Project Runway: Season 12 Finale


Welcome to the Season 12 finale, dear readers! 

The Challenge: We’ve finally made it to New York Fashion Week! Each finalist must present his or her ten-look collection, including one look made out of unconventional materials and one made out of washable fabrics so that we can say Tide a million times per episode.

Guest Judge: The incomparably fabulous Kerry Washington. Kudos to the Project Runway team, because this was quite a get for the finale guest judge spot. And Ms. Washington was as gracious and warm and lovely as I could have ever hoped she’d be.

ALEXANDRIA VAN BROMSSEN
Runner-Up
Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

Alexandria opened her collection brilliantly, with her unconventional look. It had an incredible impact and was fascinating to look at, making it a really remarkable opener, because it set the tone for the rest of her modern, interesting show.

Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

Like all of her competitors, Alexandria was at the absolute top of her game and showed exactly the kind of collection I’d hoped for from her – cutting-edge garments with a distinct point of view that actually look like they belong on the Spring 2014 New York Fashion Week runways.

Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

Above all, Alexandria’s brilliant choice of textiles impressed me the most. She proved that she has an eye for rich, luxe fabrics – a laser-like vision of what fabrics will create that chic-but-laid-back, ridiculously-expensive-but-carefree aesthetic. Whatever that perforated shawl top is, I think it’s gorgeous.

Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

If you’re going to show a tee and a pair of shorts in a ten-look collection, it better be the most spectacular tee and shorts imaginable, otherwise you’re just wasting a look. The shorts definitely meet the standard here, but I’m not sure that top is really quite special enough.

Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

Still love the asymmetrical closure on these pants. I just think it’s brilliantly fresh.

Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

This was Alexandria’s Tide washable look, which I think she nailed. I don’t know how the hell you wash that sheer fabric, but if it’s really possible to do, then color me impressed. And I love this interesting silhouette, with the top cropped in back and slashed diagonally in front.

Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

I love this look, but I’d love it a hundred times more without the exposed zipper. It’s just been done to death (although this one is expertly executed, I’ll give her that.)

Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

This didn’t quite fit in with the rest of the collection, and it’s also kind of ridiculous, but I sort of love that weird vest top.

Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

I’ll take that suede jacket in this gorgeous slate gray and every other color, please.

Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

Not too memorable in photographs, but the real beauty of this dress was in the texture, which doesn’t read too well here. It moved beautifully on television, though. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Alexandria’s collection, which had a breath-of-fresh-airiness to it. Dom was still my pick for the win, but Alexandria definitely gave Dom a run for her money. I hope to see a lot more from her in the future.

BRADON MCDONALD
Fourth Place
Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

This was the first finale in years where I truly felt that every designer deserved to be there, and created a collection worthy of New York Fashion Week. Bradon’s was my least favorite out of the four, but each of these designers could have won any of the last few seasons with these collections, Bradon included. This shiny pink-gold fabric played a major role in the collection, but I thought it read as a bit tacky on television and in photos. It may have looked much more expensive in person (I wouldn’t be lucky enough to know), but I can’t say it translated well to film. That said, the ivory draping at the bottom of this gown was spectacular, and a feat worthy of an opening look.

Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

Bradon made a lot of beautiful separates; however, I wasn’t sold on the way he combined his pieces. This textured top is so lovely, but if it was paired with the kinds of pieces Alexandria showed, it would have really shone.

Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

Hard to like this look when I so heartily dislike that fabric, but it’s well-made and has a lightness to it that I’m enjoying.

Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

I wish the whole short was rendered in that print, instead of just the front. But either way, that’s one hell of a pair of shorts. The blouse isn’t particularly innovative, but it’s lovely all the same.

Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

Bradon’s washable look was probably my least favorite of his collection. You could tell immediately that this look was created separately from the rest of his collection, and I think that’s a problem. It’s a fun, wearable dress, but it didn’t speak to any of Bradon’s other looks.

Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

This blouse is definitely my favorite use of the shiny fabric – it’s got an off-duty Karolina Kurkova vibe to it. And if I were long-legged enough to pull them off, I’d be putting in an order for those pants as we speak. (Sadly, once I hemmed them to my 5’0″ height, the proportions would be completely insane.)

Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

I cannot for the life of me remember what unconventional material this is made of, but I still enjoyed this look. There are two ways to make a great unconventional look – construct it so expertly that the audience can’t tell it’s not made of fabric, or own the unconventional material and make it extraordinarily obvious that you’ve managed to create a gown out of Solo cups or whatever the material may be. Bradon went for the former, which can be really lovely, but I prefer the drama of seeing a gown obviously made out of test tubes strut down the runway.

Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

The dyeing looks fantastic, but it’s a little bit too plain of a silhouette to really grab my attention. But it looks like there might be pockets, so that’s something.

Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

By far my favorite look of Bradon’s collection. Flawlessly executed, beautifully designed, and red-carpet ready. Now that I think about it, Kerry Washington would look outstanding in this print. Bradon, make it happen.

Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

Again, I think the simplicity of the silhouette kind of ruins this look for me. The metallic ruffle is really stunning from the back, but I can’t say I love the bulkiness of it in the front. Kudos to Bradon – he may not have wowed me quite as much as his fellow designers, but as I said earlier, this could easily have taken the win in many other Project Runway seasons.

DOM STREATER
Winner
Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

I never stopped rooting for Dom, but even if I hadn’t already been a devotee, I would have been sold on her collection from this first look alone. Dom designed every print in her collection, which was a brilliant move, since she’s been recognized as this season’s princess of prints. She’s got the best eye for how to pair clashing textiles together I’ve seen on this show since Mondo.

Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

They’re impossible to appreciate in photos, but her plastic pieces were truly awesome. Surprising and fun, which is what I think all fashion should be.

Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

I preferred this print in other silhouettes, and I don’t think the fit here is quite right, but it’s still incredibly cool. Also, I thought the big, old Hollywood hair and starlet sunglasses were fantastic styling choices. They gave an Upper East Side sensibility to an otherwise downtown, funky collection, and that juxtaposition of aesthetics really worked for me.

Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

This plunging neckline is divine. And I’d happily never see another peplum on a red carpet gown again, but rendering it in that plastic fabric was yet another brilliant choice.

Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

Love, love, love. I’m not much for dresses I can’t wear a bra with, but I want to be friends with the flat-chested girl who’s wearing this dress.

Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

I think it’s a fool’s errand to put a bathing suit in a Project Runway collection. You only have ten looks, so it’s risky to make one a swimsuit to begin with. And unlike other kinds of clothing, the primary way to make a new silhouette of swimsuit is to create insane tan lines that no woman could ever want. So I don’t think there’s a way to win here. But I think the cape-coverup thing is pretty groovy.

Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

GIVE ME THAT JACKET. NOW. IT MUST BE MINE.

Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

A phenomenal print, rendered so expertly I can’t even believe my eyes. It is not easy to line up a print this crazy so that the end result is symmetrical, so kudos to Dom. And that neckline is sexy as can be.

Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

From the front, I thought Dom’s washable look was adorable and chic. But the closure in the back or whatever’s happening at the bottom of that open back is just a bit too sloppy for me.

Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

Dom’s unconventional look was daring and delightful. And the red wig paired with it? Absolute perfection. Until Helen got eliminated, I didn’t truly believe the judges would actually award Dom the win, even though I’d been praying for it all season long. Heartfelt congratulations to Dom – you deserved it, lady!

JUSTIN LEBLANC
Third Place
Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

The rest of Justin’s collection was as surprisingly chic as the three-look preview he presented in Part One of the finale. And he definitely helped himself out by getting rid of those awful wigs, but I can’t say the weird asymmetrical bangs he chose were much better.

Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

A touch on the basic side, but very sweet and incredibly wearable. Great use of the 3D printing as a sort of cap sleeve.

Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

I was not such a fan of Justin’s washable look from the front, but the draping in back is truly breathtaking.

Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

Still adorable in a new-wave Carolina Herrera sort of way.

Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

I just find those clip-on bangs so terribly distracting. I don’t think they reflect the woman who would wear Justin’s clothes, and I think they sometimes make it hard to focus on his designs. But I loved this sound wave print.

Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

Incredibly modern and chic from the front, but I think the babydoll draping in the back doesn’t really go with the cool, laid-back vibe of the rest of the look.

Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

This was probably my least favorite look of Justin’s collection. I think it lacked focus and a strong point of view. The 3D-printed necklace looks great in the back, but that’s the only thing I like about this look.

Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

This is far too similar to the look before it; this one is just more refined. He should have nixed the look before this altogether and perhaps done some sort of gray-and-white transitional look.

Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

Very cute, but a shade too similar to the second look of his collection. And the fit in the back leaves a bit to be desired.

