Project Runway: The Winner Isn’t A Surprise, But After Two Hours You’ll Be Convinced It Is

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michelle lesniak franklin tim gunn project runwayThe Project Runway finale was last night and it was somehow the length of a feature film. And this was PART TWO. Last week we saw the last four contestants get narrowed down to the final three after showing the judges the three pieces that best summarized their final collections. If I remember correctly, that part combined with the runway show, judging, and reveal of the winner used to all take place within one, one hour episode. So how did they manage to make this thing so long? Stretching everything out for as long as possible until it turned viewers into a ragey mess.

Last night's episode begins with the three remaining designers, Michelle Lesniak Franklin, Stanley Hudson (no, not that Stanley Hudson), and Patricia Michaels, finishing up their collections. They have a final trip to mood for last minute materials, their hair and make-up consultations, and their model fittings. Tim Gunn stops by to give everyone their final critiques then assembles them for a tearful “last gather 'round.” I love Tim! Especially when he cries, which I realize sounds weird, but it really shows how genuine he is. This all takes place over the three days before the runway show. On the day before, Michelle gets everything completed and packed up with so much time to spare that she's even able to grab coffee for the other two who are frantically sewing until the very end. The designers head back to their hotel that night with Michelle and Patricia finished while Stanley has four garments incomplete with the runway show the next morning. This whole “finishing up” part takes up an hour of the finale which is crazy. This seriously could have lasted ten minutes and we would've gotten the idea.

The morning of the runway show, the designers head over to Lincoln Center to start preparing. Michelle has time to talk about things like nail decals, while Stanley is literally hand sewing things backstage. Tim says he's never seen anything like it before on Project Runway (“never seen anything like it” is a very popular phrase on reality competitions, mind you) and that he's “totally flabbergasted” (being flabbergasted, on the other hand, should not be taken lightly).

The runway show starts with Michelle and her collection is amazing! After the three piece preview in last week's episode, it was clear that Michelle was the front-runner and she seemed to be retaining that status throughout this episode, so I was confident she was going to win already. Her collection is really well-made and cohesive– the judges LOVE cohesiveness. It just looks really freakin' cool. Patricia's next and her looks are all over the place. There's crazy horsehair headpieces, tie-dyed dressed, flared leather pants. It is the opposite of Michelle's in terms of cohesiveness so I'm worried about the massive amount of crap the judges are sure to give her. Stanley is last (because they want to give him enough time to finish?) and his collection is gorgeous, but not that creative. Also he had previously mentioned that he got a bunch of his bead-work done by old Russian ladies– which was a lot of what made the collection so pretty– so I was interested to see what the judges were going to say about that.

The best part of the judging is that Michael Kors, who was replaced with Zac Posen this season, returned and had some great one-liners that pretty much sum up the judges critiques. To Michelle he says, “A FELT GOWN?!!?!??!” meaning that, while her collection was awesome, she didn't need to finish with a gown just because finishing with a gown is a popular thing to do. To Patricia he says the collection started out like, “Oh my god. The art teacher's on an acid trip” because while the judges liked a lot of her techniques, some of the outfits were not so hot. And to Stanley he says, and this is my favorite, that his finale dress looked like “Betty White on Dancing With The Stars” which means the judges found his looks nice but dated and lacking in creativity.

At deliberation the judges decide to favor Patricia's brilliant craftsmanship over Stanley's boring outsourcing, but then they have to consider whether they value Patricia's artsy work over Michelle's creative designs. During this I'm like, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!” Yeah, Patricia was able to weld her own silver and dye her own fabric, but the designs of the actual clothing just weren't that great and that's the whole point of this show. I'm worried they're going to throw a curve ball and cause me to throw a curve remote through my TV. Maybe that's why they made it so long. Even if you didn't follow the season, if they can convince you for TWO WHOLE HOURS that one person is going to win and then at the last second try to convince you it's going to be someone else AND that someone else makes generally bad clothes, you're gonna get passionate.

Michelle ends up winning. Thank god. See, I went from not caring about this to saying “thank god” when Michelle won. Two hours will do that to ya. Michelle had a hard time in this competition. This season started out with teams (which is silly because the judges love saying things like “we can/can't see your point of view”) and she continued to be on the losing one. Eventually she almost went home but the judges decided to give her a “second chance.” After the teams broke up, she did great from what I can tell. Based on her final collection, Michelle clearly deserved the win so good luck to her in being able to go in the way of Christian Siriano instead of in the way of every other person that's ever won Project Runway.

(Photo: Lifetime)