OK, so now that the reunion special is out of the way its time for the main event. Part one of the season finale of Project Runway. Well, part one of the season finale that is. It’s been a great third season for what I consider to be the best reality show out there. While they have had some problems with growing Trumpization (Trumpization: the phenomenon by which a popular reality show ends up giving over to complete corporate commercialization in order to cash in on its popularity, thus ruining the show completely. See also: American Idol) the core of the show remains strong. 15 contestants design clothing and are judged by prominent fashion designers and critics. Throw in Heidi Klum and you got yourself a hit.
After last weeks episode we had our final 4 picked. Uli, Michael, Jeffrey and Laura. While the bulk of the show was filmed in the early summer, the season finale starts off a months later with Tim doing a cross country Tim take in preparation of New York’s Fashion week which took place on September 15th. And this season finale more than makes up for last weeks dullness (Why do the last challenges always turn into huge duds?) with some incredible drama and one big controversy. Even a cliffhanger ending. Read about it all after the jump.
The show starts with Heidi greeting our final 4 on the runway. She congratulates them and then tells them what they have for their final challenge. They are to create a 12 piece collection to be shown at New York’s Fashion Week. They have 2 months and 8 thousand dollars and will be using the models from the last challenge (Amanda ain’t done yet!). Then she brings out a special guest. It’s Tim Gunn! On the runway! And what’s that Heidi is doing? OMG! Is that an Auf! Oh no, it’s just a regular kiss. Phew. Got worried for a minute there. I thought this was gonna turn into the ending of Running Man where Heidi is Schwarzenegger and Tim is Richard Dawson and Heidi thrusts Tim into the Running Man game himself and, well, never mind. Tim tells them that they are going to be showing in front of the most influential people in fashion, as well as people from TVgasm, so he has to wow them. Then Heidi says its time for them to pack and gives them a wave goodbye. As Heidi and Tim walk off arm in arm from the runway Heidi says aloud “What are we going to do for two months? We can go on a holiday!” Oh my, wouldn’t that be something. Tim and Heidi getting away from it all.
As they are packing we hear their final thoughts before they go off to start their line. Laura doesn’t think its too daunting to create a whole line of clothes since she’s already made a whole line of kids. When they all get outside to say goodbye to each other Laura leaves first since she can just walk home to her apartment from Atlas. Then Uli and Michael both leave leaving Jeffrey as the last one standing.
Jeffrey’s waving goodbye to a building
We go from there to a month later as Tim starts his cross conutry Tims Take. He is aided in this quest by the Saturn Roadster, and since the car is a big sponsor of the show we get about a dozen loving close ups of the car as he drives it all over the place. I’m surprised they didn’t just have a shot of him licking the steering wheel. He starts in Atlanta, where Michael Knight is working on his collection. He’s also working on his teeth as Michael is sporting some braces. He shows Tim what he has been working on. He calls his collection “Street Safari”. Michael explains that as he was designing the pieces start to take on what he calls a “slight 70′s feel to it”. That’s like saying Elvis kind of liked rhinestones. Its all straight up Pam Grier meets Blacula. After Tim sees a few of his pieces he has his first “conflict” as he tells him. Then we get the trademark Tim voiceover where he is warning that he doesn’t think his collection has a cohesiveness to it. This gets Michael somewhat worried as he only has 3 pieces done and only a month left to work.
Now that the feedback is over, Michael says that he is going to cook some dinner for him so he can meet his family. Later that night Tim meets the whole Knight crew and Michael tells us about his dad while we get some awesome seventies photo’s of the Knight family. Michael was an army brat and grew up everywhere. After a brief prayer circle they all sit down to a nice home cooked meal. Oh what I wouldn’t give to cook a nice dinner for Tim Gunn. Crack a bottle of wine and talk trash about the contestants.
