Project Runway — It’s the Road to the Finale

It’s that time for Project Runway, the road to the finale, where we see the final collections of the designers shown during NYFW! We at this point are left with the final 4, Nancy, Sergio, Geoffrey & Victoria. Each designer would have 5 months to work on their collections, with a $10,000 budget. Each collection would consist of 10 looks. The designers were sent home to get working! The first part of the episode consisted of Christian visiting each designer to check-in.

First up, Christian was in Philadelphia, visiting Nancy. She had a really nice setup for a studio right next to her apartment. During this season, we saw Nancy a little all over the place at times, but I guess given more freedom in a work environment and parameters, we see a different Nancy, one who is really scheduled and organized. I love that she had a cardboard popup of Christian to keep her work spirit up! Nancy had so much completed for this visit with Christian. Her collection was all zero waste. It really did look like a lot of wearable art. She was also being all inclusive with her looks, even creating another look to work for a wheelchair model. I really loved what I was seeing here. There was a lot of detail and intricacies. Christian’s advice was to make sure to edit, not overwork the looks. And a nice parting bit of fun for Christian, he and Nancy ran up the steps in Philadelphia, like Rocky, how cool!

Next up for Christian was visiting Sergio in NY. He lives in a stunning apartment and his studio was actually in the apartment. His take for the collection was to look at global warmings’ impact on the planet. Sergio was trying to create glaciers melting into ice caps. He had some stunning fabrics chosen, and had decided to use upcycled fabrics. He also decided to grow leather in his bathtub, which actually looked pretty gross! We saw a lot of the middle part of his collection, but I was with Christian on his thoughts here and that the message wasn’t reading clear. And another bit of athleticism for Christian as he left Sergio, playing a little soccer!

Christian was then off to L.A. to visit with Victoria. She had a lot completed for this visit with Christian. She had decided to create a logo, which she put on some of her looks. I didn’t care for this, it read cheap, and let’s be real, she is not LV or Coach, not at a point yet where she needs that level of branding! There were a few interesting pieces, but I wasn’t seeing a lot of cohesion. I saw a lot of RTW, nothing very high-end. Looking at what I was seeing overall was underwhelming. After their studio visit, Christian was able to meet Victoria’s family, her husband and son.

And last but not least for Christian’s visits was seeing Geoffrey, going back to NY, Brooklyn. Geoffrey had a rocky start to working on this collection. He had pulled his meniscus, so was working thru that injury while trying to work thru this collection. He really hadn’t completed much. Lots of sketches and fabric swatches, but not any completed looks. He was thinking futurism for this collection, working on specific details for the collection, fabric manipulations, texture, quilted chainmail, and more. I was intrigued by what he was saying, but Geoffrey really had his work cut out for him to pull everything together and to do so very quickly. We also later learned Geoffrey had gone thru a break-up and was having some financial woes from closing his business. So he had been thru a lot and hopefully it wouldn’t keep impacting the work on his collection.

With all of the visits done, everyone finished their work over the next couple of months and were then back to NY. Victoria had an entire new hair look, big ball of curls gone to straight locks of blonde. Before getting back to work on their own collections, the designers went to Christian’s show at NYFW. But not too much downtime for fun, as the very next day, they were all back to their new workroom to get back to work! And since Christian had a lot going on after his show, Karlie was there to welcome the designers. The designers started unpacking their collections, Nancy literally inside one of her boxes making sure everything made it out! We saw Nancy actually used no horsehair in this collection and didn’t seem to be showing much repetition from what she created on the show. I really loved this liquid like fabric she had chosen. Geoffrey had clearly gotten to work and completed everything. He looked to have created some interesting outerwear pieces. All of the designers were of course curious as to what each other had done. Victoria changed a lot of her collection from Christian’s visit. It definitely looked better than what I had seen previously!

