Thursday, October 19, 2006

There's a reason it's not called "Project BFF."

I'm not a Jeffrey fan. I've been quite clear about this over the entire third season of Project Runway. He's mean, arrogant and his boorish "the world owes me something" attitude reminds me of a certain despicable ex-roommate of mine. Most importantly, however, I hated his designs. While he managed to pull out a few inspired ones (most notably his newspaper dress from the trash challenge and his couture dress) I found that most of his clothing looked like it had been made by and for cracktards.

So last night, after a season of nearly being eliminated every other challenge, making a fellow designers' mom cry, and almost being disqualified the day before the Bryant Park show, Jeffrey won the third season of Project Runway.

Since the moment it was announced, the "blogspots" were alight with people denouncing the decision and promising never to watch PR again. They were furious that Jeffrey's "ugly" clothes beat out Uli's effervescent frocks. I agree that Uli's clothes were more aesthetically pleasing, Laura's were phenomenally made, and Michael's a total fox, but, as much as it pains me to say it, I think the judges got it absolutely right this time.

I am a huge Michael supporter and think that he has an amazing amount of potential. I wanted him to win pretty much from the beginning. The muslin dress he made for the tryouts was gorgeous, and I loved his adaptability and willingness to listen to others opinions. However, what Tim said in his latest podcast is absolutely correct: he needs guidance. He flourished when he had Tim asking the right questions, but is not quite mature enough to be off on his own. He will do great things, but right now he really needs to work for a designer--because when he's left to his own devices, he ends up looking like a stylist for a Biggie music video circa 1996.

Uli and Jeffrey's lines were by far the strongest and either of them could have legitimately won. Laura's line, while impeccably constructed, lacked the "wow" factor. It's the same thing that kept Kara Saun from winning Season one. You need more than a superhuman work ethic to win this dog and pony show.

Uli was the dark horse of season 3. She has a preternatural gift for prints, which the judges likened to that of Diane Von Furstenberg on more than one occasion. She does her Uli thing and she does it well--which is why the judges often marginalized her talents. One of the biggest "what were they thinking" moments of the season came during the Everyday Woman challenge when they picked Vincent's horrendous dress over The airy outfit Uli designed for Kayne's mom (God, I hated everything Vincent did--and that dress is even uglier in person). Uli's Fashion Week designs were gorgeous and chic and looked ready to wear; and for the first time, she brought the drama. When the model at right walked down the runway in a "typical Uli dress" and then unbuckled it to reveal the bikini, the audience erupted in applause and I actually gasped. It was stunning. It was also the first time the entire season I thought she had a legitimate chance of winning.

Jeffrey, on the other hand, managed to have an entire line filled with clothes I would never want to wear, but could completely understand. Just living in New York and seeing what's going on in fashion right now, I can tell that he is on the cutting edge. One article I read (I think it was Entertainment Weekly) said that the skinny pant/striped blazer combination looked like something Misha Barton would wear. I absolutely agree. It's not my style, but I understand and respect the design aesthetic. He has a point of view, and whether or not the general public thinks it's pretty, it's undeniably current. Leggings aren't pretty either, but people are insisting on wearing them. All the effin' time.

As for the question of whether or not Jeffrey cheated: in interviews, on his blog and on his podcast, Tim Gunn constantly and consistently extols the integrity of the producers. Keith made great TV, but he broke the rules and got kicked off anyway. If the producers say that Jeffrey didn't break the rules and has to return the wigs in order to stay under budget, then that's good enough for me. Budget/rule snafus aren't unprecedented (again see Kara Saun). The Runway producers fixed the problem in the manner they saw fit and returned the contestants to an even playing field. Tim Gunn trusts the producers and I trust Tim Gunn.

The judges' decision to choose Jeffrey over the other three finalists boils down to this: Project Runway is about being on the cutting edge of fashion, it is not about what can be shoved onto the rack at BCBG's right now. Jeffrey's collection was the most innovative, plain and simple, which is why he won. If it had been about craftsmanship it would have been Laura. If it had been about being the prettiest, it would have been Uli. If it had been about being the most huggable, then Michael would be driving a Saturn Sky roadster into our hearts right now. But it's about fashion. Just because you wouldn't want to have him over for dinner doesn't mean Jeffrey didn't deserve to win.

With that said, I think the lack of a receipt was a blessing in disguise. Because LEATHER BUBBLE SHORTS? Are you KIDDING me? Jubilee Jumbles indeed.

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