Instead of offering up a final episode followed by a gossipy reunion show, Project Runway decided to load it all in to a slow moving two-hour finale that would have been better served with a tight edit.

The highlight of the evening was the series of Fairy JobMother promos that featured Haley Taylor trying to teach the eliminated designers how to find work. Though written with tongue-firmly-in-cheek, there were enough grains of truth in these short skits to make them even more telling than the civil reunion that started the show.

Back by Not So Popular Demand

Given all the drama we had this season, the reunion segment should have been a thrill a minute. It wasn’t. We did get a little sniping when a few designers vaguely commented that they often get asked about. . . well. . you know. . is Gretchen really a bitch? Is Ivy really mean? (Insert Ivy eye roll.) Can Tim Gunn really make it work? (Okay, I added that last one myself, but I’ve always wondered.)

Gretchen gets all weepy saying that this is how it is in the world when you’re a confident woman who speaks her mind. No, sorry. Nina Garcia is a confident woman who speaks her mind and we like her. When Heidi goes to Ivy and April for backup, they agree. Gretchen is what everyone says she is. They had to room with her so they know.

The Michael C conflict gets a few seconds of note but it’s all about him and Mondo when it should have been about Ivy accusing him of sabotage. Except for the frequent eye rolling, Ivy didn’t have much input at all in the segment and you gotta wonder if that was her choice or the producers.

After a boring walk down memory lane, the designers were sent to the workroom to prepare for their model fittings. Tim stopped by for his last checkin and lowered the boom on Andy in regard to this avant-garde bathing suit. It looks like she has hair growing out of her bikini bottom, says Tim. It does,but Andy doesn’t see it.

Mondo kept making changes including whether or not to close with the infamous polka dot gown he showed last week. To make matters worse, three of his models were no shows and another was a no show for the actual runway show! That’s more than bad luck. That’s somebody trying to tell you something.

Doing a Little Turn on the Catwalk

proje6307.jpgJust prior to the runway show, it was chaos backstage but for Andy and Gretchen, it was the good kind of chaos. Poor Mondo went blank and Tim had to come and literally shake him back into the action.

Out in the audience, guest judge Jessica Simpson, who looked like she had just come from having a tooth pulled at the dentist, joined Michael, Nina and Heidi. Then it was on with the show!

Gretchen was up first. We’ll take a closer look at some of her pieces later on but suffice to say it was all loose and brown with patches of green alligator-looking leather. She calls her line “Running Through Thunder” and it’s supposed to represent her Southwestern roots.

Andy took the stage next with his collection that was inspired by his home in Laos. Though you can still see this is Andy, it completely lacks the edge he had in his earlier designs. It’s all silver and gray with more dark green touches. Oddly, he didn’t have a gown at the end. Didn’t he tell the judges he had gowns? Or at least a wow piece? Strange.

Mondo is last up with his Mexican Day of the Dead inspired line. Lots of prints mixed with solid patches of turquoise blue and pink. There’s no question this is Mondo’s line and it ends with that snaky polka dot dress. It’s a shame, since we’d already seen that. I would have liked a closer look at his original black gown.

And the Winner Is. . .

Back at panel, the judges dole out the usual mix of complaints and praise. They say they saw three great collections but then admit that they were lacking the wow factor. There wasn’t one red carpet dress in the bunch. It was all so ready-to-wear.

Andy was the first one cut. Though the judges thought he had incredible talent and vision, he didn’t bring it to the runway. Why he chose to go with something so far from his usual style is beyond me. He could have won this thing.

Then it was down to Gretchen’s Boho chic, and Mondo’s youthful, wild designs. And the winner is. . . . not who anyone expected.

Gretchen was declared the winner of Project Runway season 8 and cries of anguish could be heard all over the internet. 

Some of the best Twitter responses include, “can’t wait to see Gretchen’s line at Ross,” “If Gretchen’s finger is on the pulse, the body must be a corpse,” and  “Gretchen is bringing back Mrs. Roper style.”

I’m at a loss. To be a popular designer, you have to have personality. Look at Betsey Johnson, Alexander McQueen, Christian Seriano!  Mondo’s name belongs on that list. Hopefully, someone with the cash will back his line so he can have the career he deserves.  Let’s revisit this in a year and see which one is on top.

That’s it for another season of Project Runway. Come back later on this afternoon when we’ll take a closer look at the final runway show. In the meantime, let me know your thoughts. Are we being too hard on Gretchen or did the wrong designer just win Project Runway?

Photo Credit: Barbara Nitke / Lifetime Television.

Cynthia Boris

Writer, BuddyTV