Season 15, Episode 14 Recap: Finale, Part 2

This is it, fashionistas. The finale of Season 15 has come, and it’s the perfect precursor to the holidays. I don’t know about you, but I’ll spend the next few weeks in a fashion haze that no bad gift, saucy grandma, or even foot traffic from angry New Yorkers doing last-minute Christmas shopping can ruin.

After receiving some helpful criticism of their capsule collections, the stressed-out designers return to the workroom daunted by the mountain of work they all have. The name of the game is “cohesion,” but how do you bring disparate elements together when only moments ago you were sure they were perfect parts of a whole? And how do you do it in pretty much no time?

Tim offers the group a final trip to Mood and $500 each to spend there on elements to bring their collections to the next level. After 30 minutes, the designers say one last goodbye to a sleeping Swatch; re-energized by their new fabrics, they race back to the workroom and get to finishing.

Tim quickly discusses alterations to the collections with the designers. Rik explains that he’s going to take the judges’ advice and show a bit more skin, and mentions that if there’s time he plans to make an additional leather dress. Laurence is struggling with the olive-colored romper that so confused the judges, who said that if she can’t class it up she may toss it. Erin plans to play with the embroidery machine to mimic a gold printed fabric she’s used, and she plans to rework the flowy pink maxi dress the judges said stood out like a sore thumb. Tim warns her to avoid a “craft project” look. Roberi wants his collection to emote “confusion,” and Tim challenges the concept until Roberi explains that he’s going to keep his collection going in the direction of the judges’ favorite look. Roberi describes his momentum as “confusion guided by a clear sense of purpose,” to which Tim laughs and walks away.

After a day spent rushing about trying to get the finishing touches completed, an emotional Tim arrives once more for a “gather ’round” moment. He tells the designers how proud he is of them and they have a lovely group hug. Roberi reflects on the absurdity of leaving the workroom that has become such a meaningful space to him, but the excitement of finally making it to New York Fashion Week overwhelms any melancholy any of the designers may feel. Speaking of…


At the NYFW venue, Heidi introduces Zac, Nina, and guest judge Zendaya to a packed house of stars, normals, and everything in between. The looks walk while the designers each stand backstage with Tim, watching their hard work come to life.

(Please check out the photo gallery and individual runway videos for reference because my descriptions couldn’t possibly do any of these finale collection looks justice.)

Rik: Inspired by rebel culture and punk rock, it was a leather, denim, and spandex collection. Nina and Zac loved the first look, a black leather sleeveless minidress that Rik made in the day between the mini-collection presentation and the final runway. Zac’s one note about the collection is that the denim was missing a sparkle. Heidi is pleased that Rik took the notes about cohesion from the capsule collection and really incorporated them into his finishing touches. Zendaya loves the long embroidered denim jacket that Rik paired with the black and white spandex bodysuit.

Roberi: Inspired by his own experiences and memories, Roberi created an eclectic yet whimsical collection. Heidi and Zac are impressed by the white translucent dress with feather details paired with a “cloudy” blue and white jacket. The one look Heidi didn’t love from the collection is the final dress, a floor-length dark blue gown with a khaki, blue, and white top. She called it somber and out of place. Nina loves the extreme turnaround of the collection, particularly the denim pant paired with the simple, deep green fur jacket. Zac compliments the “feminine but cerebral” quality of Roberi’s designs. Zendaya likes the way the heaviness of the jackets contrast with the lightness of the clothing underneath, particularly the light blue three-fourth-sleeve denim jacket with long pockets that he paired with the light purple dress. Zendaya cites the purple brocade dress with oversized sleeves as the moment when she really started to love the collection.

Erin: Inspired by her own evolution and aiming to make a fun “portrait” of herself, Erin created a bright, young, fresh collection. Zac says he loves the “pop, glam, art school, cut-and-paste quality” of her work, complimenting specifically her work on what I’m calling the “hands holding bananas” jacket and skirt. Zac’s one note is that some of the under-pieces feel a bit like an afterthought and could be elevated. Zendaya loved how much fun the collection was to watch and compliments how expensive the garments looked. Heidi appreciates how playful and unique Erin is with her work. Nina didn’t love the the long red skirt from the start of the show, saying it felt a bit “genie out of the bottle,” but she does love Erin’s flirty, shiny gold dress.

Laurence: Inspired by her own life story, Laurence created a collection that moves from dark to the “light at the end of the tunnel.” Zendaya loved the leather work and the white top with the long net skirt. The judges all love the olive jumpsuit that began the show and Zendaya says it’s definitely something she would wear. Zac and Heidi both think that while the looks were impeccably made, the collection lacked a bit of impact or a “wow moment.” Zac says that he feels like a lot of these looks could be found in stores now. Nina loves the short-sleeved brocade jacket, complimenting Laurence’s beautiful tailoring. Nina does say that the pleated skirt Laurence made seemed not only out of place, but like a different designer had made it, because it was missing her usual cool factor.

In the end the judges decide that while each designer had a very interesting showing, Erin has been the most exciting designer throughout the season, particularly with her final collection. Personally, I preferred Roberi’s collection – Erin’s tends to be a little too trendy for my taste – but I appreciate her bravery to commit to the extreme and I’d say this win is very well-deserved.

What a fantastic runway to end a super impressive season. I feel ready to face the holidays and I’m excited for what each of these kids is going to create next. Speaking of kids, nip your “Runway” withdrawal in the bud with “Project Runway: Junior,” which premiered after the finale. It’s amazing!

Until next time, keep it fashion.

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