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The Project Runway Blog
Category: "episode 14"
Well, folks, this is it. After a season full of wild cards including Timothy, Sandro, and Ken, we made it to the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week finale with four talented, relatively well-adjusted and drama-free designers. Alexandria, Bradon, Dom and Justin have turned in good work this season, and they seem like very nice people all around. Snaps for them.
The group heads to Mood with $250 each to spend on washable fabrics for the Tide-sponsored part of the final runway challenge. The workroom is relatively chilled out, too, with the usual last-minute running around but no major meltdowns or arguments. Tim does a final round of critiques and makes sure to give Bradon and Dom a little extra attention, because while those two got the perk of not worrying about securing a spot for NYFW last week, they also missed out on a valuable feedback session from the judges. We see Justin and Alexandria sweating a bit about that feedback: Justin quickly eliminates the wigs Heidi railed on, and Alexandria struggles to get rid of (or at least minimize) the parts of her collection that Nina hated.
There are a few bumps backstage at Fashion Week. It turns out one of Justin's models broke her ankle, so he has to rush to refit a garment for a new body. Poor Bradon is on edge when his models eat breakfast and drink coffee around his looks, and then he turns out he was right to worry when one of his models spills coffee on his blue charmeuse gown.
Our guest judge is the fabulous Kerry Washington!
Bradon | full collection | unconventional look | washable look
Bradon's work is inspired by the first sign of spring. It's a mix of metallics, florals, and bright blues, with lots of silks and other shiny fabrics. Zac: "Your hand is expressive and abstract, which is a great thing to have as an artist." He and Heidi disagree about the use of metallics in the opening look. Nina says that she's admired Bradon's laser focus throughout the season but that she felt she didn't see that focus in his final collection. "When I see this collection, it's disjointed. We've got too many things going on."
Final assessment: A strong, meticulously constructed collection lacking in cohesion. Bradon's auf'd.
Justin | full collection | unconventional look | washable look
Justin's collection builds off a palette of white, greys and black, inspired by the transition he went through as an 18-year-old learning to hear with a cochlear implant for the first time. Zac likes that the shapes are easy and feminine, and Nina agreed that the variety was good, though she also says she would've liked to see two more looks that had a real "wow" factor. The whole panel is impressed by his use of 3D printing for his accessories.
Final assessment: Justin's best work all season, but he needs more time to grow. Justin's auf'd.
Alexandria | full collection | unconventional look | washable look
This collection earns applause at the outset with Alexandria's eye-catching unconventional look, then moves into more of the neutral-colored separates she hinted at last week. Lots of shorts, relaxed-fit pants, loose tops and boho accessories. Heidi loves it, no surprise. Zac thinks the looks reflect Alexandria's own strength and power. Nina appreciates the effortless editorial spirit of the collection and Kerry's happy with how nicely everything could be assembled and reassembled to mix and match.
Final assessment: A collection full of cool and wearable clothes, but ultimately not powerful enough to warrant a win. Alexandria is our runner-up.
Dom | full collection | unconventional look | washable look
Titled "Retro Redux," Dom's work is focused on bright prints she designed herself in blues, purples, and whites, with embellished plastic details and structured jackets. Kerry is impressed by the modern, tribal, architectural quality of her prints. Zac nitpicks the bathing suit look and Nina thinks the collection would've been better served by the purple gown walking first, but the panel is very pleased overall.
Final assessment: Zac says with a smile, "She's a very sophisticated lady. I don't think she knows how sophisticated she is yet." Based off her masterful work with print and her spunky, modern point of view, Dom is crowned the winner of "Project Runway" Season 12.
So Dom's our winner! Alexandria handles the loss gracefully ("I'm happy [Dom] won. She's a good person. I sincerely mean that.") and Dom handles the win adorably, laughing and crying with her boyfriend and family and accepting lots of praise from the judges.
So what do you think? Was Dom your first choice? If not, whose collection and work throughout the season better warranted the win? Let me know in the comments!
