Thursday, October 28, 2010

Project Runway Season 8 Finale Part II -- The Live Blog

So after soaking my fingers in ice water for a week, I am back and ready to tackle the second part of Project Runway's Season 8 Finale.

Last week's finale was a bit of a disappointment in my mind. There weren't many surprises, and the producers didn't even try very hard to mislead us on who was getting Auf'd. I mean Tim Gunn actually singled Michael C. out and told him not to choke at the same time he told the other designers to carry on on their "fabulous trajectories." If that wasn't a neon sign of foreshadowing, then I don't know what is.

There was some drama at the end when Michael completely broke down in the green room, but after 88 minutes of the mundane, that wasn't enough to save it. Here's hoping this week's part II will go out with a bang.

Despite last week's lack of drama, the season overall has been quite memorable. We've had big egos (Gretchen, Ivy), out-sized personalities (Casanova), sob stories (Mondo, Michael C.), accusations of cheating, and backstabbing, backstabbing, backstabbing. This week's showdown features one of the most successful designer's in Project Runway history (Mondo) versus one of it's best villains (Gretchen). It's reminiscent of Season 2 when Santino Rice was a thorn in the sides of Chloe Dao and Daniel Vosovic. That season, the dark horse, Chloe, emerged the winner over the uber-talented Daniel V. and the uber-eccentric Santino. Could Andy pull a Chloe and come from out of nowhere tonight to beat the favorites?

It'll come down to the runway show, and based on last week's three-look preview Mondo has the inside track. But all three designer's left last week's runway promising to surprise the judges. Who will come through on that promise? The answer will likely reveal the winner.

More to come...remember the liveblog starts right here at 9pm Pacific.

Last week we got a glimpse at three looks from each designer's runway show. Two they made in advance and a third design made especially for last week's show. Let's take a look at the remaining designer's three pieces for a preview of what to expect tonight. (For larger images of each designer's runway go here.)


The judges loved the third look and were very impressed that Andy created it in such a short time frame. In fact, that third look is quite likely why Andy made it to Fashion Week because the judges essentially dismissed the bikini, and had little to say about the first piece, which I said looked like an alien space suit. The real problem here is a lack of range or any sort of cohesion. It's hard to imagine these three pieces as part of the same collection. Beyond the sheen of the fabric and the eyebrow-raising shortness, what connects them? Furthermore, try to imagine what other pieces a woman who owns all of three of these garments would have in her closet. It would be a What Not to Wear field day!

Andy's greatest strength, but also his biggest weakness is his youthful willingness to take chances. The problem is that this leads to a lack of focus and inconsistent results. Will he be able to pull it together for tonight's runway, or will we see many different looks walk down the runway without any sense of story, style, or cohesion?


These three outfits look more like an ad for the strappy heels each model is wearing rather than the clothes themselves. Look at how versatile my shoes are! I can wear them with anything, and I do mean anything! (Or in the case of the third model, almost nothing.)

Nina said these looks lacked "oomph," and she's right. The dress is cute from the front, but is a mess in the back with a "tail" that connects to the shoulder straps. And the rough-textured material looks more Little House on the Prairie than New York Runway.

The jumpsuit is actually separates, but the tailoring makes the model look hippy and the cropped, tapered pant accentuates the problem. Where is this model going? The look is too casual for business, too homespun for a night out, and too dressy for a trip to the grocery store. At least with her similar (and winning) jumpsuit look from the second challenge she made her intent clear by choosing a classy navy blue and adding a plunging neckline that left no doubt about where the outfit should be worn.

The third look is the only one that interested Nina, and did make the biggest statement on the runway. The problem is that statement lacked pants. At least, unlike Andy, I can see how these looks fit together and there's some range here. And with Gretchen's styling sense, a complete collection featuring these looks could really pull together.

The question is if she can shake the "granola" vibe enough to wow these cosmopolitan judges. (Wild card: Jessica Simpson is the guest judge tonight, and the Dukes of Hazzard star might feel right at home in these country chic fashions.)


