Christian Siriano, a 21-year-old from Annapolis, MD, was revealed to be Project Runway's fourth-season champ during last night's finale broadcast of the Bravo reality competition series.
"What the hell just happened? Yeah... I just won," said Christian. "It's really crazy."
As the winner of Project Runway's fourth-season crown, Christian received the grand prize package of a $100,000 TRESemme-sponsored cash prize, a year of representation from Designer's Management Agency, a 2008 Saturn Astra, an ELLE magazine editorial feature, and the opportunity to sell a fashion line on Bluefly.com.
"I am the youngest winner of Project Runway ever. It's crazy!" said Christian. "I'm really excited. But let me tell you, I'm taking a [vacation]. I need a breaky-break. This won't be the last of Christian Siriano. I mean, people need to see more of the fierceness."
Rami Kashov, a 31-year-old from Ramallah, Jerusalem, finished second.
"My experience on Project Runway will be a very helpful way for me to keep moving ahead," said Rami. "This is not the last time you will hear of [me]. You will see a lot more from me and you'll be wearing my clothes soon."
Jillian Lewis, a 26-year-old from Long Island, NY, finished third.
"I was really surprised at how it played out," said Jillian. "I was so disappointed and so let down. But you know what? I would not go back and do it differently. I love what I did."
Project Runway's fourth-season finale broadcast began with the three finalists busily at work preparing their designs for the New York Fall Fashion Week challenge.
"In terms of Christian, it's always over the top," commented Rami after getting a look at his competitor's collection. "He has a lot to learn in this industry in terms of designing clothes for women -- not just for models."
Meanwhile, Jillian felt she had been inconsistent in casting her models and tried to get another girl or two, but since it was so last minute, her efforts were fruitless. Rami told her to focus on the positives and accused her of "worrying too much."
"The story that the models were telling was worrying me," she opined. "But I have to accept the fact that there is diversity and kind of love it for that reason. Hopefully it will look really great."
Fashion guru Tim Gunn then revealed the order the finalists would be presenting their designs the following day, with Jillian going first, followed by Christian and Rami.
"I just have to tell you -- I am so proud of you -- I don't have the adequate words to express it," gushed Tim. "I have never been presented with a season of Project Runway where the work has been this high of level, and so consistently."
The next morning, the finalists awoke and left for the finale runway show at New York Fall Fashion Week in Bryant Park. After checking out the space for their show, the finalists and their teams of dressers started getting all the designs together and preparing their models. However a problem quickly arose for Christian when one of his models was a no show.
"It was too crazy for me backstage," he said. "I was ready to give up!"
But it was better late then never when the model eventually arrived, minutely dropping his stress level as the show got under way.
"It's totally a make or break moment because I don't have other opportunities coming up right now," said Christian. "It's like a once-in-a-lifetime chance."
Once the fashion show was complete, the finalists gathered for the final judging panel, where they were met by host Heidi Klum; clothing designer Michael Kors; ELLE magazine fashion director Nina Garcia; and celebrity guest judge Victoria Beckham.
Victoria complimented Jillian's "attention to detail" as fantastic and said everything was "made beautifully," which Michael agreed with. Heidi noted she saw a lot of new shapes and designs, which was a plus. However Nina didn't necessarily agree.
"I think what happened was, there were too many inspirations," explained Nina. "It looked a little disjointed and we lost the essence of Jillian."
Christian was visibly nervous when explaining his designs, which the judges were impressed with during the runway show.
"I loved everything that you did. It was very much my taste and my style," said Victoria.
Michael described Christian's designs as "very cohesive" and "powerful looking," but added his over-use of the color black made it "monotonous." Nina agreed it was a little repetitive.
"I also feel it may have been slightly monotonous -- but because it was so me -- I loved every minute of it," said Victoria. "You really made me smile and I'm not easy to make smile."
Heidi said she "loved" Rami's collection -- especially the weaving technique he used. Michael agreed and described the flow of the designs as "fantastic," adding he wasn't a huge fan of all the colors Rami used because they weren't "chic enough for the clothes." Nina said Rami has a "strong point of view" -- which is "fantastic."
"I thought it was lovely," said Victoria, appreciating the time he spent on some of the designs.
The judges then deliberated before bringing the finalists back into the room and revealing Christian was the winner.
"I'm such a fan. You are so talented. I would be honored to wear any piece of your clothing," Victoria told an emotional Christian.
After Christian celebrated with family and friends, Bravo confirmed Tim Gunn's recent statement that casting for Project Runway's fifth season will commence this month, with stops in Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami and New York. Additional details are available via Bravo's website.