Let the cries of “Mondo was robbed!” commence! I almost feel sorry for Gretchen for what she’s going to have to go through. To be fair, it’s not her fault the judges made the wrong call.
Jessica Simpson tried, but failed, to get Mondo Guerra crowned as the winner of “Project Runway” Season 8.
Instead, the title went to controversy lightning rod Gretchen Jones, 28, of Portland, Oregon, who was not called a “bitch” because she’s a strong woman, despite what she said on the reunion show.
As Tim Gunn put it, “Wow. Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow.”
Jessica and Heidi Klum loved Mondo, especially his polka dot dress. They fought for him. Michael Kors and Nina Garcia fought for Gretchen Jones and her commercial collection focused on what’s happening now in the fashion world.
(No one fought for my poor Andy South.)
Ultimately Nina and MK won. The Marie Claire connection probably helped there.
(But what’s this about Jessica’s sister wearing Gretchen’s clothes?)
Honestly, I’ve never been a fan of Mondo’s prints, but it was obvious that he should win. It. Was. Obvious.
He was not only the clear winner of several “Project Runway” challenges, viewers chose him as the clear winner too.
His style is so strong and unique and easily identifiable as Mondo. That’s something I loved about Season 7 winner Seth Aaron Henderson, whose work I do love. Plus, Mondo looks the part of a fresh new designer. He has the quirky personality and the inspirational back story.
My beloved Andy South, 23, of Waianae, Hawaii, took third. I would’ve put him first except for that green. I’m just never going to be into that shade of green.
No matter what, this is going to be Mondo’s season. Even if you’re like me and you don’t love his fashion, you love his transformation from lonely kid to confident man, announcing his HIV positive status through a work of art. Mondo, you are still a winner.
*** THE FINAL COLLECTIONS ***
Every season there’s always some crap backstage at the finale show. Every season a model doesn’t show up. Every season Tim Gunn freaks out. Every season it turns out fine anyway. Ah, fashion.
Thankfully we don’t usually have to deal with “The Fairy Job Mother” promos, using “Project Runway” rejects for cross-Lifetime purposes. Retch.
Gretchen gets emotional introducing her collection, “Running Through Thunder,” which is about the road she’s taken. The music is so mellow it makes me sleepy. Does that say it all about Gretchen? I actually like a lot of her collection, but I’m never going to be into the diaper trend. The silver jewelry helps a lot.
Andy says his collection is inspired by his Laotian heritage and background. He dedicates it to his mother. I love the silver and I love the hairpieces, but I will never care for that particular shade of green. I like his music, but it’s also pretty subdued. I need some energy from this show. Andy gets emotional watching the collection.
EVERYONE has been emotional this season. Over EVERYTHING. It makes me less emotional to see them turn every single moment into a Big Moment. This is a genuinely Big Moment for the designers, but they have cried so often this season that I’m immune to it now.
Mondo’s inspiration came from his Mexican heritage. He dedicates the collection to his spiritual guide, his grandmother. This music has a little bit more bounce, which is good because the clothes are total ’80s bubblegum teen spirit.
*** REACTIONS ***
Marie Claire editor Joanna Cole loved Andy’s. Nicholas loved Andy’s head-to-toe looks, but he’s rooting for Mondo. Betsey Johnson loves Mondo, natch. His work is like his name and him: Mondo! Cindy De La Hoz liked his accents. Marie Claire editor Zanna Roberts Rassi loves both Mondo and Gretchen. She thinks all women would want to look like Gretchen’s models and wear those clothes. Jay Manuel of “America’s Next Top Model” calls Gretchen’s collection, airy, flowy and magical. He found it very impressive.
*** JUDGING ***
Andy: Michael Kors said his Asian theme could’ve been costumey, but it wasn’t. He liked the opening pants and both one-shoulder dresses. (I love the silver one.) He called them deceptively simple. He didn’t feel there was that much diversity. He thought it was narrow in focus. Heidi wasn’t too happy with the first look. She likes to say “whoa” from the first look. She liked the weaved top. Nina said everything they’ve seen from him has been so hard to this point, so she was happy to see the softness. But she almost thinks someone took over him and he lost Andy. She loves the jacket. She thinks he went overboard with the Orientalism. (Is that even a word?) She wanted something more edgy or modern. Jessica Simpson’s favorite was the silver one-shoulder dress.
