by Todd O'Dowd
Well, here we are at last. The end of the season. And for the most part, this season has been pretty good with the drama being pretty tame by comparison (last week’s home visit episode being the exception as the producers tried to wring out a heartfelt emotional story out of each contestant to the point of annoyance).
We start the finale where we left off from the previous episode; the designers had to present three of their strongest pieces from their collections and then the judges would pick which ones would “actually show” at Fashion Week. (The quotation marks are necessary since all four showed their collections at Fashion Week.) Ultimately all four went on with some sharp criticisms from Heidi, Michael, and Nina. And they all respond to it in different ways: Melissa re-assesses her need for more color and sets to work on making changes to her collecttion, Dmitry starts to wrack his brains about how to make his collection look more youthful and starts shuffling his pieces around, Fabio contemplated Nina’s admonishment to make his clothes look more expensive and works on trying to restyle the collection, and Christopher… well, Christopher has a hissy fit.
It was rather comical (and frankly ugly) to watch Christopher’s meltdown not only because he was scrambling up until the last second but that his nastiness started spewing out in all directions, especially towards Melissa. Thankfully the other designers and Tim were having none of it. While I can understand the intense amount of pressure they all were under (reportedly they only had ten weeks to put their collections together as opposed to the original three months the finalists usually get), it was unbecoming behavior on Christopher’s part. What I think happened is what usually happens with whichever finalist becomes the “teacher’s pet” of the season; they buy into all of the judges’ praise, leave to work on the collection, and can’t cope when the judges finally have something uncomplimentary to say about their work.
Finally, we see the designers make their way to the tents, which still is a thrilling moment. And then we get the usual cross cutting of the designers getting everything ready backstage. And then it’s showtime! Heidi enters to introduce the judges; Michael, Nina, and special guest judge Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson. And then we start the show…
First up was Christopher. The big thing that was lacking in his collection was any sense of cohesion; it was literally all over the place with a lot of pieces trying to show a hard edge feel that frankly fell flat. And even his last gown, which had his shredded fabric technique, felt flat and out of place. One thing I will compliment him on was his custom print textile with his mother’s X-rays which could have been an interesting starting point if used more artfully than what we saw. So it was no surprise that Christopher was eliminated first.
Next was Melissa. While it was tasteful and chic, it felt repetitive and not really special in that “walking down a runway at New York Fashion Week” way. Don’t get me wrong, her clothes are chic and pretty (the white dress that the model could barely walk in and the blood orange dress at the end being the exceptions), there’s nothing unique or special about them. So it didn’t surprise me that she was eliminated second.
Then came Fabio’s collection. Heidi said it best in that the energy in the tent changed when this came out. To my mind, this was the best of the four collections and a surprising collection it was. It managed to take Fabio’s ideas of cosmic tribalism and render them in something that was fashionable, sophisticated, yet quietly ethereal and approachable and wearable. My only complaints were that the accessories weren’t as flattering as they should have been (the shoes in particular) and I think the washed out palate of the fabric colors hid a lot of the sophistication of the draping and subtle tailoring in his pieces.
Finally we have Dmitry’s collection, his take on “organic architecture.” The craftsmanship is glaringly evident throughout the entire collection. It had a lot of cohesiveness (which put it light years ahead of Christopher) and all the pieces felt they belonged together. There were a few moments of tastelessness (the black gown with the sheer midriff was a miscalculation and the jacket would give anyone gorilla arms) but the pieces were strong. Not as transcendent as Fabio’s collection but still a strong showing.
Thus it was no surprise to see the final decision come down to Dmitry and Fabio, and until the final second I thought Fabio had it (he was certainly getting a strong winner’s edit). But in the end the decision went to Dmitry, and while I don’t necessarily agree with it based on the collections, I can agree with the decision if you look at the output throughout the entire competition. Dmitry’s work has always been solid and sharp since day one and has always been a contender for more wins than any of the other designers. So congratulations Dmitry. And I hope this leads to more from Fabio; that collection had too much going for it to have him disappear.
Well, that was a fun season, wasn’t it? So now, my fellow viewers, you may be asking yourself what’s next for The Idiot Box? Well, how about some RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars, which kicks off tonight.
(Photo Credits: myLifetime.com, Getty)