My dad was never this cool
Now its Time for Laura, who lives in midtown Manhattan. I wish they showed ten minutes of Tim driving his Saturn Sky Roadster around trying to get parking and ending giving up and paying 20 buck san hour in some parking garage 10 blocks away. That would have been a true New York moment, but they just cut right to Tim walking don the street. Tim goes up to the intercom system and tells Laura he’s there. “Oh this is so exciting, come on up!” she exclaims. I know, isn’t it exciting? Who could’ve predicted that Tim would have stopped by to see you! Other than the Bravo camera crew that’s sitting right behind you, you had no indication he was coming! The first thing we notice about Laura’s apartment is that it is the biggest apartment I have seen in my life. The woman lives in a converted warehouse. In midtown Manhattan. With it’s own elevator stop. Girl has got some serious green. Another thing about the apartment, it’s got some freaky ass art. Laura is also now very pregnant with what she tells us is her 5th boy in a row. The Bennett boys.
Some kids just make their mom a clay cup. Not Laura’s kids.
Laura gives Tim a quick tour around her cavernous apartment and then shows him some family photo’s. Laura talks about growing up in New Orleans and how she learned to sew from her mom.
After a brief walk down memory lane, Laura shows Tim what she has done so far for her collection. Laura is much farther along than Michael is. She has a good bit done on almost all of her dresses. None of them are completely finished but she wanted to get enough done to discuss with Tim. It’s all very Laura, and even Laura says that by saying she focused on doing some of her “signature moves”. Tim loves it but thinks she may have trouble keeping everything from looking too dowdy, the classic Laura blunder. And her final piece has a fungus green look that Tim is very concerned about. “It’s a look” Laura says. Tim just looks at her says “You just have to ask yourself, is this even pretty? Because it isn’t to me.” Tim never holds back, it’s why we love him.
As they are talking the nanny (naturally) shows up with the kids in tow. One of them extends a gesture of friendship by handing him some turtle poop, but Tim isn’t too keen on it. Not sure why, I’ve seen the man hug Santino on numerous occasions, handling some animal feces can’t be that big of a step down (oooh, I kid Santino cuz I love!). From there we get a Disneyesque search for the turtle throughout Laura’s 3 acre loft. Think 3 Men and a Baby only more like 4 Babies and a Gunn. Speaking of Disney characters, soon Laura’s husband shows up and with his combed back white hair, buck teeth and rimmed glasses I’ll be darned if he doesn’t remind me of a Disney version of Albert Einstein.
Tim then goes off to sunny Miami Florida to see Uli. Uli lives in an apartment overlooking the water and the Miami skyline. It’s quite nice and you can see where Uli gets her inspiration. She tells Tim that her inspiration for this collection is, of course, tropical safari. What else would it be? After Tim sees her first dress Tim tells her that being pretty is not enough to win. He’s worried that they will call Uli a one note. Uli does have some cool other outfits going on and some of them are decidedly non Uli looking as well. And of course I am on record as being an unabashed Uli fan and predict her as the winner.
After that Tim and Uli go for a walk along the beach for a nice talk. As they sit on a park bench on the beach Tim asks her about her growing up in East Germany. One of the reasons she moved to Miami was from growing up and watching Miami Vice on TV. It’s nice that she can follow her dream like that. Alas I have yet to figure out a way to live my childhood dream and live on the death star, but I haven’t given up yet.
Feel that German family warmth
Uli is happy because she is living the American dream by being on Project Runway. It wouldn’t have happened in Germany. Their Project Runway is pretty bland and boring. Its all lederhosen and dirndl’s.
From Miami we go to Los Angeles to see Jeffrey and his family. His wife is a chubby tattooed rocker with a Mohawk and his kid is just a regular looking kid with a lifetime of therapy ahead of him. Jeffrey then gives us a little background about his life. Only his story music is much darker than Laura’s or even Uli’s. Like afterschool special dark. Let’s see, Jeff’s dad left him when he was young and all he remembers about him was that he was always full of rage. Not the kind of rage that would make you lash out at a sweet middle aged mom for no reason and make her cry, but rage nonetheless. Then the drugs. He was a junkie for 4 years and then tried to hang himself, which explains the 18 inch long neck. But don’t worry, he survivied to go on and be an obnoxious douche wo thinks hes better than everyone else. So there’s a happy ending.
After talking a while they go down to his workspace in downtown L.A. Since Jeffrey is already a fairly well off rock and roll fashion designer, he already has a pretty big production facility, even though he refers to it as “small”. Not sure how fair that is to the other contestants who are sewing in their bedrooms and living rooms, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself.
