The 10th winner of Project Runway is crowned. Jennifer Hudson guest-judges.

By Stephan Lee
Updated October 19, 2012 at 05:30 AM EDT
David Russell/AETN

Project Runway

S10 E14
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UPDATE: Read my interview with the winner of Project Runway season 10!

And then we came to the end. If you’re reading this recap, you most likely know who won Project Runway season 10 already, but for the sake of narrative suspense, I’ll start from the beginning.

Chris looked shell-shocked after last week’s deservedly harsh critique. He could have handled the tear-down in one of two ways: 1) Get focused and make big changes or 2) act like a whiny child. Even though Chris has been a bit of a class clown this season, he’s always been professional and supremely competent, so I was surprised when he took the latter route. “They’re making me feel like they’re doing me a favor by moving me forward,” he bitched. Well, Chris, you’re acting like you’re doing the world a favor by staying on.

After mocking Nina a bit, Chris said, “I was confused as to what [the judges] thought they would see from me.” I honestly thought he was being facetious there. Had he not seen the looks he’s made all season? His clothes followed more of a feminine fantasy motif all along — the trio of looks he showed last week were earthy and dull.

In the meantime, the other three designers re-assessed their collections based on their critiques. Dmitry re-styled his looks to make them younger and sassier; Melissa needed to turn up the volume and add some color; and Fabio thought of ways to appease Nina by making his pieces more luxurious and expensive-looking.

The models arrived for fitting. Fabio said to his models, “Oh my God, you guys are huge,” which every woman wants to hear. (A propos of nothing, I’ve been meaning to mention this all season: Fabio is surprisingly short. Judging from his strong, rather long face, you’d expect him to be taller). Dmitry took the time to mix and match his pieces to switch them up from last week, and Melissa made an adjustment by hacking the big, floppy cuffs off of her white leather jacket. Good choice!

Melissa realized her model couldn’t walk in her white gown. Instead of widening or slitting the skirt, she decided the problem would go away on its own. For some reason Melissa kept insisting the problem was the shoes, not the dress, but lady, it’s the dress. Even the model said flat-out, “It’s not the shoes!”

NEXT: Chris has a meltdown. It’s not as ugly as an Elena meltdown, but it’s pretty close.

Chris turned into a total hot mess. “I feel like I just got hit by a car,” he said. His immaturity was really rearing its ugly head. Not only did he run around in a daze, he turned into a total hater, calling Melissa “pretentious” for calling her new fabric blood orange (“Shut up, it’s f–king red!” Okay, that’s pretty funny) or hoping Dmitry went through with his terrible silver-leaf-in-the-hair idea. Melissa said to him, “You’re extra feisty today — like extra crispy.”

I love that Tim didn’t indulge Chris just because he was freaking out. When Chris showed him a shiny leather-y fabric that he hoped looked sophisticated, Tim immediately quipped that it looked cheap. “Thank you,” Chris replied.

On the opposite end of the freakout spectrum, Fabio was practically doing yoga on a purple cloud of optimism after having his colon cleansed while listening to Enya. He was totally getting the Winner Edit. As inspiring winner-ish music played, he said messianically, “Everything that is good in life, obviously you want it to last forever.” Then he reached forward with a Jesus-y smile and touched the screen — that watery membrane that separates him from us — and the screen trembled and quivered. Creating that effect probably cost the show about as much as a production assistant’s salary, but it was totally worth it.

Dmitry joined Fabio in being totally above the fray as Melissa and Chris scrambled. Tim arrived to give the designers a 15-minute warning for the night. Chris and Tim’s little exchange was rather comical: “You were ready this morning!” “No I wasn’t. I have two more looks to make.” “Oh, that’s ridiculous!” Oh, shoot.

Dmitry and Fabio, on the other hand, were totally ready; Melissa said she had some fitting left to do on game day, but she didn’t “have to sew a whole garment together.” Chris mimicked her and said, “I do.” Ugh, Chris was being the worst, although I can understand where he’s coming from — he was letting his dream slip through his fingers, and he couldn’t believe it was happening.

NEXT: On to Fashion Week!

