Christian Siriano took home top honors on the "Project Runway" finale, to the surprise of few (and certainly not surprising himself). Even with beautiful and competitive offerings from Jillian Lewis and Rami Kashou, the "fierce" 21-year-old rolled out an impressive collection for Bryant Park that brought a little drama to the runway and managed to do the unthinkable: make Victoria Beckham smile.
The finale provided a nice summary of the season, without any of the last-minute surprises that characterized previous seasons. No one was accused of cheating, no one had to ditch their shadily acquired shoes, and no one had to make a 13th look in the last five minutes. If anything, the designers reminded us what we love most about them, guiding our vote in the final Bravo text-message poll. Who should win "Project Runway"? I never thought Jillian was going to pull ahead in the 11th hour. Her clothes have been consistently good, but occasionally uninspiring. The fact that she failed to cast models on criteria beyond "She's cute!" or "She seems cool!" and her painfully awkward speech at Bryant Park, suggest that Jillian needs a few years to mature — as a designer, of course. Rami, who probably took himself more seriously all season than any of us did, actually regained my affection in this last episode. He seemed genuinely humbled by the experience of showing at Fashion Week, and he dedicated his collection to celebrating women. That's me! But it's probably been clear that I've had a soft spot for Christian all season. Maybe it's because his clothes have been exciting. Maybe it's because he popped and locked at the end of his "Runway" show. But my guess is it's because Christian, who put on such a confident front, broke down a little in the finale, and came across as just a kid with a lot of talent and a big dream. Now that's fierce.
(MTV News' own "Project Runway" superfan Jim Cantiello was lucky enough to hang with Christian — and fashion goddess Sweet P — at the finale viewing party on Wednesday. Read all about his behind-the-scenes experience on the MTV Newsroom blog.)
Jillian claimed that her main inspiration for the final collection was the "Master of the Argonauts" painting at the met from the last challenge. While the painting may have directed her color palette and the mood of her collection, Jillian ultimately stuck to her Ralph Lauren roots and attempted to design for the edgy prepster. She worked with dark grays, red accents and hints of metallic, choosing to style her collection with some iconic riding hats. The best looks? Her body conscious and flirty coats, one of which was a form-fitting, knit black sweater jacket with gold detailing on the hem. The other highlights were a few of her dresses, including a black party dress with a fun sheer skirt and her final long corset dress. Worst looks? The shorter version of the dress in gold, which was clearly meant to look like armor but resembled those slutty Grecian Halloween costumes. Although nothing baffled me more than Jillian's use of leggings, which were featured in the "out of style" challenge earlier this season. Hint, much?
When Rami showed Tim his Joan of Arc-themed collection last week, it looked forced. I was afraid Rami would overcompensate in the absence of draping. Well, apparently, Rami's got skills. After seeing his final collection, I'd say Rami's been holding out on us all season. In a color scheme that moved from strong blues and reds to muted greens and golds, Rami used separates, cocktail and evening looks to show he wasn't a one-trick pony. Best looks? A blue blazer-and-skirt duo that featured rippled draping (just a little) along the bodice, and a long, olive-green skirt and fitted top with woven fabric across the bust. Loveliest, however, was an antique lace top and skirt Rami sent out with ivory and gold tiers that looked like it belonged on a wedding cake. Worst looks? Two very similar day dresses in blue and red with little shape or movement, and a form-fitting, gold evening dress that was lost on the model who couldn't walk in it.
If I didn't know any better, I'd say Christian's line was inspired by the same challenge as Jillian's. His use of old European silhouettes and textures were a throwback to his androgynous outfit from the met challenge. But that's just Christian being Christian, and I don't think anything has changed that all season. Fashion Week was more of the same from the young designer: cinched-waist coats paired with skinny pants, along with oversize ruffles and collars. Best looks? The tailored black coat paired with an oversize ivory collar and large brimmed hat shielding the face of the model. And the two-toned dresses, either the shorter version which was solely layers of ruffles moving from cream to brown or the longer one, covered head to toe in feathers blending in and out of layers of fabric. Worst looks? The overkill of the skinny pants, which appeared in eight out of 12 of Christian's outfits, and similar-looking black coats.
Runway Guest Judge: Victoria Beckham
Jillian Lewis with model Lauren: Victoria found Jillian's collection very feminine, with fantastic attention to detail. She thought the clothes were beautifully made. Michael agreed, calling them feminine and modern. He was also very impressed with Jillian's knit-work, which he said they never saw during the show. Heidi was impressed with the new shapes and designs she saw in the collection and thought it was innovative. Nina thought Jillian took a chance, but the collection ended up looking a little disjointed and lost the essence of Jillian.
Rami Kashou with model Sam: Heidi loved Rami's collection. She thought the woven looks were his strongest, as did Michael. Michael was not thrilled with Rami's color choices, which he said weren't his favorite and not very chic for the clothes, but he found the presentation cohesive with a "soup to nuts" representation of every type of clothing. Victoria called Rami's clothes lovely and said she really appreciated the look in his dresses, especially the last gowns. Nina thought Rami had the strongest point of view and that it is very easy to tell when a piece of clothing is his. She thought his line was fantastic, with lots of separates, but the evening dresses were where he shined.
Christian Siriano with model Lisa: Victoria told Christian his clothes were very much her taste and style, and replaced his catchphrase "fierce" with her own "major" to describe them. Michael complimented Christian on his flair for the dramatic, saying the collection was cohesive and powerful. While he thought the two-tone dress at the end was spectacular, he thought too many black pieces made it hard to see the work that went into them. Nina called Christian's work a little heavy-handed and repetitive. Heidi liked this though, saying Christian was good at making a statement. Victoria added that it may have been a bit monotonous but it made her smile, and that's not easy to do.
Winner: Christian Siriano
Out: Jillian Lewis and Rami Kashou