By far the most cohesive and enjoyable collection last week, Mondo sent the message that he is the designer to beat. However, these three looks were hardly perfect. You've got to worry about a collection where the "best" look the designer shows is the cute, but tame first look here. Yes, it's Mondo's signature mixed prints, and the bag does have a silk-screened "Day of the Dead Clown," but this is hardly a showstopper. It's more like the transitional look that comes between the sexy party look and the jaw-dropping evening gown.

The third look was quite the eye-catcher, but not necessarily in the good way. Nina felt it crossed the line between fun and excessive. Mondo has been a master all season at toeing that line without actually crossing it, and he'll need to be careful tonight if he wants to stay in the judges' good graces. But he'll also have to show them something new. Mondo's style is well-known to them by now, but the finale is often about taking it to that next level.

Mondo said he saved some surprises for the judges, and he'll need them if he wants to win tonight.

The next time you hear from me will be at the first commercial break. See you then starting at 9pm Pacific!

Time for "the toughest decision in Project Runway history!" Welcome to the Project Runway Season 8 Finale Part II -- the Liveblog!

We're starting the day before the Runway, and appropriately hearing from Gretchen--the woman of a million opinions.

The designers are enjoying breakfast together when they get a not telling them that some special friends are waiting for them at Parsons...and surprise! It's the other contestants! It's an ambush reunion!

There's hugging and laughing and happiness. I want daggers and evil eyes! bring it!

We start by getting a runway retrospective of Andy's work. Including his fabulous ribbon dress and the stunning resort wear swimsuit. But it's not all happy for Andy--remember his Jacquie Kennedy pants disaster?

Andy ends with some teary-eyed words about what it would mean for his family if he wins Project Runway. Awww.

Back to the group for some updates on post PR life--Peach has a big gay following, Valerie was proposed to, and Casanova learned "a lot of English."

And then suddenly, it's drama! Is Gretchen a bitch? She says no, but quite a few cast members aren't on her side. Ivy says her tears are fake, but Andy and Mondo both come to her defense. I'm sorry Gretchen, but the evidence is stacked against you.

Which brings us to the Gretchen retrospective, starting of course, with her back to back challenge wins to start the season. Honestly, if Gretchen hadn't won those two challenges, I think that she might not have been quite so insufferable. Her truly bitchy moments came after her head swelled too big to fit in the diary cam after winning those first two challenges. The video ends with her Times Square billboard and some of the few seemingly genuine tears that Gretchen has shed. She is a good designer...good enough to win?

Michael C and Mondo bonded throughout the season--here's some cute shots of them hugging and with arms around each other in the green room. That's sweet.

Now it's Mondo's turn. We get a series of first impressions during which Michael Drummond eloquently says he's a "weird guy." But of course, nearly everyone agrees. Mondo says, "I feel like if you're misunderstood, then you have something really good going on." Words to the wise.

We get to see Mondo's three-in-a-row winning designs (a Project Runway first, btw), capping it off with the HIV+ revelation from episode 10, possibly the best moment in 8 seasons of Project Runway. Mondo had a viewing party for that episode that raised $8000 for gay youth in Colorado. No matter how hard I try to be unbiased, I will be rooting for Mondo.

Now we get a montage of funny moments from this season which includes several sexual innuendos. The chemistry this season really was great, whether it was laughing, bitching, backstabbing, or designing. Project Runway is usually one of the better reality shows for crazy personalities, but they really nailed it this year.

"I've never laughed so much or cried so hard or been so stressed or had such a crazy good time all in one experience" Valerie's parting words to end the montage. Back to the group, now all in tears--even Tim pulls out a hankie.

That wraps up our reunion portion of this finale. And Tim sends the three still in "back to the workroom." And I'm sent back to the "Post" button. First commercial break!


And we're back! Obligatory NYC landmark establishing shots before we get to the workroom.

Andy is reliving his last runway critique where Nina tore him apart. Gretchen and Andy comiserate over styling. Gretchen is thinking about changing her shoes. Good idea Gretchen. The strappy, high-heeled sandals didn't do anything for me.

Mondo worries he has too many details left to take care of, but here's Tim to save the day. Guess what designers, you can only show ten pieces, so you have to remove one. LESS work, yay!

