Project Runway Finale, Part 1: Michael’s Epic Meltdown

The final four became the Fashion Week Three on part one of the Project Runway (three-hour, wow) finale.

No one was really the “winner” although it would be a shock if Mondo didn’t take the grand prize. Instead, the loser was Michael Costello, who was so traumatized it bordered on disturbing.

It was the time in the season for Tim Gunn to globe-trot and visit each designer at home. We met Andy first, who was hard at work on a Laos-based collection in Hawaii. Tim was impressed, but cautioned about the lack of actual designing that had taken place.

It was the opposite reaction to Michael in Palm Springs, CA. Michael told Tim his plan was to make “150 pieces,” which was a bright red flag. In Palm Springs we met Richard, Michael’s partner, and learned that on February 28, 2007, Richard outed Michael to his mom and dad — parents who wanted him to stay married. His family, said Richard, have not been supportive over these past four years, and have made an effort “since he got on the show.” Michael’s collection is based on the sky and feathers.

Tim goes and sees Mondo in Denver, who is piecing together a Day of the Dead meets vintage Mexican circus collection. If it sounds a bit crazy, it is. Tim describes one piece as “teen’s pajamas.” Mondo’s family is more accepting than Michael’s, and we meet his boyfriend Ben, who is strangely silent the entire time. Next Tim visits Gretchen in Portland, OR. Her relationship has failed, her back account is empty. We don’t get much more of a backstory, but these are not happy times for our favorite egotistical designer. Her look takes “rural cultures from around the world” and incorporates them with her Western theme.

On the runway, the judges seem only truly impressed with Mondo, while Andy puts a tiny bikini out there, which Heidi Klum calls a “throwaway piece.” But in the end he’s safe, and it is Michael who goes home. He squints his way through his obligatory Auf Wiedersehen, until he breaks down backstage. His jarring, viscerally reaction — sobbing in the corner — catches the other contestants off guard. He says his parents will abandon him, and will tell him to abandon his dreams. We’re going to need a reunion show to make sure Michael Costello is doing alright. Either way, it’s Fashion Week next, and final, week.

Quote of the Week: “He looks like Pocahontas meets Naomi Campbell.” – Michael describing Andy’s look.

Quote of the Week (that made me laugh): “It’s like design diarrhea. Stop designing.” Tim to Michael.

Quote of the Week (by Tim Gunn): “Mix them up in a bowl, and put them on a plate, you could have a really, truly hot mess.” – to Andy.

Insult of the Week: “My interest was not piqued. It feels a little crunchy-granola.” – Nina Garcia to Gretchen, after Gretchen says she wants to “pique your interest.”

Fashion Term I Had to Look Up: “Copper-colored eating clothes.” – Michael Kors to Michael. Looked it up. Still not sure.

Even I Knew This was a Bad Sign: In the workroom, Tim left the designers by telling Mondo, Gretchen and Andy to “carry on, and Michael — don’t choke.” Tim knew.

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