seriously, just pick the two best pieces you have! But he’s completely lost. Before he leaves, Tim tells everyone (but Michael) to carry on in their chosen direction. To Michael he says to not fall apart, which only works to make poor MC more nervous than ever.
Runway time at last. Everyone gets teary eyed and anxious, and Gretchen says “I have nowhere to live, I have nowhere to go,” and while I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, it seems naively hopeful of her. It’s not as bad as, say, going on “America’s Next Top Model” and hoping to become a real model, but it’s still silly. Though, again, I guess she gets some exposure from the show. And someone must want to wear her clothes. I don’t know who, but there’s all kinds of crazy people out in the world.
Heidi greets them at the Runway of Eternal Fire and Brimstone. No guest judges this week, just the three heads of Cerberus.
Andy is first. His first look is a little silver romper (ick, I hate rompers) with some ruffled sleeves. It’s kind of eh. His head piece is kind of amateurish and doesn’t seem to go with the outfit. She looks like she’s covered in foil. Second, there’s a silver bikini with a long flow-y cape that’s way too simple for this challenge. Then its his new look—a pretty, jewel-green dress with a lot of pleats. While the pleats look nice, the dress looks a little like a shiny lettuce. A nice and crispy romaine, if you will. The looks are nice, but I don’t think he showed a lot of range, and that bikini was a bad idea. Is that really the best he had?
Michael is next. He made a very pretty one-sleeved dress in a lovely, shimmery fabric, but it looks a little basic. The second is a feathered skirt and mauve-top. The skirt looks like a skinned muppet and I hate it. Third is a weird pair of pants in a fabric that looks disgusting (it looks like gravy), and a fringe-y top. That one’s a little tacky. I like his colors and his fabrics, and while they’re not terribly innovative designs, some of them are definitely wearable.
Gretchen. First is a drab little romper that has a nice shape, but I hate the color and the whole thing makes me feel morose. Second is a jumpsuit in this horrible brown print that looks like a giraffe. It’s drab, and the bag looks like a dead animal. It also looks horribly cheap. Third is … what the hell? Bloomers and a green leather jacket with a giant hat. It’s horrible. Yikes, Gretchen.
Mondo. First is a pair of shorts in a gorgeous black and white pattern with a sheer polka dot top, with a hideous neckerchief. There’s some pink poking through which is really cute, and I want that bag. He has a funky headpiece where I can see the Mexican inspiration. It’s overall a cool, innovative look, but the headpiece seems unnecessary. Second is his new look: A skirt in an oversized pattern that looks like pixels, a tight blue top (niptacular!) with some polka dot sleeves. I love his little bits of color but that top is fug. Third is a long evening gown in a big polka dot pattern where the circus inspiration shines through. It’d take a ballsy woman to wear it, but it certainly makes an impact, which is much more than I can say for the other three.
The judges speak to Mondo first. He says that he wanted to use muted colors but still show bits and pieces of color. That silkscreened bag is to die for. Brown Kors says he really likes the individual pieces. Heidi loves the dress, but hates the turquoise top. Nina is of course in love with all of it—the romanticism and the showmanship of his work, but that the gown borders on silly, and that she’s worried that he won’t be taken seriously. I’ve never seen Nina so concerned for anyone before. Old Evil Eyes sure loves Mondo and probably wants to adopt him. Kors says that Mondo needs to take it down a little bit, like how there needs to be some break in the polka dots. He hopes there’s more surprise and some pieces that tone down the collection. Also, get rid of the headpieces. Good advice overall.
Andy’s next. He tells them about taking his inspiration from the shapes and hardness of statues in Laos and Thailand. Heidi and Nina both think the bikini was the third piece, because it looks so unpolished. They all love the green dress. Nina wonders if there’s a range, but that she isn’t convinced from the looks he chose (yep, bad choices). Andy says that his silver romper is a ‘day look’ and Nina looks dubious. Andy says he missed the mark and the judges scream that he really should’ve wowed them completely, and he admits that he wanted to just tease them a little bit, which is just incredibly stupid. He looks like he wants a time machine right now. Nina isn’t sure about the headbands. I think he really doesn’t need them. Kors says much the same thing. I think they’re just trying to psych out Andy, because there’s no way he’s not making it into Fashion Week. Still, it was a stupid decision to not show his best work.
Michael is next. He seems to fumble a lot. Kors says the new gown looks effortless. Heidi loves his fringey top, but Nina says she’s shocked at the similarity in color, and Heidi quips that they’re all going to some color-themed party. I don’t know, I think there’s a lot of variation in tones, but maybe he should’ve picked something in a different color altogether. Kors says thaat color can’t be the one cohesive thing that makes it a collection. Nina says the feathery one looks boxy. Michael says that he wanted to wow them, but Nina says that it can’t be all bling-bling and feathers that wows them, that those are just extras. He really is a bit amateurish in that he jumps to the most obvious ways he can think of in every creative situation. I just don’t think he’s ready at all. But I think they’re being unnecessarily harsh to him, which just makes me think that they never had any intention of sending him to Fashion Week. Bitches.
