Don't you just love a happy ending? Me too. Too bad we'll apparently have to watch The Fairy Jobmother to get one.
Okay, okay, it's not that I begrudge Gretchen her win. She ran through thunder and she captured lightening in a thimble and she won fair and square—if you consider receiving half the vote fair and square—it's just that I wanted Mondo to win so bad.
We all did.
Mondo was steamrolling to the finale. His win seemed like a foregone conclusion. He was unstoppable.
Except . . .
I had a nagging feeling that Mondo had a Seth Aaron problem. Not that I stated it anywhere public, like, uh, this blog. But I told my sister!
Dear readers of Hey, I’m maxthegirl,
Yeah, she totally said that.
p.s. Can I have my five bucks now?
You see, the problem is that Seth Aaron (last year's winner, for the newbies) and Mondo both work in bold prints with lots of plaid and both favor bright colors. Mondo's work is more feminine and charming. (Seth Aaron had that whole decidedly uncharming Third Reich thing going for him.) But they both have a larger-than-life, costumey quality to their designs.
And there was another factor against Mondo:
While Gretchen wielded the mighty power of Michael Kors and Nina Garcia, Fashion Director of Marie Claire magazine,
Mondo wielded the mighty power of Heidi Klum and. . .Jessica Simpson?
Jessica Simpson? For reals? Was Snookie not available?
Seriously, can you imagine if your fate as a designer—your very future—was in the hands of Jessica Simpson? I know that the girl has a clothing line (full disclosure: I've picked up a pair of Jessica Simpson shoes in the store, thought they were fetching, saw the label, and walked away in shame). But it's not like she's known for her fashion flair. She’s mostly known thinking that Buffalo wings are made from actual buffalos and for wearing one very unfortunate pair of high rise mom jeans:
So while Heidi is trying to make a case for Mondo as the winner, Jessica Simpson is saying things like, “I love polka dots!”
Bastard never had a chance.
Anyway, since we have two whopping hours for this finale, Lifetime decides to start things off with an impromptu reunion show.
There they all are. . .including Mrs. Redundant herself, poor, robbed, mute McKell.
On these reunion shows, the people voted off in the first few weeks tend to fall into two distinct categories: There are those who pretend to have all sorts of anecdotes and insight based on their 2 whole days on set. They laugh a little too loudly, say things like “That is sooo like you, Mondo!” and answer questions that were never asked of them.
And then there are those—like McKell—who sit there looking miserable, staring at their feet, clearly wanting the whole misbegotten ordeal to be over as soon as possible.
So the reunion inevitably turns into the “We Hate Gretchen” show, with everyone talking about what a colossal bitch she is.
“I guess what I’m supposed to say is, ‘I’m not a bitch, I just play one on TV,’” says Gretchen sadly. Her heart really isn’t in it. Heidi, meanwhile, laughs and laughs and laughs at that line and is SO going to use it for herself.
After Gretchen says that, Ivy rolls her eyes, as Ivy is wont to do. (Actually, just to save time, let’s assume Ivy is rolling her eyes unless clearly stated otherwise).
And Tim Gunn, forgetting that he’s not supposed to hate Gretchen anymore, says, “Is that even accurate?”
(Not sure what he was questioning here: That Gretchen is a bitch? Or that she only plays one on TV?)
So Ivy and April talk about how two-faced Gretchen is and Mondo and Michael C defend her (wonder if this was before Michael C knew she referred to him as an idiot?) and Mondo gives Gretchen a comforting little squeeze of the knee, which is just darling.
Then there’s a quickie montage of the season and Tim Gunn says things that only Tim Gunn can get away with like, “You all have personalities to beat the band!” and “You’re 17 rare hot house flowers!” and “22 Skidoo!”
Then they show Tim Gunn cracking up over Kristen’s wooly balls, which will never get old.
Finally, a montage of crying, that conspicuously didn’t include Michael C’s epic crying/hyperventilating/convulsing jag, because some things are just too awkward to re-live.
Now fun and game time is over and the Top 3 need to get back to the studio and go to work.
