Jeffrey wins Project Runway despite overspending his budget

Project Runway 3‘s winner is Jeffrey Sebelia. He was cleared of the charges leveled against him last week, but not all was well.

First, the judges did not like Michael’s collection, which anyone who saw the pictures could have predicted. Heidi Klum told him something condescending about needing to “mature,” and he was sent home. The biggest surprise came next: Laura was eliminated despite the fact that Heidi called her collection “exquisitely crafted.” Michael Kors wanted a “surprise factor,” and Heidi said her work was “too limited.”

Okay, but then why didn’t Uli win? After all, Michael Kors said she made “the kind of clothes that women just want to put on.” But, apparently not the kind of clothes the judges wanted to reward. Instead, they picked Jeffrey for his “innovative, cohesive” work that “really showed your range,” as Heidi said.

Before Tim Gunn gathered the designers–the clip we saw in the preview–and said, “We have taken these concerns very seriously, and after a very thorough investigation and inquiry, I am absolutely confident in Jeffrey’s assertion that he did this work himself.” That’s when Jeffrey cried. (Incidentally, the other clip that suggested Jeffrey might be going home, the “leaked” footage, was clearly edited just to try to mislead and create buzz. Bravo, Bravo.)

However, Jeffrey did screw up. Twice. As Tim explained, “Jeffrey did receive outside help on some of the pieces involving pleating, but this is entirely within the scope of the rules.” Then things go weird: Just like on The Apprentice, the audio switched and we didn’t see Tim as he talked, because part of his sentence was clearly recorded in post-production; the audio levels were horrible. He continued, “providing [voice over starts] there was a receipt. And unfortunately, Jeffrey, you did not have a receive for the shorts, so you’ll have to lose them from the collection [end voice over].” So, Jeffrey gave back the wigs he’d purchased and the shorts, which he replaced with some pants he’d conveniently made and brought along with him.

That was almost as miraculous as the sudden nice edit Jeffrey got for the full final episode; either he was a total dick during taping and a saint in New York, or else the editors were trying to ensure we wouldn’t be too upset by the selection of their villain. The judges made a passing reference to his overspending, but apparently shrugged it off, giving him the $100,000, the car, the photo spread, and the mentorship.

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.