In the season finale, the designers put on their Fashion Week shows, and Christian's dramatic flair edges out Rami's elegance and Jillian's accessibility
Christian Rami

”Project Runway” recap: We have a winner!

Well, well, well. Here we are, friends, at the end of the Project Runway season, with a brand new Anointed One. As predicted in the pages of Entertainment Weekly magazine, Little Mr. Fierce pulled it off. His dramatic bonanza of ruffles, feathers, skinny pants, chapeaus, and puffy sleeves — nearly all of it in black — beat both Rami and Jillian. ”I’m the youngest winner of Project Runway ever — it’s crazy!” he said to the cameras. ”But hello? Did you have a doubt? Come on. What up.

As obvious as the Siriano sweep might have been to plenty of us, damned if the show’s producers didn’t try to throw us off the scent. At the top of the hour, echoing his own comments from last week, Tim wondered if Christian might have indulged in a bit of over-designing, even though he’d wisely jettisoned those dubious-looking feather trousers. (Which he seemingly replaced with a feather gown that the judges loved.) Sensei Gunn’s doubts sent the bespectacled little dude into a mini-crisis of confidence. We were treated to shots of him nervously watching Tim check in with Rami and Jillian. For once, Christian couldn’t help comparing himself to his rivals. ”It messes with my head,” he said. Then Rami mused to the camera that the 21-year-old had ”a lot to learn about designing for women,” that fashion wasn’t ”just for models.” As my kitty Lilu (who’s grouchy tonight) might say, ”Gggggrrrrrreeeeeooooow!

Of course, whatever nerves Christian was battling — performance anxiety the likes of which I can only imagine — he still managed to throw around a little of that snappy attitude — which, yes, I have grown to enjoy. He worked in his favorite adjective six times. (Season grand total ”fierce” count: 27. I’m actually gonna miss that little game. What will I count now? The number of times Paula Abdul actually speaks coherently on American Idol?) ”Be really skinny, don’t eat!” he trilled to his model. And I totally cracked up when he grabbed Jillian’s Mohawk-hat thingie and strutted around the workroom, ready for his catwalk moment. Work it, girl!

Not surprisingly, the biggest crisis of the night came in Lewis Land. For someone who speaks with as little apparent enthusiasm as Jillian, she sure is a stress ball. After admitting she’s incapable of making a quick decision and sticking to it, she started having doubts about the models she’d chosen for the Bryant Park Big Top. The problem? They were, as humans tend to be, all different sizes. As she paced around the studio, fretting, stressing, and proclaiming, ”This is horrible,” I scribbled in my notebook, ”Boo-hoo!” So her procession of waifs will be different heights — what a tragedy! Granted, it’s likely that the producers trumped up this segment for lack of any real behind-the-seams drama. ‘Cause the truth is, the finalists really got along this year. There was no Kara Saun getting chastised because a friend made her some shoes; there was no Chloe breaking down in tearful exhaustion; and there was no Laura questioning Jeffrey’s work ethic. (Aside: I’m sure you all noticed that one of Jillian’s catwalkers was former America’s Next Top Model winner Jaslene. Oh, how I wished the cameras might have taken a moment to record her spouting some sort of characteristic nonsense about her life as a Cover Girl. I wonder if she is, as she once proclaimed to Tyra, ”still spicy”?)

Finally, the day of the fashion show arrived, and we watched the contestants engage in their primping rituals one last time. (No more shots of Christian flat-ironing his hair!) In the wee hours of the morning, the trio scurried off to Bryant Park, where Christian gleefully pranced atop the empty runway in shoes that looked downright gargantuan on his tiny frame. As a team of backstage dressers furiously assisted the designers with last-minute stitching and what have you, the cameras swept across the audience. Soon Heidi, sporting a sleek new hairdo and clad in a sparkly top (which I deemed ”icky”) and skin-tight, high-waisted denim (which inspired my husband, this column’s Resident Pants Inspector, to grumble, ”She’s got bad jeans, man”), introduced the judges. Shocker! Guest critic Victoria Beckham failed to crack a smile! (More on that topic below.)