Of course Karlie being around was not just for a warm welcome, she had a little surprise for the designers. The judges were apparently throwing out the rulebook. It was not set in stone how many could show at fashion week. It could be all 4, just 3, or even just 2. The designers had 48 hours to pick 3 looks to show the judges. It could be their 3 strongest looks, or 3 favorites or looks they wanted critique on. The designers then had to look at the model cards and pick upon themselves who would get each model. Geoffrey naturally went into panic mode, not sure what to show the judges. He did have color in his collection, but really loved his all black looks.

The next day back in the workroom, Christian returned. We saw a little more insight into each collection. Geoffrey was honoring his Dad’s purple heart, creating a collection based around armor and protection. I worried about seeing Geoffrey’s cohesion, but also just any sort of mass appeal to his work. I wasn’t seeing a lot of super wearable pieces, but there were some really cool looks. Victoria was still about some branding and accessories, but Christian warned her about distracting focus from her looks. For Sergio, Christian advised him to make the looks feel as modern as he could. Christian didn’t seem to have much feedback for Nancy, really loved what she had created, which actually brought her to tears. It was such a genuine moment of appreciation and joy to see from her. But what was also pretty cool to see was one fun accessory she had created, a bag that dubbed as a boxed wine cover, genius!

Model fittings were up next. Christian provided some final tidbits of advice. He was not going to be with the designers the day of the runway because he was preparing for the Oscars. And with that, the designers finished off their night’s work, Geoffrey making a new skirt for one of his looks and Nancy treading very delicately because one mistake with her fabric could be endgame. For the morning of the runway, Sergio was having an issue with a visible panty line. Geoffrey decided to use stud embellishments for his makeup look, but was having a freakout moment because of the beading placements. And Victoria had decided to use all of her accessories. The guest judge for this runway was President and CEO of the CFDA, Steven Kolb. The winner would be receiving a mentorship thru the CFDA so Steven’s input would be great to have.

It was certainly hard to see where exactly the judges fell with this 4 because they really did have critiques for all. In my opinion, they seem to have the least amount of critique on Nancy and I would be floored if she were not chosen to show at NYFW. I really feel that the judges will let all 4 go thru though. But Nancy really delivered here. She did strive to make an all-inclusive collection, and really doing more than most by creating a look for a person who is in a wheelchair. I loved the feathered bodice on this look, great transitory moment from skirt to cape.

The print she used for her suit-esque look was stunning. Such a great fit on the model. And then seeing this liquid metallic look, such a lovely color and really a high end look anyone would love to be in. I do agree with the judges she should go a little more modern on the styling, less with the makeup. And she should also think of some breathers, so not everything is so print heavy or detailed focused. But editing down versus having to edit up is certainly where one would want to be at this point!

Sergio and Geoffrey both have some work to do, but I did find what they have done so far intriguing. I guess because of some stunning fabric choices, and just knowing Sergio’s technical skills are going to be beyond top notch, I did find his work a little more appealing. This first all white look, did look great, a little off from the panty issue, but did look amazing.

He had one look that weighed 45 lbs, I am sure hard to wear, but it was just so stunning. This look just screams so regal and luxe, I feel it is certainly one standout show piece for him and something a lot of women would want to wear.

I didn’t love all the fringe. And the judges were right that some of these looks did read more dated and he needed to get messy with the editing, think less is more. Sergio seemed to be very receptive of the criticism, but the question is, can he really take this super high end escalated collection and take it from that classy somewhat dated feel to something more modern.

With what Geoffrey showed here and snippets of what we have seen in other looks, I just don’t see cohesion. I don’t see him catering to the same customer. I see a lot of the coolness factor, but not sure how it might come altogether and if he can streamline focus on some of these ideas. There is almost too much going on. This first purple look was probably the only one I liked. A very cool puffer jacket look with a new chainmail skirt he had actually just made, so he was already making changes!

This dress look again was really cool with the metal mesh, but the bodice shaping was odd to me. The silhouette was also very ill-fitting as the judges pointed out.

And while it was nice to see menswear, I did not care for this mustard look. It was a lot of layers, very heavy handed. I think the judges felt underwhelmed by this and so did I.