This recapthe last of the season!is brought to you by the sight of Patricia and her kids taking a time-out for an adorable, giggly shimmy-dance in the workroom. It put a big smile on my face.
We see the usual flurry of workroom activity at the start of this episode. Stanley, who found himself in the bottom last week, knows that he needs to hem and style his way back into the judges' good graces. Patricia is "under the gun" to give her collection some cohesion. Michelle has to re-tool her models' hair and makeup. The trio is granted $500 and one last trip to Mood, plus more time with their sewing assistants (Amanda, Richard, and Layana), PLUS a special visit from their family members for a pre-runway morale boost. Interestingly, the designers are not given any last-minute challenges, twists, or rule changes to deal with. To be fair, the first episode's introductory surprise of the team challenge conceit was enough of a twist/challenge/rule change to last a lifetime.
The big conflict this episode stems from Stanley's under-preparedness, or rather the juxtaposition of this flustered Stanley with the strict, detail-oriented time manager he appeared to be during the rest of the season. It's not totally clear if his struggles to finish garments in time is the result of poor time management during the collection-building hiatus, or if the judges demands for a younger, hipper vibe proved too overwhelming in the lead-up to the runway show. Either way, he really has to scramble to make things presentable for Fashion Week. The stress just radiates off him, and he notes a few times that he feels like he might be sick. Tim, Michelle and Patricia all individually express concern that Stanley might not present a finished collection.
But with the help of a small army of sewing assistants (and a patient stage manager), Stanley turns it out, and we finally get a full look at what he and his fellow finalists have put together. It's Fashion Week! [insert dramatic music here]
(By the way: Mr. Michael Kors is back as our finale guest judge. I've enjoyed watching Zac Posen get more comfortable in his judging role, but if I had my way both Zac and Michael would be regulars on the panel.)
Michelle - The first collection to walk. Michelle's looks expand on the casual-but-tough attitude she presented in her capsule collection last week. Lots of quilted fabrics, leather details, belts and studs, shown alongside knits (like a "bleeding heart" sweater) and more flirty paneled dresses.
Michael Kors doesn't love her closing gown"You're talking to a guy who LIVES for heavy fabrics, but [it's like] a cardboard box walking"and he and Zac dislike her inclusion of chiffon ties in some looks. Heidi likes the lone-wolf story behind the collection, as well as its cohesion, and Nina likes that everything is wearable and clean. All of the judges can picture young celebrities gravitating toward this collection, and they all feel that Michelle really represented her point of view.
Patricia - This tree-inspired collection walks second, opening with a pink embroidered silk dress, moving into a variety of handmade fabrics, flowy printed scarves, chunky jewelry, sequins and mushroom-y headpieces, ending with the blue dress she showed the judges last episode.
Each judge seems to be drawn to a different look from this collection, but they all praise Patricia's work with textiles and her out-there ideas. Zac and Heidi love her more forward-thinking looks, like the leather hole-punch pants. Nina (again) says that she wishes Patricia could clean up her aesthetic into a slightly more refined package.
Stanley - "Urban Opulence" opens with a chic black pant and detailed jacket. It's followed by lots of rich textures and expensive-looking fabrics, including a strapless brocade mini and a gold belted coatdress.
Michael Kors has a lot of words for Stanley's closing gown, including "Betty White on 'Dancing With The Stars'" and [his classic] "Holly Hobby" (and he hilariously calls the multi-finger ring "an appetite suppressant"). Zac calls out Stanley's old-feeling mix of fabric; Heidi questions some of his shoddy hemlines. Nina reiterates that Stanley's excellent pieces are dragged down by his dated styling choices. Zac also notes that Stanley's stubbornness really got in his way in designing and executing this final collection.
The judges spend quite a bit of time deliberating. Should the winner of "Project Runway" be a designer with a modern, borderline over-designed sensibility (Michelle); someone with ideas that are innovative, if at times inconsistent (Patricia); or someone who designs beautiful but utterly staid pieces (Stanley)?
