If life, and reality shows, were fair, Kelly would have won. Not because of her collection. I’m not going to sit here and tell you her collection was the best of the four. Because I don’t think it was. I actually wasn’t very impressed with any of them, when it came down to it.
But reality shows have a rhythm to them, and if you’re a smart player, you’ll follow that rhythm, and build yourself a growth arc that the show can latch on to. Kelly came in with this “Kelly from the Deli” persona, and started off as a midpacker at best, and slowly built her way up until she had won more challenges than anyone this season. She played smart. As Nina noted at the final runway “She’s so polite. She always says she’ll work harder.” Don’t think that doesn’t count for a lot with the judges, as well as the viewing audience. I saw a lot of people who watch the show, after the first part of the finale, talking about how they were rooting for Kelly. In terms of how to play a reality show game, she won, hands down.
The problem is that Project Runway sees itself as being the fashion version of American Idol. It’s not content, as say, The Voice is, to be a reality TV show that’s entertaining, but will never produce a major star, and will be completely forgotten about in three months when the next cycle begins. Even before producing Christian Siriano, the show had pretensions of being the inside track to success in the industry. And that means sometimes, when they get the industry’s attention, they then have to abide by the industry’s taste levels. And sadly, as fun as Kelly’s collection was, it was nowhere near those upperclass taste levels.
I still say this is the best outfit hands down of the collection, and I’m not sorry I featured it in my sampler. I’m really sorry Kelly didn’t show it in her mini collection in the first half of the finale, or feature it as her muse model. It had the sparkle and the glamour, it had the playful accessories, it had the rich leather, and it had the ironic use of white people’s “nude” sheer on a black model. It was just great. If her whole collection had been like this, I feel like she might have had a better chance.
This two was a very fun new age disco look. Unfortunately, this and the one just above needed to be the beginning of the great, not the highlight of the collection.
I like these pieces, but not together. The leather halter is fun, and might have gone better with long bellbottoms. The skirt needed something more covering at the top. Together they are too pieces fighting for attention at the other’s expense.
I hate the wood grain stuff. Full stop. I hate the fanny packs. Full stop. It’s outfits like these that felt gimmicky to me, and which made people not take the collection seriously.
Left as was from the mini collection. It’s not bad, but it’s not going anywhere either. It’s when you start to realize the collection is a bit one note.
The outfit I almost couldn’t find a decent sized picture of. Did I mention no one posted pictures from Kelly’s collection anywhere? Everyone who saw it assumed it was one of the dummy collections and Swapnil was in the Top Three. Note the banner picture is just a close up of one of the model’s faces. That’s because I literally couldn’t find a good overview picture of the collection anywhere.
When Kelly explained how hard she worked on this piece and all the technique she put into it, it was so heartbreaking. Because it was the tacky, worst outfit of the bunch. I hated it. Nina hated it. It was a case of Kelly not being able to step back from all the hard work she put into it and ask herself “Yes, but is it my best piece?” No, not by a long shot.
This one is better, and if she had done more like this with more like from the beginning of the collection, it would have made for a better show.
I actually didn’t realize this was a jumpsuit at first glance, because of the way the split legs flew out behind her, and I had to stare at it for a while back in September before I put that together. Again, interesting, and she did a shit load of work on it. But it is anywhere near her best piece, or a closing look? No, not by a long shot.
What we can hope from this though is that Kelly’s hard-working attitude and determination, plus that “so polite” persona have made an impression on people like Nina and Heidi. After all, winning project Runway guarantees nothing. (In fact, usually, it’s something of a hindrance.) What gets you far is the connections, the work ethic, the drive, the lucky break, and the right person to believe in your stuff. Kelly has two and three in spades. she’s got the beginnings of the first one, and she can maybe find the last one along with it. Whether that lucky break comes along? Well, we’ll just have to wait and see. But I believe in her, and her drive never to go back to that deli.