Tim and Mondo are going over his collection. He's keeping the polka dot dress that Nina didn't like. Could be a risk. But Mondo is "treating this runway like it's [his] last runway." Go Mondo!

Andy has MORE THAN ONE bathing suit??!! What was he thinking? I know he's from Hawaii, but the runway is still in New York last I checked. Tim express his concern over one bathing suit that looks like it's half-wookie halloween costume. Tim is concerned it looks like hair is growing in questionable places, but Andy can't see it. Open your eyes Andy! It's right there in front of you.

Gretchen and Tim conference on how to make her looks more rich. Her major critique was that her work looked inexpensive. Nina said it was granola and Michael Kors said it needed to be granola deluxe. I'm not sure you can make it work just by changing their shoes and hairstyles Gretchen. We'll see.

Before I post I must add a quick comment about Fairy Job Mother...the auf'd designers need jobs--enter a bitchy british woman (cuz the British do bitchy sooo well!) to "help" them. This has a high probability of hilarity. I mean...think about Casanova, Ivy, and Valerie...oh yeah, this has potential.


Tim introduces the weekly L'Oreal, Garnier, and Piperlime commercial. But now we have TEN models to get made up. Even bigger commercial!

Tim tells them he thinks they are all winners. Aww, Tim you're so sweet, but there can only be ONE!

In the makeup consultation we find out Andy is sticking with his antennae from last week. I know he put a lot of work in those, but I'm not convinced they do anything for his designs.

Time for fittings. Mondo agonizes over which designs are staying in. He admits to having some designs that are "breathers." I'm not sure that's a good strategy. With only 10 looks every design counts.

Back in Makeup, Gretch wants her models to walk though the Sahara. Umm, Gretchen, you know the Sahara is a massive desert, right? The Sahara is a little more than sunkissed.

Andy doesn't know who's going to wear what, but he's okay with it. Mondo shares that three models didn't show up. That could be a problem! Those looks won't walk themselves down the runway you know!

Back in the apartment, the three designers have a quiet night reminiscing over the past season. We get flashbacks from the first episode. These designers really have come a long way and have reason to be proud. The final diary cam of the night has each designer explaining how badly they want to win. Mondo chokes up. He's been very even keeled all season, so to see this emotion is a big deal. I hope he's not losing it the night before the final runway!

Okay, we're promised a runway show after this commercial!


3 AM. UGH. But adrenaline is a powerful drug. The designers are quite chipper as the head for the runway at Lincoln Center.

Gretchen tells us she's scared. You're walking around New York at night with two gay guys. You should be scared!

The designers have a moment when they see the runway for the first time. But it's only moment because within minutes they're backstage getting ready. And chaos hits early. Mondo is having a problem with the order of models and really looks distressed. Tim steps in to help and gives Mondo a pep talk. Mondo looks like a lost puppy. This is not good.

Andy is sewing some pants!? Really? Okay, I'm sure it's a small detail, but still, it feels like something that should have been done before today.

Mondo is still missing a model. He gets an alternate with short hair and Mondo is concerned that it will break the cohesive look of his runway. Meanwhile out on the runway the judges are here.

Heidi welcomes us to the runway. She's wearing a sharp cerise pant suit. She looks great! OMG here it comes!


Onto the Runway! Here's our judges including Jessica Simpson Musician/"Actress"

Gretchen is first! I'll do my best to get each piece. here goes.


1. Short shorts in a knit with a cool leather jacket. It's a strong start.

2. Long flowy hippie dress. I like its movement.

3. Shiny leather? pants with a cute jacket. It's a sharp look. So far so good!

4. Bellbottoms and a lowcut blouse.. This should have been a look for last week.

5. More short shorts. This is the first bleah look of the runway. A lot of these tops are backless. Kind of a nice edge.

6. African print dress with that tail again. A little one note.

7. The shiny blazer of questionable taste from last week.

8. The pants from last week now with a crop top. The look is better than last week, but still doesn't look expensive.

9. Shiny short shorts and a flowy printed top.

10. Very long flowy top with a Little House on the Prairie leather top. I think it's supposed to be an evening look. Fail.

