There are things both good and bad about being a Project Runway blogger. The good: Bryant Park, finale invites, the friendships we've made and the places we've been invited. The bad: Every single social event or outing we go to means the only thing anyone wants to talk to us about is Project Runway, lack of sleep, a tendency to critically pick apart the outfits of total strangers on the street (True story: we were walking through a South Philly neighborhood on a Saturday when we passed a church, just as the doors opened and the attendees of a wedding started filing out. "Hold on," said T to Lo, who kept on walking, "I want to see what they're wearing."), but by far the worst is that we've lost the luxury of having an immediate and overwhelmingly emotional reaction to the events of the show.
See, when you have a post to write and when you've built up an audience who wants to read it, you tend to feel the weight of that as you're writing and in the process of getting it all out, that immediate emotional reaction gets a little papered over so that you can argue pro and con. Certainly, no one can argue that we haven't made our opinions known, just that when it came to write them up, we knew that if it amounted to only our initial "THIS IS BULLSHIT! I HATE NINA!! I'M NEVER WATCHING THIS SHOW AGAIN!!!" reactions, no one would want to read us.
Well, you know what? THIS IS BULLSHIT.
In fact, we can't remember a decision by the judges with which we disagreed this strongly. It caught us totally off guard. At some point in the episode, we got to discussing how we felt sorry for Mila because her collection is good, but we just "knew" she'd wind up as a decoy. In fact, we even said "One thing's for sure, hers is the best among the decoy collections." Which is why we sat open-mouthed for several minutes following the judges' decision.
We saw both collections at Bryant Park and while Mila's was good, Jay's was better. MUCH better. So much better that we, and quite a few of the people we talked to that day, declared Jay the WINNER this season. We honestly thought his collection was the best out of all ten that walked that day. We've been assuming since Bryant Park that Jay was the winner of Season 7.
We'll get to more extensive breakdowns of their collections, but the bottom line is that Jay's was totally modern, showing us things that we hadn't seen before or hadn't seen done in quite that way. Plus, it has a raw creativity and originality that reminded us quite a bit of Jay McCarroll, not so much in style but simply in its strength and focus and... newness. We wish he had chosen different looks, because some of these weren't the strongest of his collection. The one in the middle is a little weak. That purple dress is to die for, though.
Mila's looks, while very chic, were also very, very expected. It's the one thing everyone said about her looks last night. We know that her entire collection comprised more than just black and white with colorblocking, but the fact is, the three pieces she decided to show the judges were the three least surprising pieces in her collection. In addition, as much as we can get behind a mod, retro aesthetic from a purely stylistic point of view, from a design point of view, it's a decidedly weaker approach when put up against something modern and innovative.
In short, these were great looks (that middle dress in particular is killa), but they're not new and they're not at all unexpected. They are the epitome of playing it safe, design-wise.
We're not sensing any producer intervention here. This was a decision made solely by these three people. No conspiracy theories on our parts, but we will say this: Nina has always wielded the most influence among the judges when it came to final decisions. At the end of the day, she's there representing her magazine. After all, when the final winner is decided, Heidi and Michael go back to their day jobs, but Nina is the one whose magazine has to feature the winning designer. It makes sense that she'd have the most influence because she has more at stake professionally than the other two judges do. Unfortunately, we can't help noticing two things about Nina since she went from Elle to Marie Claire: One, her judging has gotten a little toothless lately. Compare the demure "I don't like this, I'm sorry" Nina of season 7 with the wild-eyed "IT'S AESTHETICALLY NOT PLEASING!" Nina of season 2 who got downright angry when faced with poor designs. Secondly, we're sorry to say it, but her taste has gotten very safe and mainstream. Let's face it, Elle ain't Vogue, but Marie Claire isn't even Elle. Not to disparage the magazine but as fashion rags go, it's as mainstream and safe as it gets. Bottom line: Mila's clothes are more likely to be featured in Marie Claire than Jay's.
In the end, we think decisions like this are bad for the show. It's supposed to be about innovation and point of view, but it's become about marketability and mainstream sensibilities.
Tim Gunn's Workroom:
[Photo/Video Credit: myLifetime.com]
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Labels: Jay Nicolas Sario, Mila Hermanovski, Project Runway, Project Runway Season 7, Project Runway Season 7 Episode 13