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The End Is Here

Posted By laurareineke 4:39am GMT

The end is here—well, at least for this twelfth season of "Project Runway." Now, before I begin discussing this finale episode and my recap of the collections, I have to give a HUGE thank you to everyone who tuned in and joined me for the FIRST EVER "Part 1 Finale Live Chat" here on myLifetime.com. I had a blast during my "Nick Dishing on the Web" session, answering fan questions about the season and "Project Runway" in general. I really enjoyed it and hope we can do it again next season!

Time to DISH on the Finale
As of last week, there were five remaining designers—with Bradon and Dom having secured spots at Mercedes Benz NY Fashion Week and three having to "fight it out" for the coveted third spot. As it turns out, there were going to be four designers showing. Alexandria and Justin were in and Helen (and her "caped crusader" girls) was out.

Washable Redux
Halfway through last week's episode, we had the introduction of a final challenge, the Tide Pods Washable Fabrics Challenge. The designers had to create a look using only washable fabrics. The challenge, however, was derailed as a result of Tim's unfortunate subway accident. During my Live Chat, I talked about how great this challenge was since I think it is so important for "high fashion" designers to think of using washable fabrics in their collections. This was brought to my attention this past Summer while doing events for my NV Nick Verreos dress line; I heard from LOTS of women who told me how important it was for them to have chic garments that they can actually throw in the wash. But during last week's episode, it was only introduced and then...nothing else about it happened.

Step Away From The BouillonnÈ
The beginning of this episode solved my "Can we get back to the Tide Challenge?" conundrum and immediately showed the Top 4 designers at Mood, picking their washable fabrics and going back to their Parsons Workroom to create their a "washable look that pops" as well as finish whatever they had to do in their collections. Tim checks in. Last week we got a glimpse of what Bradon and Dom were doing through their home visits but this time, Tim got more up close and personal. He LOVED what Bradon's collection was looking like; but I didn't so much. Bradon was mixing prints and while that could have turned out to be good, his designs looked missy, and the styles, not directional enough. And, oh dear: did I spot his BouillonnÈ pick-up 1984 prom technique in some of the looks? No, please Bradon, I said this once and I'll say it again: Step away from the BouillonnÈ! S'il vous plaÓt!

Don't Listen To Tim
I also didn't think Tim's critique of Dom's FABULOUS prints was warranted; he was worried about them and thought they may go a bit "cartoony." I thought they were great, and if anyone can mix prints, it's Dom—not Bradon, thank you very much. Now I'm two for two, in terms of not agreeing with Tim's (usually insightful) two cents. Time for Alexandria: Tim thought she should nix her t-shirts (since Nina wasn't a fan). Good enough, I get that; it's always good to bring back judges' feedback to the designers and alert them of anything they didn't like.

Early Wake Up
It's Runway Day and the designers are up and ready at the ungodly hour of 2 a.m. I love that they show them traipsing on their way to Lincoln Center at this hour while most Manhattan-ites are just leaving the bars. In case you guys are wondering why they have to be up at this time, it's because traditionally, the "Project Runway" finale fashion show at Lincoln Center has two showings: One at 6 a.m. (for extra camera footage) and one around 10 a.m. (for the press, fashion editors, stylists, celebs, etc.). I've attended many a "Project Runway" Finale Fashion Show and thank goodness, it has always been the latter one.

The Runway
Here is what I wrote on my "Nick Judge's Card" on the final collections:

Justin: His entire collection is sleek and very modern. I love it. It looks refined and very directional. And construction-wise, there were no loose threads or visible seam puckering: Good job Justin! I liked the hairstyles he gave his models last week (even though most of the judges had issues) but, I admit these re-styled 'dos were much better; they matched the sleek, architectural lines of his designs. I LOVED his unconventional "test tube" final gown as well as what he created for the Tide Washable Look. Both blended seamlessly into the collection.

Dom: Two words: Luxe Resort. Her collection blew me away; just gorgeous. I am immediately drawn to her prints and the fact that she showed me a story and one woman and I totally "got" who she was. My favorite look was a printed jersey cowl back dress with sleeves. Chic and effortless. She should be in Santorini eating Spanakopita and drinking ouzo with a multi-millionaire Greek shipping heir. Her unconventional final gown was flawless. Dom is the winner for me—just from her runway collection.

Alexandria: First off, I wasn't a fan of her unconventional creation; it looked very Arts-and-Crafty/Student Fashion Show. I admire what she was going for but with the rest of her collection, it did not belong there. Besides that, I actually liked most of her designs; they were chic, modern, and very Heidi Klum in Berlin Fashion Week. Right now, I'm thinking it's between Justin and Alexandria for 2nd place.