Gretchen: Overall Nina thinks she did a fantastic job. The prints were really nice and she had a lot of choices. She loved the patchwork pants. It felt very modern and easy. It was a complete ready-to-wear collection. She likes how the girls were bronzed. But it was very monotone, especially when it comes to the prints. She wanted a dash of color. And she was surprised with the opening look. It should summarize the collection and it felt weak. MK says he likes the vibe of the girl. He gets her. But he doesn’t get where that slick techy looking leather comes into the vibe. Gretchen designed the jewelry and had it forged. Everyone loves the jewelry. Heidi loves the feeling of the show but she sometimes felt the prints were repetitive. Jessica’s concern was, if you saw all the pieces on a rack in a department store, how many pieces would you buy? She wanted to see that pop extravagant piece.
Mondo: MK said in Italian it would be “molto Mondo.” Heidi said there were a lot of really special and loud pieces there but there were some quiet pieces there too. She thought it was really great. She loved the skull T-shirt. He did all the beading. Heidi also liked the tunic. Nina said it looked like a very cohesive collection. She loved the color and mix of prints. Shelved the print dress. But it was too overwhelming in the decorative pieces. The mix of prints and the hats made the collection look very, very young. Her favorite look was the first look. But it became very teenager. He needs more sophistication. Jessica loved the personality of his collection. She thought everything was unique. “It doesn’t look like anybody else would make it but you. I think that’s what being a true designer is.” Jessica is obsessed with the polka dot dress. Heidi said the same thing. MK said it’s costumey. Heidi was surprised to see the polka dot dress again because she’s the only one who liked it. MK and Nina did not like it. MK called the plaid pants “crazy pants.” He loved the top with the skull on it and he loved the tunic dress. Mondo loves theater and drama, but sometimes he does veer into costume territory.
Mondo loves himself so much more and that’s helped him be the best he can be. He’s going to make Jessica cry.
Gretchen says she too has grown as a person and learned a lot about herself. She listened while also staying true to herself.
Andy says winning would be an amazing dream come true because it would mean starting the big dream.
*** THE JUDGES FIGHT: MONDO VS. GRETCHEN ***
Right away they agree that Andy is out. Andy, I love what you did.
Heidi likes Gretchen as a designer. Nina says Gretchen’s clothes are current. She’s in touch with what’s happening now.
Mondo wows Heidi with his clothes. Nina calls him incredibly talented and creative. Her favorite look, besides the first one, was the strapless dress. MK questions whether Mondo knows how to edit. Heidi thinks he showed that he did know how to edit — the peaks and valleys. MK thinks a black dress could’ve been his best friend. (But that’s not Mondo!) Nina says they told Mondo he had been walking a fine line between circus act and sophistication. She doesn’t think he listened.
So MK and Nina think Mondo needs time. Except Nina says Gretchen and Mondo should both win.
Jessica wonders if Gretchen would just go into ready-to-wear. Nina says they’re both editorial.
Jessica says she would personally buy more of Mondo’s pieces. So would Heidi.
Nina says Mondo’s clothes slant a little young. While Gretchen’s collection has more range. They are easier to sell. Heidi says it’s a fashion show. Nina says yes, a fashion show, not a circus show.
Heidi is fighting hard for Mondo. She’s restyling his clothes, but fighting for him anyway.
No one could see Nina in the polka dot dress. Heidi says she’d wear Gretchen’s clothes but Mondo is more “special.”
MK thinks Gretchen is saying something current. Nina says Gretchen is talking about what’s next. Very casual and pared down and “speaking to the moment.” MK thinks Gretchen is showing more design than Mondo.
Fashion is changing and things are getting more loose? Huzzah!
Jessica is sticking with Mondo.
Jessica + Heidi vs. Nina + Michael Kors
Heidi feels like they are now punishing Mondo for things they have supported him for throughout the season. (YES. This is my problem in a nutshell.)
Heidi finally asks what they are looking for. Couture or commercial? MK says it’s not just about what they are seeing today (didn’t he say the opposite earlier in the season?) it’s about finding the next great designer.
*** THE DECISION ***
They let Andy go. His collection needed more of a modern edge and things that make it “special.” Andy has no regrets. Good for him. I will always love Andy and I envy his hair.
Heidi calls the final decision “the toughest decision in Project Runway history.” They think Gretchen has the finger on the pulse of what fashion is about now. Mondo is a master with prints and put on a terrific show. His creativity wowed them. They have no doubt both of them will be successful.
Gretchen, you are the winner of Project Runway. Wooooooow.
Catch up on my “Project Runway” stories in this nifty archive.
And check out this fun Entertainment Weekly gallery: ‘Project Runway’ Style: 20 Hot Designs (and 13 Hot Messes) So glad to see Epperson get some love.