Congratulations, Michelle! It was no contest.
Iʼm not saying the other two designers had nothing to offer, but they really had no chance; it was a case of one designer who sabotaged himself, and another who frankly doesnʼt quite have the fashion designer "toolbox" required. I think by now I have a good idea (after having lived through two seasons of Runway as a designer) of how much of what we see is real and how much is editing. This finale didnʼt need much creative editing because of this.
Stanley seemed to have disappointed everyone by showing clothes that were not fashion-forward or modern; he likely disappointed himself the most, though, by not completing more work before his collection was taken from him and sent to New York (more than four looks, apparently). The way it works is all the finalists must stop all work simultaneously; the production company sends a courier to each oneʼs house at roughly the same time on a particular day, approximately a week before they head to New York, to be reunited with their collections at the 1407 Broadway workroom. This is so that the time allowed to work is the same for all.
I reflect on what is was like to make my collection, and I could not imagine leaving it in such an incomplete state. Iʼd much rather pull as many all-nighters as required at HOME to in order to make it as complete as possible before NYC, because you never know what sorts of tricks they have up their sleeves! What was Stanley thinking? Also, he claims that he paid Russian women for 800 hours of work to do the beading on his designs. Wait a minute, how much were those women making hourly?? If he paid them $10/hour (hard to find anyone in the US, let alone Los Angeles, to work for that rate doing a specialty skill), then he spent $8K out of $10K on beadwork?! So what did he do during that time? Iʼm confused why so much was incomplete. Backstage, if Iʼd been in his shoes, I surely would have had either a total meltdown or full on heart attack. Why put yourself through that?
From a critique point of view, Stanleyʼs collection, which he stated as "Urban Opulence" was not at all urban, but could be described as luxurious because of the materials and embellishment used. He mentioned it was for a "working woman" who also lives the Park Avenue life. There was absolutely nothing in that collection that a woman would wear to work! This collection speaks to the well-kept lady-who-lunches on Park Avenue, who is likely over 45 (and circa 1958). It was cohesive in that respect: he knows who he wants his customer to be.
Patricia, on the other hand, has much of her work completed, but as evident in her home visit and in the runway show, she is not enough of a "fashion designer" as she is an artisan and textile designer. Her collection was not cohesive, as predicted. There were times when it channeled Chicoʼs, like if Chicoʼs had a "luxe" range. If you take away the interesting textiles, there is not a whole lot left. Patricia seems like a lovely person, but her disorganization in the workroom does oddly reflect the lack of "organization" in the collection.
In general, I am not a huge fan of the horsehair headpieces, but I think itʼs because the collection as a whole needed to be more avant-garde to be able to really justify them. If the entire collection had truly been pushed creatively and made a strong statement, I could see perhaps even more of the headpieces. For example, the plaid shirt with black pant seemed too sporty and out of place to be in the same collection as the turquoise mica paillette dress and the breezy painted silks. Some of those silk pieces remind me of Donna Karan from the 90s (not a bad thing), but then I donʼt think they relate to the turquoise dress OR the graphic black and white looks like the feather dress and the horsehair cape. The first look, which was pink, also seemed odd (There was nothing else tying in that color). Again, though, I appreciate Patriciaʼs craft, and the way she incorporates her heritage into everything she does, and that clearly pulls at the judgesʼ heartstrings as well. But thereʼs no way she could have won "Project Runway." QUOTE OF THE SEASON: "The art teacherʼs on an acid trip." Oh, how I missed Michael!
As I said before, Michelle is the only designer who showed a cohesive, modern collection that felt fresh. I could see all the work she had done, and I could see her concept in virtually every look. The styling was still a bit too "tricky" (as Nina said) at times, even though Michelle said she was simplifying, and some of the volume could have been more balanced. One of my favorite looks was the yellow/nude/black dress. I also like the opening look but would have preferred that the sleeves had been short and sculpted like the bodice, or long and skinny, since the dress itself had so much volume. I have to say I agree with Heidiʼs desire for perhaps a couple of looks to be more "hip-friendly," for while they look dramatic on the runway, there is only a tiny percentage of women who can actually wear them, and they were dangerously close to making the models look big. One of the highlights of the collection was the use of knitwear. It was so clever for Michelle to hire Joe to make her sweaters. I saw his signature in them, especially in the fabulous bleeding heart sweater. In fact, when I had seen photos of the collections after they had walked at Lincoln Center in February, this one threw me because I identified the sweaters with Joeʼs work, yet the collection overall felt more sophisticated than that which he would design as a whole. Two other looks which I felt could have benefitted from some tweaking were the yellow peplum top which Michelle had added, and the red felt gown. I agree with Michael that she didnʼt need a gown and that it would have been more successful as a dress, but my biggest peeve was the neckline on both. I kept wanting to close that giant gap down the front; it was too wide. But overall, Michelleʼs collection blew the other two out of the water. So congrats to the FOURTH Portland designer to win "Project Runway"!