I never, ever would have seen this coming. Throughout this season of Project Runway, I was really rooting for Michael Knight to take home the top prize at the end of the day. But had you told me that the winner of Project Runway 3 would be Jeffrey, especially after the fiasco with Angela's mom and the accusations of cheating, I would have laughed in your face.
And yet, here we are. Jeffrey Sebelia, he of the wackadoo hair and giraffe neck tattoos, has been given the couture crown and named the ultimate winner of Bravo's addictive fashion competition. It's been quite a rollercoaster ride these past few weeks, and I'm actually more than a little sad that the season has come to a close now.
I had a feeling that Jeffrey would be allowed to show his collection at Olympus Fashion Week in Bryant Park ... and stay in the competition. Just a hunch. Even if producers pulled a fast one and made him present but still eliminated him, I think that would have been a little extreme. After all, how much are you really able to tell from receipts? Tim Gunn is happily able to tell Jeffrey that, following an exhaustive investigation into Jeffrey's accounting, he's been exonerated of all wrong-doing ... but he still went over budget, and the white leather shorts for which he doesn't have a receipt and the wigs will have to go. (Which is fine, because I *hated* the wigs in the first place.) Wasn't it adorable how weepy the normally stoic Tim got when he brought the designers together for their final gather 'round? I wish we could have seen his reactions to the designers' collections in Bryant Park, though. That would only have been fitting.
But onto the collections. I was really worried about Michael's collection from the glimpses we got last week and, sadly, those fears were extremely justified. I really don't know where Michael went wrong and completely lost the plot. His collection was inspired by a confluence of the 1970s and safari, and nearly every piece just looked wrong on the runway. Yes, the cuts were beautiful and the construction was amazing and, as Michael Kors reminds us, Michael understands a woman's body. But the fabrics and colors were outright garish and the safari theme taken far too literally with too many loud animal prints and glaring metallics, along with hideous magenta and orange designs. But it was the styling that put it all over the top. Michael had succeeded throughout the competition for his elegant, sexy designs, but the collection he presented nearly toppled over the line of questionable taste, appearing trashy and hypersexualized. I was really, really disappointed. Michael was obviously a crowd favorite, but as soon as the first model walked out, I knew that there was no way Michael was taking home the top prize.
Laura's collection was visually stunning and definitely indicative of Laura's design aesthetic, but there weren't really any surprises there. I did want that "wow" factor that proved that Laura really pushed herself to do something different while still remaining true to herself as a designer. The construction and immaculate beadwork were simply stunning, and there were several pieces that were incredibly beautiful, but the entire collection had a sort of old world, Hollywood in the 1940s look to it that didn't really seem suited for evening wear for this day and age. (Did not care for the turtlenecked gold dress at all.) That said, I thought that the black lace dress was staggeringly gorgeous, as was the flapper-inspired short dress with the feathers. Her feathered and furred jackets and shrugs added a little more glamour to the collection, but it wasn't enough to put her in the top two. Especially when compared to the work presented by Uli and Jeffrey.
I was blown away by Uli's collection and pegged her as the putative winner when I saw her designs on the runway. Like Michael, she chose a safari theme, but it was much more toned down than Michael's overt collection. Instead, Uli selected some detailing -- like bone pieces on the belts and dresses -- that echoed that safari sensibility without throwing it in the viewers' faces. I thought that Uli really pushed herself outside her comfort zone. While there were some remarkable pieces that utilized the sort of patterns that Uli has become famous for, much of her collection was restricted to a more neutral color palate, yet each of the garments had a vibrancy and verve that was unexpected, given the colors. I loved the mini dress with bone detail and the beautiful, silvery looks that she presented, from the dresses to the separates. My jaw dropped when the model walked out in the billowing and psychedelic yellow-and-brown print halter dress and then pulled it off to reveal matching swimwear beneath. It was an awe-inspiring moment and totally unexpected from Uli. The finishing touch, a shimmery green print dress, worn with dashing style by model Nazri, was the cherry on top and summed up everything fun and free about Uli's design sense. A brilliant collection, from start to finish.
And, finally, there was Jeffrey. I would have to agree with the judges that Jeffrey's collection showed the most innate innovation out of the four presented. There was a real rock and roll sensibility fused with something elegant and light. And he presented what really felt like an entire collection, a line of clothes that would suit every mood and occasion, from swimwear to evening wear and everything in between. Overall, there was a sense of cohesion and connection between the pieces and a sense of story. Jeffrey said his influence was kabuki and noh ghost stories, and there is a real haunting quality to a number of the pieces. However, I did not care for either of the blue dresses he presented. The shorter one seemed boxy and wasn't flattering on the model at all, making her appear squarish and squat; the longer blue dress was too free-form and bland next to his more stylish pieces. I simply adored the green and white zipper-dress, worn by the winning model Marilinda. It was beautifully constructed, and Jeffrey was incredibly innovative with the zipper details. A gorgeous piece that many established designers would have killed to make and which shows off Jeffrey's potential to the fullest. I thought his collection was just amazing and such a departure from the more rough-and-ready influences of his earlier designs.
So there you have it. I never thought I'd be saying the winner of Project Runway 3 is Jeffrey Sebelia, and yet that's just what happened. Do you agree with the judges' verdict? While I was rooting for Uli last night, I do have to say that I am happy with the outcome. I thought that Jeffrey presented an amazing collection and, while I have no love for Jeffrey as a person, one can't deny that he has some real skill and talent as a designer. But I have hope that all four of this season's finalists go on to some really exciting careers in the fashion world. Something tells me this isn't the last time we'll be seeing Jeffrey, Uli, Michael, or Laura.
Next week on Project Runway -- wait, there isn't a next week! But come back here on Friday to discuss the premiere episode of Bravo's other addictive reality seres, Top Chef!
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Jace is an LA-based television development and acquisitions junior exec who watches way too much television for his own good and would love a TiVo for every room in the house. (He’s halfway there.) His blog, Televisionary, can be found at televisionary.blogspot.com.