Project Runway & the Road to the Finale….

So last week we learned there would be 4 finalists showing at NYFW. And even as this episode progressed, we knew there would be no eliminations. In the past, I feel as if for the episode before the finale, generally there is still some elimination at play. Most likely, it’s when the judges want to see a few pieces from 2 or 3 designers before making their final decision. It left my mind to wonder then the point of the episode, but I guess for the designers’ benefit, the episode format paid off.


Let’s backtrack a minute. Coming off of the last runway, the designers awaited their final instructions – 5 weeks to create a 10 look collection, with a $9000 budget. Dorothy Dowling, Senior VP of Marketing for Best Western, added an additional fun surprise. Since NYFW is a worldwide phenomenon, the designers were given the chance to travel before beginning their work. They were off to Rome for a little international inspiration.


Each designers collection could certainly benefit from this traveling, taking in the ancient city of Rome, its architecture, the history, and the culture. Tim was along for the ride too. They all hit “Rome’s greatest hits”, such as the Coliseum, The Roman Forum, and the Pantheon. Tim of course also fit in a little pre-Tim time!


Tim and the designers were then off to Valli, a high end fabric store in Rome. The designers were not obligated to purchase anything, but Tim wanted them to have the option to make use of some luxe Italian fabrics if they so chose to. Kini & Sean were not quite ready to commit, but Amanda and Char each bought 1 fabric, a brown silk and graphic print respectively.


Everyone was soon back home and working away. Tim began with Kini in Kapolei, Hawaii, with 2 weeks remaining before fashion week. It was logical to start with Kini, probably thinking he would have the most completed. Tim even began with a joke, if Kini already had 150 looks to show! Alas no!. He was working hard in his garage studio, but as we saw a few times over the season, he had hit a bit of designers block. His direction soon became clear, going back to denim, but making it luxe, while also working with structure.


Tim was then off to Detroit, Michigan to visit Char. Char was showing she wasn’t afraid of some color! The print she purchased in Rome, about a $1000 worth, was an underlying inspiration for colors to draw from. Next up, Amanda in Nashville. Amanda’s direction was art deco, but still sticking with a 60s/70s vibe – think bohemian mod! And then finally, with his studio workspace set up & all, Tim was back in NY visiting Sean in Williamsburg-Brooklyn. He was working on telling the story about the betrayal of Caesar, high & in charge to betrayal to bloodshed. And despite Nina’s wish of no fringe or more of a lack thereof, Sean was determined to keep the fringe!


The designers were soon back to NYC, enjoying a nice, new pad, also with some champagne & goodies. But of course, the celebration was short-lived and they were back to the workroom to continue work on their collections. Tim soon came by to alert the designers of a last minute preview session with the judges.


Each designer chose 3 looks to show and get some helpful feedback before their final presentations at MBFW, Lincoln Center. No guest judges or eliminations though, just feedback! They were only given 2 hours to pull everything together, model fittings, hair, & make-up to boot!


Amanda was for sure on the right track, in both my eyes and the judges’. She didn’t seem to have a lot finished when Tim initially visited, but she clearly busted out a great deal in those final 10 days. Tim advised her to stay away from fringe, GOOD CALL! He also said to keep an editing eye; she didn’t need all the bells & whistles. We also saw that on top of spectacular looks, she designed and had made some stunning jewelry. I agree with Zac to pair some more of that with her looks because I was impressed!


Amanda took a leap from her final piece from the last episode, the multi-colored maxi. Each of her looks shown and I’m sure the rest will definitely keep with the “Amanda aesthetic.” It’s all boho chic and an eclectic vintage vibe. I don’t doubt the cohesion or her vision as a designer. Everything was styled with such an ease and was effortlessly cool. She really makes clothes that any girl or woman would want to wear; and I’m one of them!

**The make-up & hair looks here worked, not so sure about the full on slicked back do from above, but sleek & straight as seen below, great job by Philip  B. hair. Also I think a more understated, natural Mary Kay beauty look worked too!**


I loved the shades of blue maxi. This was a look where the jewelry definitely escalated the piece, but I would be a fan with or without. Nina wanted to see if Amanda could amp the chicness factor up a bit, so keep the ethnic vibe, but not have everything be so hippie and long. Amanda seemed on board and was ready to pounce!


