Well, folks, this is the end of the road for Project Runway—this season, its time on Bravo, its New York setting, and the Magical Elves. If nothing else, the bland quality of this season has eased the blow that the end of the era brings. Let’s get through this final episode together and then meet at the bar either for a toast or to drown our sorrows.
The final three days.
With Jerell’s departure and the final three designers chosen, it is time to get down to the serious business of preparing for their runway shows. Korto is sad to see Jerell go, but Leanne puts a positive spin on the continued presence of Kenley—it’s the first finale with all women designers.
Once they arrive at their workspace for the day, Tim arrives and announces that each designer will show only ten of her twelve looks—so two will have to be edited out of the show. Tim also announces that it is time for the model casting, so off they go. Korto looks for girls with long hair for this Asian bun thing she wants to do, Leanne likes the girls who look like space aliens, and Kenley likes to tell Leanne which models to pick. Morgan, the infamous model from Season 1 (and, incidentally, the only model I can ever remember from any season) shows up to walk. Let’s hope she turns up later, drunk off her ass, still in that outfit Kevin made back in the day.
After casting the models, the designers head back to the workroom and Tim stops by to get a sense of each collection. Tim still has issues with the use of thick rope in Kenley’s designs, but she isn’t going to change it. She plans on including the wedding dress in her runway show and Tim questions this decision. Kenley says the judges liked the dress when they saw it before and she’s not worried about the “knock off” criticism, since she’s heard it so many times before. Hmmm, maybe that’s just the kind of thing to worry about.
Tim asks Korto what she is going to remove from her collection to bring the designs down to ten. She is certain the bridesmaid dress is out and probably the wedding dress because Heidi hated it. She still is mulling over what she is going to do. Finally, Leanne is also struggling with deciding what to eliminate. She is considering removing a top that goes with a yet-to-be finished pair of pants because it would save her the time of finishing the pants. Her issue is that those are the only pants in her show and she really likes the idea of having them in; Tim agrees that a variety is important.
As Tim is about to leave, Kenley calls out that she has rethought where she’ll place her wedding dress in the show. Tim thinks that is a great compromise and gets out of the room before his ears start to bleed from Kenley’s whiny shouting. Korto then makes the bold move of getting rid of the wedding dress, the bridesmaid dress, and two other dresses because they look susceptible to the “overworked” criticism. To get to the ten looks she needs, she’s going to make two new dresses for the show and works on the new looks for the remainder of the day.
With only two days until the runway show, the final three head off to meet with Collier Strong to discuss the makeup looks. Korto’s nature-inspired collection calls for an earth tone vibe; Kenley wants her models to look like porcelain dolls with cherry lips; and Leanne wants a modern makeup look.
Back in the workroom, it is a steady procession of models coming in all day for fittings. Korto hopes she won’t have too many alterations to do because she’s gone insane and given herself the task of making the new dresses. Of course, she worries that she won’t get them done in time, but even if she doesn’t I don’t think anything could stop her from using the “overworked” pieces. The day winds down and, to cap it all off, we get a taste of cattiness: Kenley, in confessional, says Leanne has no ability to use color and is bland. Meanwhile, Leanne, in same style, says that Kenley’s hand-painted fabric designs looks like something a kid would do, completely amateurish, and a tad Holly Hobbie. Hey, now, leave Holly Hobbie out of this!
Finally, we’re down to one day before the big show and it’s time for the hair consultation. Korto’s models will all have buns, Leanne goes for a pulled up look, and Kenley wants classic waves. After that quick little decision, it’s back to the workroom for them. Korto works busily on finishing her two new looks; Kenley comments that it seems very risky because the runway looks have to be impeccable and there really isn’t time for that level of finishing.
The models return for more fittings and alterations. Unfortunately, one of Leanne’s models brings some small dust-mop kind of dog with her and the dog proceeds drop a load on the floor. Not only is this fairly disgusting, but the model has the audacity to go clean it up while still in Leanne’s gown. Someone should have fired her right then and there.
Luckily the dog poop scene is over quickly and Tim comes in for his last “gather ‘round” of the season. He first tells them that they will show with Kenley going first, then Korto, and Leanne finishing up. He then brings them all in for a group hug and tells them that he’s incredibly proud of them. Aww, Tim, I even believe you mean it! Even for Kenley!
Time for the big top.
Finally, it is the day of the runway show and the designers wake up at three a.m. to get to Bryant Park and start their day. Korto says she deserves to win, Leanne is excited she’s fulfilling her dream, and Kenley is nervous to see her parents but is sure they are going to be proud. They arrive at the tent and are overwhelmed by the enormity of the place and the length of the runway.
With two hours remaining before the show, the tent starts to fill up. Backstage, the designers prepare their clothes and models and even have a team of design students to help them get ready. Korto takes full advantage of them but Kenley makes her students wait to the side; she doesn’t want anyone messing up her hand-painted fabrics with the steamer.
Out in the tent, the guests start filling the seats and there are only 30 minutes remaining. All three finalists have their families in the audience in the front row. The top to one of Leanne’s garments expanded with the steamer so it is now too big for the model it is assigned to; she does some last minute juggling and switches around some looks.
Finally it is time for the show. Heidi introduces Michael and Nina and then says Jennifer Lopez, the scheduled guest judge, had to bow out because of a foot injury. Goodness knows many a foot injury caused me not to be able to sit on my ass and talk about fashion. It’s really to the benefit of everyone, however, because Tim gets to be the guest judge. He promises to put his relationships with the finalists on a metaphorical shelf and be impartial.
