Local designer falls short of win
She gave it a good run, but came up short.
Carol Hannah Whitfield, a 2007 graduate of the College of Charleston, made it to the finals of the reality TV show Project Runway, but she and fellow finalist Althea Harper were bested by Irina Shabayeva in the finale, which aired Thursday on the Lifetime channel.
About 30 fans, mostly College of Charleston co-eds, gathered Thursday in the Stern Student Center ballroom for a "Project Runway Watch Party" organized by Susan Payment, director of student life. During commercials, Payment raffled off Project Runway mugs and T-shirts and after the show, hosted a Tim Gunn sound-alike contest.
Project Runway, which aired Thursday on the Lifetime channel, followed 16 designers trying to make it to New York Fashion Week. The three finalists showed their collections in a Bryant Park runway show.
All along, the odds were stacked against Whitfield. Not only was she the only finalist who did not attend design school, but she also spent the days leading up to the end sidelined by a stomach bug.
Even so, Whitfield came across as the hard-working nice girl who avoided the drama caused by Shabayeva, 27, who emerged as the villainess, accusing Harper of copying her designs.
"I'm very proud that Carol hasn't said anything that she would regret," her mother, Susan Whitfield, said in a phone interview on Wednesday. "She has maintained a sense of integrity and kindness."
After the fashion show, judges Michael Kors, Nina Garcia, Suzy Menkes and Heidi Klum praised Whitfield's collection, especially her use of color, but said they felt it lacked the cohesiveness that was apparent in Shabayeva's mostly black collection.
After being told she was out, Whitfield, 24, called the experience "simultaneously the most bizarre and most amazing moment of my life."
As the winner, Shabayeva receives a cash prize of $100,000, a trip to Paris and an editorial feature in an issue of Marie Claire magazine.
The show finished filming in February but was delayed in airing because of lawsuits that resulted after it moved from Bravo to Lifetime this season.
At the time of the runway show, host Heidi Klum said, "This is a little bit different for us. Unfortunately no one has seen the show yet. I'm a little sad for our designers. We're all a bit in limbo."
Since filming the show, Whitfield, 24, a native of Anderson, has moved to New York.