[First of all (though one would think this could go without saying), if you haven’t seen the finale of this season of Project Runway and wish to do so without knowing who won, come back and read this post later.]
The other day, in response to Burt’s question about fame, Tod Kelly wrote this:
I remember when Elvis died back in the 70s. There was a bit of national mourning, but not all that much. (The Elvis “sightings” would come a few years later.) The only reason we as a nation recognized his death at all was that he was for so long a game-changing national icon – even if he was long expired by the time of his ultimate demise.
I like to compare that death with Anna Nicole Smith’s back a few years back. I’ve never been a big cable news watcher, but I remember for a solid week every day at the gym there was nothing on CNN or FOX but coverage of her death. I think the message this sends (along with the plethora of reality TV shows that feature awful, awful human beings) is that what is important isn’t “what have you accomplished,” it’s “are you famous or not.”
Just so. While I don’t remember the death of Elvis, I certainly remember the orgy of ghoulish fascination that followed the death of Anna Nicole Smith (which I also found inescapable at the gym). I think Tod’s comments about the space created by reality TV for people to display the absolute worst of supposedly civilized behavior are apt. Project Runway is one of the few exceptions, for the most part. Even though the fashion industry itself is an unpleasant combination of frivolity, self-seriousness and materialism, in order to succeed on PR you need to have some talent. You need to accomplish something beyond getting into bar fights or whatever it is the Kardashians do.
But oh, how that comment about awful, awful human beings popped into my head at the end of last night’s show. Who else could I possibly mean but Joshua, this season’s walking menstrual cramp of a person. Watching last night, the Better Half and I agreed that he’d be good-looking if he had a better personality (and wasn’t so stylized that he looked like a refugee from an anime flick), but with the personality he has he’s dreadful. The prospect that this shrill, mean-spirited, histrionic and classless man might win had me howling at the television.Now, it’s not merely that Joshua is a nasty person. His collection made me envy the blind. Which brings me to a feature of the show that’s sometimes hilarious but more frequently infuriating — the judges so often seem to like clothes that are plainly hideous. I’m sorry, but there are maybe three women on the face of the earth who would consent to wear those monstrous green lace-up shorts he sent down the runway, and those women would only do it if they were out of Seroquel. (Slide five here, though it’s best to wear protective goggles before you click through.) The garments he crafted out of plastic (plastic!) were apparently designed for women who never sweat, because otherwise they’re gonna need a lot of salve for all that chafing.
It was a positive pleasure to watch him lose. Not without one last bitchy little comment about Anya’s sewing, of course. But lose he did, and may his brief fame die a swift death.
About Viktor and Kimberly‘s collections, there isn’t much to be said. Like the judges, I loved the pieces he made with his custom prints, and hated the horrible sheer stuff he sent down along with them. I liked her collection more than both of the guys’, but in a kind of shrugging “not bad” sort of way. Both of them were easily better than Joshua’s drek-fest. Frankly, I think already-eliminated designers Laura Kathleen and Bert (who grew on me as the season progressed) had decoy collections that were better than anything the finalists sent out.
However, of the finalists I liked Anya‘s collection the best. The pieces were all at least attractive, and it’s conceivable that there are women who’d really want to wear the garments. I also think she demonstrated throughout the season that she is a good designer. Yes, yes — not the world’s greatest at sewing (as odious Joshua never failed to point out), but it’s not called “Project Seamstress” (as Michael Kors liked to point out). While she’s obviously not on the same level as the show’s one breakout star, she’s also a lot more charismatic and talented than most of the other winners since then. (Poor Chris March must be crying into his cocktail that he wasn’t on this season, where he would have wiped the floor with the competition.)
More than just for her collection or her talent, though, I’m glad Anya won because the woman is a class act. Not for nothing was she the fan favorite. She was unfailingly gracious from start to finish, and it’s gratifying to see her succeed. As our popular culture seems to evermore descend into celebration of the horrid and vulgar, it’s nice to have at least one more budding celebrity who seems like a decent human being. I wish her nothing but good luck.