Spoilers and (kinda) news after the jump! You have been warned!
The big surprise at the Project Runway fall show in Bryant Park this morning was not which contestants were showing but who was sitting on the other side of the judges’ table. The guest judge for the finale is… Jennifer Lopez! Not! Actually, Heidi Klum took to the runway to inform us, J-Lo canceled at the last minute because of “a foot injury.”
Did I detect a note of skepticism in Heidi’s voice? Also, isn’t the work of a judge pretty much done entirely while sitting? Ah, whatever—the last-minute replacement, introduced to the wild cheers of the crowd, was… Tim Gunn, who has never served as a judge in his five seasons as mentor and seemed a little sheepish about his emergency drafting.
The theme of the opening remarks at this year’s show were the awkward-for-Bravo reminders that this would be the show’s last episode before going to Lifetime. (Which I suppose means that, instead of Top Chef judges and Rachel Zoe milling about the runway next year, we’ll see the Army Wives and Carson Kressley.)
As for the contestants, the spoiler is: there’s no spoiler. As happened in the spring, all the remaining contestants (six this time) showed collections at Bryant Park, so your guess is as good as mine who’s actually still in the competition at this point.
They showed in roughly reverse order of whom you’d expect to make it to the final. In order, with my one-word description of their collections:
Jerrell: Metallic! [Lots of sequins and glitter. Having no eye for clothing, I fortunately sat with TIME's Belinda Luscombe, arts writer and sometime fashion writer, who said that his pieces looked badly fit and finished. There were a lot of dangling threads.]
Suede: Easter-eggy! [Seriously, I don't know why he made it this far, and the only memorable aspect of his collection was the palette of pastel colors that he had dyed into his fauxhawk as well. Brought the whole thing together! On the plus side, only referred to himself in the third person once.]
Joe: Pants! [Joe went with an "Americana" theme, which meant denim, leather and turquoise--kind of a Santa Fe biker-bar look. As in the drag competition, he did a lot of pants, showing off his talent for making (to my eye) well-fit, challenging outfits, and it was one of the most memorable collections. I don't think he'll win, but he's often beat my expectations of him.]
Kenley: Vintage! [Also: Stuff in the hair! The mouthy designer, fond of wearing various floral accessories in her coiffure, put so much plumage on her models' heads—feathers, flowers, antennae-like leaves—that I scarcely noticed the clothing.]
Korto: Africa! [Korto said her collection was inspired by her birthplace. She also made a lot of her own jewelry, "instead of borrowing from the Bluefly wall—sorry guys!" she apologized in a winning line that the editors will almost certainly cut. Indeed, Korto talked more, and more animatedly, than I recall her doing on the show all season. The jewelry was gorgeous, the clothing surprisingly unmemorable—again, I'm a fashion moron, but Belinda also thought she'd do better than she did.]
Leanne: Ripples! [Leanne spoke only briefly, but her collection seemed to draw the best crowd response: a lot of mint-green and cream and billowy, curvy, meringue-like forms.]
The favorite to win? Don’t ask me, but the Fashion Week crowd seemed to be on Leanne’s side. But we’ll have to wait to find out when we watch the finale at home. Just like J-Lo.