Last season, we suggested it might have been a harbinger of doom for Project Runway that the celebrity front row consisted of an actress few had heard of (Paula Garcés, now of Devious Maids) and Sammi Sweetheart from The Jersey Shore, and couldn't (or just didn't) get a guest judge that wasn't former panelist Michael Kors. And so, at this season's finale show on Friday morning, we feared the worst again when we saw Garcés alone in celebrity row next to a seat marked for The Jersey Shore star ... until we wandered further and spied a prime spot labeled "Kerry Washington." That is an exceedingly smart get for Runway — few fashion people are a bigger deal right now than Ms. Olivia Pope, and considering that the show's smart format tweaks have yielded a much better season so far, it's apt that their choice for the big climax would be TV's hottest fixer. Hopefully it wasn't also because Heidi Klum murdered someone and needs professional help.
Alyssa Milano, the newly and randomly minted host of Project Runway: All-Stars, wore an intricately braided hairdo and a frankly cracked-out ensemble of a blue button-down shirt underneath a neon-yellow sequined tank. She looked like a crossing guard with Big Dreams. The judges all looked great, however. Nina Garcia, in black, was not wearing the Google Glass (Google Glasses? Google glasses? Do we really have to care or can we wait for them to go away?) she has put on elsewhere at Fashion Week, so we can't yet report on whether they make us as stabby in person as the prospect of Face Internet makes us in theory. Klum looked resplendent in a gold cocktail dress we are told was Max Azria, and Washington had on a lovely floral dress and a huge, charming smile, the likes of which she never gets to deploy on Scandal because of all the, you know, scandal. It's hard out there when you're in love with a president who is (a) married, and (b) kind of a terrible president.
Much like the episodes that preceded it, the Runway finale was light years better than the hellfests of recent seasons. We won't spoil what the final challenge was, but eight designers showed clothes, leaving us to extrapolate from any clues or visual cues which of them are the real finalists. Jeremy seemed bored and blasé during his bow (although his collection wasn't bad). Alexandria, whose stuff was mostly slouchy separates, acted disengaged at first — her intro was basically, "Hi, enjoy this, bye" — and when she walked at the end she was crying in what we would not term "a positive way." Her name-twin Alexander showed a weird, messy, and occasionally pantsless collection that felt like a bogey, but did involve pageantry: The last model walked out all wrapped up like a freaky glittering tree, and then unzipped herself at the end of the runway, unfolding like a backwards umbrella to look like a freaky glittering nymph. The audience loved that, and no wonder he went first: By starting off with a bang, it was like the producers were saying, "Yeah, we are REALLY sorry about those last couple of seasons."
But all the collections looked well-made — a problem that has dogged Runway before — and had bits and pieces to offer, even if everything was not totally cohesive. Dom and a very buoyant and proud Braden both had some nice prints; sniffly, gushy Kate had pretty ideas, even if overall her collection was a bit of an snore ("God, enough already," was the mutter review of the woman next to us); and a jubilant Helen's work seemed the most accomplished of all, despite the fact that it was the first collection she's ever put together. If we had to guess, we'd suggest the finalists are most likely to be her, Braden, Kate, and ... Dom? Jeremy? We can't say for sure. But whomever it turns out to be, it's refreshing not to walk out thinking, "Egads, only one of those is even merely COMPETENT." Well played, Runway.
Of course, not everything has been fixed: The show had several technical difficulties. Heidi couldn't hear her cue, then later had to reshoot her introduction of the judges because "someone forgot to press record"; and either Kate's music kept cutting out at the beginning and restarting, or it was just awful and poorly mixed. As fun as it is to be getting a sneak preview, sitting through a bum-numbing eight shows — each set to a worse pulsing, blaring, mediocre electronic jam than the last — is tougher than an unconventional materials challenge. Can't y'all fork over some cash to get a little Daft Punk up in this joint? Next season's guest judge (and random celebrity attendees) will probably thank you.
Most Viewed Stories
How Angelina Jolie Won the First Big Battle in Her Divorce
25 Famous Women on Being Alone
Everything We Know About Brad Pitt’s Plane Incident
It’s Time to Get Over Your White Feelings and Start Taking Action for Black Lives
22 Intimate Lost Photos of Marilyn Monroe
Jaden Smith on the Many Subtle Flavors of Water
Taylor Swift’s Squad Begged Kim Kardashian for Mercy
Gigi Hadid Fought Back Against a Creepy Stranger Who Grabbed Her
The 6 Best Denim Shops on Etsy
Beyoncé and Tina Knowles Did A Normal Mother/Daughter Thing
From Our Partners
powered by PubExchange
The Cut’s Latest Fashion FeaturesCiara's Wedding Dress Was Too Big for the Chapel
To be fair, it was a 13 foot-long dress.You and Rihanna Will Both Want to Invest in Dior’s New Bag
It's got something for everyone.Polo Shirts Have Turned Their Back on Ryan Lochte
Along with his other major sponsors.Ryan Lochte Will No Longer Be Paid to Wear Tiny Bathing Suits
Speedo remains committed to transparency.Laura Brown Is the New Editor-in-Chief of InStyle
After 11 years at Harper’s Bazaar.Tyra Banks Is Going to Teach a Class on Smizing at Stanford
"If I see somebody not paying attention, I’m gonna call on them."This Floating Pier Is the Most Zen Installation Ever
Walking on water in Italy.Nation Is Appalled by Matt Lauer’s Nude Ankles During Ryan Lochte Interview
What’s the opposite of “Jeah”?8 People at the Life of Pablo Pop-up Explain Why Kanye West Is a God
"I mean, Kanye West is just Kanye West. There's not more or less you can say about Kanye West. He's just Mr. West!"A T-shirt Is Enough
Simplicity, versatility, and cool. What more could you want?
She took a perfect pencil dive off a 30-foot yacht.American Apparel Is Being Sued by Former Workers
As the company considers putting itself up for sale.A Gendered History of the Tailored Suit
From Marlon Brando to Coco Chanel.How Zendaya Developed Such Great Style at the Young Age of 19
The star's best looks from Disney to now.Proof That If You’re Chic Enough, a Little Federal Investigation Doesn’t Matter
Is this the best they could do?5,300-Year-Old Mummified Iceman Probably Would’ve Been a Street-Style Star
He had several different looks and was “pretty picky.”J.Crew Has Identified 226 Shades of Pink
Even more than there are shades of gray.Gigi and Bella Hadid Merch Is Now Somehow a Thing That Is Happening
Today in Hadidiana.Gird Your Loins for the Return of Yeezy to New York Fashion Week
The season approaches.This Indie Brand Had a Great Response to Ivanka Trump
When she bought one of their cuffs, they donated the proceeds to the Clinton campaign.