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With heavy rotation on Bravo and a cast of charismatic style makers, the show has quickly become the ''American Idol" of people who love fashion. And now viewers across the country are divided over who should win. Globe writers Joe Yonan, Joanna Weiss, and Bobby Hankinson sat down one afternoon with Style & Arts editor Ann Scales to dish about who they think will make the cut -- and who will fall apart at the seams -- during the two-part finale that begins tonight.
Joanna Weiss: I searched my soul over this, because he is kind of a big jerk, but I feel like Santino is a creative force. He has a vision. Anyone can go and design something nice for Banana Republic or J. Jill. Santino has a vision, and I think he should win it.
Joe Yonan: Bobby has something to say about that. I know that he does.
Bobby Hankinson: Oh, we're going there? Fine. My pick would be Daniel Vosovic. He has clean lines, and his stuff is really wearable, and he thinks about women's body shapes and what they should be wearing. It's really suitable and something you can take off of the runway and onto the streets.
JY: I have this feeling that Santino has been playing us this whole time. Even the stuff that's been totally over the top, he knows has been over the top. He knows that he's going to skate by and make it into the finale. Then I think we're going to see something different from him. But I do like Chloe. Although she really lost me when she did what I think is the kiss of death on a reality show: admit that you're not sure you want it. Never, never do that.
JW: Santino has been propped up a bit by the producers all along. As one of the contestants said, it is and has always been the Santino Show. And I think Project Santino would be a lot more fun to watch than Project Daniel or Project Chloe.
Ann Scales: Santino's been in the bottom two or three several times. He's made a lot of mistakes as a designer.
JW: His lingerie was a disaster [Episode 4, ''Team Lingerie"]. That was perhaps the ugliest thing I have ever seen.
AS: Why is Chloe there?
JW: Chloe designs beautiful clothes.
BH: She's been consistent is what she's been. It's always tasteful; it's never too much.
JW: She's a little much on the turquoise.
BH: She likes the turquoise.
JY: She's done that a couple of times -- the blue and the black combo.
BH: It's pretty though; it's pleasing to the eyes.
JY: And it's got just enough of an interesting touch that it doesn't make it boring. I thought her Nicky Hilton dress was beautiful [Episode 5, ''Social Scene"] with the single braid, and her skating dress [Episode 7, ''On Thin Ice"] -- which was also turquoise.
BH: She rocks the turquoise, but she's consistent. If nothing else, you can depend on Chloe that she'll do well.
JW: I like Daniel Vosovic, I think he designs beautiful things. But -- maybe this is just me not being a couture person -- that orchid dress [Episode 8, ''Inspiration"] was the weirdest thing I had ever seen. I could not imagine anyone wearing it.
JY: I did not like the orchid dress.
BH: I'm so alone on this. I love the orchid dress. I was like, ''That's so great!" I never would have seen that and put that form, that silhouette, into that outfit.
AS: Andrae [Gonzalo] hurt himself with his theatrics. Should he have been in this final three?
BH: He was always kind of consistent. Kind of like Chloe, he stayed on par. He always kept up, he didn't fall short. He took a huge risk on that garden dress [Episode 9, ''Flower Power"], and it was hideous. It was hideous; like they rolled her in sod. It was awful.
JW: What did Michael Kors say it looked like, a welcome mat?
JY, BH, AS: A doormat.
JY: I watched that again recently and he [Andrae] says in the outset, ''I went for dead and dried things," or ''things that would die beautifully." It's like, dude, nothing dies beautifully.
AS: Nick [Verreos] should be in the top three, I think.
BH: I don't know. I was so on the Nick train. I was all over it. I loved Nick, rooting for Nick.
JY: Until the walk-off.
BH: Not only that, but his clothes started falling down the hill too. His Daniel Vosovic makeover was awful [Episode 10, ''Makeover"].
JW: That was a disaster. That was a disaster.
JY: And another fishtail skirt? No! Stop it with the fishtail.
BH: I just had enough of him. I think everyone kind of did. We all got overdosed on Nick. We were like ''We're done with you. You're not keeping this interesting enough for us anymore."
AS: So, guys, who do you think has designed the clothes that people would want to wear?
JY: Probably Chloe.
BH: I would say Chloe, too.
JW: It's between Chloe and Daniel. Chloe's got a more interesting edge, I think. Daniel nailed Banana Republic, but I'm not sure that's the greatest thing.
BH: Banana Republic, is that really what designers aspire to? Banana Republic?
JY: And it's weird they get a design internship with Banana Republic.
JW: If Santino wins, he's turning that down. He's running away from that.
AS: Anything else?
JY: I don't think it's an overstatement to say that, so far anyway, [''Project Runway" is] the best depiction of the creative process that I've ever seen on television. We're in a creative business, so I think I can identify with them in that sense.
JW: Though watching someone write would be a lot more boring.