Victoria was my least favorite. I do see she is going for a certain look, a certain customer. As the judges mentioned, it was great to see separates, you can do a lot of mixing and matching. The judges liked the hats, I really didn’t, but I guess the point was you don’t need to have all of the hats and bags, which is what Christian told her and she did not listen. On this first look, I liked the pants, very cool, but the embroidery print work was not appealing to me.

Then you jump to this suit look which really fell out of place for me, felt dated.

I really did love this jumpsuit, although the judges did not and felt it looked cheap. Go figure the one look I like, the judges don’t! she also had some technical issues up close and some fit issues here and there.

I think some of the designers have a lot of work to do if they want to be in the running. I am really hoping Nancy pulls of this win though!

PR Designers Take on Avant-Garde — Time to go Big or Go Home!

This is it! It is the final challenge before we find out who is going to NYFW! And what better way to make that determination than by having the designers take on creating an avant-garde look. The judges would be looking for something extraordinary, going beyond the norm, a fashion first where innovation and originality would be key. And given that nobody went home last week, on this challenge, 2 designers would be getting axed. For this huge task, it really called for a larger than life runway! Instead of the regular catwalk, the designers would show their looks at NYC’s newest, innovative architectural feat, The Vessel.

Since Nancy won last week, she was able to choose her model. She then selected another designer to choose, and it was so on and so forth after that, with Victoria choosing last. This would be a 2-day challenge, with the sketching happening right then and there. The challenge itself wouldn’t start until the next day with the trip to Mood. During sketch-time, Marquise expressed comfort with this type of challenge, Victoria felt just okay, but Brittany was not feeling great at all. Sergio was planning his next big piece, but also his next big political statement, women empowerment.

So for the first full day of work, the designers began at Mood with a budget of $600. The designers were excited, but also happy to have a little extra shopping time. Geoffrey was feeling ready, although found himself working with familiar fabrics. Christian had already warned everyone to mix it up, so Geoffrey decided instead to work with latex. This is not new territory for him, but would be on this show. It was then time for the designers to get to work. We saw at Mood Brittany was thinking butterflies, but also thinking pink! Victoria was aiming to create 100s of small, faux leather pieces, to create her own fabric, looking to be some very tedious work. And Marquise was getting into work with all of his chains!

Christian was around later for Siriano sessions. Christian was okay with Brittany’s butterfly vision. Geoffrey was thrilled to show Christian his abilities to work well with latex. For Nancy, Christian urged her to go ahead and figure out her silhouette. But with Victoria, he wasn’t sure what direction she was going. For the remainder of day 1, Sergio expressed he only saw himself as competition and that everyone is always watching him. Not sure about that one, but everyone looked tired after a full day’s work, but still ready to go the next day for round 2!

The designers began their 2nd day of work with a surprise from Christian. They thought it was bad news, but it was more positive! Christian had it all set up for the designers to see every look they have created this season. It was a lovely walk down memory lane. But of course, it was more than just looking at their past work! Each designer would choose 2 prior looks to show with their avant-garde look. They would also get to work with a seamstress to tailor their looks for the new models. Next up was model fittings. Seeing what Geoffrey was creating with his latex work, I wasn’t sure what was going on. Sergio was working away with his Samurai look. Christian cautioned Marquise to relook at his jacket. And the designers also began work with their assigned seamstress.

Justine Marjan from Tresemme then came by to consult with each designer on their hair look because this avant-garde creation needed to truly sync with the hair & makeup. Toward the end of the day, Geoffrey accidentally cut himself, what a crazy end to a hectic, filled day! Since the designers had to be on location for this runway, their day of runway had to begin much earlier! Geoffrey was still reeling from his finger injury the day before, and looked to be hurting himself all over again! But injuries aside, the looks were getting finishing touches, the designers were off to The Vessel.

The judges were also arriving on location. We saw that Brandon was really afraid of heights, so he would be taking in the show from a lower level. This week’s guest judge was actress Rachel Brosnahan. Seeing this space with the runway show going on, it looks to be a stunning spot for a fashion show! And this runway did not disappoint. I feel most of the designers really stepped up to the plate, and I do imagine the choice to send 2 designers home, so only 4 making it to fashion week, it was a tough call!

