These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Consolation Award: Lotsof people have alleged that Daniel Vosovic's win in the 2009 All-Stars competition was actually a consolation award for his second place finish during Season 2. It didn't help that he had just written a book with a foreword written by Tim Gunn and an interview with guest judge Diane von Furstenberg. On the other hand, Season 5's Korto repeatedly stated that she expected to win the all-star competition as a consolation award for finishing second in her season.
The Fan Favorite award functions as this as well, though, on two occasions, it was given to a designer who also won his or her season. (The award wasn't given for the eighth series, apparently because snubbing Mondo Guerra was very on-trend that season.)
Counterpart Comparison: A gay male Mexican-American designer with flawless construction skills suffers crack defeats because the judges seem to favor far more controversial personalities? While Viktor Luna and Mondo Guerra are quite different as designers, and somewhat ironically shot themselves in the foot in exactly opposite ways during the finales of their respective seasons, the parallels between them haven't gone unnoticed.
In fact, it's popularly believed that Viktor was placed third specifically to avert comparisons to Mondo, whose second-place finish a season earlier enraged the audience.
Creator's Pet: Season 8 winner Gretchen Jones, Season 9 finalist Joshua M.
A better season 9 example is Anya. Many, many viewers predicted her win from day one. Rules have undeniably been bent for her, and garments that would have sent other designers home in a heartbeat didn't even land her in the bottom two. Heidi Klum even said during one judging that she wanted to see Anya win.
The judges' weird little conversation, for the benefit of the audience, after making the decision not to eliminate Anya from the final four despite her self-admittedly terrible mini-collection. "Do you feel good about our decision?" "Yeah, I think we made the right choice."
Season 10's Christopher Palu has also had this accusation leveled at him, and in the final episode of the season wound up being subverted, since he not only didn't win, he was the first of the final four eliminated and the judges did not mince their words at their disappointment in him.
Anthony Ryan in the All Stars 2 season. It's thought that the judges made him win most of the challenges to give him the prize, although there were more deserving wins for some of the challenges and Anthony's elimination in his original season was widely considered a Crack Defeat, so some viewers considered it Anthony being Vindicated by History. Recappers Tom and Lorenzo also predicted his win early on for this reason. To be fair, his final collection of 7 is actually decent despite having only 4 days......If you just don't compare it to (mostly) Uli's.
Patricia from Season 11 was also this, with Heidi even flat out admitting it. Ultimately does not get her the win due to Nina and Michael overruling Zac and Heidi.
Critical Dissonance: Fans have always disagreed with the judges, but a striking example occurred in Season 9. One of the most prominent Project Runway blogs holds a vote after every episode asking who the fans think should have won the challenge that week. Viktor Luna won this poll five times in a row, but the judges only named him the sole winner of one challenge all season. He also steamrolled the "Who deserved to win the whole season?" poll with 55% (compared with the actual winner, Anya, who received 22%).
The same blog also polls readers on "Who deserved to be auf'd?" every week. Josh M was picked four times but not only didn't get eliminated, he actually took second place for the entire season!
Elimination Houdini: Several, including Wendy (Season 1), Santino (Season 2), Blayne (Season 5), Christopher (Season 6), and Josh M (Season 9).
Wendy actually managed to ride this all the way to the finals by creating her one good outfit in the competition that decided the finalists, but the judges didn't even bother to consider her collection when it came to choosing a winner.
Anya, going into Fashion Week in Season 9. The last four designers all had to preview sample outfits from their final collections to determine which three would be contenders for the top prize. Anya's was clearly terrible in concept and execution (which she admitted herself). Instead of eliminating her, they put all four designers through.
Jeffrey in the third season of All-Stars has been in the bottom three times in a row for creations the judges just loathe for either being over-thought or just plain unflattering, yet he has been safe each time, possibly just because he previously won Season 3. The third time, with the obvious worst outfit of the bunch (poorly constructed and having his model's breasts and bottom exposed), the judges actually decide to send no one home for no explained reason.
Ensemble Darkhorse: Can arguably be a number of designers, but Tim Gunn, originally just an adviser for the designers, has become beloved by fans for his charm, kindness, and insight.