After a long discussion, they choose Michelle as the winner. I'm behind that decision 100 percent. From my spot at the Fashion Week runway show (where her work got a very vocal response from the "Runway" alumni in attendance), her collection was exciting, cohesive, and totally wearable, not to mention fully representative of her personal taste and aesthetic. Plus, it was constructed well! What more do you want from a "Runway" victor?
Seriously, I'm asking. What more do you want? What do you think of Michelle as the winner of "Project Runway" Season 11? What looks from each collection stood out to you? Do you think our final three would have made it this far in a non-team season? Let me know in the comments.
Picking up right where we left off last week, Tim enters to tell the designers to not overthink the rest of the night. As much as I love Tim Gunn and want him to be my BFF, that is just plain crazy. The final four designers have just been told they're one step and a couple days away from making their ultimate dream come true, and now they're supposed to relax? Blasphemy! Their nerves are on fashion overload and they're hours away from the biggest show of their lives. It's Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, baby! It's time to bring out the big scissors.
Side note: After living in New York City for six years, I just recently attended my first fashion show, featuring...you guessed it: Christopher, Melissa, Dmitry, and Fabio! Not only that, but I also interviewed each of them for the digital videos right before they left New York the first time around to work on their final collections. In case you were wondering, being at MBFW was amazing and so are the remaining designers. They are some of the most down-to-earth, cool people I have had the pleasure to meet. So, in their honor, I will be sharing what I loved about each designer this season, in addition to gossiping about their final collections and the craziness of MFBW. After all, they’ve made it this far, they certainly deserve the extra love!
Without further ado, the final four:
CHRISTOPHER: I have been Team Christopher from the beginning and I'm reminded why every time he does an impression of one of the judges, or rolls his eyes, or gives the "WTF?!" look to the camera. Christopher can say it all in a look, whether it be an outfit or in an interview.
My heart was breaking for Christopher during the majority of this episode. We haven't seen him this stressed all season and he just doesn't seem to have his emotions together. I think he was aiming too high and trying to bring too many ideas to life. Christopher, you have the talent. Just breathe and concentrate!
Christopher's collection is based on deconstruction and reconstruction, hence the X-ray that served as the design for his new print. So cool. Major kudos to Christopher for being the only one to make his own textile; it showed complete originality and totally rocked on the runway. The bleached leather was also very fresh and fashionable.
One of my favorite pieces was the one-shoulder print dress with the silver collar; I would totally want to wear that out on a Saturday night in New York. But the showstopper was his final gown. It was gorgeous and totally red carpet-worthy. Also, props to him for boldly ripping off the bottom so Claudia (the model) could actually walk in it. It was a much better presentation of the dress in comparison to the rehearsals earlier that morning. I know, I was there for both.
I'm no fashion expert, but I don't agree with the judges' assertion that this didn't look like a collection - save the blue-jacket-with-maroon-pants look. The jacket was great, but those pants did not belong. Aside from that, I thought it was a gorgeous collection.
MELISSA: Melissa is badass. I wish I were as cool as her. Who doesn't want to be a gorgeous, talented blonde who can rock a bunch of tattoos and rocker-chick style? I love Melissa's designs and you can bet I'll be shopping for her clothes when she has a fashion line. That said, she does struggle with using color and this time was no different. She was very smart to take the judges' advice and throw in the red dress.
When I was in the audience at Fashion Week, Melissa's blood-orange* dress was a show-stopper, so I was blown away to learn in this episode that she made it within her final three hours. YOU GO GIRL. Proof Melissa is badass.
*Christopher gets the quote of the week here: "Blood orange? She’s so pretentious. Shut up, it’s f***ing red." [Insert eye-roll here.]
Watching the model attempt to walk in the long white dress made me uncomfortable. I know every second of prep time mattered here, but if I were Melissa, I would have taken five of them to rip a slit in the side so the model could walk. The dress is super-chic, but no one wants to wear a dress they can’t even walk in.
