We suppose this is the part where we’re supposed to rant and then declare that Project Runway has RUINED EVERYTHING but we just can’t work up the energy. A marginally talented reality show contestant was awarded a prize over two other contestants who probably deserved it more. We can’t shrug hard enough.We’re not talking prestigious international award here and the idea that winning Project Runway has anything whatsoever to do with talent or that the win will provide a gateway to further success is a ship that sailed out of the harbor YEARS AGO. Life’s too short to get worked up over it. It was a kinda shitty thing to do, but of all people, Josh had the right attitude last night. “Hey, good luck and everything, but I am SO not participating in this silly farce a minute longer.”
To be fair, it really was a decent-to-good collection. Hence, the lack of ranting this morning. Anya and Gretchen’s collections were EXTREMELY problematic, but Anthony Ryan’s was cohesive and polished, with one or two memorable moments. This would be the first one. If he’d sent 5 or 6 looks down the runway on this level, we’d have had no problem whatsoever with the win. This was interesting and slightly unexpected.
It’s fine. No big whoop.
Also fine. Cute dresses. This is not unexpected, coming from him.
One of the stronger ones in a string of very similar dresses.
The color-blocking is interesting, but because he repeated it so much, it had the effect that we were looking at a line of hotel or airline uniforms.
Needle scratch. The first truly bad look of the collection. To be fair, it was the ONLY truly bad look.
Dull as dishwater, and by this point, the design elements had gotten stale.
It looks a bit like a gown for a superhero. His love of blue, black, and white dresses is so deadly boring.
Of course he didn’t deserve the win; not if you’re basing it on the actual collections that walked the runway last night, instead of some sort of mysterious alchemical equation known only to the producers and fed into the earpieces of the judges. We have no idea why it was decided that this mildly talented designer with an inoffensive personality needed to be treated like the second coming of McQueen, but we gave up trying to figure out this show. It was bad for our blood pressure.
One thing with which we wholeheartedly agreed was the judgment that Emilio made a strong second-place showing. He had a really fantastic concept for a collection, interpreting the clothing of African-American woman during that period when they transitioned from the plantation to the factory. A defiantly black aesthetic offered up to a competition that clearly has problems awarding wins to black designers.
Unfortunately for him, the concept was so strong that it needed time and space to develop. He simply wasn’t able to realize his vision in four days, leaving him no choice but to water it down. The result was a lot of stuff that looked like this; unremarkable from a design or aesthetic point of view.
And while there were some strong, interesting looks to come down that runway …
… it all felt disjointed and half-assed, the only through-line to be found in the styling, unfortunately. Too much rested on those hair bows.
And on the prints. This is a great suit, but it’s unremarkable from a design perspective, except for the use of that print.
And here’s where we sat up and took notice, because with this look we realized just how far he’d gotten from his stated inspiration. Aside from this, which is chic and done well, what other looks here really say “plantation to factory?” Or “the experiences of African-American working women fifty to a hundred years ago?”
This was the other look that seemed to come very close to his stated intentions. It needed a bit of zhuzhing, though. We’d have rather he mimicked the form of dungarees rather than making a literal pair of them.
Kinda lost the plot.
DEFINITELY lost the plot.
We really loved the idea of a sort of blue-collar, distinctly black collection for the runway, but Emilio’s reach exceeded his grasp this time. We have no doubt he could put together something gorgeous from this starting point, but he needs 3 to 6 months to develop it. Still, a very strong, declarative sort of collection, in many ways, better than his original final collection.
Poor Uli. We hope this third time as a bridesmaid will help her realize she’s too damn good for reality TV competitions. Her collection was clearly head and shoulders above the other two; cohesive, well-executed, and high end; the only one that looked like it could be walking a real runway right now.
We didn’t unreservedly love every single piece and look, but given the amount of time they had, it’s amazing how intricate and designed these pieces are. Anthony Ryan and Emilio both kept their garments relatively simple in comparison.
But Uli’s clearly going through a more baroque moment in her design evolution, and an “Uli dress” no longer automatically means something flowy and beachy. For now, it means something glittering and embellished.
Of course, there were a few times when things got a bit too embellished for their own good, but it added to the feel of richness and luxury on display; like somehow, Karl Lagerfeld stopped by Project Runway and decided to show a few pieces.
We don’t feel like over-analyzing it, to be honest. Her work was extremely polished and had a consistent through-line, making it seem like an actual collection, instead of a string of similar dresses, like Anthony Ryan’s or a good idea, inconsistently executed, like Emilio’s.
It’s just … straight up fashion, to our eyes.
And as we’ve all figured out by now, Project Runway rewards many things, but fashion design is way down on the list. This is just the latest example of that thinking.
Uli, if nothing else, you made one thing clear with this effort: you are one of a very small group of people to be on Project Runway who is actually a real, honest-to-God fashion designer with world-class skills. It’s very rare to see a collection presented on this show as sophisticated and well made as this one.
[Photo Credit: David Russell for Lifetime – Stills: tomandlorenzo.com]