Freeloader Braves Fashion Week

At the 'Project Runway' Finalist Fashion Show

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The Event: Bravo's "Project Runway" Finalist Fashion Show at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week
The Date: Feb. 8, 2008
The Venue: Bryant Park, New York
The Crowd: "Runway" contestants past and present from all four seasons, including Jay McCarroll, Chloe Dao, Daniel Vasovic, Nick Verraos, Malan Breton, Ricky Lizalde and Geena Davis doppelganger Laura Bennett, among many others; "Runway" judges Michael Kors, Heidi Klum and Nina Garcia, with special guest judge Victoria "Posh Spice" Beckham; every Bravo personality imaginable, including Padma Lakshmi, Tyson Beckford, Niki Taylor and Andy Cohen; an assortment of fashionistas and media types; and Meryl Streep.
The Food: Please. It's Fashion Week. The carb binges don't start till later tonight.
The Drinks: Water and coffee to keep the models and designers functioning, but no liquids on the runway, kids.
The Swag: A cornucopia of swag from this season's "Runway" sponsors, including cream shadow paint from L'Oreal Paint (shade: Lofty); hairspray and "styling mist" from TresEmme; a free movie rental from Blockbuster; a big ol' bar of milk chocolate from Hershey's (guess that counts as the food); a copy of the March issue of Elle magazine and a $30 coupon for
Project Runway invitation

Project Runway invitation

From the moment we received our invitation to the annual "Project Runway" fashion show at Bryant Park in the mail last month, we could practically hear Heidi Klum intone Germanically, "Freeloader, this also is a competition for you as well."

Say what you will about the lack of Santino-worthy personalities this season (though cliché-happy Christian Siriano certainly comes close), but there's no questioning the show's sustained relevance in the pop-culture and fashion stratosphere. Any show that manages to lure Meryl Streep as an onlooker and Victoria Beckham as a guest judge is clearly still doing something right.

Lest you think Freeloader would spoil the winner or the top three finalists of the March 5 finale for you, don't worry. We don't know any more than anyone who's up to speed with this week's episode. All five remaining finalists got to show their collections, with two decoys (cough Sweet P and Chris, most likely cough) to throw off who the actual top trio would be.

That said, all five finalists brought their A game to the runway this year. Unfortunately for some (cough Sweet P and Chris -- boy, Freeloader's cold is acting up today), that game also includes a lot of gimmicks and unfortunate overusage of fabrics like crushed velvet.

Freeloader is still weighing in on our favorite, and by the time you read this, you'll probably be able to see all the photos from the fashion blogs to weigh in yourself. We will say that the collections that received the most unsolicited applause were Christian's (a legitimately, dare we say, "fierce" collection that started out with five or six all-black pieces that introduced more colors and out-there ruffles as it went along) and Chris', but mostly because he had Bianca from this season's "America's Next Top Model" as his lead model.

With our third-row seat at the foot of the runway, Freeloader felt just like Anna Wintour. Or, better yet, Meryl Streep, who was inexplicably there but somehow lent the show a cultural authenticity by virtue of her role in "The Devil Wears Prada." And guest judge "Posh Spice" didn't have to say a single word to get the crowd on their feet and the gays texting violently on their cellphones to alert the authorities of her appearance.

In short, it was far more excitement than Freeloader is used to experiencing before 10 a.m. And although we got a first-hand sneak peek at this year's final collections, we'll be on the same pins and needles as everybody else until March 5 to see who this year's winner will be. Until then, auf wiedersehn!
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