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'Project Runway': Did the Right Girl Win?

'Project Runway': Did the Right Girl Win?

The first season ofProject Runway on Lifetime came to a close last night as the final three designers strutted their stuff on the catwalk at New York Fashion Week. While the winner was almost as predictable as rain in Seattle, some fans aren't sure the right girl took home the top prize.

The first season of Project Runway on Lifetime came to a close last night as the final three designers strutted their stuff on the catwalk at New York Fashion Week. While the winner was almost as predictable as rain in Seattle, some fans aren't sure the right girl took home the top prize.

All three of the final contestants deserved the honor of taking their collections to Bryant Park. Althea, Irina and Carol Hannah consistently put out some of the best designs on this season of Project Runway. Irina seemed a shoe-in for the final three right from the start, with only a few missteps along the way. Althea and Carol Hannah wobbled a bit more throughout the season, but still landed in the top of the pack more often than not.

Carol Hannah Whitfield quickly charmed viewers with her quirky grin and bubbly personality, making her a strong fan favorite. Althea Harper didn't seem to inspire the same kind of fan devotion, but overall she seemed to be one of the more liked contestants this season. Irina Shabayeva, on the other hand, established her role early on as the resident bitch. Her self-involved attitude and constant put-downs of the other designers rubbed quite a lot of Project Runway fans the wrong way.

Viewing photos of the final three designers' collections in advance of last night's show, it seemed rather obvious who was going to end up the winner. Unfortunately it wasn't the girl I - and apparently a large portion of viewers - wanted it to be.

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Althea's collection was sleek, sophisticated and very wearable. Her knit wear was especially fabulous. Unfortunately, her collection lacked cohesiveness and had very little 'wow' factor. The judges praised Althea for her ability to make extremely interchangeable pieces, but said she tried to "hit too many notes" with her designs and didn't bring everything together.

Carol Hannah's line was gorgeous, showing off her seriously impressive dress designing skills. The collection, however, lacked variety and again, didn't seem to be tied together very well. The judges couldn't stop raving over the first dress Carol Hannah put down the runway, but thought the line was lacking a "connective thread" through all the pieces.

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Of all the designers, Irina certainly had the best "story" for her collection, explaining she was inspired by the struggles of women in New York to harden themselves to the environment while still maintaining their femininity. While the color palette for the collection was a too-somber slash of black and gray, the designs were impeccably made and interesting. Plus, the collection was certainly the most cohesive of the three, as the judges noted.

The response from the audience of the Bryant Park show was overwhelmingly positive. Designer John Varvatos called the designers a "strong group." Halston CEO Bonnie Takhar gave a huge compliment, saying "all three collections were brilliant." Designer Marc Bouwer called the final three the "strongest ever" for Project Runway. I have to agree with those comments. All three of the final collections were frankly spectacular, putting even some of the winning collections from previous years to shame.

Watching Irina roll her eyes every time another designer received a compliment on the runway just made me want to slap her. She knows she's a strong designer, she knows she's very likely to win, but still she can't seem let go of her jealousy and animosity. Althea and Carol Hannah deserved to be in the final three and produced amazing collections. Their praise from the judges was well-earned. Yet, Irina could not stop making faces every time one of them received a compliment. It's petty and disgusting.

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Sadly, her arrogance and dismissive manner toward the other designers was rewarded. While I can't exactly disagree that Irina deserved the top prize for her collection - and her overall work on the show - I was still more than displeased to see her win. There are enough bitches in the fashion industry already, it's not like we really need another one. Although I did like Althea and her work, I personally thought Carol Hannah had the freshest perspective and is the mostly likely of the three designers to be dressing celebrities on the red carpet in the next few years.

It seems quite a few Project Runway fans agreed with my sentiment. Right after the show closed last night, it wasn't Irina's name that was a leading trend on Twitter - it was Carol Hannah's. Tweet after Tweet proclaimed Carol Hannah had been "robbed" of the win. Endless Twitter folk were posting Carol Hannah's Twitter feed name - @HappilyEverCH - and begging others to follow her as "the girl who should have won." One Tweeter echoed my thoughts exactly, saying "Irina? Ugh. I hate when mean people get ahead." Another said, "Way to go [Project Runway]. You got it wrong again!!!"

Well, the wrong girl may have won, but Carol Hannah is hardly down for the count. She Tweeted yesterday that the best thing to come out of the show so far was "opening a studio in NYC with Epperson and Logan!" Somehow, we just knew her boy-crush Logan would be involved in her future plans somehow. We're doubting any of the Project Runway designers are all that interested in shacking up with Irina for any new projects. Carol Hannah may have lost the competition, but she won the hearts of both the fans and her fellow designers. In the end, that may be an even sweeter prize.

Because of a delay in airing season six of Project Runway due to legal wrangling between Bravo and Lifetime, the next season will begin airing right after the holidays. Catch season seven of Project Runway on Lifetime starting in January.

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See more of the designs from the final show at Bryant Park on the next page...

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A few of Althea's Designs:

Carrol Hannah's designs on next page...


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A few of Carrol Hannah's Designs:

Irina's designs on next page...

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A few of Irinia's Designs:

 

 

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Laura Vess