Bradon: Bradon is the last to show—and last on my "Nick Judge's Card." I was let down by his collection. I don't think he should have begun his show with a printed top and iridescent lame and organza BouillonnÈ gown-skirt. The entire collection looks dated, not directional enough, and for an "older woman" who isn't so fashionable. What happened? Bradon was a judges' favorite and Tim LOVED him too! He admits during the final judging panel that he's only been doing this for three years and well, this tells me that he needs more time to know who he is and cultivate his design aesthetic. Trust me; it takes more than just three years. And I didn't even mention the fact that his Unconventional look—compared to the rest of the designers—was a major hashtag fail.

And The Winner Is...
Bradon was out, which left Justin, Alexandria and Dom. Justin was the next to be auf'd. His fabulous 3D prints weren't enough to satisfy the judges. Leaving Alexandria and Dom. Out of these two finalists, it was pretty obvious that Dom was the top. Yes, the Winner. The judges loved her collection and her 1960s Retro "Supremes" styling. This was the designer one can see a brand being created with. To me, her finale collection was the best, by far. It told a story, created a mood and looked directional, high-fashion and perfectly made. Move over Trina Turk, it's Dom Streater printed dresses. Soon at Belk. If I was a girl, I'd be all over it!

Until next season! Byeee!!!!!


The Lone Wolf Goes For Her Kill

Posted By kim_messina 4:49am GMT

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.

$500 Surprise
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 overnight—or 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.


Waiting for the WOW

Posted By Tracy_Goldenberg 11:00am GMT

Le FINALE. Yes, kids, last night was the Finale of “Project Runway.” Four designers showed on the biggest fashion stage—Mercedes-Benz New York Fashion Week. All season long, the judges, Tim (and I) have made a plea for the designers to “WOW US.” So did they succeed on the most important stage? Well, before I answer that, I have lots of other things to say, so if you will indulge me...

Middle-of-the-Road Four
When we last left our four designers—Christopher, Dmitry, Fabio and Melissa—they had gone home (or to somebody else’s home) to create their collections. Five weeks passed, and they returned to NYC and showed three looks to Heidi, Michael and Nina. It was hinted that one designer may be eliminated, but our esteemed judges could not make up their minds, and so all four designers stayed to show at NY Fashion Week.

No Wigs Allowed
As we begin this Finale episode, there are quick recaps of what the judges told each of the designers that their collections needed. Fabio’s garments lacked sophistication and required polish; Dmitry’s needed to look younger; Christopher’s leather items were praised, but the judges wanted more “wow”; and Melissa’s clothes were deemed “limited.” In addition, we can’t forget all the questionable styling issues from last week, including those wigs (Fabio, Melissa), HOOCHIE leather shorts (Melissa, Christopher) and Dmitry’s dowdy girls. They now had two days to somehow correct their styling mishaps and improve on what they already had.

Producer Nick
If I had produced what would be next in the episode, I would have begun with Tim walking into the workroom and announcing to the four designers that he recruited a Hollywood A-List stylist to come in and guide these kids through the 101’s of Runway Show Styling, followed by a shopping excursion to Lord & Taylor with an unlimited budget for accessories. A second scenario would have involved Tim dragging out some of the auf’ed cast members (like they’ve done in the past—with their downtrodden attitudes) to help the finalists in their last 48 hours.

Mood Shopping Gift Card
In reality, Tim eventually does walk in—not to introduce a stylist or say that Kooky Kooan will be everyone’s intern for the next two days, but, among other things, to give the designers an extra $300 to shop at Mood. This is a not-so-subtle way of telling the designers that their collections need help. At Mood, Fabio looks for more luxe fabrics to add sophistication, Christopher is panicked searching for the right fabric, Dmitry finds some interesting silk, and Melissa eyes a red leather hide to add a pop of color to her otherwise all black-and-white collection. Christopher’s early season bitchy side make a reappearance when he makes a quip about Melissa describing her RED leather fabrication as “blood orange.” The claws are coming back out.

Missing Model Castings and THAT White No-Slit Dress
It’s model fitting time. But wait, what happened to the actual model castings? In past seasons of the show, extensive time was spent on showing the model castings, which was kind of interesting to see. This season we got nothing. During the fittings, Christopher was being a “Negative Nancy,” complaining about everything, and a model is having problems walking in Melissa’s white dress. Melissa blamed it on the shoes, but even a four-year-old could tell that THE DRESS NEEDED A SLIT. Hello. The following day—and only 24 hours before the finale show—Christopher is still in a petulant mood, and Melissa is stressed trying to finish her new creations. On the flip side, Fabio and Dmitry are cool as cucumbers, sitting back having tea and lighting scented candles. Tim makes a “bonne chance” champagne toast, and soon it’s time for the Finale runway show.

