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Bryant Park showdown: The 'Project Runway' finals

February 8, 2008 | 12:11 pm

Runway NEW YORK — You’d be hard-pressed to find a giddier crowd than the one that was packed into the main tent in Bryant Park this morning for “Project Runway’s” finalist fashion show. Sleekly coiffed women in black and men in sharp-angled suits craned their necks as they checked out the other attendees, which included some apparently well-connected adults’ lucky offspring, who didn’t even try to mask their glee.

“That’s Tyson Beckford!” one young girl exclaimed breathlessly, catching sight of the model and Bravo host. “Oh. My. God. Wait -- is it?” Her voice came down an octave, then rose again. “Yes! It is! Tyson Beckford is here!”

Also in the house: Laura Bennett, last season’s runner-up, dressed in a glittery taupe dress, her trademark red bob pulled back into a mini ponytail, along with “Top Chef’s” Padma Lakshmi, “Lipstick Jungle's” Lindsay Price and an assortment of other fabulous-looking folks.

The attendees were still milling around on the runway when the lights dimmed and a striking trio walked down the runway toward the massive bank of cameras: host Heidi Klum, sporting sleek bangs and washed-out jeans; designer Michael Kors, in dark glasses; and – drumroll please! – none other than Posh Spice, aka Victoria Beckham. The latter, a guest judge for the final episode, was decked out in an eye-popping tangerine dress with a deeply cut neckline, her signature impassive look firmly in place.

After striking a pose, Kors and Beckham took their seats in the front row and Klum reappeared at the top of the runway, belting out a loud, “Hello everybody!” After she welcomed the crowd and offered a special shout-out to producer Harvey Weinstein, the show began.

A rundown after the jump, which PR fans can safely read without encountering any major spoilers. Why? Because those tricky folks at Bravo included all five remaining contestants in the runway show! It made for a gasp-inducing program, as one by one their profiles appeared behind the "Project Runway" screen, triggering confused murmurs in the crowd. But exactly which finalists will appear in the March 5 finale? The official word from Bravo: “Stay tuned.”

First up was Sweet P, whose voice was already cracking. “I don’t want to cry out here,” she said, sniffling. “I hope you all love my collection as much as I do.”

What followed was an array of sophisticated, retro tube dresses and ruffled suits in a purple and olive green palette, all done in rich materials such as velvet and felt.

Next out was Chris, who was greeted with delighted applause from the audience and shouts of “Go Chris!” He covered his eyes as he absorbed the cheers. “I never knew that living my life one day at a time for many days would lead me to this day, to this hour, to this moment,” he said solemnly.

His collection included silk-screened halter dresses in deep blue and scarlet hues, tapestry jackets with long fringes and a dramatic black velvet gown. Like Sweet P, he offered some retro touches, like a flapper-style dress with a fringe bottom.

Then Jillian took the stage, more composed than her predecessors. “I have an amazing collection to show you,” she announced. “I had so much passion, heart and soul when I made this. I was so inspired, and I hope you all can see where I was coming from and feel inspired as well.”

Apparently, Jillian was inspired by war –- there was a vaguely militaristic look to her collection, starting with the Roman helmet-styled knit hats most of the models were wearing. Everything was very structured: dark-hued fitted jackets and jodhpurs, a knit sweater with cutouts, a dramatic corset top with metallic black pants.

Rami followed, offering a paen to his inspiration and saying his collection “speaks my voice as a designer and it celebrates women. I think women should be cherished and treated as beautiful muses every day of their lives.” The crowd loved this notion, giving him hearty applause.

The models strutted out in turquoise and cherry gowns, high-waisted pants and form-fitting suits, lots of pieces showing his trademark draping. The last piece, a Grecian-inspired floor-length gold gown, was received warmly.

Finally, the last profile behind the screen: There it was, the crazy spiky hair!

Christian emerged, to wild cheers.

“It just really, really means a lot to me,” he said of his collection, then gazed around the room. “Ooh, everybody looks fierce!”

The young designer got big applause right off the bat for his first piece, a leather-looking black turtleneck and black metallic skirt, topped with a feathery hat. There was lots of black, in fact, including many structured jacket and pant combos. One model was sporting a white blouse with so many ruffles that they covered her face. His final two dramatic looks: a brown-and-cream ruffled dress concoction and a floor-length feathered gown that made the model wearing it appear half-bird, half-human.

At the end, Klum returned to the runway. “I think that was the best finale we ever had, right?” she exclaimed. “It’s going to be very, very hard for us to judge them today.”

For those waiting at home, waiting to find out who actually wins may be even harder.

Here’s a hint, from Posh herself: “For me there was one person who really, really stood out,” she said afterward, according to a release from Bravo. “There was one person -– every single piece that came down that runway I would wear myself. That person made me smile, and I was just amazed, absolutely amazed!”

Someone made Posh smile? Now that we have to see!

-- Matea Gold

(Photo courtesy Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for IMG)