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Project Runway Review: Oh How the Mighty Have Fallen!

This has not been the worst season of Project Runway (that distinction belongs to the suckfest that was Season 6) but this has definitely been one of the most unfulfilling as far as fashion, design, and entertainment go. Project Runway concludes season 8 with a whopping 2-HOUR season finale filled with dead air, lackluster fashion and a surprising (and totally undeserved) winner.

The first 20 minutes of Project Runway reunites all the eliminated contestants for an uncomfortable look at the previous season. I say uncomfortable because it is physically painful to sit through a montage of the struggling season and I refuse to pretend that any of these designers have anything important enough to say that I should waste my time on. And indeed, there isn’t anything new or groundbreaking in this segment. I am resentful of Project Runway wasting my time on this so I won’t waste any of yours.

What you’re really here for is the fashion. The designers do their final fittings, Mondo has horrible trouble with his models (he can’t seem to keep hold of them) and Andy is so blinded with love of his collection that he dismisses valuable advice from Tim.

At the final runway at Fashion Week, Jessica Simpson is the guest judge.

Gretchen is the first to show her collection, “Running through Thunder.” A couple of her pieces are interesting, although they are the same “blah” brown in color. She has this one belted thigh-high jacket of this green, shiny leather, accented in yellow, and paired over briefs. It is a very modern, expensive resort wear look that you wouldn’t see anywhere other than a runway. This is the most striking piece in an otherwise bland collection, although this should not be enough to clinch her a victory. The problem with Gretchen’s collection is that all her looks are average and already being sold at your local Macy’s outlet. There is no extravagance in her design.

Andy show’s next, his collection is inspired by his Lao heritage and dedicated to his mother. It is a combination of silver and green. And while this works sometimes, many times it does not. One of his designs has this muddied silver top and short green shorts, and while on the whole there is nothing truly offensive about this outfit, there is nothing remarkable about it either. The starkness of the colors just emphasizes the plainness of the outfit. Contrary to Andy’s promise to the judges, there was no signature gown to show the range in his collection. This upsets me because Michael C. would have had a gown in his collection. Sour grapes, I know, get over it, but it still stings.

Mondo is last to present his collection, which is inspired by his Mexican heritage and is a self-reflection of everything that brings him joy. Mondo’s collection is full of his patented patterns. It’s funky with tons of personality. The one problem would probably be that ALL of his designs have wacky patterns. While he did have one solid black dress, this look was cut before the runway. I would have loved to see a striking one-tone dress from Mondo because I’m sure he’d compensate in other ways.

At the judging panel, Andy was praised his for “sassy” looks, although Michael felt that the collection did not have a lot of diversity. Nina thinks Andy went a little over with the oriental theme and thinks he should have made his look more edgy and modern. Andy is the first out.

Nina thought Gretchen did a fantastic job; she was impressed with her choice of fabric and print, but wished Gretchen added a “dash” of color to her monotone looks. Heidi loved the “feel” of the show but thought the prints were repetitive, while Jessica wondered how many pieces would actually translate into consumer sales.

Michael praised Mondo for having looks that were eye-catching and dramatic. All the judges liked his use of print, though Nina thought he went overboard in adding decoration and Michael thought that Mondo’s constant print needed the relief of skin (ie. shorter outfits). Nina thought that Mondo’s collection looked very young, and cautioned him that he needed to add sophistication to his looks. Jessica said that like a true designer, Mondo made a unique collection that no one else could make.

Between these two designers Mondo has been on top for the majority of the season, but in the end it’s the final runway that counts and Mondo’s “young” designs were told to take a hike. Gretchen is named the winner.

This is a complete shock and an undeserved (IMO) win, yet it is very fitting that this season, which started off strong and sunk into a spiral of decline, ends in this horrible, horrible manner. Project Runway has clearly lost its mind, so until it finds its strut again, that’s peace out for me.

But what about you? Are you happy with Gretchen’s big win and just counting the days until it comes to an Outlet store near you? Or do you think that Andy or Mondo should have walked away with this one?

Season 8, Episode 14: Finale Part 2 (originally aired October 28, 2010)

For more on Project Runway, click here. You can follow Poptimal on Twitter @poptimal.

Thursdays at 9pm EST on Lifetime

Photographs courtesy of Lifetime.

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