Friday, October 28, 2011

Project Runway Season 9 Finale!

Anya wins! Josh doesn't win! It's the best Project Runway day ever!

Okay, calm down. Yes, part of the reason I'm excited Anya won is that she's just so gosh-darn likeable. And yes, the fact that she may be the single hottest human being on the planet probably didn't hurt either. But I do think that her win was deserved, particularly given what was overall a weak fashion week display by the entire quartet.

Start with Kimberly, who has been very hit-or-miss all season. That gown she closed with was great, and verged on being show-stopping (it fell a little strangely to my eye, which was all that stopped it). But beyond that? The Ivory piece was cool but a little disconnected from the rest of the show. That aquamarine tinfoil piece was just strange, and I didn't see what was cool or sexy about that tiny crafts-project cut-out in the pinkish dress. Most importantly, too many of the pieces just looked a little plain.

Viktor was always the big competition for Anya as far as I was concerned this season. He's one of the best technicians on the show, and he's consistently made pieces that -- while perhaps not as purely elegant as Anya's -- showed a good fashion eye and were always well-made. Unfortunately, he had (maybe his first) major stumble on the show's biggest stage. Those sheer black gowns were ugly. It's such a shame too, because those mirror pieces were great and the prints were wonderful. Jill and I actually disagreed that the first piece was anything to write home about (we both thought the skirt was a little Mad Men), but that gown? Probably the best piece of the entire show, for any designer. Oh, and way to show Josh how it's done with those purple pants.

Speaking of the devil, Josh's collection was better than I thought. I agree with Laura Bennett that when he keeps his color palette under control, he actually makes some very nice clothes. But there were some flops here too. The opening draped outfit made his model look preggers, and don't get me started on those vomit-inducing green bike shorts. Nina was right that they looked better photographed than they did on the runway, but when they walked -- gag me. The plastic pieces were genuinely cool, and he had a couple of outfits early that had a neat vintage vibe to them, but overall -- too much hot pink, too much lime green.

So that leaves us with Anya. And let's focus on the weaknesses first: it was relatively one-note, and it didn't show a lot of range. Against superior competition, I'd be inclined to give that a lot of weight. But the clothes themselves were beautiful. People are saying "Uli did it better", but I thought Uli deserved to win her season too. Her opening outfit set the tone of her show beautifully and mixed colors fantastically. The closing gown in black and white with the fuzzy edges was likewise fabulous. And I agree with the judges that Anya, more than any of the designers (except maybe Viktor) has a brand -- you can see her in every piece, and there is a woman (a particular type of woman with a particular type of body, to be sure) who absolutely wants all those pieces and wants to be her.

One thing I'd say in Anya's defense is that I do think, over the course of the show, she made a genuine effort to push herself as a designer and branch out -- with varying success, but more than you might expect given her relative novice status. Her first stab at Fashion Week was to try and really stretch beyond herself again, and she got nailed by it. So she said "you know what? This show is going to be Anya-being-Anya." And it worked. She makes beautiful clothes, she has a fantastic natural eye for design, and (with some construction lessons), I think she has a future.

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