Dmitry Sholokhov, Fabio Costa, Melissa Fleis, Christopher Palu, Project Runway


Which Project Runway contestant conquered Fashion Week this season?

After being under the Gunn for months, tensions were high as Fabio Costa, Melissa Fleis, Christopher Palu and Dmitry Sholokov put the finishing touches on the most important collections of their lives, dreams of winning all those fun Project Runway prizes dancing in their heads.

Fabio had to worry about making his clothes look luxurious, Melissa was under pressure to show more than black and white, Christopher didn't want to put the judges to sleep again, and Dmitry was warned about his looks crossing into matron territory.

Christopher, especially, was getting snippy while contemplating whether he should create brand-new pieces in the two days he had between getting the go-ahead and sending his models down the runway.

"Blood orange," the 22-year-old sniffed while overhearing Melissa describing a fabric color to Tim Gunn. "She's so pretentious. Shut up! It's f--king red. 'Blood orange.'"

Make that haughty couture.

But despite the catty asides, fatigue, sweat and tears, all four finalists finished on time and their visions marched smartly down the runway at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York last month (the finales are always a long time coming for these aspiring stars).

There was no rest for the weary, either: One of Chris' models caught her shoe and tore the bottom of his otherwise-perfect strapless mermaid gown, prompting a last-minute snip-and-hide at Lincoln Center—and he was first up!

He had grumbled about it, but Chris did took the judges' critique to heart and handily rearranged some of his combinations to better highlight his leather-heavy collection of separates. Brown and black dominated, but highlights included a satiny indigo coat and an asymmetrical dress utilizing the abstract print he created using his mother's old spinal X-ray.

Melissa pretty much stuck to the black and white, give or take some touches of royal blue (Lady Gaga should be ordering up one of those leather bodysuits right about now), but her showstopper was an angular red dress with a dramatic asymmetrical collar.

Dmitry retooled his styling, opting for heavy eye makeup and slick high ponytails, to better show off his immaculately tailored clothes. And he didn't just send out one gown, but three, plus a bright yellow cocktail dress with jeweled cap sleeves and a shorter halter dress hemmed with fringe.

"It's rich, honey. It's everything," guest judge Jennifer Hudson complimented him during the post-runway critique.

The Oscar winner also loved Fabio's breath-of-fresh-air collection, which utilized sky blue, aqua and yellow along with different grades of white to constitute an ethereal, comparatively uplifting collection of unexpected shapes and textures.

"I, personally, loved it, loved it, loved it!" raved Heidi Klum, who later agreed with Michael Kors that Dmitry's styles may be more wearable now, while Fabio's are, at this point, more conceptual.

The judges found lots to like in all four collections, but behind the scenes they agreed that Melissa's clothes weren't different enough from what was already out there. Christopher, meanwhile, was "all over the place" and had veered too far from his more romantic wheelhouse.

So, the winner of Project Runway was...

"Dmitry, you have your wings now, so go and fly," Heidi told the former ballroom dancer in giving him the good news.

"This is the biggest day of my life," Dmitry exclaimed. "I just won Project Runway and I don't know how the f--k I made it to this point…I'm beyond happy and proud."

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