Jeffrey’s inspiration was Japanese ghost and demons stories. The kinds of things you hallucinate to while strung out on heroin I guess. Tim says he is “completely in awe” with what he is doing with the zippers on his dresses. I have to say this is the first time me and Tim disagree on something. Wow, it’s our first fight! I think the zippers look like a big mess, since they aren’t working zippers but more of a detail. It just looks like a dress with a bunch of open zipper pockets on them. Then Jeff shows him a halter top he is working on. “Unexpected” Tim says clearly pleased. Hmm, me and Tim are just not on the same page here.
Then we move forward to just 5 days before the show in New York. Michael is the first to arrive and he is very proud of his collection. He says it is “nasty”, but I believe he is using the street vernacular form of the word in which he actually thinks it is quite good. I speak fluent street. “Don’t get up in my grill or I will go ock on your fotch”, and so forth. Laura is next and she tells us how she has made what she thinks people want to see from her (not sure how good that sounds) and that she really wants to win, if just to see Jeff not win. Hey, she’s honest.
When Laura comes into the big apartment set up for them she has to go wake Michael up just to say hi. Michael is wiped out from the Atlanta to New York Jet lag. Later that night Uli shows up and everyone hugs and smiles. When Jeffrey walks in the door everyone smiles too, but then Uli says ‘”How is your life Jeffrey? Is people throwing eggs at you?!” A ha! Jeffrey just got made fun of by a German! While actually everyone doesn’t smile and hug him. Laura don’t play that so she doesn’t exactly leap up to hug him.
The next morning is their first full work day. They have a whole new workspace provided by Macy’s and they all start unpacking their collections. Laura makes a seemingfly benign comment, at this point in the episode anyway, about the number of multi piece outfits Jeffrey has been able to complete.
After they all get settled in Tim shows up and asks everyone to gather round. He needs to talk to his little lambs. He gives them a recap of what’s to come, a quick plug for Macys, and then he gets right into his “Tim’s take”. The last of the season.
He starts with Jeffrey. Jeffrey says he is in good shape and has even brought stuff he is not sure that he is going to even show. Tim loves it, but we get a few curious looks from the other designers, especially Laura as he takes him through what he has. When Tim asks him what he has left to do Jeff says “nothing”. Hmmmm.
Next he goes to see Uli. The first outfit he shows her gets that sour milk looking face from Tim. Tim says he wants to see what they look like ion the models. Uh oh. That’s the same thing he said during his wince inducing critique of designer/woodcrafter Daniel Vosovich in last seasons finale. He’s worried about the proportions on her dresses and then says “In some ways I miss your prints!”
With Laura he tells her how thrilled he is that she got rid of her “chartreuse popsicle”. I suppose he could’ve just said “green” instead of “chartreuse”, but this is Tim Gunn after all. Don’t say circular when you can say circuitous. He loves the details in her pieces and thinks she has a complete collection. When he goes over to talk to Michael he is eager to see what he has because there wasn’t a lot finished when he went to see him in Atlanta.
From the very beginning Tim is not happy. In fact the first words out of his mouth are “Oy!” and the man isn’t even Jewish. He says that everything looks too cartoony for him. Then he looks at one piece and says “And we’ve got this bling happening”. I see I am not the only one schooled in the language o the street. From this point he tells Michael that he thinks he can do two things, go completely over the top with it, or start taking away. Before he leaves he asks everyone to hand in their receipts. They were given 8 grand fore their collection and it would be against the rules to go over. There is a moment watching Jeffrey try and collect his receipts that seems pretty benign but makes you wonder why they would have left it in the show. Foreshadowing perhaps?
Michael single handedly bringing the whole “conductor hat” look back
After Tim is gone we hear Michael say that he will be going way over the top with his collection rather than pull back because he doesn’t want a boring show. Uli is worried about the model fitting as it could make or break the outfits. Did someone say model fittings? .Oooh, time for us to watch models show us their walks! Michael says that this is the part of the process he looks forward to the most and I agree. Laura sees one with a hippy walk and grabs her immediately, and at one point they even fight over who gets one. Even the lovely Amanda shows up looking lovelier than ever They don’t even need to see her walk cuz they know she’s the shit. Then it’s time for the makeup consult. Jeffrey has decided to have all the models wear the same Farrah Fawcett wig. He wants them all to be a “blank slate” on the runway. Michael wants his models to have big roller hair. Man he wasn’t kidding about that over the top thing.