My sense from the judges was that there was no question Geoffrey and Victoria were going thru. Nancy maybe more in the safe zone, with the final decision coming down to for that 4th spot between Brittany, Marquise and Sergio. I think the final decisions all made sense to me, and I was okay with, but this is not how I would have broken up this group. I don’t think there should have been any debate over Nancy going thru. She was definitely one of my top picks. Her look was so artistic, so sculptural, such a vision. I can’t say this is something overly unique from her, but it was clear everyone loved it. Nina mentioned something about better color choices, but I thought that was nonsensical. You could tell Brittany was fuming over the good critiques Nancy was receiving, but that is pretty petty that she felt her look was better than Nancys’. Not sure in what world that made sense in her head!

I am not usually a Victoria fan, but on this look, I can see why the judges put her thru over some of the rest. I wasn’t sure about the colors when I first saw it, but looking at it now, it makes sense and I do really like the look. I don’t think the ear attachment was needed. I wish it had been a little longer in the front. But this look read better to me the more I got to look at it, and she really stepped up from work she has created all season. It was nice to finally see something truly different from Victoria.

Geoffrey nabbed that definite fashion week spot as well. The judges were in awe, but I still just don’t get it. Geoffrey has done great work all season, and I am happy he was given the chance to go to fashion week, but this look was not a knockout. I can’t recall which judge said something about him being on such an upwards trajectory toward the last part of the season, but I guess they forgot how poorly he did just the week before this with that tacky short red dress he created! I don’t think this met the level of avant-garde. The latex was cool looking, but it was a long train over a body suit with exaggerations on the top. He said he makes stage looks for singers and this is exactly what this look was. I don’t get the over exaggeration of positives here.

I think the bottom 3 should have been Geoffrey, Marquise and Brittany. And in that instance, I don’t know if I would have put Geoffrey thru based on just this one look. But it was actually Sergio in the bottom pack, which I was confused on. I thought comparing his look to that of the other 2, I don’t see how there was any debate he should go thru. His work always is high quality, technically superior, so regal, so luxe. There is a flare for the drama. Yes, his makeup and hair were not very original in this Asian influence aesthetic. But I don’t think his look itself was referential in the examples they showed of McQueen or John Galiano. His Samurai look is not the same as a geisha look. Yes, they both reference the same culture, but are 2 different things and I feel it was very ignorant of the judges to not get that. To be fair, nothing in this lineup was overly innovative or totally original!

It was the right call for Sergio to go thru. Brittany’s look was not perfect, but was the only one I felt might could have gone thru, but didn’t. However in my book, if Brittany goes, then Geoffrey wouldn’t have. I do like this butterfly aesthetic. The judges weren’t thrilled with the butterfly dress, but I actually love it. It’s not avant-garde though. Obviously it was the oversized, long train jacket that was her avant-garde work, and it wasn’t anything overly spectacular. The execution wasn’t fully there, but as much pink as this look was, I still didn’t hate it. What I do hate is Brittany and her pouty attitude. I think she is such a poor sport. Yes it sucks to not make it, but to be fair, her and Marquise were both given 2nd chances in this competition. I don’t think Brittany has made the most of that 2nd chance. And her body of work compared to Geoffreys, it just isn’t as strong.

But Marquise going out on this look, I can’t say it is surprising. I do think Marquise made good use of his 2nd life in this competition. But I have always found him to be inconsistent in his work over the course of the season, and this look was not strong for him. Yes the chain pants were cool. But I know a few designers personally that work with chain metals all the time. It is not this brand new concept. The top part was just not good at all though. It was basic thoughts on hologram and futuristic vibes, but not in a good way. I think I had seen some comments from fans here and there that he was robbed. That is absolutely untrue in regards to this look. He was only brought back to the competition because another designer had to drop out due to illness. He has to prove himself just like everyone else and I don’t feel he did that. I like Marquise, but I don’t think he was ready to create an entire collection for fashion week. He has potential in the future, but he is not quite there yet!

I am eager to see how everything plays out on this road to the fashion week finale!