I think it was this lengthy knit she planned on shortening, or another full-length maxi. This should prove to be a wise idea. The print works better when broken up. I think as Amanda initially told Tim earlier in the episode, she might be on the road to her ultimate redemption, coming back and winning PR!


Sean was also on the right path, a fave for both myself and the judges’ preview. Tim had warned Sean previously, with the dreaded long Tim Gunn silence, that he was seeing 2 collections. There was a disconnect with the beginning and end of the Caesar betrayal story. The initial looks were just too RTW, too on the norm side, and didn’t quite match the level of the more dramatic pieces. With only about a week before the return to NYC, Sean scrapped 4 looks and was mainly ready to go for this preview.

**Love the nude Aldo sandal heels; also spot on beauty Mary Kay look, the bronzed cheek, light pink lip, and smoky eye! Side note, not the biggest fan of the slicked back, wet-do.**


There was definitely a simplistic, understated elegance with Sean’s preview pieces. The draping was gorgeous and I agree with the judges in how great the movement was with the pieces. Stark white, as seen above, was used to represent Caesar’s purest moments. I loved this piece and it was a top fave of the night for me. It was very Grecian goddess like, but without being so literal.


The fits were excellent and the fringe works too. The black fringed jumpsuit was also great, and it represents the betrayal period. I’m kind of on the fence on how much I would really want to see of fringe. I think it lends to Sean’s aesthetic, but I don’t think he needs it. I don’t see him using it so much as a crutch, but it’s a technique he works well with and it does escalate a given look. I feel I gravitate towards his pieces without it though and I can still see Sean in those pieces.


I’m intrigued to see what he will do with all of the fringe because Nina was still kind of over it. And finally we have the looks incorporating bright orange to represent the bloodshed. I would prefer the jumpsuit without fringe, but this fringed skirt works with the collared white shirt.


I for sure thought Kini would get similar feedback to that of Amanda & Sean. I was shocked his critique was seemingly the harshest of the night. Kini seemed a bit bored upon first arriving to the workroom, which goes to show you can never rest on your laurels! Execution and fit were certainly not Kini’s issues. The judges seemed more focus on how the looks were styled and were definitely not a fan of the pleated trench coat. I kind of agree. Kini’s last trench coat was so spectacular, I just don’t think this one was on that level.

**Another great Philip B. hair severely straight look! But I did agree with the judges, way too much eye make-up!**


This was my most fave Kini look. It really caught my eye, an intriguing top, such a great fit and luxe denim look for a pencil skirt. It was definitely a modern spin. I think maybe as a whole, I got where the judges were coming from with the looks being more mature, but I was a fan of this look and wouldn’t make too many changes. And I also love this royal blue Aldo handbag. If he wants to heed the judges advice, maybe a clutch would work better?? But I love the purse!


The pieces below would work find standalone, but maybe not the best paired together. I think it was Nina who said to pair this structured stark white top with maybe a pair of black leather leggings. I agree. Both the top and skirt had volume and structure. But again, each would work standalone if maybe paired with something a bit more form fitting, not so loose.


I definitely felt for Kini, but the judges offered some helpful advice. I know Kini came in with way more than 10 looks. And if anyone can whip up a new piece or 2 in such a short amount of time, it’s Kini! I think once he can pull everything together, take in what the judges said, I’m sure he can turn this around and still be a contender for the win.


I think Char also got some tough advice as Nina told her to scrap an entire look shown, the middle one above. I agreed. The fit here was horrible and it really didn’t seem like a Char-piece at all. I’m not sure how much cohesion her collection will have, but what little bit might be there, this look would certainly be out of place.

-project-ru5nway--seaWhen I think of Char, I think urban, street-style, some color, and certainly no fear of a graphic print. I think the print she used below, and I believe it was the one from Rome, was a great print for Char to use. But I don’t think the way she used it worked at all. The shorts were way too short and didn’t look like they fit at all. The over-sized top was fine, but the end result was a little too hoochie-ish for my taste.


I also totally got what the judges were saying about the looks going in a super sexy direction, yet her styling was the complete opposite — safe shoes, more formal-like up-do’s, etc. The striped look below was probably the best one of the 3, but that wasn’t saying much. And it certainly wasn’t a WOW piece at all. She may have had others in her collection, but I guess they weren’t ready quite yet for prime-time. She has a good amount of work to do, but unlike Kini, she may not be able to get it all done quite as quickly. We’ll see how well she can pull it off very soon!


So until the finale……


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