Gretchen, Mondo and Andy show their collections at New York Fashion Week

By Kate Hogan
Updated October 29, 2010 07:35 AM
Credit: Barbara Nitke/Lifetime

The judges got heated while selecting the season-eight champion – and Heidi Klum called it the toughest decision in Project Runway history.

After finalists Andy South, Gretchen Jones and Mondo Guerra showed their looks at New York City Fashion Week, the judges – including guest judge Jessica Simpson – debated for what seemed like hours over which designer should win. So who did they pick? To many, it was a surprise.

Gretchen ended up winning the season, in a shocking upset over fan favorite Mondo (Andy had been eliminated first). The judges held a highly contentious discussion about the contestants’ collections, with Michael Kors and Nina Garcia favoring Gretchen, and Klum and Simpson siding with Mondo. Klum was even ready to break out her boxing gloves!

Though Kors and Garcia argued that Gretchen was on-trend and in tune with what’s now happening in fashion, Simpson wondered if the collection was too ready-to-wear. As for Mondo, Klum was convinced he was not only a skilled designer but editor, too, while Kors thought his looks were too costume-like. The decision ultimately came down to the fact that Gretchen’s line was perhaps more commercial, whereas Mondo’s customer wasn’t as easily identifiable.

The new champ was grateful for her win, telling the judges she felt like “100,000 dollars.”

“It’s the most exciting thing that’s ever happened to me,” she exclaimed.

Simpson promised that she and sister Ashlee Simpson-Wentz would wear Gretchen’s designs in the future, too. For his part, Mondo wasn’t visibly upset, telling the cameras that although he didn’t win Runway, he won “so much more.” And as Klum said, there’s definitely room for both their aesthetics in the fashion world.

Tell us: Did the right person win Project Runway?