Project Runway Finale: Tears, Fears and Arrears

This week on Project Runway: Anya drapes and flows her way to three new, last minute looks; Joshua makes women everywhere covet neoprene and molded plastic; Viktor stays cool, calm, and collected; Kimberly's urban girl wears beaded, backless gowns to the grocery store. Designer, and tall drink of water L'Wren Scott is the guest judge.

The final episode of Project Runway is so bittersweet; each season I look forward to it and dread it in equal measure. This year's final four--Viktor, Joshua, Kimberly, and Anya--brought us so much laughter, so many tears, so much drama! I think we all hate to see them go. It's hard to remember a more talented final bunch, which makes for an exciting finale.

So who will it be? Impeccable Viktor? Street-chic Kimberly? Caribbean-cool Anya? Or will Josh's edgy modernism take the prize?

Before the designers get to hit the runway at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week they have one last "challenge": Off to MOOD with a $500 budget and instructions from Tim to put the finishing touches on their collections. WHAT? No additional two-look collection sewed with the helping hands of contestants past? No strict instructions and minute budget to create a couture ball gown in 86 minutes? Project Runway is getting soft.

Anya, who has already re-worked almost the entire collection since Part I of the finale, decides to make several new looks in the limited time remaining. It's very interesting that, when Tim visits the work room for final consultations, Anya starts dissing herself and telling Tim this isn't her best work. Is she trying to calm her nerves, and is she starting to realize that her one-note aesthetic has to evolve for her to develop an enduring design career?

Finally all four collections hit the runway, where it's easier to see their flaws. Viktor's collection is disjointed--while all of the clothes are beautifully made, they veer back and forth between lovely, almost liquid prints and sheer pieces embellished with mirrors. While Kimberly didn't completely eliminate her urban-inspired jewelry she toned down the styling and cleaned up some details so that the overall effect is must more elegant (as opposed to '80s Queen Latifah). Anya's collection is beautiful and her prints are amazing but everything looks the same: prints, color, and pieces so flowy that I am seasick by the time the last model goes down the runway. There isn't a tailored pant leg or sleeve in the bunch, but do the judges like Anya enough to overlook it? Love him or hate him, Josh's collection is sleek and well-edited, and even the crazier pieces (neon green short-shorts that tie, corset-style, up the front) look amazing.

The Judges

After showing at Fashion Week everyone returns to the PR runway--which looks a little depressing after the Mercedes Benz version--to hear what the judges have to say.

Kimberly: The judges compliment her on taking their advice and toning down the styling. Nina loved the peek-a-boo cutouts, as did Heidi; Heidi questioned why Kimberly didn't do more in ivory (just one head-to-toe look in separates) and once again panned the ugly bubble-butt skirt. Michael called the skirt and matching jacket "bubblelicious". HILARIOUS.

Viktor: I must be getting better at Project Runway because the judges immediately questioned Viktor on his uneven collection, saying it looked more like two distinct collections. Nina calls Viktor's four sheer/mirrored pieces a "missed opportunity" more than once. I'm not sure I agree that they were that bad--plus the judges loved the original tank top last week, so wha?--but the sheer pieces weren't as strong as the printed fabrics on the whole. Michael says Viktor's collection was up and down, and uses a "hills and valleys" metaphor that makes me want to take Michael Kors hiking. I could see myself wearing the mirrored, sheer tank, and the judges raved last week which probably inspired Viktor to expand that idea so I am confused. That said, the collection did not look cohesive, and Viktor looks pale(r).

Anya: While there is no arguing that Anya makes beautiful clothes, they are for braless, small-chested women who are fifteen pounds underweight and who live on the beach. The judges wish she had made something that would translate to an urban setting; Heidi suggests a sweater or a jacket, and points out that eight out of ten dresses had plunging necklines. Yes, they flow beautifully, and yes Anya understands print, but there is nary a tailored leg or sleeve in the collection and that bothers me just from a competition standpoint--her aesthetic is too narrow and she needs to grow as a designer.

Joshua: You don't have to like Joshua to admit he has great talent. Even if you hate his clothes, they are always beautifully made and he always thinks about the girl who will be wearing them. In spite of his use of unusual fabrics--neoprene, moldable plastic--he creates feminine silhouettes. Will I wear neon green lace-up short-shorts? No. But can I appreciate them from a fashion standpoint? Yes. Nina calls Joshua "most improved" and all of the judges compliment him on his styling; Heidi loves the weird, funky vintage print that Tim panned last week. Joshua and Anya have the top critiques. So, who is in and who is out?

Out: Kimberly is out first, not a major surprise since most of her collection looked too inexpensive for the runway. Viktor is out next, which is surprising when you consider how strongly he showed over the course of the show, but not that surprising when you factor in the judges' ambivalence over his final collection. Josh and Anya go head to head in the final ... but Joshua is out. Sadly his ability to construct more than one kind of outfit wasn't enough to overcome the winner ...

Winner: Anya! I guess making ten versions of the same outfit is enough. Not quite the Gretchen-over-Mondo debacle of season 8, but disappointing nonetheless. Joshua is clearly devastated (okay, a little furious, too) and says he hopes his phone rings soon, and not just from his creditors. Somebody get this boy a job!

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