Monday, November 1, 2010

Siding with Jessica Simpson Scares Me

Project Runway has ended once again, and unlike the feelings of joy we often experience at the dénouement of a season, this year we have embittered fans and outrage from the critics. Our winner is Gretchen Jones, a hippie chick from Portland, Oregon with an ego problem (think season five’s Leanne Marshall with high self-regard). She beat out fan- (and, it appeared until last Thursday, judge-) favorite Mondo Guerra and unfortunate footnote of the proceedings Andy South for the title.

I have no love for Gretchen's collection, but I do feel awful for her simply because I know how much shit she's going to have to deal with because she won over Mondo. The fashion world is not going to be happy to receive this winner.

Let me get one thing out of the way: I wasn’t in love with Mondo's collection either. I don't think it was anything we hadn't seen from him before. But at least it was creative and innovative. Gretchen's was repetitive and sad. However, for full disclosure, I can’t say Mondo didn’t make a few massive mistakes in styling, presentation, etc. For example, if I were Mondo, I would have switched his model, Tina Marie (who really was the best model remaining at the end of the season and I’m almost more disappointed for Mondo because Tina Marie lost as a direct result) out of his “signature” polka-dot dress. He presented it to the judges in the previous challenge and was met with fairly mixed reactions from judges Michael Kors and Nina Garcia, with only host Heidi Klum to defend him. (Oh, the foreshadowing.) The decision to keep the polka-dot dress on his muse model for presentation on the judging platform was only going to piss off Michael and Nina, which is exactly what it did.

Speaking of our judges... That judging session was ridiculous. Amazing, but ridiculous. I have never seen Michael or Nina be so dismissive and nasty before, and unfortunately Jessica Simpson (who was a good judge, I'll defend her forever) got caught in the crossfire a bit. "HELLO! Read a magazine!" Michael spat as an angry response to Jessica’s criticism of Gretchen’s collection. It was the first time fans of the show have faced a situation where they had to side with Heidi over the usual arbiters of good taste Michael and Nina.

But good for Heidi. That feels strange to say, but it’s true. Good. For. Heidi. She made a great case for Mondo to be declared the winner and was really going up against Michael and Nina alone (because while Jessica threw interjections here and there, she wasn't fighting mano-a-mano like Heidi), and she was making a far better argument than Michael and Nina were combined. "Trendiness" shouldn't be a criterion, but they decided to make it one. I just fundamentally don’t understand how they could say Mondo’s collection was more creative and interesting but give it to Gretchen because she’s more “on-trend”. I don’t understand it at all.

I think I get what Michael's deal was, though. It was that weird slap at Galliano that really made it clear to me: Gretchen is Michael Kors whereas Mondo is the couturiers of Europe like Galliano, Balenciaga, even a brand more American like Rodarte. He sees them as his "enemies" in the fashion world, rivals to be defeated. This was a way for him to make the point that what he does is best. “What I design I make! And women wear!” Again, Michael was practically spitting while he said this. I’ve never seen a reality show judge get so worked up before. This wasn’t about the competition in front of him. This was about him.

Nina was fighting for the Marie Claire woman, which has many different ramifications to it. Not only was she looking for someone to feature in her magazine, she wanted to keep the "ELLE" designer away. Mondo fits in ELLE, but Nina's history with that magazine is so bitter I'm sure she avoids taking any clients who fit that mold for spreads in Marie Claire.

It’s even more tragic that the judges dismissed Andy’s collection out of hand. Sure, it wasn’t a showstopper, but it was a solid collection deserving more than a quick elimination. It was certainly better than Gretchen’s collection, which, the more I look at it, the more I dislike it.

I will stand by this season, despite this incredibly out-of-character decision, as one of the best in PR history, probably third behind seasons one and three. (My full breakdown would be 1/3/8/5/2/4/7/6, in case you're wondering.) It was riveting television even if the fashion wasn't always tops. But you gotta admit, your jaw is still on the floor the morning after. It wasn’t the right result, but as far as good television is concerned, it was the best season in a long, long time. Here’s to hoping the talent can match the drama next season.

Oh, and this should be obvious at this point, but...

Shoulda Won: Mondo Guerra

Shoulda Been Out: Andy South, Gretchen Jones

1 comment:

froggy said...

I found it interesting that Mondo's collection was sold out while only one of Gretchen's outfits sold - last I looked.