Project Runway Picks a Winner!

Project Runway Picks a Winner!

11/20/2009 AT 12:00 AM EST

Like Heidi Klum said, "There can only be one winner of Project Runway," but on Thursday night's finale, Carol Hannah Whitfield, Irina Shabayeva and Althea Harper all showed impressive collections under the tents of Bryant Park.

Carol Hannah's collection, which she said was based on "gothic architecture and fairy tales," earned points from judges Klum, Michael Kors (glad he could make it!), Nina Garcia and the delightful Susie Menkes, fashion editor for the International Herald Tribune. The impeccable tailoring, which was mixed with structured draping, and her use of difficult fabric were what struck the judges. They also praised her for her use of color -- especially her 13th look, a sweeping teal gown, which was put together in the final days -- in a runway show of mostly blacks and grays. Their only complaint, the judges said, was that her collection was not as cohesive as the others.

"My collection is really about New York," Irina said before her portion of the runway show. The native New Yorker put together 13 looks based on her idea that when women step out into the city, they need to shield themselves from its elements -- but shouldn't have to do it with plain and tacky armor. Instead, she sent oversized knits, pleated, almost scale-like dresses, slick leather vests and big cozy coats down the runway. While Michael Kors cut her down a bit, telling her, "warrior woman is not a new character" in the fashion world, the judges said her collection was "well-made, modern, with an edge." Nina especially liked the detailed T-shirts that were revealed beneath the knit armor at the end of the runway. And Kors said she told a story with her collection and had the "best sense of showmanship," citing her use of helmets on her models. Their big complaint, however, was her obvious overuse of black.

Inspired by science-fiction movies of the '50s and '60s, Althea created a collection based on her vision of what women would wear in the future. Apparently, the future is super cool! The judges appreciated her connection to "the street," and remarked that she was the only designer whose collection included separates and sportswear. Nina loved seeing a pop of color in her green dress but wondered if she tried to hit too many notes in her collection. In the end, however, the Marie Claire editor said she could take Althea's extremely wearable clothes -- Heidi wanted some of the pieces herself! -- and shoot them right away for her magazine.

After many long pauses, Heidi announced Irina the winner of Project Runway. Althea was named the runner-up and said she may not have won but was "still a winner." But only Irina will get the PR prizes, a fashion spread in Marie Claire (Guess you'll be shooting black now, Nina!), a Paris vacation, representation from Designers Management Agency and $100,000 to put towards her line. Irina, who was nicknamed "Mean-a Irina" by some of her fellow contestants, melted into tears on the runway and could hardly speak. When Heidi called out her family and Irina said she'd never seen her father cry, even Nina Garcia was dabbing away the tears. --Aaron Parsley

Tell us: Did the judges make the right decision? Whose collection did you love the most? What would you wear from the final runway show? And are you excited for season 7 in January?Lifetime

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