The next morning was the Final Runway Show! Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson joined as guest judge, which is amazing. I was invited to the show and wish I could have gone, but I was vacationing in Europe at that time. As the fashion-challenged Runway recapper for EW, I’m sure I would have sat right next to Joanna Coles in the front row.

First up was Chris. What struck me immediately was how his three looks from last week didn’t represent his entire collection whatsoever. He had a lot more going on — I’m just not sure that’s a good thing. He had the whole motif with the x-ray print, which we’ve already seen, but he also had a couple of ensembles that were built around shiny blue jackets, plus a frilly gown or two. Weirdly, there were a couple of soft, dreamy pieces, but the rest were oddly vampire-like (perfect, because Twilight author Stephenie Meyer was in the audience!) I was baffled last week and I’m baffled again — what happened to the Chris we knew? What happened to the head Silk Chiffonzie? I would have been happy just to see Chris’ old shredding technique again.

Nina was on the same page as I was — she noted that Chris had the ability to make his looks light and airy, but instead he pushed himself to be different and went for a hard edge. It’s just not his strength. All the judges, including Jennifer, agreed that there was a lack of cohesion to the whole collection. Chris had way too many ideas, and the whole thing was confusing.

Next it was Melissa‘s turn to send her looks down the Lincoln Center runway. The white leather jacket really looked so much better with the cuffs snipped off, and the white gown that the model could barely walk in was a runway disaster waiting to happen. That model deserved a bonus for not taking a spill.

As anyone who’s read my recaps regularly would know, I’ve never been a huge fan of Melissa’s aesthetic. Her outfits are tasteful and wearable, but I don’t think I’ve found a single one of them interesting. Her final collection looked like things a girl who works in an art gallery would wear — stylish, but generic in a young urban girl uniform kind of way.

Nina praised Melissa’s taste, but wondered how her designs would be different from anything else out there. Jennifer just complimented Melissa’s looks, saying Melissa should be one of the models. Aww, Jennifer, you’re so cute.

At this point, we knew the competition came down to Fabio and Dmitry.

NEXT: And the winner is …

Fabio‘s entire body was vibrating with positivity as he sent his “cosmic tribalism” looks down the runway. I loved the necklaces and the purses, and his collection really was a sunburst of color and energy in an otherwise gloomy show. However, I don’t think he quite took Nina’s advice. A lot of the tops looked like tie-dye pieces you could buy at Target, and I know Fabio was going for the whole baggy-chic vibe, but some of the outfits looked like something Dorothy from Golden Girls would wear. (Not Blanche, mind you. Dressing like Blanche is a good thing for anyone). In the context of a fashion show, maybe Fabio’s aesthetic looks interesting, alien, and fashion forward — but just move these pieces to Florida, and they look like retirement wear, with matching DayGlo bras.

Heidi loved, loved, loved Fabio’s collection and thought everything looked light and super-elegant. Michael thought the warm pastels and outre designs worked well together. Jennifer said, “The colors made me happy.” Oh, JHud, you beautiful creature.

Dmitry used the phrase “organic architecture” numerous times in describing his collection, and the name fit. You know a Dmitry piece when you see one. His clothes featured tons of triangles and angles with a few birdfulls of feathers thrown in. Unlike Christopher’s, Dmitry’s collection was diverse but clearly felt cohesive — except for the yellow dress with the black bustier. That kind of seemed tacked on.

Heidi thought Dmitry succeeded in making his girls look young, and she loved his amazing gown made of triangles and feathers. JHud dropped yet another bon mot: “I felt like I was learning your story. It’s rich, honey. It’s everything.” Does it get better than that?

Clearly, the decision came down to Fabio and Dmitry. While the editing of the show appeared to favor Fabio the whole time, the judges went with our svelte Belarussian former ballroom dancer! Dmitry didn’t win the most challenges, but he was arguably the most consistent designer the entire season, and his clothes are beautifully made. And judging from your comments all season, you guys are most likely very, very happy.

It’s been a fun go-around! Were the designs as fresh and exciting as in seasons 3 or 4? No. But there were some great characters this time around, like Koann, Buffi, and Gunnar, without an overload of bitchery (except for Venn. Let’s never speak his name again).

Check out my interview with Dmitry tomorrow on EW’s awesome new PopStyle blog!

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Project Runway

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