Season 15, Episode 14 Recap: Project Funway

When we left off last week in part one of the finale, the three-look previews which the four designers showed were pretty disappointing, and all had serious issues with being cohesive. Some designers truly needed to add completely new pieces to their collections in order to round them out and make sense, and who knows what materials they had left over from their initial budgets. I was wondering if they would be given some additional Mood money to shop with as a last chance to “make it work.” Sure enough, right off the bat post-runway-critique, Tim informs them that they will each have $500 and 30 minutes at Mood. They have 1.5 days to finish their collections, after their trip to Mood.

On the day of the show, one of Roberi’s models isn’t showing up, so he gets a substitute. Doesn’t this happen every single season? I mean, I’m sure this must be a fairly common occurrence at Fashion Week (for any designer), but still… I can’t help but think it’s one of those moments staged “for good TV”! It happened to me as well, and let me tell you, it’s definitely an added stress you don’t need! Roberi seemed to roll with it pretty well, though, and it could not have been too much of an issue since that’s all we saw of it. The guest judge is Zendaya, and GOOD LORD WHAT THE #&%@ IS HEIDI WEARING?! I know I’m meant to be critiquing the designers’ work, but I can’t NOT say anything about her getup this time. HK is having a thigh-high boot moment. I thought I’d seen the worst of it when she wore thigh-high green leather boots with a green dress. She has outdone that level of tackiness this time with a Jersey housewife-worthy ensemble (or perhaps Celine Dion in Vegas?), a white one-shouldered beaded minidress (with asymmetric hem, mind you,) and thigh-high shiny gold leather boots. I’m not even sure where one buys such a thing these days. When you google “thigh high gold boots,”,you get a bunch of stripper shoe websites. Just saying! As for the other judges’ ensembles, I’ll just say this: the guest judge’s outfit is the best, in my opinion!

As for the final 4 collections:
RIK, after being criticized for not showing enough skin (among other issues), decided to whack off the lengths of all his looks. He also decided to try to style his pieces differently by pairing patterns and motifs together which he may not have intended to do when he first designed the collection. I have to say his “Bandits” collection was my least favorite of the four. I was never a fan of the paisley-printed denim, and it became very central in the final collection. I don’t understand how that textile could be in the same collection as the more bold, graphic choices he made like black and white “punk-inspired” print, and the mod color blocked leather. So for me, combining the printed denim with other elements was frankly an eyesore. The best look in the collection was the first (last minute, made with additional Mood money!) all black, clean and modern look, and the best use of the printed denim was the bomber jacket with black rib trim. I was gobsmacked when Zac suggested in his critique that the denim should have been “bedazzled” and more “rodeo girl”! Talk about yet another mixed message! However, I have to say that is what that printed denim brings to mind!

I was really hoping that LAURENCE would amp things up in her final collection. It makes me sad because the work she did throughout the season was much more interesting than what she showed in her 10 looks. There must have been a disconnect for her in the difference between “runway” and “what women want to wear.” I can kind of relate, only in a way that when I made my collection, I was given similar feedback to “turn up the volume.” I was not thinking necessarily in terms of what would pop on the runway, but more in terms of making great clothes that would appeal to many women, while making a statement about my own POV as a designer. However, styling and accessorizing are one way to make more of a statement when the clothes themselves are more subdued, and there was a total absence of this. While her clothing is cool and wearable, it needed SOMETHING to give it an edge, and a presence on the runway. Runway shows are meant to convey a brand, not just show clothes on models. Even the pieces that were great like the olive jumpsuit (first look) and pearl-embellished silk tee with shorts, needed some better styling. Many of the looks were just screaming for fabulous jewelry and shoes, or what about a crossbody bag? It felt like in general the looks were not thought out enough and lacked some of the detail and “layers,” to tell more of a story. And where was her signature leather jacket? I wish the floral blazer had been some amazing laser cut leather instead. I’m also not crazy about the way she reworked the “sac de potate” romper. Again, I think with some better styling it could have held its own the way it was before. The gown had more of the edge we were all hoping to see from Laurence. I’m sure she is a great designer, but I was so disappointed to not see more from her final shot at showing millions of viewers what she can do and what she’s about.

ROBERI, on the other hand, really pulled through with what I’d say was the strongest collection of Season 15. The entire collection felt luxurious, cool, forward, modern, and thoughtful. And… cohesive! The mix of jacketing and parkas with diaphanous underlayers felt very fresh. I’m still not such a huge fan of the translucent foil fabrics in candy colors–they work better in neutral metallics like gold. And of course I love the unexpected bold stripe elements. My favorite looks were the graphic top + faux fur jacket + denim pant, and the look he showed in his critique with watery printed jacket and layers of sheer and feather underneath. I can see elements of this collection appealing to a range of women, and though not every look would be worn as shown, the point is that there are many pieces which could be worn and styled individually. The collection as a whole walked beautifully on the runway, with enough elements of surprise to keep the viewer interested and wanting more. I really Roberi’s artful yet wearable approach to clothing.

ERIN’s collection was as I’d have expected: kooky, creative, colorful. Her shapes and color combinations are very European (the boxy and oversized, embellished silhouettes remind me of Marni). While I like some of her looks very much, there are others which are real head- scratchers to me. Look #1, for example, with bustier bra, suspender straps, and embellished genie skirt, or the last one, with the hand/banana print, which is straight-up Jeremy Scott for Miley Cyrus. As the judges said, she is appealing to a younger generation for sure. But generation aside, it comes down to fashion as being subjective, like art. I can appreciate some of Erin’s work but it doesn’t necessarily make me yearn to see more–and that’s just me. She does have seemingly limitless creativity, but sometimes her creations become issues of taste, in my opinion. That said, I pretty much predicted Erin as the winner from very early on because she has such a distinct point of view and became a darling of the judges. Additionally, the fact that she made it through several low-scoring challenges (and despite that, still made it though to the finale) says a lot, and as I’ve said I still have my theories that the choice to have two “unconventional” challenges in a row was to set up Erin for the win.

So congratulations to Erin! I find it most interesting to watch the path of the winners. Will they start their own line? Will they ride the wave? Or will they make some money doing the press circuits and visiting a few universities then just fall back into whatever they were doing before they went in front of millions of viewers and became a public figure? Whatever the case, good luck to Erin and all the designers from Season 15, whose worlds have been changed forever, in some capacity, for better or for worse! My advice to them: do yourselves a favor and “ride the wave” while the tide is high. Because one day you’re in, and the next, you’re out.

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