And as of Season 8, his willingness to call somebody out on their Jerk Ass behavior. See Crowning Moment of Awesome.
Dmitry of Season 10 was also this to a section of the fans, and in this case the dark horse won.
Executive Meddling: Widely offered for the reason why four finalists got to compete for the top prize in season 9. Anya's sample collection was poorly designed and poorly made, but she got put through anyway. Most people attribute this to her "story" making for better television.
This might have been in play as early as season 5. The show had twice experimented with not eliminating a contestant on the final challenge and letting four designers create collections. The first time (season 3), all four were allowed to compete for the final prize. The second time around (season 4) four designers created collections, with the knowledge that the bottom two would have to compete against each other for the third spot. Either way, before season 5, winning the final challenge ensured a designer's place at Fashion Week. The last challenge of the fifth season did not feature an elimination and was won by Jerell Scott (whose output often walked the line between Pimped-Out Dress and Impossibly Tacky Clothes). However, this time, all four designers were subjected to another surprise challenge, during which Jerell was eliminated. Michael Costello, who won season 8's last challenge, lost a spot at Fashion Week under the same circumstances. Beginning with Costello's season, the show has been notably vague about naming the last challenge's best-performing designer a "winner" onscreen, possibly to leave the door open for the inclusion of designers with better "stories" or to prevent the ascent of an Elimination Houdini (season 1's Wendy Pepper being the most notable example).
Fan Dumb: Whenever the designers have a challenge where they need to design for "real people" and one or more of them complain about not making dresses for people who are not models, the fans love to go off, screaming that the designer is stupid/untalented because "not everyone who buy their clothes is the size of a model" and "they should know they need to design for normal people if they want to make it in this business". The thing is, that's not every designer, that's a commercial or ready-wear designer, someone who makes clothes ready to be worn by everyone off the rack. Many, many of the designers who take part in Project Runway are not commercial designers, and specialize in only making outfits for a particular group of people, which, of course, is their choice and right. That still doesn't give them any excuse for not being prepared for a challenge that happens at least once a season, however ...
Foe Yay: Quite a few viewers see this between Gunner and Chris of Season 10. As reviewers Tom and Lorenzo called them:
[They are] two hissing mirror-image queens who desperately need to fuck so they can shut up about hating each other.
As for Christopher and Gunnar, clearly, Sonjia grabbed them both by their neckbeards and hissed ďGo suck each other off in the menís room if you have to, but I am NOT having you two bitchy white boys with crazy hair fuck up this challenge for me!Ē Itís the only explanation that made any sense.
Iron Woobie: Anthony Ryan, despite his Keet behavior, hasn't had the easiest life, and in fact survived testicular cancer and as a result only has one testicle. The initial judges were also very impressed when he revealed that he was actually colorblind, which they considered especially extraordinary considering that they wouldn't have guessed unless they told him given the quality of the colors he chooses.
Jerkass Woobie: Both Joshua M and Bert of Season 9 wound up here for some viewers when they talked a bit more about their lives, Joshua by revealing that his mother had died and he hasn't been able to say goodbye to her, and Bert by revealing that he'd lost his partner to AIDS and was a recovering alcoholic. It didn't excuse any of their behavior, but it did make it more obvious what made them tick.
Tear Jerker: You couldn't help but shed a tear when Mondo, who was so secretive about the inspiration for his pattern, revealed that he was HIV+ on the judging floor. He had carried this secret for 10 years and never told anybody
That whole episode (Season 8-10) was the biggest tearjerker so far in the history of the show.
Daniel Franco refusing to throw his teammates under the bus and honorably offering himself up for elimination during the second season's team lingerie challenge.
Bert of Season 9 revealed that he'd lost his partners to AIDS and was a recovering alcoholic definitely helped soften his image, and after that he seemed to open up more to the other designers.
Joshua M, who had been and even after continued to be a Jerk Ass, talking about being unable to see his mother when she was dying and unexpectedly breaking down during a Confession Cam interview. You realize his mother's been dead for two years while he's sobbing like it was last week. After his Jerk Ass behavior in that episode and the previous one, more cynical viewers saw the tears as a plea for sympathy.