Live vs. TV
As was the case with my fellow bloggers here, I attended this finale fashion show back in September (I sat next to Season 1 Winner Jay McCarroll and Season 2 Winner Chloe Dao!!). I’ve been lucky enough to get invited to every “Project Runway” Finale show since my season, and I’ve attended many of them. I have seen my share of Finale shows, some great (Rami Kashou, Christian Siriano, Chloe Dao, Leanne Marshall) and some not so much (can we PLEASE go back to just allowing the top three or four finalists to show during Fashion Week?). It’s always interesting to see these Finale runway shows LIVE and then later on TV. TV is usually better. Many times when I sat there watching the runway show live, I noticed EVERYTHING—thread hanging, bad side-boob fit issues, wonky zippers. I’ve walked out with a “That was a MESS!” feeling. Months later, I watch it on TV and the same collection looks FAB-u-LOUS! OK, so let’s get to the clothes and the judging...and my two cents.

Christopher: See You on “Project Runway All Stars” Season 3
First up, I must mention the guest celebrity judge, Miss Jennifer Hudson. Unlike some of the collections, she looked good LIVE and on TV last night! Now, let’s discuss Christopher. His collection was based on a theme of “Constructed and Deconstructed.” Kors loved his first exit. I did not. From my seat, that slit was dangerously HOOCHIE. I liked some of his leather jackets but wondered why there was so much leather, especially for a Spring/Summer collection. I liked his final gown and all the raw-edged “Christopher-isms,” but also wondered where that gown came from. He didn’t need it. As Kors correctly said, not every collection—especially one based in sportswear—needs a Finale gown. He was OUT. I’m sure we will see him next season on “Project Runway All Stars Season 3.” Guaranteed.

Melissa: Blood Orange Love and Where’s The Slit?
Melissa titled her collection “A New Exploration of Death to Life.” There was lots of black—yes, it’s Melissa. And again I wondered, is this Spring/Summer 2013? I loved her blood-orange leather dress, and it definitely stood out like a (good) sore thumb. There were two things that were problematic, however: the leather “swimsuit” (live on the Lincoln Center runway stage, I could see panties, and they were creme) and the white dress. When I walked out of the Finale runway show, I think I overheard about 100 whispers of “Why didn’t she put a SLIT in that dress?” Not kidding. It was painful to watch that model saunter down that long runway for what felt like TEN minutes with only about 24 inches of sweep at the hem. If I’d had scissors, I would have run onto the runway and helped a model girlfriend out!

Fabio: Layered Wow
I asked for someone—anyone—to “wow us,” and Fabio did. He wowed me—and everyone seated within a 30-foot radius around me. He was the only one of these four who did that. First off, the fact that he was basically the only designer who showed pastels and a Spring/Summer color palette was a breath of fresh air. His collection was not heavy-handed but was subtly elegant and modern. The level of sophistication was evident—and the judges agreed. I LOVED his askew-draped side-cowl dresses and those necklaces! And as Klum correctly stated, I even left the show craving a layered easy-breezy “Fabio look,” on me! If I was a judge, I probably would have given him my highest marks, especially right after viewing the runway show. So, I was not surprised that he was one of the Top Two. His collection was complete, from beginning to end.

Dmitry: “Uptown Girl” Meets “Dancing With the Stars”?
But it was Dmitry who got the final crown. Why? I can only assume that the judges admired his elegant-yet-edgy polished looks over Fabio’s drape-y, relaxed, layered Downtown Girl. Nina and Michael especially LOVE a NYC vibe, which involves a lot of black and a sophisticated silhouette. Dmitry showed that. I agree with the judges that Dmitry’s collection was polished and perfectly made, but I felt that it just wasn’t cohesive. And it was (once again) too Fall/Winter. No color. Too much leather. Dmitry’s fringed jacket and “houndstooth”-like cocktail dress was great, but I remember when that final gown came out; I think I murmured “Dancing With the Stars.” It made no sense (just like Christopher’s gown), especially with the rest of his sleek, uptown, fashion-editorial-girl looks. It was as if he had to somehow revert back to his ballroom-dancing days. That, to me, was his only misstep. But obviously, the judges—and people who matter—didn’t think so. Which means Dmitry is the new winner of “Project Runway.” One of my favorite things was when Michael Kors described him at the end as being a “gentleman.” Thank goodness that counts in this day and age of reality TV. A gentleman won. How do you say “Yayyy!” in Belarusian?