I am a big fan of Project Runway. I religiously followed all seasons and got very familiar with the likes of Jay McCarroll, Chloe Dao, Christian Siriano, Jeffrey Sabella and Leanne Marshall. When word got around that the show will have its Philippine version, I literally jumped for joy. After completing Project Runway Philippines first season, I was impressed with all three finalists (Aries Lagat, Phillip Tampus & Veejay Floresca) and the collection they presented during Philippine Fashion Week a couple of years back. I would have been happy with any one of them winning so Aries Lagat’s victory was perfectly acceptable for me.
I was looking forward to Season 2. Up until the last two episodes, I remained hopeful and optimistic of how the Top 3 (Manny Marquez, Santi Obcena and Russell Villafuerte) will fare side-by-side with Season 1 counterparts. I was sadly disappointed. I could not see a clear winner among them because nobody excelled in at least a majority of the crucial points for consideration.
After seeing their respective collections presented during this year’s Philippine Fashion Week, this is how I summarize their outputs:
Manny Marquez – excellent execution, low average concept and innovation, poor styling. He won, nonetheless, and is now getting ready for a Summer Scholarship at Instituto Marangoni in Milan, Italy.
Santi Obcena – excellent styling, average concept and innovation, average execution. His designs border on the theatrical, hence, non-wearability. Besides, there’s really nothing explosively innovative with his collection.
Russell Villafuerte – excellent concept and innovation, average styling, poor execution. He has the biggest potential as a fashion designer, but his technical skills and long-term commitment to the craft are highly questionable.
So you see, I cannot blame the judges for having a long debate/discussion on who to award the top prize to. Their verbal exchanges are actually the best parts of the finale because they were able to dissect the pluses and minuses of each of the Top 3. In the end, they settled with a winner (Manny Marquez) whom they can see has more long-term prospects as a Fashion Designer despite guest judge Inno Sotto tagging him as more of a Master Technician than a Designer.
I really hate it when I get too negative about a show I love. But that’s just it. I love Project Runway so much that I can’t bear watching the finale with three sets of collections that do not pass muster. If you ask me, I would have selected Santi Obcena as the winner because he can still make some tremendous improvements in his creativity and execution on top of being a stand-out stylist. But it wasn’t meant to be. I have nothing personal against either Manny Marquez or Russell Villafuerte, but I wished they had really given their all in the finale and came up with promisingly professional designs worthy of being in the Top 3. I’m sure they must have given their 100% but what I saw on TV just did not measure up.
P.S. During one episode shortly before the finale, Mentor Jojie Lloren visited Manny Marquez to check out on his progress with the collection. The former was not happy with what he saw and handpicked only one red dress as the most passable. He promptly advised Manny to take inspiration from that one red dress and come up with creations out of the same. The latter heeded. But instead on experimenting on silhouettes and varied aesthetics, he simply utilized different colors on practically the same bustier form. This is my bottomline assessment of the Top 3. The winner cannot come from any one of them, but a cloning of their respective strengths into one person who’s at his best in execution, flexible and tasteful with styling and unique with his concepts and innovation.
All told, I’m still hoping that a 3rd season of Project Runway Philippines will be produced.