Gretchen. She looks like she’s the fourth model in her collection. She points out the jewelry she designed and all the crazy accessories. Gretchen says she wanted to peak their interest. “My interest was NOT peaked.” says Nina. Ouch. She says it looks a little crunchy granola. She obviously hates the whole damn thing, saying the only “hope” is in the leather jacket (really?), and that the sack dress makes her wonder where the birkenstocks are. I crack up because holy hell I love evil, evil Nina. This is what you get for not picking April, you bitches. She doesn’t think Gretchen has it. Heidi actually likes it for some reason, and that she needs to accessorize them better. Kors says that it doesn’t look expensive at all, and that none of them look like they’re in a fashion show, which I think is the most accurate thing he’s said so far. They just look like hippie girls at the mall. He tells her to reconfigure everything to make it look expensive. That makes no sense at all. And, come on, with those critiques did anyone think she had a chance to make it in?! Cheap, badly done, ugly. Slapping some heels on the girls isn’t going to make the actual clothes any better, you bastards.
Once the designers are gone, the judges seem very confused that none of them picked the best looks from their collections, and they’re baffled at how they’re all saying that they just wanted to peak their interests. That does seems very dumb of them all.
Heidi says that Gretchen at least knows who she is, but the other two hate who she is. But feh, if Heidi likes it you’re probably safe, no matter how much Nina Garcia may hate you. They all say “granola” too many damn times. Nina says that she loves Mondo and that he has showmanship. She almost shouts “HE HAS IT IN SPADES” and dang, Nina, just adopt him already. She also says that he needs to balance it a little bit so that his clothes don’t look jokey. Good advice. Heidi wonders what Michael was thinking, and Kors imagines that he thought same color = collection. They like his silhouettes and angles and movement, but they’re still not gonna send him to Fashion Week for some reason. Nina says that he needs to be more confident, but that he’s not quite there yet. I agree, but, ugh, these bitches. They’re all disappointed in Andy, and Nina is horrified at the cape being UNDER the bikini top. But they all agree that he’s toned down the Warrior Woman look, and that that’s a good thing.
Mondo is in, obviously. Huzzah! go win that bitch. Everyone looks happy for him.
Oh, hell. Not Gretchen. Not Gretchen. NOT GRETCHEN. Argh. She’s in. What?! HOW! Why! Oh, fuck off, judges. You’re high and you’re idiots and Gretchen has no chance in hell of winning. Argh. Andy is in, of course, so that means Michael is out, which is fucking ridiculous, especially when you consider his record on the show AND that the damned judges liked his stuff better than Gretchen’s. It’s complete bullshit. Andy goes over and gives Michael a big hug. Michael looks totally defeated.
Backstage everyone is crying, especially Andy, who’s really come to love and respect Michael. He says he feels guilty, but I think it’s Gretchen who should be writhing in guilt right now. Michael shows up and he seriously falls to pieces—it’s horrible to watch, and maybe a little over-the-top, but who can blame him? Through his sobs he says that his family is going to be all “I told you so,” and that’s horrible. Seriously, eff his family. Everyone is a giant crying mess and Tim comes in and finally Michael gets himself under control, after everyone tells him they love him and how proud he should be. A Tim Gunn hug makes the world better, I bet. Michael finally tells them he loves them all, and he interviews that he is actually quite proud of himself. He should be, and seriously, to hell with his family. I’m sure he’ll make a name for himself. He wasn’t the best designer, obviously, but he was good and had some vision. I think people would love to wear his stuff.
So, that was pretty harsh. I seriously can’t believe that Gretchen isn going o, and so undeservedly, too. There was no question that she should have gone home—hell, she should have gone home last week. But the judges are bitches and manipulators who toyed around with Michael without ever intending for him to be at Fashion Week. Why not just have all four of them show? He showed his collection anyway, and he had all that money to do it, so he practically was a finalist! It’s incredibly stupid, this whole thing, and one final straw in making this the worst season for judging in the history of the show. I’m so angry at those three bastards, I can’t even tell you.
The previews show a reunion, and everyone’s going to cry. Ugh, I don’t want to see Ivy again. Apparently Jessica Simpson is the guest judge at the finale, and if that isn’t the biggest fucking joke I’ve ever heard I don’t even know what it is. Jessica Simpson, people. Shark, meet Project Runway. Prepared to be jumped over.
Feh. I’m angry at how this turned out. I guess we all knew Gretchen would be in the finals, but I never expected it’d be this way, with a horrible collection when someone else deserved it more. What do you think? Would anyone wear her clothes, and did anything look like it was worth $9000? I guess we’ll see about that next week. Also, is there any chance that Mondo won’t win this? Pshah, don’t be silly. I’m still excited to see their collections (I know they’re online but I don’t want to see them yet), or at least Mondo’s and Andy’s. Again, how horrible were the judges, but how stupid were the designers in choosing their looks? Also, isn’t it weird that Tim didn’t give any criticism to Gretchen about her collection? Was he just being nice because of everything she was going through? Seems unlikely, but there’s something strange there. Anyway, let it rip.
Figgy is a displaced Honduran living in Dallas, TX, and she wants you to make it work.. You can read more of her ramblings at her blog or follow her on twitter.