The next morning they go through the first model fittings and Laura starts to notice that Jeffrey needs virtually no alterations on his pieces and has all his hems are done and his hooks sewn. Laura finds this extremely odd given the short amount of time that they were given.
Later that night after the makeup sessions with the models, Laura tells us more. “I’ve been thinking about this for the last two days. I just don’t believe that Jeffrey sewed that collection himself.” Or to put it more Lauralike, she says “You just don’t pull craftsmanship like that out of your ass”. Later that night in the workroom when Jeffrey is out (since he has literally nothing left to do) the other three start to talk amongst themselves. Michael agrees with Laura that the whole thing is somewhat fishy Uli gets up to look at Jeffrey’s pieces herself. She isn’t quite as sure as she says that the sewing isn’t that perfect. Now that the other two designers are starting to question it as well, Uli says that when Jeff comes back they need to say something to him. Michael agrees because he isn’t comfortable talking about this behind his back. Laura says that that is exactly what she plans on doing when he comes back.
While they are talking about this Tim shows up to give everyone’s pieces another look. As he is talking to Uli Jeffrey walks in, and I tell you, you can feel the tension and anticipation through the TV set. This is some goddamn good television. When Tim goes over to Laura they have a small chit chat about her progress and where she is with her pieces. Then she says she wants to talk to him about something. Tim asks if they want to go out on the terrace to talk privately. Laura agrees. Ger ready for the shoe to drop.
While out on the terrace Laura tells Tim her concerns about Jeffrey. The sewing is too perfect. Everything is finished on the inside, leather jeans with perfect top stitching, etc. With the limited time they were given and the fact that Jeffrey had his own showroom collection that he worked on at the same time it raises a question. She believes it’s his design but she just doesn’t believe that he did all the sewing himself, which is against the Project Runway rules. She tells Tim that she just wants to go on record as saying it. Tim takes this very seriously and while he warns Laura that things like this are hard to prove, he will take it to the producers.
After Tim leaves Uli says aloud, with Jeffrey in the room, that Laura has an “announcement” to make. Laura then tells Jeff point blank that she went to Tim and told him that based on what she saw she thinks he had outside help on his collection. Now I will be the first to admit that I am not an objective viewer. I’ve been on record as to Jeffery’s lame personality and even lamer designs, so my opinions is definitely shaded by my feelings towards the douche, as well as my positive feelings towards Laura, but the look he gives Laura after she says that, the blinking, the stammering, made him look guilty as hell. It wasn’t the angry outrage of being accused of something you didn’t do look. It was the stunned confusion of someone being caught red handed. Of course, I have no idea if he did it or didn’t do it. I have no idea what top stitching is for that matter. But still, something doesn’t smell right to me. Watching a lot of reality TV, I like to think I have a good BS detector and it went into overdrive when I saw Jeffrey reaction.
The next morning Laura pretty much reiterates what I said, thinking his reaction was somewhat suspect. Also, Laura’s impression of Jeffrey is pretty funny. Not because its accurate, but because it is the same generic guy impression I’ve heard every girl do ever. Do we all sound that much alike?
That morning at the workroom Tim comes in and asks to speak with Jeffrey. He assures him that in this situation he is innocent until proven guilty; but that it is something they have to investigate. He asks hi point blank if he had any outside help and he says no. Then Tim goes over the pieces himself asking detailed questions about each of them. He tells Jeffrey that they will be going over his receipts carefully and they will let him know what their decision is soon. With that the episode comes to an end but the previews for next week are jaw dropping. Tim has everyone gather round and says “… we have taken these concerns very seriously and unfortunately..” then they cut to Jeffrey breaking down in tears. Of course there’s a very good chance that the rst of Tim’s sentence was something like “Unfortunately we were not able to determine if there was any cheating going on” and Jeffrey’s tears were tears of joy. You just can’t say. Either way, net week looks to be a humdinger of a final episode. I can’t wait to see it, especially in the hopes that you might be able to see the top of my head in a stray shot at fashion week.