Season 15, Episode 14 Recap: Ready, Set, Finale!

The end is near…the end is HERE! Yes, it’s the finale of Season 15 “Project Runway”! The last time we saw our final four designers, they had received a verbal beatdown from the judges, telling—no, yelling—for more COHESION, COHESION, COHESION! In my last recap, I thought that Rik was in the most trouble, with Laurence a close second. Meanwhile Roberi and Erin seemed to have the least to be worried about. Let’s see what changed, and what did not. Time for my final recap of the season!

It’s two days before the finale runway show and following the three-look preview, Tim meets the designers backstage. At this point, he usually takes out his notebook and begins the “you need to do this, you need to do that” talk. Yet today, it was all pretty simple: a trip to Mood, anyone? With a resounding yes, the designers are off for their final shopping excursion to get the necessary materials that will take them into a more cohesive state of mind.

Post-shopping, Tim checks in. Rik explains that he was trying to “design everything… giving you options.” Indeed, but it was too muchy. He has decided to keep his looks all one length (Bueno!) and show a little more skin (Muy bueno!), and he’s adding one garment, a patent leather dress. Tim wisely encourages him to let go of the initial vision of each of the looks. Let it go, Rik!

Laurence tells Tim that she is making a chiffon blouse to cover the midriff on her low-slung pants and Erin is making a top, as well as using the embroidery machine. Tim warns her to not get too “crafty.” I understand the warning, but something tells me Erin isn’t a “happy hands a home, arts and crafty, kitten sweater-sewin’ gal”—she seems more elevated.

Finally, it’s Roberi’s time and he is a bit befuddled by the judge’s comments that he’s “all over the place.” Part of me thinks he’s actually confused and the other thinks he’s being one of those stubborn “artistes” who cannot understand any criticism, even if it is trying to be constructive. When he proclaims to Tim—rather proudly—that he is “confusion,” it’s confirmed that Roberi is just being that aforementioned “artiste.” Thank goodness Tim slaps him back to reality and tells him to let the confusion go away.

One day before the runway show and as the designers are finishing their collections, Tim walks in for his final “gather around” pep talk. As always, he gets choked up speaking about the great admiration he has for this group, saying that “not only are they great designers, but wonderful people.” You know that Tim has probably dealt with a few not-so-very nice finalists in his FIFTEEN seasons of mentoring (he’s told me, and I’m not naming names!), so I know EXACTLY how sincere this was.

It’s 3:30 am and time to get ready for the finale show. While some of you might think this is bananas, it’s not. “Project Runway” holds the finale show twice, a rehearsal very early in the morning at 6 am and another at around 10 am. Therefore, because of that first show, the call time is at an insanely early hour.

As it has become customary during these “Project Runway” finale episodes, something dramatic always happens (can’t finish on time, missing shoes, questionable receipts), but it seemed as if we had been spared from that…until Tim approaches Roberi backstage moments before the runway to tell him that one of his models DID NOT SHOW UP (Dios mio!). No real drama there. And then a rip is discovered in one of Laurence’s garments. Nothing a little hand stitching won’t fix. Crisis averted and now back to the runway show.

I was honored to have been invited to this year’s show and was thrilled to find out that on my right, I’d be seated next to last season’s winner, Ashley Nell Tipton and on my left was runner-up Kelly Dempsey—I was part of a Season 14 sandwich!

Heidi, Zac, Nina, and guest judge Zendaya are on-hand to judge. Before I comment on the collections, I always feel compelled to explain how different seeing a collection—especially from the eighth row—is compared to on TV, front and center. I’ve been lucky enough to have attended many of these “Project Runway” finale shows and often I’ve thought, “Gosh that was a mess!” as I was sitting there and noticed a wonky zipper, unfinished hems, etc… and then watch the episode on TV and the collections appear FLAWLESS! You’d think it would be the other way around (especially with HDTV). After having seen these four collections both on the runway and in my living room, I can say that what I saw on TV is exactly what I saw sitting next to Ashley and Kelly.

Rik is up first. His collection is entitled “Bandits” and first off, I was happily shocked to see how cohesive it looked. Not sure why it was the complete opposite at the preview, but maybe you just had to see it in its 10-look entirety. I thought it was contemporary, looked like it was all one girl and one collection. I loved his paisley moto vest and that first black patent leather dress. I agreed with the judges that it was probably the strongest piece. Not a surprise that it was a black a-line dress—sooo Rik.

Laurence’s collection was inspired by “finding the light in the darkness.” The first look of a chocolate-colored leather jumpsuit was EVERYTHING: this girl is too cool for school. Overall, I did think it was sportif-chic with the right blend of slouchy meets tailored. But it did lack a certain “wow” runway impact as the judges concurred. I think Laurence is at her strongest when doing sharp, leather, bodycon power divas. Knowing what she had done throughout the season, I wished she would have gone more into the dark…as opposed to the light.

Roberi’s collection was the biggest surprise to me. It didn’t translate so much while I was sitting there watching the show, but on TV: wow! It was polished, modern and uptown. The collection looked cohesive (shocker!) which once again, leads me to question whether the three-look judges’ preview is even a good idea. I thought his mixing of army-inspired jackets with feminine iridescent skirts was fresh and editorial. His clothes reminded me of an updated Carolina Herrera-meets-Oscar de la Renta—not for the NYC doyenne, but instead for her fashionista granddaughter.

Erin was last and certainly not least with her “Project Funway” collection. It was my favorite of the four. I was instantly drawn to the bright colors, the sequined details…the BANANA print! As her clothes came down the runway, I looked around and EVERYONE in the audience was smiling. You almost knew, “Oh yeah, here’s your winner!” My favorite looks included the neoprene dusty rose dress with oversized paillettes, the pink trapeze coat, and the A-line gold dress.

By the time the model with the “Moody” bag and the final banana-printed jacket and skirt came down the runway, I had drunk the Erin Kool-Aid. Erin has a fabulous eye for color, shapes and unique embellishments—it was fresh and created a definite impact. Her collection is made for fashion magazines and I venture to say, so Instagrammable! (New judging criteria, perhaps?) To me, it was pretty obvious who the winner should be and…indeed Erin became the fifteenth winner of “Project Runway.” Congrats to Erin and her banana-printed, Moody bag-holding, highlighter yellow-wearing “Instagram” It Girls!

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