Full Show Index
Advertise With Us
Write For Us
Who’s In and Who’s Out: Project Runway 2, Season Finaleby Kevin Otten -- 03/20/2006
View Printable version of this article
From the very beginning, Chloe was identified as a likely candidate for the final three. Same thing with Daniel Vosovic. Santino was the designer this season who some loved and others hated, but who overall really stood out. Were these the appropriate designers to make it to the final three? What about their collections? And that surprise twist, having to design an extra look with the assistance of one of the previously eliminated designers – how did that factor into the Chloe’s win and Daniel and Santino’s losses?
We will take one final look at the important fashion tips the Project Runway designers should have followed to see if Chloe was really the deserving winner, and what made Daniel come in second, and Santino in third…
Who’s OUT: Santino
Santino was one of the most memorable characters in this season; his designs were unique, his personality intense, and his behavior evoked strong responses, both positive and negative. However, it was no surprise to me that he came in third.
The first rule the designers are to follow, being creative and original, was an area where Santino definitely did a good job throughout most of the season. He won two challenges (Road to the Runway and Niki Hilton), and came very close to winning others (such as Barbie and Clothes Off Your Back), due in large part to his creativity. He had a unique approach which impressed the judges early in the show; though his designs were not as polished or clean as some of the other designers, their rough edges still looked beautiful. But over time, he seemed to fizzle out. We saw his creativity peak early in the season, and then it seemed to plateau (and at times, nose dive!). His final collection was a nice breath of fresh air, definitely far more creative than his work in the last few challenges, and more sophisticated and elegant.
But that’s where we run into another problem with Santino: his final collection did not seem to fit in any way at all with his prior designs or with the design philosophies which shined through in these designs and his explanations of them. Santino did very poorly with the second rule, being flexible and versatile. Time and time again he was harshly criticized for over-designing his garments – adding excessive amounts of accoutrements which made them look gaudy and tacky. But he kept it up! It wasn’t until the eighth challenge that the judges noticed any change in his approach. And there were some times when he was completely out in left field, content expressing himself in his own way even when it did not fit at all with the design task: witness the atrocity of his Banana Republic dress (and window display), and his Sasha Cohen Thanksgiving turkey tragedy.
It was no surprise that Santino was chastised yet again at Olympus fashion week. Though he did seem to really clean up his act, it was too clean, too polished, and too far of a departure from his prior work. The judges wondered – where is Santino in this collection? They couldn’t find him. Throughout the entire season he had demonstrated he could not be the flexible and versatile designer they were looking for, so it is not surprise that in the eleventh hour he failed yet again. Only this time, he swung way too far in the opposite direction. This guideline explicitly instructs the designers to listen carefully to the judges, and take their feedback into account. Santino didn’t really do this throughout the show, and by the end it was too late. Of the three remaining designers, he was the least flexible and versatile, which was a huge factor in his elimination.
The third tip for the designers is to be professional and follow the rules. This season, there weren’t really any issues with violating the rules at all, but with Santino we saw another deficiency. He was extremely unprofessional – when interacting with both the judges and his fellow designers. He lacked the maturity to recognize how his actions impacted others and to be remotely attuned to how his abrasive, childish, and at times downright annoying behavior made other people around him feel. He unnecessarily engaged in a verbal altercation with judge Nina Garcia in the third week, and threw temper tantrums when he did not win. Santino’s complete lack of professionalism made him an early candidate for dismissal in my book, but we saw it continue throughout the entire season. The one week where I strongly disagreed with the judges’ decision (to eliminate Nick over Santino) was for yet another challenge where Santino’s inability to behave and design like a professional was noticeable. His design for Kara in the makeover challenge was literally falling apart as she walked down the runway. The other designers noted that everyone had time to finish their designs – why hadn’t he done the same? Here again, with this particular criterion, Santino is far, far below both Daniel and Chloe.
For the fourth rule, which advises the designers to be resourceful, Santino did a decent job. There were times when he showed he could be innovative with his resources (such as in Clothes Off Your Back, Niki Hilton, and Flower Power), but other times where he did not make good use of his resources at all (such as Team Lingerie, Banana Republic, and Sasha Cohen). A haphazard and chaotic record can at best only put him in the ‘average’ category for this rule, and that is assuming that all of the failures are equivalently weighed out by the successes. A so-so track record does not a Project Runway winner make.
Selling himself, in accordance with the fifth tip, was in fact an area where Santino usually did a good job. He had a natural charisma about him which often impressed the guest judges who were not there to see the patterns of his weaknesses revealed over time. He was usually able to articulate what he was thinking and why he designed what he did, both on and off the runway. The problem was that in many cases, what he was selling was not what the judges were interested in buying; the best showmanship and salesperson abilities can’t compensate for a poor product. So even though this was an area where Santino often did well, it was overshadowed (at times) by his bewildering designs and lack of professionalism. (For example, he could have done a much better job really explaining and selling his concept in Team Lingerie if he had not lost his temper and started screaming at Nina.)
The final tip for the designers is to understand the challenge and do what it requires, yet another area where Santino did not consistently perform well. As Michael Kors noted in the final challenge before Olympus Fashion Week, it often seemed like Santino knew what he was doing would not impress the judges, and they would be critical of his decisions, but he would do it anyway to make a point. Unfortunately for Santino, the point of Project Runway isn’t really about making some sort of social or artistic statement; it is about identifying which person among thousands really has the skills and abilities to be The Next Great American Fashion Designer. Santino’s inconsistency yet again cannot be overstated; no clear pattern exists with respect to when he did well and when he did not. When dealing with a client who had a specific concept in mind, one time he did very well (Niki Hilton) and another time he failed miserably (Sasha Cohen). When he was required to be resourceful and innovative, one time he did very well (Clothes Off Your Back), and another time he was just mediocre (Inspiration). The only real conclusion we can see throughout the entire season about Santino is that he was unable to work well with most anyone. Even in the final challenge, he didn’t seem to understand that what was needed was a strong, solid concept, which would be reflected in each of the garments he displayed for the final judging. He was criticized for being all over the place and lacking the consistent vision needed for the winner.1 2 3 4 Next-->
View Printable version of this article