Mondo considers adding a black evening dress to his mix, but Tim Gunn kinda talks him out of it? (Bad Tim, bad!).
Mondo decides he’s going to be true to himself.
“I’m going to give them a show!” he promises.
He’s even going to end with the controversial polka dot evening dress. Bold move.
Meanwhile, Andy has designed a bathing suit that, according to Tim, looks like “hair growing out of a crotch.”
Andy backs away to get a new perspective. “I don’t see it,” he says. Really? Cause it totally does. But not just hair, like gross hair that gets clogged in the drain. Or maybe one of McKell’s dreadlocks. (You see that McKell? I made you relevant!)
Tim Gunn moseys to Gretchen’s station and likes what he sees.
“I’m learning how to pump up the drama,” she says. Say you what you will about Gretchen, but she is no dummy. Michael Kors and Nina Garcia wanted more volume and volume is what she is giving them.
Back at the hotel, the 3 designers sit around the hotel, reminiscing. For some reason, Gretchen chooses to wear a cropped, cream-colored Wookie jacket during this time of reflection.
In an unrelated note, every time Gretchen talks about how "humbling" this experience has been, I seriously want to hurl.
All the designers look quite fly, especially Mondo, who is sporting the slickest Mondo’s Mondolicious Look of the Day ™ of them all: A slim cut dark gray sharkskin suit, skinny tie with a micro polka dot, and a picture-perfect pompadour.
Today’s ab-fab look gets a Mondoriffic rating of: 5 stars.
Mondo is flustered backstage, because not all of his models have arrived, and the stage manager has the cue cards wrong. He seems overwhelmed.
Gretchen, as organized as Martha Stewart’s cupboard, is concerned.
Heidi comes onto stage wearing a tomato-red pants suit that she must’ve borrowed from Jessica Simpson.
I have no words. . .
Gretchen is first.
Her show is called “Running Through Thunder”—which is dumb, because thunder is a sound. (She may as well have called it, “Sleeping Through My Alarm Clock.”)
The collection is pretty cool. It’s Gretchen—only with a little more bling and some oversized felt hats. It’s definitely too desert cowgirly for my taste, but I get it.
Next Andy: He’s very sweet and dedicates his collection to his mom, but he’s not there yet. Lots of chartreuse and gray, a few nice pieces, but no wow factor.
Finally Mondo: I absolutely love his black and white plaid strapless balloon dress—it’s my favorite piece of the whole show.
Not feeling the block-print shift dress that everyone else seems to love . . .
All in all, the collection is very Mondo—playful and bold, but impeccable, filled with surprising little Mondoriffic details.
It seems to me, that based on the previous judging, Mondo is a lock for the win. . .
A few celebrities in the audience weigh in.
(By the way, I see you, pretty girl—Maya?—who dropped out of last year’s competition under mysterious circumstances. Will we ever get your real story?)
First there’s Jay Manuel from ANTM, which makes my head explode. This is sooo like that time Taylor Momsen from Gossip Girl showed up on an episode the (sorely missed) reality show NYC Prep. I get so confused when my favorite shows cross pollinate.
Anyway, Mr. Jay is on Team Gretchen: “Airy, flowy, magical,” he says.
Vibrant, fun, kitschy and colorful Betsy Johnson likes vibrant, fun, kitschy and colorful Mondo. Color me shocked.
Joanna Coles, editor of Marie Claire likes Andy’s bolero jacket.
“I wanted to reach out and grab it from the model!” she exclaims. And throw it at a fat person? (Google it.)
First the opening praise: They’re all great, everyone is blown away, everyone stayed true to their point-of-view, everyone’s a star. Bravo, bravo, blahdy, blahdy, blah. . .
Now onto the individual critiques.
All agreed that Andy had some nice individual pieces, but that he didn’t quite go for the gusto. His looks were a little bland.
Also, “You went overboard with the Orientalism,” says Nina Garcia, Fashion Director of Marie Claire magazine.
