Oct 26, 2014

What Did We Learn From Project Runway THIS SEASON? Finale recap

Friends, readers: sorry for the much belated post. But I put off viewing the season finale until last night, so I could enjoy it with friends over a taco feast. And as much as I love them (and love watching Project Runway....and tacos), I missed many of the episode's finer points because I was too busy enjoying their company. So of course I had to watch it again today.

Also, I just spent an hour creating this animated gif of Nina Garcia listening to Char make the longshot case for herself as winner of Project Runway:

That subtle widening of the eyes...what was she thinking?  We may never know. But we can sure as heck speculate! (Mind control? "STOP GROVELING...STOP GROVELING...STOP GROVELING..."). Anyway, onward...

If there's one thing we can learn from the final four's Fashion Week collections (and, truly, the entirety of the season) it's this: constraints beget creativity. Just like the restrictive 5-7-5 syllable structure of haiku forces beautiful brevity out of the writer, the most focused challenges in Project Runway are often the genesis of true genius. (Remember the rainway? Or the storage lockers?).

Meanwhile, give the designers four weeks, $9,000 and free reign to do whatever they want...and the results can be disappointing. Like Kini. Sweet, crazy talented, speed-sewing Kini. What went wrong?

I know. None of it is bad. Oh, except this. This was bad. Like, linebacker-in-a-thong bad.

Char, meanwhile, was thrilled to be there. Making it to Fashion Week was her goal, so mission accomplished. Her collection was hip, sexy and wearable, though there were a couple snores and a few oddball fancy chic pieces that didn't fit with her overall vibe. I loved that all the models got Char's haircut:

(Note to self: email picture of Char's hair to stylist).

Now, imagine if she had a mentor to help her shape her vision into a more cohesive, unique collection...oh wait. Hmm. Well, she will probably kick butt on All-Stars in 2015.

Amanda's collection earned a lot of praise from the assembled ladies (and my husband and daughter), as well as the judges. I think she took that one amazing dress from episode 12 and then rehashed it 10 times (each time in a less-appealing color). If I sound like I didn't care for it...I'm just feeling a little defensive on Char's behalf. Looking again at the collections, I think Amanda had one good look:

Fortunately, we all agreed, the worthiest designer took home the big prize — the opportunity to design an accessory for Red Robin (seriously, Lifetime?).

Oops. Sorry about that last one. Honest mistake.

So what did you think about the season finale of Project Runway? Did the right designer win? What was your fave look?


  1. So happy Sean won - he definitely deserved it based on the final collections.

    Amanda... I see the cohesiveness of the collection, but I do think all of the looks are very similar. It was ok, but at this point I'm kind of over it.

    Totally agree Char will be one to watch in the future. She needs time to develop her voice, but she definitely has a cool vibe.

    Kini... poor Kini. I feel bad that things didn't pan out for him here, but I also feel that he and Sean both have very promising futures ahead of them. I hope he comes back to kick butt in a future All-Star season.

    As for the collections overall - I have to agree that the designers were either given too much time or not enough. As has been pointed out by Nick Verrios on his blog, in the first several seasons the designers had 3-4 months to produce a collection instead of 3-4 weeks. They had time to go home, de-stress, revamp, make, and edit their collections. I recall a few Tim visits where sourcing materials had taken the designers over a month, and he was concerned with their lack of process. Here I felt as though the designers didn't have enough time to go home and process and edit, so they all went with their most successful garment from the series (Sean's Heidi dress, Kini's real woman make-over, and Amanda's color blocked maxi). Char never had a win, which maybe is partly why her collection seemed so all over the place. It is sort of interesting to note that Sean had the half-and-half collection before Tim told him to fringe it up... part of me wonders if he had had more time to edit/process after the Tim visit if he could have found a better way to integrate the designs from his original collection, and thus given us more variety than all the fringe looks. Kini seemed so burned out when Tim came to visit... I really wonder what he could have done if he'd had a month to rest and relax before starting on his collection. Although I agree he seems to work better under pressure, it also seems like it affected him more when he went home. Perhaps Sean not going "home" as the other designers did helped him to stay focused during the design process as well.

    1. That's a good point. Sean also stayed in New York, which is where he lives now...maybe that helped too.

  2. wha? where did my comment go? maybe I will rewrite tomorrow?

  3. The car wash is priceless.

    Kini's b/w top and white skirt made me happy but that's it. I felt like this was his comp to win and he gave it away.

    Char. I'm proud of her. She was definitely the least experienced, the underdog, but she made it to fashion week and had some kick ass pieces. She just dressed like 7 different girls. There was zero cohesiveness.

