It's the usual dullish first half of a Project Runway finale when the designers head to Rome and Tim heads to their homes.
I used to love the home visits, and they still have their moments of charm -- Char's grandpa admitting that he thought she was crazy to quit cutting heads to try fashion, then saying he's so proud of her -- but after thirteen seasons, this part of the finale feels like stalling, especially when a contrived twist is usually coming up in the third act.
Not this time, and kudos to Project Runway for 1) not manufacturing conflict with an extra look or crappy eliminated helpers, and 2) using the mini-collection runway for helpful critique instead of eliminating one of the final four.
And major kudos to Nina. I don't know if somebody in production took her aside and told her, "Look, you can spew 'Instagram moment' nonsense OR you can be a nasty bitter pill, but both is not going to work," or maybe a friend of hers was like, "How come you keep doing it if you obviously hate it and all the contestants on it?" and she had an epiphany; who cares. She's actually bringing some compassion and insight. Not much insight? But she's making an effort and she's doing it much more kindly.
Still, it's 90 minutes of water-treading, and that some of the water came from a fountain in Rome thanks to Best Western and Tumi luggage doesn't change the fact that I'd rather have seen Sean's struggles to acquire a physical studio set-up instead of Tim's Roman-tour-guide impression. (That was a pretty neat factoid about the ancient gladiators filling the Coliseum with water to stage naval battles, though. This Latin nerd never knew that.)
So who's living la dolce vita, and who's a stunod? Let's have a look?
Amanda's orange cat
Amanda has settled way down over the course of the season, I have to say -- and nobody who bunks with a ginger feline can be all bad.
Heidi's pronunciation of "Samsong"
It's so odd; it's not like German doesn't have an "-ung" sound. Rhyme it with "achtung," Stretch!
I loved the sportier looks, especially that zip-front sweat-tunic with the pockets.
Nina's right that the styling and feel of the mini-line doesn't quite line up with Char's personal ease of presentation; there is an anxious stiffness to it. But she nailed the length of the shorts. I think she should just own that she's a sportswear person. Whatever else I have to say about Anya, and as you know there is puh-LENTY, she was savvy about what she did well that was a signature for her, even if it's not so much "sewing"/"design." Char has a native chic-ness that's served her extremely well thus far and she should lean on it even harder here at the end.
Solid, measured comments about Sean not handicapping himself with a (one-)trick like fringe; about Char's style and styling not matching up; and about Amanda needing to elevate her looks literally (i.e., hemlines) and figuratively. Seemed engaged and interested in helping, as she has for several weeks now, instead of alienated and impatient. It's not like she's an inexperienced idiot, so this return to form is pleasing.
Tim gamely, painfully tries to hula
I really loved the coat the judges all wanted to pitch; the line didn't seem that Talbots to me, though that one skirt with the flat pleats down to the hip is a look I hate. I didn't really see the problem with the styling, either, and I liked how luxe he made the denim look. So I don't agree with Zac Posen's "barf me out the door" face in response to it...
...buuuuut I still giggled at it.
I struggled with where to put him, because I like the three looks he sent out. But some of it looks a bit cheap on the fabric level, and with looks this simple, he can't have that. As well, it's a greatest-hits collection of things the judges liked before -- smart play, yes, but I've never quite gotten on board the Sean train anyway. He's a bit blah to me, and doesn't have the best color eye. So, yes, his work is better than Kini's, I guess? It came down to "can I wear any of that" this time, and: I can't.
I'm into the Anthony Ryan maxi -- you know, the blue/black again -- because, sing it with me if you know the words, it has pockets. Overall, though: not for me. It has the same '90s feel most of her work does that I don't engage with in a positive way, even though it's shit I probably would have worn, or did wear, to all-day music festivals at Garden State Arts back in the Clinton era. The jewelry Posen is so positive about, same thing; it's the accessory equivalent of replacing your plain white switchplates with kokopelli ones. She's sort of on the verge of something, though, and I do dig that knit she came up with, as well as that she took Nina's criticism well.