From the new format to the eventual winner, Project Runway delivered one of its most disappointing seasons so far. How did the format fail them when it was supposed to help them? Well, in a lot of ways it did help them. The extra half hour allowed viewers to get to know the contestants better, which was good in some cases (Mondo, Michael C.) and bad in others (Ivy, or Gretchen for example). The judges were more forceful in their opinion, which was mostly good, but bad because they kept changing their minds. The challenges were an overall bright spot, with some of the biggest and most exciting challenges in Project Runway history. So why am I disappointed in the outcome?
After stewing over this question for three days after the show aired, I figured it out. There were many arguments throughout the course of the season, more so than I’d ever seen on the show. Ivy and Gretchen were very forceful in their lashing of every single other designer’s outfits, but most notably Michael C. He got stronger as the season progressed, while eventual winner Gretchen lost her wind towards the end. The designer who was the strongest in the competition, however, was definitely Mondo. His over the top sense of style and bold pattern choices were a breath of fresh air this season, as almost all other designers kept showing the same designs over and over again. April, Ivy, Gretchen, Valarie, and several other guys I can’t remember kept showing the same types of pieces over and over again, but Mondo stayed within his esthetic without being repetitive and boring.
In the final runway show, Andy’s collection was forgettable, Gretchen’s was boring, but Mondo’s was very edgy and fashion forward, and was very reminiscent of Seth Aaron, the winner from last season. When it got down to decision time, the judging panel was split, for the first time in Project Runway history. Nina Garcia and Michael Kors loved Gretchen’s, while Heidi Klum and guest judge Jessica Simpson loved Mondo’s. In the end, Nina and Michael won out. Which irritated me, not only because I worship Michael Kors and was very frustrated that he would pick a collection that was boring (but closer to his design esthetic), but because they were discrediting Mondo for all the things that they had praised him on in the challenges. They loved his over the top patterns and styling’s that got him to Fashion Week, but when he got there, Michael and Nina turned on him and picked the boring, safe collection. I praise Heidi for calling them out on it, and I know that at least she got it right. But what is the use of having a guest judge like Jessica Simpson if you aren’t going to count her opinion?
The new format of the show could have worked out so well for them, and it did for most of the season, but the fatal flaw is the judge’s louder opinions. It’s great to get more feedback, but stay consistent with want you are looking for and don’t be hypocritical when it comes to what you want to see from the contestants. The judges feedback can help mold these people’s careers, and I know that I wouldn’t want to be in Mondo’s shoes right now, trying to figure out what exactly he can take away from all of this.