Everyone was in tears when Justin was about to be sent home in season 12, including Tim Gunn. This turned to Tears of Joy when Tim decided to use his save to allow Justin to stay.
All-Stars seasons subverted this. Georgina, Izaac and Joanna were good replacements for Nina, Michael and Tim, but Angela and Carolyn weren't as entertaining as Heidi.
The Spin-Off Project Accesory (only lasted one season).
The Scrappy: Several, including Wendy (Season 1), Angela (Season 3), and Kenley (Season 5), Gretchen and Ivy (season 8)
Vincent gave Angela good competition for that title, although he didn't have her longevity.
Season 7 also had this reaction from the fans against Jesse, because he argued with his team partner Ping about her choices as Team Leader and made her cry... When he was clearly on the right this time, she was being closed minded with the direction. He only got Rescued from the Scrappy Heap when he got eliminated, and all his Hate Dumb base migrated to hate Emilio instead.
Olivier seems to be hated as much as he's loved, especially after his Freak Out over having to design clothing for real women with BOOBS and complaints about not working with models and instead with "fat people", not to mention people who dislike his accent and think he's faking it. At least one blogger's referred to him as "the personification of the color beige" and was all too happy when he was eliminated.
With each passing week Joshua M seems to becoming more of one, and his behavior during the After the Runway special seems to have sealed the deal, in part because he managed to be a one-man Spotlight-Stealing Squad with his insulted reaction to being called out for his Jerkass behavior.
Ven's behavior in episode 6 of season 10 quickly landed him here, since he was constantly complaining about the fact that his client was plus sized and didn't seem to get why his behavior was a problem (to the point of making her cry) not to mention being rather hypocritical since he's not exactly a model sized guy himself. It was made worse when, after the episode ended, Ven went on to his twitter account and continued speaking badly of his client, and even accused Project Runway producers of editing the show to try to make him look bad.
And in the All Stars 2 season, Laura Kathleen's behavior made it to the point that she was hated even more then Joshua M., whose entry further up the page can attest to the level of hatred he earned in their original season.
Timothy in season 12 seems to be barreling towards scrappydom at breakneck speed from the first two episodes alone due to his holier-than-thou "eco friendly" platform, which he never shuts up about despite the fact that the judges have rightly pummeled him for Completely Missing the Point of the show in general and being a massive Hypocrite for doing things like forcing his model to go barefoot while he wears sparkly (women's) shoes on the runway next to her. Compare and contrast with Gretchen, who was also a sustainable designer and still managed to produce great work and never tried to push "sustainable design" or anything.
Ken of season 12 also seems to have landed her for a lot of viewers. Tellingly, an article on an online news site for his home town did a poll about what people thought of him, 61% (at the time of this writing) selected "He's rude, obnoxious and dismissive of other designers" and 24% selected "he needs to go home." Ouch.
Recappers Tom and Lorenzo have accused the show of this in regards to its treatment of black contestants, especially Emilio in season 7 and All Stars in Kahindo of season 12.
Tom and Lorenzo, as well part of the audience, also theorized that Tim Gunn's Safe Card on Justin also could be interpreted as "Saving the deafNice Guy" (even when anybody would consider saying that aloud very cold, but still possible), because he still didn't do something impressive by that point of the competition.
Vindicated by History: April (Season 8) was raked over the coals by the judges for daring to show a "panty" short with a Phillip Treacy hat; fast forward to Resort 2011 — a half dozen designers showed similar panty shorts for Fashion Week.
Also, Ben from Season 7 with his "jock strap front" trousers.
Alison from season 3 was roundly criticized for styling her model's hair into the shape of a bow. Fast forward a few years, a famously fashionable pop star wears the same look◊ and influences other famous women◊.
Nina Garcia to Santino in the "give a competitor a makeover" challenge from Season 2: "Who wears jumpsuits anymore?" Jump to 2009 and suddenly they're a big trend.
Not only a big trend, but when Gretchen sent one (in drab, depressing navy blue) for the Macy's challenge, in a cut that wouldn't be flattering to anyone, guess who won that challenge?
Wangst: The more you don't like a designer, the more likely you are to view their occasional breakdowns and drama as this.