As promised, Kenley shows first. She says she was inspired in painting the fabrics and wanted to create her dream wardrobe, which is inspired by Alice in Wonderland. Her collection consists entirely of dresses or skirts and top separates. The color palette ranges from the basics of ivory and black to more vivid magenta and bright green to wild purple and magenta flowers in the hand painted prints. The one I hated the most was the short purple flower print dress with the rope detail off-setting the scrunched up other print fabric placed on the hip. However, her ivory 50’s vintage silhouette dress with the hand-painted flowers in a diagonal cascade down the front was really nice. Either that, or I’ve been watching too much Mad Men.
Korto introduces her collection by saying it was inspired by nature and she dedicates her show to her daughter and husband. Korto’s palette is bright grassy green, a bright yellow, some of that dirty champagne color from the wedding dresses, and white. She uses a lot of halter necklines and beadwork at the collars and has infused a subtle and consistent tone of her Liberian roots in her designs. The weirdest look to me was the long white dress that had some kind of space-age silver stuff on the edges of the hems. The green long green halter dress that started her show was the epitome of cool, sleek ease. Korto reminds me of Uli in that regard—making clothes that are comfortable and elegant—but Korto showed much more range than Uli did in her season. As Korto walked out behind her models on the final pass-by, she grabbed her daughter’s hand and led her down the runway.
Finally, Leanne introduces her collection by saying she loves it and lost a lot of sleep while making it. Leanne’s palette is ivory, pale peach, a light sea green and a deeper seafoam green. Each design has one or more wave elements—from the vertical hanging wave elements in alternating colors comprising a skirt or to detailing the collar of a blouse. Some of her models really do look like space alien and all the designs are calmingly lovely. My favorite is still the wedding gown, only because it is so odd. I just wish that the model wearing it hadn’t shoved her hands so far in the pockets that it looked like she was digging for loose change.
Choosy judges choose….*drumroll*
Back at the regular old TV sized runway, the judges confab a bit before calling out the designers. Michael remarks on the all female finale, Tim notes that each one has a palpable point of view, and Nina is pleased they all had their own identity which, Michael says, came out in the designs. Kenley, Korto, and Leanne all then arrive on the runway with their “muse” looks for their long-standing models. Heidi recites the prizes and calls Tim a hot hottie and then it is away with the critiquing.
Kenley is addressed first; Michael says her looks were full of charm and showed lots of personality and spirit. He asks if she did all of the hand painting, which she did. He also compliments her on the use of separates while still maintaining the overall look of the show. Tim loves the concept, construction and hand painting in the collection. Nina notes that the collection had a fantastic and wonderful spirit but notes that one of the dresses—the hand painted print with the cap sleeves—looks exactly like something put out by Balenciaga. Kenley finally comes to the realization that she needs to know what else is going on in the fashion world because all the editors do and will call her on it, even if she isn’t really copying.
Michael addresses Korto next; he is impressed by her ability to inject her heritage and background into the collection but control it in a way so as not to be costume-y. Nina comments that the collection looked effortlessly cohesive, had a phenomenal use of color, and could appeal to many women. Tim finally saw how the short white dress would work when it was out on the runway and came alive. Heidi brought down the love-fest by saying that some of the garments had too many ideas going on at once. Nina advises that when Korto holds back a little, the design is always a success.
Finally, the judges turn to Leanne’s collection. Michael says she set the right tone and look with the very first outfit; Tim loved the look with the pants and vest the most. Nina is impressed by the variety of clothes—shorts, skirts, pants, jackets, the vest, and dresses. Heidi loves the collection but worries that there were a lot of “petals” a/k/a waves. Nina does say she has a concern that it was too much of the same look.
Before the final decision, each finalist has to say why she deserves to win. Korto says that she has had a long journey and still has a lot of more to show the world. Leanne says she is innovative and looks to the future by using sustainable textiles in a large percentage of her collection. Kenley gets emotional and says that she has it in her to succeed and has the passion for fashion. They then all leave to wait out the decision.
The judges mull over their choice for a winner. Kenley’s collection was cohesive, fit perfectly, and had a couture-like aspect to it. They agreed that she needs some lessons in fashion history but she certainly has the passion to be a designer. Leanne has the skill to make complicated clothes look easy and to use sustainable fabrics without looking granola. Korto has impressive silhouettes and uses her African heritage in her designs in a creative way; they like that she can make clothes to flatter many sizes of women, which is a unique skill indeed.
The judges make their final decision and it’s time to reveal the winner. Right away Kenley is eliminated, but Heidi says she has a bright future in the industry and wish her the best. Kenley is crushed and hate being called out as a copycat.
So the decision is down to Leanne and Korto, either of which would be fine by me. Heidi then names Leanne as the winner. Heidi says Korto is very talented and understands what women want in fashion, but compliment that doesn’t make Korto any less sad. Meanwhile, true to her low-key form, Leanne is clearly happy but leaping around like a crazy person she is not. Tia comes out in a burst and then Leanne’s family arrives for hugs. In her final interview, Leanne says it was an amazing opportunity and she’s thrilled about winning. The then says that, now with the $100K, drinks are on her. Like I said at the start, let’s all meet at the bar and let Leanne pick up the tab.