If you’ve been keeping up with Project Runway, then you should know all about the controversy over this season’s finale winner. Now confession, this season was my first time watching Project Runway, and as someone who usually leaves home in a sweatshirt, I am certainly no fashion critic. However, new and old fans alike agree that the season’s true winner should not have been Shantall Lacayo.
Don’t get me wrong, Shantall is an amazing designer. She had four wins before the finale, which is more than anyone else this season. The dress she made entirely out of straws during the unconventional challenge is one of the coolest things I have ever seen. If we were to pick a winner based on the entire season, Shantall would be the clear choice. She consistently performed well throughout the entire season. The only challenge where she was ever in the bottom was when she was paired with Kristina Kharlashkina for the faux fur challenge. The only reason Shantall was in the bottom for this look was because Kristina’s unflattering, pink bubble gum look did not pair well with Shantall’s faux fur coat. Kristina had immunity in this challenge, so the judges came down on Shantall for this fashion disaster.
Shantall’s time on Project Runway nearly ended there where she was eliminated by the judges. However, seeing her potential, Christian Siriano used his one save to keep her in the competition. She never once found herself back in the bottom. She showed her ambition to win by coming up with intricate designs that showcased her skill as a designer. Going into the finale I was convinced she would win. Nearly everyone was. However, I was shocked when we got the first peek at her final collection. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t on par with her usual designs either.
Shantall’s designs for the finale were influenced by the feathered serpent, also known as Quetzalcoatl. She infused snake-like patterns into the pieces of her collection. Most fans agree that it was nowhere near as good as her typical style. The look of the snakes on the clothes was unappealing. She also chose to wear her signature piece herself instead of putting it on the runway, which was an interesting choice. Again, we were picking the winner based on the entire season, I could understand how Shantall would win. However, someone else’s collection was significantly better and should have been the winner.
Viewers were expecting Coral Castillo to win. Coral had not won a single challenge, but had been in the top three times. She had been fighting all season for a win, and she was never able to grasp it. Before the finale, if you had asked me if I expected Coral to win, the answer would have been no. She made a lot of interesting decisions throughout the season that were a little too risky. No one was prepared for the collection she was putting together.
Coral stayed true to herself as a designer and included the heavy macrame she’s known for in most of her looks. She also highlighted that she can do more as a designer and included several zipper featured looks that wowed the judges. Looking at the final four’s collections, Coral’s was the one that stood out the most. Plus she had her son participate as one of the models, which was incredibly wholesome.
When the judges were discussing who should win, guest judge Tommy Hilfiger was asserting that it should be someone whose clothes would sell well. That is not the point. The point is, whose clothes were the best? Had we asked that question the answer would have been Coral, hands down. Would Shantall’s clothes sell more? Maybe. They are closer to casual everyday living than any of her fellow competitors. However, that’s what detracts from her collection. It just wasn’t anything special. Season 19 ended without Coral winning a single challenge, but we all know she was the most underrated on the show. Hopefully, we’ll see more of her and the rest of the contestants in the fashion world in the future. Until then, we’ll just sit here and appreciate Coral’s skill as a designer.