Melissa's line, inspired by a new exploration of death to life, strikes me as the most wearable of the four final collections: The white leather jacket (Nina was right – it looks so much better without the cuffs), the leather vest over the black dress, the white sheer top with the black leather vest, and the black dress with white netted fabric in the back would all appeal to a modern woman. As Michael Kors and Nina Garcia put it, Melissa understands how a girl wants to look: Sexy, not slutty. Nina's concern is that Melissa won't be different from what's already out there, but I disagree. She may share the tough-girl-rocker style with other lines, but she cranks it up several notches and makes it classy and chic at the same time.
DMITRY: I love listening to Dmitry talk. His accent is as fabulous as the clothes he makes. As the season has progressed, I've found myself rooting for him more and more. His clothes have been fantastic from the beginning and I'd love to wear them, but personality-wise, it took time for my love to grow. I give Dmitry the award for Most Improved Awesomeness this season. He is also a Belarusian hunk.
Dmitry's collection is inspired by organic architecture and I think it's the most cohesive, glamorous collection of the bunch. The white pants with sheer black top is a classy and very sexy combo. I absolutely love the first dress with the fringe on the bottom; the neckline is gorgeous and totally eye-catching, and I love how just the zipper runs up the top of the back - again, sexy. Dmitry does sexy so well.
I wasn’t too fond of the yellow he chose to add in some of the looks, but I do think it was a nice splash of color that he used very well. The one-shoulder black silk top that he paired with the yellow skirt was to-die-for. I want it. Now. The black leather dress with one sleeve was also totally cool. I think Dmitry's final dress was stunning and belongs on the red carpet right along with Christopher's gown. It's even more beautiful in person. Another show-stopper, hands down.
Overall, it was an amazing collection, impeccably made as always. As glam-gal and guest judge Jennifer Hudson put it, Dmitry's clothes are strong, they are "now," and he is ready. I agree.
FABIO: I didn't really notice Fabio this season until he immersed himself so wholeheartedly in Heidi's Babies"R"Us challenge and took to his plastic baby as it if were real. So adorable. He's going to make a great dad one day. Maybe he'll even make all the baby's clothes. Was anyone else completely entertained watching Dmitry and Fabio just chillin' in the last few hours while Melissa and Christopher were running all over the place? Fabio even suggested they play games. Doing crossword puzzles with Fabio would be fun.
Fabio's final collection was much like Fabio himself: "Out there," but in a good way. It's called "Cosmic Tribalism" after all! Fabio definitely has a gift for draping and layering as Michael and Jennifer pointed out, and the collection was certainly cohesive, but I thought it lacked the sexiness of Dmitry's. I did love the first outfit with the striped blue shorts (which he made in the last few days) and the gray draped tunic that went over the white pants. I totally want to own that top and wear it out with some jeans and stilettos. Hot! The plain white satin dress was also beautiful.
Fabio's main issue, as the judges said, is that his collection is more conceptual. It is not "now." People don’t want it yet. But the judges swear they will. Time will tell. We're rooting for you, Fabio!
And the winner is…
I have to give major props to each and every one of the final four designers this season. Those who didn’t take home the winning title – Melissa, Christopher, and Fabio – are all very talented. Their collections were unique and impressive, and they made it to Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week! That's a huge accomplishment. In my eyes, they're all winners. (Cheesy, but true.)
I thought the judges were spot on choosing Dmitry as the winner of "Project Runway" Season 10. His collection was glamorous, sophisticated, polished, and overall completely fantastic. I also love Dmitry's story: He left Belarus at the age of 18 with a backpack, some cash, and a big dream. It seems like his dream has come true. He's an incredible designer who deserved this win and I couldn’t be happier for him. You have your wings, Dmitry, now go and fly! (And please make me a dress while you’re at it!)
I'm excited to hear your thoughts on the finale. Which collection was your favorite? Which pieces could you see yourself wearing? Would you have crowned Dmitry or should someone else have taken the title?