Overall it's quite good, but there's not a lot of upscale look here. The two dresses were pretty casual. I'm afraid the judges will hammer Gretchen for that. We'll see.


Andy's up. And he's wearing his warrior woman pants!

1. First look is a shiny short-sleeved jumpsuit with a lime green vest. It's super sharp. Love it.

2. A sheer pant and top. It's gray. It's boring. Quite a letdown after the first look.

3. More gray, but there's some fun texture here. It's pretty.

4. Lime green shorts and a sheer tank. It's okay.

5. It's the "hairy" swim suit with a coverup that hides its faults.

6. It's an ADORABLE one-shouldered gray dress with fringe. Best look so far. Love it, even the antennae.

7. Some steel colored pants and a cute flowy top.

8. The shorts from last week with a much better top. This is much improved.

9. Green pants with a SHEER top. It's beautiful but also very see through.

10. The new look dress from last week. I still think it's about two inches too short, but it fits a LOT better in context than last week. The shiny green had potential to be blinding but the gray saves it.

Overall, the collection is very pretty. There's a couple non-looks, but overall it's an A.

Ack no commercial! Mondo is up and dedicates his collection to his grandmother.

1. It's Mondo at the Office from last week. It's still cute and very Mondo.

2. Painted shorts and a patterned top. It's sharp.

3. Mondo patterned leggings and a day of the dead clown. It's a lot casual.

4. The new look from last week. It's still good.

5. SUPER cute black and white plaid dress. LOVE the tights.

6. Neon sign top with pallettes and a pair of black shorts. Only okay.

7. Awesome plaid pants with a patent leather embellished jacket.

8. Polka dot top that echoes the longer dress.

9. Color blocked short dress. It's pink and electric blue. Really brings a pop to the overall story.

10. The polka dot dress from last week. Somehow looks better this time around.

Mondo's collection is really great. It shows range and creativity. There's a look for every occasion here. If there's a criticism here, it's maybe a little too Mondo. There's few low notes.

No surprise Betsey Johnson loves Mondo, but Gretchen and Andy have plenty of fans too. No wonder this was such a tough decision.


This is going to be a close one--I know because they told me in the commercials.

The judges overall like the show, but here come the designers to be grilled.

High praise. Every designer's voice came through. Nina says they're all winners, and Jessica Simpson wants to wear them all--but not all at once.

Andy's up first. His inspiration is his homeland, Laos. He used many materials from there. Michael praises him for not going costume-y, and he especially liked the one-shouldered dresses. But Michael felt there wasn't enough range.

Heidi didn't like the first look--Heidi is wrong, I loved it--but she did like the saucy pieces in teh middle of the show.

Nina feels like there wasn't enough of the "Andy" aesthetic. He went too soft; not enough warrior woman! Who'd of thunk?

Jessica loves the silver one-shouldered dress--she has better taste than I thought--it was the best piece of the collection.

Gretchen next. Nina says she did a "fantastic job." She praises the range of choices in all of the separates that Gretchen made. It felt like a ready-to-wear collection. Nina also criticizes the styling and the order of looks. Those are pretty minor criticisms.

Michael thinks some of the shiny leather pieces didn't fit, but he LOVES the jewelry, as does Heidi. Jessica Simpson laments the lack of a high-end piece. Wow voice of reason from Jessica Simpson!?

Mondo explains his day of the dead inspiration. Michael says it was "Molto Mondo!" I think that's good? Heidi loves it. She likes the range from the Skull T-shirt to the Color-blocked tunic. Mondo says it was based on an Aztec pyramid.

Nina likes the collection, but she does think it was a bit over the top. The embellishments make the collection look too young, she thinks. Nina wants Mondo to add more sophistication. Edit edit edit.

Jessica loves the unique vision and calls Mondo a "true designer." She admits to being obsessed with the polka dot dress. Heidi is too. Ooh Jessica Heidi catfight!

Heidi questions using the polka dot dress again, since Nina and Michael didn't love it. Mondo stands behind it. Michael praises his drama. But was it enough?

The designers give their final statement. Why should they win? Mondo is a better person because of his experience. Gretchen echoes Mondo. Andy reveals that the money would have a huge impact on his life.