    Amanda has great CONCEPTS in her pieces but too drab and boring and sad. I'm surprised Nina didn't think the colors were sad.

    I was never a Sean fan but I don't begrudge him the win. I wasn't that impressed with his shiny white and fringy Orange looks...but he probably has more vision than the others, which is important.

    Oh and again, GO DESIGN JEWELRY AMANDA!!!!!

  4. Oh PR. Totally concur with the insightful comment by T. Sedal up there. 5 weeks is just NOT enough time. And I totally don't blame most of them for extrapolating on their best ideas from the show. Without time to just process everything, coming up with a completely new concept without seeing Tim or getting feedback would probable be terrifying.

    I think Sean deserved the win. although at this point, does it even mean anything? Who besides Christian has actually had success after this show? If they are not business minded, one hundred grand isn't going to do a heck of a lot. I think Amanda is probably more apt to actually launch and build a brand with the money, but Sean was definitely the most innovative. I'm sure when the cameras were off they were like "We can't have another Gretchen vs Mondo situation", which was picking the more commercial designer over the more innovative one.

    Amanda is the sweet Southern Gretchen, down to the cast jewelery and boho vibe. Just like, nice.

    1. I forgot to add, I tried to reach through the computer and take Char's hand off that awful italian silk - it looks better from far away but holy Donatella Cavalli batman!

      Also, what HAPPENS to these guys after the show? I feel like someone like Kini would get snapped up by some smart design team.... surely he doesn't stay in hawaii?

    2. I agree - I cannot imagine that someone like Kini won't have job offers waiting and have a great career.

    3. Don't you feel like All-Stars has completely undermined the show's conceit — that they're finding the "next great American designer," because even the winners have to come back to All-stars to try to find their next leg up? I guess it just shows how hard an industry it is to break into in a significant, brand-building way.

  5. Thank you so much for carrying on with the recaps, and congrats on the new job! I still have lots to say on the last elimination, but I can't seem to form a sentence about it. I commend you for putting these together even with all the other stuff you have going on.

    I totally agree - Kini needs someone to tell him he's only got 24 hours, and the denim section of Mood has been flooded and don't even think about it.

    I got a good actual out loud belly laugh at that last fringe picture. I hope this isn't the last PR recap! (Of course, if you really have no time, you should consider an 'open thread' post, just a quick pic (of gif... no no, just a pic is fine) and let your readers take it from there.

    1. Bahaha! "The denim section of Mood has been flooded..." That's hilarious.

  6. I think this sums up the finale best: I watched it on my laptop in bed with Mr. A.S.S., and he had to keep poking me awake, to which I kept bitchily responding, "I'm listening….just resting my eyes!!!". >:(

    1. I had that same experience during several episodes this season: glass of wine in hand, eyes completely closed....asking my husband the next morning who won...

  7. there was no surprise for me at the finale. i did like Amanda's collection, but i completely understand Sean's win. Char has a future (can't wait to see her on all-stars... you know it's gonna happen), and i just can't believe Kini didn't even end up in the conversation. would never have guessed that (until we saw his collection, of course). i do miss the days when the designers had months to create their final collection. i mean, it's hardly realistic to expect them to crank out a fashion week worthy collection in a matter of weeks. feels like Lifetime is just trying to create reality stars instead of taking further interest in developing actual designers. for that, i'm totally losing interest.

  8. I am really going to miss your weekly wrap-ups (and PR) but hope you will be back with the next season and blog about everything apse as well. If I am not being too personal does your new job have anything to do with sewing, fashion or writing?

    1. It does, actually. I got a job at McCall's! In the department that creates the pattern instructions.

  9. I agree with the winner. I was hoping Kini would win but his collection was just not up to it. I thought Amanda's was OK. And I loved Char's collection. I liked Char's collection better than Kini's or Amanda's. It was not cohesive but it had life and energy.

  10. "Linebacker in a thong" totally made my day! Thank you for that.

    I'm just repeating what others have said, but it does bear repeating: 4 weeks is too darn short to make a collection. There's no time to refine, no time to really hash things out and make them amazing. I remember the first season's finale and how I was blown away by Kara Saun and Jay's looks.Tim keeps gushing about the collections, how wonderful they are, how inventive, how he's never seen people this talented on the show. Apparently he's having a senior moment and has forgotten all of the far superior talent that existed during the first 5 seasons when the show was on Bravo. By comparison the finales since the show moved to Lifetime have been lifeless.

  11. has anyone watched fashion fund? it IS how the industry works. I find it funny that all these big fashion execs are so not fashion forward in real life. lol

  12. Thanks a lot for this nice runway and making a nice combination of black and white beauty.

  13. Great post. That black model is stunning!

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