“I don’t see any rugs!” says Jessica Simpson. (Well, I’m assuming she said that— they probably edited it out.)
My question: Can you be accused of Orientalism when you are actually from Asia? Discuss among yourselves.
They liked it. She ran through thunder and they thought she captured rainbows. Or something like that.
“It was a complete ready-to-wear collection,” announces Nina.
“I like the vibe of the girl,” says Michael Kors. “I get her. It looks easy. And it’s not so easy to look easy.”
“That makes no sense!” giggles Jessica Simpson. “You’re funny!” (Again, presumably edited out.)
Kors thinks Gretchen’s slick, techy-blingy details are out of character, but all loves her fabricated jewelry.
Heidi also loves all the jewelry.
“You gave us molto Mondo!” says Michael Kors.
“It was great!” says Heidi.
Nina Garcia found the looks creative and cohesive and loved his use of color. . .but “it began to look very young.” Ruh-ro.
“Never lose the drama and the theater,” says Michael Kors. “Just don’t verge into costume territory.” Double ruh-ro.
“We’re going to have a BIG chat,” says Heidi (I see what you did there, Heidi.)
And backstage the designers go.
As the panel deliberates, Andy is dismissed so hastily, it’s like he never even existed.
It comes down to Mondo vs. Gretchen, in the most epic finale battle EVER.
This thing totally needs a “Thrilla in Manilla”-type nickname.
“The Fender Bender in Lincoln Center?”
“The Throw Down in Mid-Town?”
“The Mondo Massacre?”
On Team Mondo: Heidi and the useless Jessica “I love polka dots!” Simpson.
On Team Gretchen: Michael Kors and Nina Garcia, Fashion Director of Marie Claire magazine.
So, basically, with all due respect to Jessica Simpson (not really), Heidi is on her own.
She fights, valiantly, for Mondo. She says that he’s more creative, more special than Gretchen.
But Nina and Michael say that Gretchen’s clothing is the future of fashion. (Really? Because it all seems very Gloria Steinem circa 1974 to me.)
“If I was buying for a department store, I’d look at Gretchen’s,” says Nina.
“Because it’s safer,” says Heidi. (Score one: Team Mondo.)
“It’s a fashion show not a circus show,” says Nina. (Two points, Team Gretchen.)
And here’s where Nina drops the bomb: “Seth Aaron had the cousin collection.” (Minus 25 points, Team Mondo.)
“Gretchen’s girl is where fashion is going—easy, sexy,” says Michael Kors.
“All loose?” says Jessica Simpson. (Actual thought: “Can I haz cheezburger?”)
“Hello? Read a magazine!” snipes Michael Kors.
It’s really getting juicy. Everyone is staying civil, but voices are strained. Michael Kors is beginning to squeak!
“Did we not tape a show last week?” he squawks. (He’s talking about Mondo’s polka dot gown.) “I told him to cut the arms off that dress! She looks like a polka dot barber’s poll.”
“But we have two people here who would WEAR that dress!” argues Heidi.
She sighs. “Somebody hand me my boxing gloves, please.”
Jessica Simpson is excited. She thinks there’s really going to be a fight.
And then they go to a commercial break and I have no freakin clue who’s going to win.
Back on stage, they unceremoniously ditch Andy. He’s about as relevant as McKell at this point.
“This was the toughest decision in Project Runway history,” says Heidi. I’m trying to read her face, to figure out if she’s upset or not.
"And congratulations. . .Gretchen. You’re the winner."
One word in my notes: Wowsa.
Heidi gives Mondo a meaningful hug. And I want to comfort him, too. But he’s on TV.
Gretchen’s extensive network of support—i.e, her mom and sis—come out and give her a diffident hug.
“This is most exciting thing that’s ever happened to me,” she says.
Tim Gunn staggers onto stage, looking stricken.
“Wow,” he keeps saying. “Wow. Wow. Wow.” (THIS from one of the most articulate guys on the planet.)
Well, congratulations Gretchen. But I must say, I’m concerned about your ability to translate this reality TV win into real world success. Deeply, deeply concerned.