"Project Runway" finale: Airs at 6 p.m. today on Lifetime; repeats at 8 p.m. Saturday.
In Part 1 of the "Project Runway" finale, Tim Gunn headed across the nation to visit with the final four designers: Michael Costello, Mondo Guerra, Gretchen Jones and Andy South, who were all given $9,000 and six weeks to create a 10-piece collection.
Gunn actually visited the 10 designers remaining in the competition as of Sept. 9 to throw snoops off the trail.
In Episode 13, people across the nation were treated to a view of Hawaii that urban Honoluluans rarely see, a vast tract of land in Waianae, where South grew up raising produce, flowers and Chinese catfish, which scared Gunn with their eely bodies. Gunn actually jumped back and screamed when South tried to show him a few he had scooped up in a net.
South said that because of their whiskers, they look like old Chinese men, and Gunn said they didn’t look like any Chinese men he’d seen. I had to play that part three times on the Lifetime website.
South also easily hacked off the top of a coconut and had Gunn drinking coconut water. It was all very rustic and will probably fuel misconceptions about the way we live, but if I were a mainlander, I’d hop on the next plane to see such a beautiful, natural environment.
Once in his downtown studio, South had very little to show Gunn because he had been waiting for fabric from Laos. So, South ended up with only two weeks to finish his collection.
With the home visits, we got to see more of the designers’ back stories and what it took to be on the show. For many the show is a godsend after years of struggle with little notice. It’s the fashion-design equivalent of a lottery, though one involving more skill than luck.
South returned to New York, and the first surprise that awaited was a good one: R&R at various exotic destination Hilton properties, and for South, a stay close to home, at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. I interviewed him later at his studio, and he said that was a joke; he has the option of going to the Hilton Barbados or Costa Rica.
The next surprise was not much of one: Each designer had to create another look to present with two pieces from their respective collections to get to fashion week. They had two days and $300 for materials, this time without the extra drama of bringing back auf’ed designers.
South aimed to impress with a swim look and two dresses. But if not for the elaborately pleated green dress he completed when he got back to New York, he might have been sent home.
I think all of the designers stumbled a little on this presentation by withholding their best pieces. There was no "wow" factor onstage, with South and Jones essentially saying they were hoping merely to pique judges’ interest, while saving the drama for the finale. That left very little to judge. There was a sameness across the board, and once Mondo and Gretchen made the cut, Andy was told he did himself a disservice by showing a swimsuit and cover-up "that underwhelmed," said co-host Heidi Klum.
In the end, the 13th episode proved lucky for Andy, who was sent on to the finale while a tearful Michael Costello was sent packing.
South will attend a free "Project Runway" viewing party at 6 p.m. today at Honolulu Design Center, 1250 Kapiolani Blvd. He will present some of his designs, pose for photos and take questions.