In reality, Chris March and Sweet P also showcased their goods that chilly February morning, but as far as last night’s episode went, Jillian was first at bat. Her prêt-à-porter collection was by far the most accessible — and very feminine. (Gee, I wonder if that has anything to do with her being a member of the sex that has, you know, breasts?) From separates to evening wear, her versatile line was lovely. Tim Gunn had questioned the loop-de-loo poodle sleeves of her black-and-white striped sweater, but the judges gobbled it up, calling her knitwear ”spectacular.” Alas, that wasn’t enough. Nina dinged Jillian for lacking cohesiveness. And — cue sad Heidi face! — she ended up in third place. ”I’m really surprised by the outcome,” she said. Guess it’s time that Long Island psychic who had foreseen Jillian’s superstardom took her crystal ball in for a tune-up.

Next came Rami, who made good on his promise to prove that, in fact, he doesn’t live in ancient Greece — or the drapes-and-curtains department of Pottery Barn. I’m still in love with that black-and-white strapless frock he unveiled last week, and I’d race to Saks tonight (in my pajamas!) if I thought I could afford the pink-trousers-and-flowy-polka-dot-top ensemble. Strange thing, though: I attended the actual show, and I distinctly remember the crowd clapping heartily for the aforementioned dress and the show-stopping woven gold gown. Yet on last night’s episode, those looks barely got any applause. Some sneaky editor has been futzing around with the applause-o-meter.

NEXT: What’s wrong with Rami

Even before Jillian got the ouster, it was obvious the judges favored Rami over her. Heidi went gaga for the woven details, and they all praised his craftsmanship. Yet Michael zapped him for what he called ”Brady Bunch colors.” Now, I took this bit of Kors-speak as a reference to that unfortunate olive hue Rami threw into the mix for God knows what reason. (Couldn’t you just picture Marcia and Jan romping around the Astroturfed backyard in that drab tree-bark color?) Yet as Mr. Perma-Tan made this comment, the camera cut to Rami’s vibrant teals and hot pinks. Wha? In the end, Nina pointed out what we’ve learned all season: Rami’s strength is evening clothes, not ready-to-wear separates. And so the guy came in second. No need to feel sorry for him. I’m sure his already healthy business has exploded thanks to the exposure the show’s given him.

As for Christian, I had a hunch the judges would comment on the near complete lack of color. Which they did. But the ”monotonous” palette clearly wasn’t significant enough to cost the guy his lead. Some of his more outrageous pieces made me think I was looking at a Rembrandt canvas, and Lord knows there isn’t much in his haute couture dramarama for the, ahem, everyday woman, but hey — like a master painting, Christian’s clothes are there to be marveled over. Or maybe one day I’ll strut down the street sportin’ that ruffly beige neck thingie and ginormous hat. Or maybe I’ll just do it make-believe.

For all the cockiness he’s shown all season, Christian did look genuinely elated to have taken the top spot. After nervously sputtering out a few words in response to the judges’ questions, he could finally go all Weepy Ricky on us. It must have felt damn good to let the tears flow after enduring all those weeks of a constant sew faster, goddammit! pace on no sleep. Not only did the guy win all those groovy prizes (which, by the way, Heidi listed twice this episode), but he also snagged one hell of an endorsement from ”style and pop icon” Posh, who didn’t fail to sneak in her own pet phrase: ”so major!” ”You really made me smile, and I’m not easy to make smile,” she said — smiling! Then Mrs. Becks told the victor that she’d be honored to wear anything he made for her. Considering the kind of media coverage this woman continues to get, that’s not bad, Chrissy. Not bad at all.

And so it ends. Before I sign off, I did want to say one thing about Chris March’s collection from last week. A number of you brought up the fact that the fashion industry has no qualms about using various types of animal fur but recoils at the idea of human hair. As a strict vegetarian for the past 20 years, I agree that this is hypocritical. I wasn’t into Chris’ use of weaves, but it wasn’t, by any means, because I believe fur is preferable to human hair. It’s just my personal taste. I find any kind of fringy, hirsute detailing — whether it come from animal, vegetable, or mineral — gross. There’s a reason a hair shirt is considered a bad thing.

Okay, time for bed. I’ve had a blast partaking in this online stitch-and-bitch with you, TV Watchers. My sincerest thanks for reading. Perhaps we’ll all gather back here for season 5, which we learned is already in the casting stages. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a few questions to ponder.

What’s your final verdict on whether this season’s contestants are the most talented ever (as Tim stated before jumping into the group hug)? If you could replace any challenge this season, which one would you ditch? (My choice? Denim!) And did you enjoy seeing how far the statuesque Ms. Klum had to bend over to reward Christian with his congratulatory hug?

Episode Recaps

Project Runway

Karlie Kloss and Christian Siriano guide undiscovered designers through the harrowing rites of fashion.

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