For our DVR fans out there, because I have all the kindness and class of a younger, more female Tim Gunn, I won't ruin the ending of last night's Project Runway
finale for you right here. You deserve the full effect of yelling at your television on your own time. But you best not keep reading, because those of us who watched the season 9 finale need to share our thoughts on the winner, and we need to share them NOW!Join me after the jump, for my scattered thoughts on the finale (and then share your own!), won't you?
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So Anya won, and while I can't say I'm disappointed that she did, I can
say that I am disappointed that her final collection was arguably her weakest moment all season -- which is why I can't let myself feel full-on excited about her win.
I haven't been reporting on Project Runway
season 9 because of commitments to other shows (oh Jersey Shore
, why can't I quit you?) but I've kept up on the show all season long, and Anya was one of my early favorites. I liked her unique, underdog backstory, though by the end, I wanted to scream each time I heard the phrase "sewing for four months?!"
Throughout the season, she produced beautiful, flowing garments that stayed true to her Trinidadian heritage, which still progressing her craft. Some of her work, especially when she pushed herself, like with her more modern dresses in the fabric-design and bird challenges, was truly inspired, and hit that sweet spot between wearable and couture just right.
As far as "character" goes, I also liked Anya because she was that relatable hybrid of socially composed, but completely scatterbrained. She believed in herself, but she didn't lord that over others, and she still had many moments of doubt. None of the workroom drama surrounding Anya was ever about her personality, but more about how she seemed to get by on luck, last-minute strokes of genius and an apparent allergy to anything with sleeves. While the other designers slaved over slim-fit pants and meticulously tailored jackets, Anya sailed through almost exclusively with sleeveless dresses and billowy pants, all of which hung and flowed beautifully, but which also relied heavily on her sharp eye for picking out patterns at the fabric store. Hers are not garments you'd ever criticize as "overworked" -- but does that mean they were, at times, under
worked? As Heidi noted in last night's finale, 8 of 10 looks in Anya's final collection had the exact same neckline. And even when she lost all of her Mood money, Anya still won that week's 70s-inspired challenge, thanks again to her garments' strong patterns, not their strong construction. Can you really blame perfectionist tailors like Viktor and Josh for feeling both dismissive and deeply envious? We all love "beginner's luck" (or what we perceive as such) when it happens to us
, but when it happens to someone we're competing with, in a field where we've studied and slaved for years, it can be pretty infuriating.
That's not to discount any of the work that Anya did -- and anyone who watched this season knows that she worked
. Very hard. Maybe the fact that she learned to work around her weakness (sewing) and with her strengths (vision, artistry, pattern and color) means Anya earned her win even MORE. Despite all her setbacks, her final collection ended up beautiful, if slightly repetitive. And perhaps because of that repetition, her line was also undoubtedly the most marketable, as Michael Kors noted -- he could already envision her future lines of beachy bags, shoes and jewelry.
But Anya's "identity crisis" leading up to the finale tainted her final victory a bit, at least in my eyes. She came back for the finale with a collection even she knew was disappointing, but which she did not know how to fix. I got the sense that the judges simply couldn't bear to let their favorite go right before Fashion Week, so they let her through on faith -- and a little on that short, brown belted dress that Heidi loved so much. In the end, their faith was rewarded -- and it was actually verging on poetic that Anya's final collection consisted of several looks she created at the last possible second, using fabrics she bought on gut instinct and then sewed straight on to her models. (Runner-up Josh, meanwhile, used his extra time to sew a pair of horrendous neon green bike shorts that ought to be burned, if not for the noxious fumes I'm sure the fabric would let off.) She stayed true to Anya until the end, and that meant using her creativity and adrenaline to pull off last-minute miracles. I'll give her one thing: After a sort of snore-worthy season of Project Runway,
she made the finale so much more exciting.
In the end, I do think Anya deserved her victory; even more so because she was such a thankful and gracious winner. I just can't help but wonder: What would her final collection have looked like if she hadn't had that identity crisis? If she hadn't initially choked, would she have mopped the floor
with Viktor, Josh and Kimberly on that final runway, instead of winning on what seemed like "well, her collection had the least
problems" logic? (Where Viktor, Josh and Kimberly choked -- well, those are three other articles altogether. But maybe you have some thoughts on that that you'd like to share in the comments?)
Maybe that's one unequivocal positive about Anya's win: She left me wondering what she could accomplish with unlimited resources and time, and sincerely wanting to find out. And that's a good thing, when you've got ... what's the line again? ... $100,000 from
L'Oreal Paris to start your own line, and a $50,000 dollar technology suite
from HP and Intel to enable your creativity and run your business. Let's hope she puts them to good use.What did YOU think of the Project Runway season 9 finale? Are you happy about this season's winner?
(Images courtesy of Lifetime)