The Project Runway season 10 winner will be revealed in Thursday night's episode, and judge Nina Garcia and mentor Tim Gunn believe that viewers won't have a reason to complain.
"There was a clear and definite winner," Garcia told reporters in a conference call Wednesday. "It was very unanimous, to be honest with you. ... There wasn't so much as a disagreement, or at least I didn't think so."
The competition is down to four finalists: Fabio Costa, 29, from Brooklyn, N.Y.; Melissa Fleis, 31, from San Francisco; Christopher Palu, 24, from Massapequa, N.Y.; and Dmitry Sholokhov, 33, from New York, N.Y.
Garcia praised all four, saying that Costa is conceptual and "thinks outside the box," Fleis excels at separates with an "easy, urban attitude," Palu is a skilled tailor who works well with fabric and prints, and Sholokhov is "very architectural" and "very sophisticated."
In last week's episode, the four designers were given some criticism during the final runway show before New York Fashion Week, with the judges claiming they all needed to work on their styling. But they ultimately decided not to cut anyone and allowed all four to compete in the finale.
"I think the preshow to the finale was a wake-up call to the designers, and what you'll see at the finale is that they really step it up," Garcia said. (The finale airs at 9 p.m. Thursday on Lifetime.)
Gunn agreed, saying he was happy with the outcome as well. In the past, Gunn has been critical of the judges when he hasn't agreed with their decisions, previously arguing that Gretchen Jones shouldn't have won season eight over Mondo Guerra (who recaps Project Runway for THR.com) and telling reporters Wednesday that he had wanted Viktor Luna to take the season nine crown over Anya Ayoung-Chee. (For her part, Garcia said there are no decisions she would change if given the chance.)
"It could have been any of them, and I would be happy," Gunn said of the season 10 winner. "I have not been particularly happy with the outcome of the last couple of seasons. ... [But] this season, I was enormously happy with the outcome, and I hope everyone else is."
He added that the final four were, in his belief, the best four of the season 10 designers.
"I will say that without hesitation," he said. "The cream really does rise; it just does."
Meanwhile, Garcia also praised finale guest judge Jennifer Hudson.
"It was very timely," Garcia said. "She also is coming out with a line of clothes herself, so she's in the midst of producing clothes, and she understands what women need in their wardrobes."
As for what she looks for when determining a Project Runway winner, Garcia said the two most important elements in a collection are creativity and wearability.
"At the end of the day, these clothes are meant to be in a store, not in a museum," she said.
During the conference call, Gunn -- who next voices a role in Disney's animated Sofia the First and is planning another book -- also got candid about other key moments of Project Runway past and present. He sounds off on the next page.
On being called in to consult with the judges for the first time:
Gunn was asked by the judges to share whether he had advised controversial contestant Ven Budhu against doing his signature flower pattern in yet another garment. "That was unprecedented," he said, adding that both he and the director didn't think it would make the final cut. "I had a very dastardly motivation, and my motivation was, 'I can talk to the judges and help Ven go home in this challenge.' It didn't work. It ended up being Gunnar [Deatherage]. If I had known that, I wouldn't have agreed to talk to the judges."
His favorite moment from season 10:
When he went into the workroom during the Babies 'R Us challenge and told the designers they no longer had to take care of the lifelike "robot" babies. "I had never experienced a more joyous moment from them ever," he said.
His advice to Heidi Klum about the challenges:
Gunn said the challenges aren't getting more demanding, but the time the designers are given in which to finish them are getting shorter -- and he thinks that's a problem. "Heidi occasionally talks to me off-camera, 'Why didn't this work better?' My response is, 'Give them more time.' ... There is an ever-increasing level of exhaustion -- physical, emotional, creative and mental exhaustion. It's really daunting. On one hand, the longer you stay on the show, hurray, congratulations! But on the other hand, it's 'Please can I go home?' It's really very demanding."
What he tells the designers before each season starts:
"I have a very serious talk with them about myriad issues, the time constraints and material. Why, if you've never used silk charmeuse before, would you choose it?" He also tells them: "The challenge really begins and ends at Mood. If you don't have what you need and the ingredients aren't there, you are really in trouble."
What he really thought the first time he saw Costa's collection during the home visit:
"I thought it was one of the worst collections [I had] ever seen in my entire life. I was mystified. He is so talented, but the palette was so juvenile, and it was just so junior. ... I thought maybe in a manner of speaking he was pulling my leg and would say, 'Guess what? This isn't it!' I was hugely relieved he passed through the judges' analysis."
On the two designers who quit this season:
Andrea Katz: "She is a fashion teacher. Why would she bolt in this way? In terms of quality and character, what does it say about her, being a quitter, especially when she's a mentor to young people? We gave her the opportunity to come back and tell her side of the story and talk about why she left, and she wouldn't do it. What a weak sister."
Kooan Kosuke: "The Japanese meatball. He was on the threshold of leaving from the moment he walked in the workroom. .... After [a trip to] Mood, he dropped this bombshell that he was leaving, [but] there was no reason to talk him off the ledge. Regrettably, when this leaving is set in motion, you worry about all the other designers. ... Thankfully, no one else did leave."
On Gretchen Jones' mom:
"The editing of this show is so kind to everyone, and the home visit that was so dramatically edited was Gretchen on season eight. We were playing croquet, and her mother kept knocking my croquet ball across the street into traffic, and I'd have to go across the street to retrieve it. She was so hostile and angry, and I couldn't believe it. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree."
On when he will leave the show:
"As long as there is Project Runway, I'll be there, even if I'm in a wheelchair or an iron lung."