The Lone Wolf Goes For Her Kill
My guess was right. If you read my recap for last week's pre-finale episode, I surmised that "Only One Can Win...And I Have a Good Guess!" It was pretty obvious, especially after the judges' pre-finale show critiques that designer Michelle Lesniak Franklin's collection was the ubiquitous favorite and standout. So, it came as no surprise that she got the final crown. What was a surprise is what happened to Stanley Hudson. Those wonky hems, uneven center back seams and four unfinished dresses? And then, there's "kooky" Patricia and her lack of cohesion. It's the finale and I have plenty to say, so let's get to my final recap for this season...
Top Three Fixings
When the episode begins, we're down to the top 3. In last week's critiques, Michelle was suggested to ditch some of the tricky purses/bags and glam up her models' hair and makeup. Easy enough. Patricia was told she somehow needed to bring cohesion because from those three looks she showed, there was little. Stanley was told his looks lacked a "sex" factor, were too dowdy and not outstanding creatively. He had the hardest job because how do you fix all that? And in a few days. As we find out, he couldn't.
Tim walks into the workroom with a final surprise: $500 and a final trip to Mood to buy whatever they need to either switch up a look, improve on what they have, or in Stanley's case, create an entire new collection (wishful thinking!). Post-Mood, they are back in the workroom to finish their collections, along with the help of their "sewing assistants." (Poor thangs, those kids are still working!)
Bleeding Heart, Stubborn Stanley and Kooky Patricia
Tim does a final check-in. He loves most of Michelle's collection deeming it "extremely innovative." However, he doesn't like her "bleeding heart" sweater. I LOVE IT! I believe it was made by fellow Season 11 designer Joseph Aaron Segal (The bespectacled cat sweater-loving one). Stanley tells Tim that he took the judges advice and is altering A LOT. However, in Mr. Gunn's eyes, it all still looks like "vintage Sshop" dresses. Even though Stanley says he's taking the advice and criticism, there's something about his demeanor that tells me the opposite and "Stubborn Stanley" kicks in. My intuition is that he's been like this for a long time and that's not changing overnightor on a reality show. Finally, Patricia is all over the place, missing scarves and losing fabrics. One glance at her workroom behavior and environment and I'm not surprised why her collection lacks cohesion.
Bye Helpers...Now Here's a Gift Certificate to Red Lobster!
Day before the runway show and it's finally time to say goodbye to their sewing helpers. Hopefully, they are finally getting a free dinner and drinks at a fancy restaurant c/o the producers. Tim then brings in family members of the final three designers for some quality time. He also announces that Michael Kors is BACK!, as the final Guest Judge. Michelle is ready, packed and done. Patricia is still a mess and Stanley, he somehow has FOUR garments not made. Seriously. How. Did. He. Get. To. This. Moment?
Runway Day: I Was There
Runway day and Stanley is in panic mode. His dressers (who's main job is to steam and dress the models) are actually sewing hems, armholes and sleeves on his four unfinished dresses. Those Parsons kids must have been like, "Are You Kidding Me?" Finally, it's Show Time. I had the pleasure of attending this Finale show at Mercedes-Benz NY Fashion Week. I sat with Season One winner Jay McCarroll and Season 2 All Stars finalist Uli Herzner. In front of us were Season 10 designers Christopher Palu, Melissa Fleis and Fabio Costa. Needless to say, we had a BLAST: someone should have been recording or filming our "Peanut Gallery" commentary (Note to Lifetime Execs: next season on Lifetime"The Project Runway Finale Commentary Show"). Wait, come to think of it, I'm glad we actually WEREN'T being recorded! Now, speaking of commentary...
Stanley: Grace Kelly Lite Meets Betty White
My first impression of Stanley's collection was "Grace Kelly Lite." It looked elegant and very Ladies-Who-Lunch. This is the good part. Now, for the not-so-good: Sitting from my seat, I noticed EVERYTHING. There were wonky uneven hems, rippling seams and loose thread hanging from various garments. The biggest shocker was that ivory with gold beaded bell-sleeved shift dress. It was one of my favorite looks (and the judges as well) but when the model turned around, the center back zipper was about one inch higher on one side. It was a HUGE miss. I could see jaws drop all around in the audience. Who sends such a mistake down a NY Fashion Week runway, people asked. I couldn't believe it either. In my last recap, I said that (at least from the three "preview looks") the garments seemed dated and destined for Barbara Walters' closet. That final maroon beaded top with full skirt was the nail in the fashion coffin. It was like a dress First lady Laura Bush would have worn for an Inaugural Ball...in 2001. I almost fell off my couch when Michael Kors said that she looked like "Betty White on 'Dancing With The Stars'" (God, I missed him!). Stanley was out.
Patricia: Horsehair Princesses vs. Tarot Card Reader from Venice Beach
I remember when I saw Patricia's collection, a smile came over me when the models sauntered down the runway in those "kooky hats" of colored horsehair. I also admired the overt nod to her Native American heritage. My favorites were the blue dress with silver oversized paillettes and the suede chambray top and leather shorts. But for the rest of the collection, Patricia went into (as Michael Kors correctly said) "art teacher on an acid trip" mode. When all 12 looks are put together, it seemed like the wardrobe of a 50-something tarot card reader who lives in Venice Beach. Patricia made it this far with her originality, strong cultural conviction and yes, that "it" emotional factor that can make a viewer want to root for her.
She-Wolf Queen Michelle
Finally, there's Michelle. Her lone female wolf-inspired collection was my favorite. It was innovative, directional, had very interesting and consistent shapes and was perfectly constructed. Done and done. I loved it so much that in fact, both Uli and I gave Michelle's collection a standing ovation. Yes, kids, we actually STOOD UP and clapped. I loved all the looks, especially the stiff a-line dresses (the first exit was outstanding!), the pops of color (LOVE that canary yellow!) and that "Bleeding Heart Sweater." It was DIVINE! After the show, everyone within a one-foot radius kept saying "that Bleeding Heart sweater! LOVE!" Kudos to Joseph Aaron Segal for that creation. Not only were the clothes fab but Michelle thought about the entire package. The models' bushy eyebrows and "glam ,ess" hair were on point. I "got" this girl. It was the right combination of concept, creativity and execution all rolled into a perfect collection. It was obvious that this was the winner for sure. No contest. And a well deserved win for Michelle. After all those rough team challenges and always ending up on the bottom...how sweet it is to be the lone she-wolf standing. Congratulations darling. I'm standing up for you in my little ol' design studio right now.