I have no idea how the judges will go here.

Back in the green room, Gretchen congratulates everyone, and they all agree that it's been "a dream!"


Judges' deliberations.

How are the judges going to decide among these very different looks.

They start by praising Andy's best looks: The green dress, the silver pleated top, the one-shouldered dress.

But they think the collection was too safe. And Michael doesn't like the headpieces.

Michael likes the workmanship but in a Project Runway first, Heidi tells us Andy is "Out." Wow, talk about killing some drama!

But what about Gretchen?

The praise how well she listened to them. She accessorized well and put together a cohesive looking collection. Nina praises how current her clothes feel, and Michael likes how well it all fits together.

And on to Mondo. They love his sense of drama and showmanship. Nina singles out the plaid dress and Michael likes the tunic. But they question his ability to edit and make wearable clothes.

Heidi jumps to his defense. Oooh, Nina and Michael like Gretchen. Heidi and Jessica like Mondo. Michael says Mondo needs time...the last time we heard that from him was the famous upset of Daniel V. by Chloe.

They're divided. Nina says make them both the winner. But she does prefer Gretchen's aesthetic for being a little older. Heidi and Jessica want to buy Mondo's clothes.

Heidi seems to be able to see Mondo's looks beyond the runway. Nina says she can't wear the polka dot dress, and Heidi agrees. Nina shouldn't wear the polka dot dress.

Nina lays down the law...she says Gretchen's look is what is going to play tomorrow in Peoria. She thinks Mondo's looks are dated.

Michael thinks Gretchen's looks are now, but Heidi thinks they aren't exciting. It is still divided.

OOh fighting words. Nina: "I want to see you wear the polka dot dress, Klum!" Heidi: "Will somebody please hand me my boxing gloves!"

No wonder they said this was a tough choice. Michael says this is about finding the next great designer.

Bring back the designers!


Welcome back. Andy, Gretchen, Mondo. You are the final Three.

Time for the Aufing of Andy. Heidi softens the blow, but here it is...Andy, I'm sorry you're out.

Andy has no regrets and leaves the runway after hugs and kisses. He hugs his family back stage. I have a feeling we'll be hearing from Andy again.

Back to the runway. It's always been between these two and it's fitting that it comes down to them.

Gretchen, you have your finger on the pulse of fashion.

Mondo, you have evolved so much throughout this process. You are a master of prints.

We wish there could be two winners, but tehre can only be one... are the winner of Project Runway. Congratulations!

Mondo looks a little stunned but recovers quickly. Heidi is sorry that he is out.

Backstage, he hugs his family, and Mondo is philosophical about his defeat. He realizes how much he has grown as a person because of Project Runway. And he still feels like a winner.

Heidi comes on the runway to congratulate Gretchen. "It was a battle and you won!"

Gretchen feels like "a hundred thousand dollars!" The last few episodes have made Gretchen a little more likeable, but honestly it's hard to be excited about someone who took every opportunity to belittle her competitors and showed herself to be calculating and two faced throughout the season.

Alas, it's another Project Runway final upset.

Still. It was a great season. Bring on Season 9!

Thanks for joining the live blog! I'll be back for the next final runways...if Renee will have me!

Till then...Auf Wiedersehen!


Lisa said...

I was so disappointed in Gretchen's win. I was surprised that there was no mention of her monochromatic palette. Didn't her entire collection look brown -- with a touch of seaweed thrown in? And I don't think the hard, geometric edges of her jewelry are well-suited to accompany her fabric selections. Mondo had my vote all along -- creative, inventive, and interesting.
Great job with the liveblogging, Tim!

Renée T. Bouchard said...

First of all, THANK YOU, Tim for two excellent live blog posts- you did a great job!

Second of all, I've never been more disappointed in a PR winner in the entire series of the show. Even when Meana Irina won, it was easier to take because I really hadn't liked ANYONE that season. It's not the Mondo (my fave) didn't win- I would have been just as happy if Mondo OR Andy had won, but I hated seeing Gretchen win. Hated it. I hope next season isn't as disappointing.

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