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'Project Runway' recap: The grand finale

Projectrunway9_grandfinale
Well at least that's over. "Project Runway" ended its singularly unexciting ninth season Thursday night with, as might be expected, few fireworks.

Not only would the four finalists have had a hard time competing against designers from earlier seasons, but few of their personalities ever popped off the screen. Kimberly, who must have real emotions, is given to stating the obvious -- I'm so happy to be here, I have a lot of work to do, I am beyond words. Viktor, whose strategy seemed to be to keep his head down and make it to the finale, forgot to perk up; he was at his most interesting when whispering under his breath to Josh.

Josh -- young, arrogant and snarky -- was left to carry most of the personality bag, and it stretched him too thin. Over and over we saw him saying nasty things to the camera. It brought a bit of drama, but listening to one person be a snarky poseur repeatedly is more tedious than thrilling.

Which leaves us with Anya, a beauty queen exuding a sense of genuine kindness. She carried herself with a gentle control, thinking before speaking, learning from critiques, generously offering support to her competitors when asked. The only problem: She can't really sew.

After the jump: So who won?

"Project Runway" has always been one of the few reality shows that actually required that its competitors create something with real skill. Season Nine marked the end of that era when it dubbed Anya Ayoung-Chee the winner.

It's not that I have anything against Anya or her flowy beach frocks. But she does not yet have the skills needed to actually construct garments. When she tries doing something beyond flowy and beachy -- like her clumpy gold satin gown discarded at the last minute -- she tended to make baffling fabric choices and disastrous sewing decisions.

After showing the judges their three looks last week, the contestants had a few days, $500 and a trip to Mood to make the edits that had been suggested. In a serious cramming-for-the-final maneuver, Anya created three new garments in that time -- all lovely and flowy and beachy, of course.

Kimberly took the opportunity to re-create her fuchsia pink bubble skirt, which no one liked, in black. The problem wasn't the fucsia, it was the bubble, but she wasn't listening as well as Anya. No matter, she fails to get the black version to come together, and during a workroom critique Tim tries to show her that the front looks like it's been put together with a broken stapler. She doesn't hear it.

In the workroom, Tim tells Josh that his collection wasn't really represented by the pieces he showed the judges -- the three pieces were sophisticated, but overall it's much more downtown and edgy. The print Tim hated makes a few appearances. Josh uses his extra days to take the critiques of the judges to heart and rework a problematic piece, and to create some lime green lace-up skinny shorts -- yep, more edgy than sophisticated.

Stealth Viktor works quietly on his nicely tailored nice clothes. What do they remind me of -- Banana Republic? Ann Taylor? The stylish wardrobe of the boss I had in the early aughts?

And now that I'm feeling snarky, I'm just going to say it: all this business about who will show at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week is baloney. Because not only did our four finalists show: so did five of the other competitors. That's because the timing of the show's filming is out of sync with fashion week -- its season was broadcasting during the runway shows -- so all those contestants had to show their work in order not to reveal who the finalists were. Sure, Anya, Kimberly, Viktor and Joshua M. got to have runway shows at fashion week. So did Bryce, Bert, Olivier, Anthony Ryan and Laura. They probably had fewer resources to create their collections, and it explains why we saw those designers sitting in the audience -- and why they looked uncomfortable.

See the finalists' runway designs at Lifetime's website. The network may have blown it with the show this season, but it's not quite over yet for "Project Runway." They're bringing us "Project Runway" All-Stars just in the nick of time.

RELATED:

Austin, Mondo on "Project Runway All-Stars"

"Project Runway" recap: finale part 1

"Project Runway" recap: final elimination before Fashion Week

Tim Gunn on Gretchen, Mondo and crack-smoking judges

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photos, from left: Anya works on a dress for her runway show; Josh shows Tim Gunn his lime green shorts. Credit: Lifetime

 
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