There was plenty of drama in the first half of Project Runway's "two-part finale," but it was more to do with the designers behind the scenes than the actual clothes. We also saw the cryingingest elimination of all time.
It was courtesy of Michael C who was not invited to compete at fashion week (spoiler alert!) because his hideous three-part "mini collection" was not up to the judge's standards. Yes, each of the final four designers had to design one last outfit and then present three looks the to the judges to earn the final three "competition" spots in the finale. Michael C's breakdown was one of the:
Things We Hated:
- The Crying Game: I didn't hate that Michael C was crying, I hated the motivation behind it. Michael C was basically crying because he was gay and his parents hated him for it. That's the long and short of it. Tim Gunn's home visits usually entail looking at the designers' collections, engaging in an embarrassing activity or two, and then talking to the designers' families about how proud they are of said designer. Michael C's family was not at his house. No, his boyfriend, his son from a previous marriage, and a couple of gay boys were. Why? Because Michael C's parents aren't supportive of their son because he's gay. We learned that Michael C's boyfriend outed him (!!!) to his parents and now they want Micheal C to move back in with them and get married again. Then it all made sense. Michael C's lack of confidence, his ability to take a beating at the hands of the other designers, his general sad sack demeanor all stemmed from a painfully long time in the closet and a harsh booting from it. Like a tragic Tennessee Williams character, he thought winning a television reality program was his only chance to make his parents proud and prove to them that he's capable of being gay and successful. And then he failed and everything came rushing back in one giant depressing wave of self-loathing. I haven't been the biggest fan of Michael C's designs all season (and I positively hated his final collection), but I really feel for the kid now. And then all the other designers were so supportive and Tim came to rally him and it was like the big, fat warm embrace that every little gay kid crying alone in his bedroom wishes someone would give him.
- Liking Gretchen: And Gretchen was the first one to hug Michael C. She's a monster, but we finally know that Gretchen is a monster with feelings. Her home visit was also eventful. We find out that her significant other (she never said if it was a man or a woman) left her while she was filming in New York and had drained the bank account and hadn't paid the rent. And she seemed to handle it very well, with strength and poise. Maybe that is where the sympathy for Michael C came from? Whatever it was, I have a new respect for Gretchen.
- Queen Tangerine's Robe: Well, then all my respect left when she wore a tangerine velveteen shirt dress with no back to the final judging. What the fuck was that, Gretchen? Did you steal that from Stevie Nick's closet sometime in the '80s and then transform it into some hideous creation for a middle-aged painter who lives in Santa Fe? Man that dress was just putrid. It was like a shriveled moldy orange rind sitting on the top of the trash can.
- The Additional Look: Is it just me or did the designers seem to know that they were going to have to build an 11th look when they got back to New York. Everyone seemed to take the challenge in stride and have some general idea what they would do before Tim even showed up in the workroom to tell it about it. I'm sick of this tired convention, especially if it's not a surprise. They're going to have to work harder to shock the contestants.
- Surprise Vs. Consistency: The judges say they want to be surprised, but then they say they want the collections to be consistent. How can this both be true at once? Isn't surprise the opposite of consistency? Isn't consistency sending out just a million black dresses one after the other? Isn't surprise like someone who makes a million black dresses and then one that is pink or made of pants? They either get one or the other, and they have to choose.
Things We Loved:
- Hawaii Five-0: Instead of going to New York and L.A. and Portland and other horrible places in the continental U.S., Tim Gunn finally got a free trip to Hawaii to visit Andy South on his fish farm/sugar cane grove/design shack. Naturally Grampa Gunn was still wearing his customary cardigan and loafers, even in the heat. The best part though was when Andy tried to show him one of the catfish they raise and Gramma Gunn shrieked like a little girl. Oh Tim!
- Mondo's Mailbox: On a drab little house in the middle of Denver there is a white mailbox adorned with multicolor paint splatters. This is the domicile of Mondo the Great. Who else would live there? Everything about Mondo's home visit was awesome. He has an adorable boyfriend, a cute house, and parents who have come to love and support him even though he's not the macho Mexican male they always hoped he would be. It seems the only difference between Mondo and Michael C is the loving family. See, it can make all the difference.
- The Return of the Makeup Daddy: Like a boner in seventh grade math class, the Makeup Daddy popped up when we least expected it. Welcome back (and call me!).
- Nina Garcia Fashion Director of Marie Claire Magazine Is Mad as Hell: Wow, NGFDMCM was practically unbridled last night. She hated everyone's clothes. Was she just playing bad cop to Heidi's good cop and Ms. Kors' queeny cop or did she really hate everything? We think she hated it. She was listening to no excuses and yelling back at the designers when she tried to disagree with them. Damn, NGFDMCM, your flintiness warms our hearts.
As for the collections, Mondo's looked like the reject pile from the wardrobe department of '90s indie movie classic Party Girl. In fact, we think that polka dot dress still smelled like Parker Posey from her fitting. Gretchen's collection looked like a lazy afternoon in Williamsburg after too many mimosas. It was far too casual and crunchy for anyone's good. If she shows a T-Shirt with a wolf on it, I will claw her eyes out. Andy did himself a disservice by showing three subpar looks that looked like Christmas ornaments that fell off the tree. His green dress was a stunner though.
But it was Michael C who was knocked out of the competition for his collection that looked like a bottle of ruined Pepto Bismol or maybe the dried puddle of red wine that Richard Lawson often finds on his floor upon waking up after a long night of wistfully singing along to James Taylor songs in his bedroom. Actually, the only words I can think of when I think of Micheal C's three looks is "bordello lampshades." That's what they all looked like. So hideous, so sad, just like the designer himself.
So, who is going to take home the big prize next week? My money is on Mondo. What do you kids think?