Photo: Lifetime

Photo: Lifetime

There was something magical about listening to this dress come down the runway, with the test tubes clattering against each other to mimic the sound of falling rain. It was a brilliant unconventional look, and a spectacular finale dress. It spoke to Justin’s inspiration, and looked damn good doing it.

Judges’ Final Rankings: Dom, Alexandria, Justin, Bradon
Diva’s Final Rankings: Dom, Alexandria, Justin, Bradon

Thank you for another wonderful season, dear readers! Come back next week for the Diva’s recaps of Project Runway All Stars.


© Democracy Diva, 2013.
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9 responses to Project Runway: Season 12 Finale

  1. Eva

    Thank you so much for commenting the whole season. As always it was real fun reading your comments. In Germany startet a kind of a copy of Project Runway with Claudia Schiffer. It’s nice, but it’s not the same watchig a fashion show with the delightful comments of the Diva. Do you also blog about the collections for the Fashion Week from the eliminated designers?

    • democracydiva – Author

      Thank you so much, Eva! If the German Project Runway is online in the states, I’ll check it out. I am trying to blog about the decoy collections from the eliminated designers, but this season, I’m actually having a lot of trouble finding all the pictures from my usual sources. (A lot of major fashion blogs like New York Magazine’s The Cut have stopped blogging about the show, so photos that aren’t on Lifetime’s website have become more difficult to find.) Assuming I can find all the pictures I need, there will be a Decoy Collections post up sometime this week. ❤

  2. Sunny

    Can’t wait to hear your thoughts on the decoy collections, DD, specially Alexander’s 🙂

  3. I’ve been looking forward to your comments, Diva. I agree that any one of these four could have taken the win; I think Dom got it because she really is a master hand at prints and produces wearable clothes.

    I love nearly all the looks that Alexandra sent down the runway, but I could see them doing well in colors as well as her cool, neutral palette. She only did two skirts- the Unconventional Materials one and the sheer skirt. I think she’s just not a skirt person.

    Justin does extremely well when he’s not limited so much by time or “create a look inspired by Random Object.” I think we will see more of him. I thought the shiny fabric used by Bradon was unfortunate. It made me think of MIchael Kors saying, “easiest way to look cheap is too short, too tight, or shiny.” If you’re going to do shiny- which I don’t object to in principle- do it big. Glam it up with a wagonload of sequins. I think his looks were harmed by the shiny, not helped. And I will say that when I got a look at the draping white puffs at the bottom of his opening look, I gasped, because it was just that gorgeous.

    I just wish I was six inches taller and four sizes smaller. I’d wear almost everything on the runway from all four of them. Hasn’t been such a good Final Four since the glory days of Mycheal (since he changed his name), Jeffrey, Laura and Uli. Oh, well, maybe Christian Siriano, Rami Kashou, and Jillian Lewis. Anyway, the caliber’s gone down since they started focusing on one-day challenges. I’d rather give them more time, enough to come up with good looks, but what is a reality competition without a completely artificial time frame thrown in to add useless tension?

    Looking forward to your decoy review. I haven’t spoiled myself with looking them up, so it’ll all be new to me.

    • democracydiva – Author

      I could not agree more about Bradon’s use of shiny fabric – if you’re going to go shiny, go all the way, because a middle-of-the-road shiny definitely just has that cheapening effect. But, much like you, the white puffs at the bottom of his opening look made my jaw drop.

      Would that I weren’t 5’0″ (the same height as Dom, I just learned, to my excitement), I’d wear SO MUCH of what was presented from these four designers. Your “glory days” of PR are the same as mine – this really was my favorite finale since those seasons. And I’ve been pushing for more two-day challenges for what feels like ages. One-day challenges = all drama and no design. Two days = more time to create beauty, and less stress-induced hysterics. Lifetime prefers the drama, but we prefer the beauty!!

      I wouldn’t let myself be spoiled either, so I’m blogging all the Decoy looks without having seen them before. Very excited!

  4. Daniel

    Thank you for another great season of recaps. Who would have guessed that a season filled with so much uncomfortable crazy would have wound up with such a rewarding outcome.

    • democracydiva – Author

      I feel the same way, Daniel. “Uncomfortable crazy” should be the tagline of this season – the kind of drama Ken and Sandro provided wasn’t good television, it was just really hard to watch. I could not have imagined that a season full of such hysterics could result in a finale that was drama-free, but full of fabulous fashion. As far as I’m concerned, PR is at its best when the ratio of good fashion to drama favors the fashion.

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