Project Runway Recap: Season 13 Finale

You’ve waited long enough. It’s time to bitch about that finale. 

The Challenge: The designers were given one month to create a 10-look collection, because no one who works for Lifetime gives a damn about the finale runway show. They simply give no fucks as to whether their insane time and money constraints mean that the resulting shows are mind-numbingly boring. And so this episode was, overall… mind-numbingly boring.

Guest Judge: Emmy Rossum, who I would have appreciated more if the producers hadn’t spoon-fed her soundbites about how marvelous the Tim Gunn save is. That was just too much bullshit for me to stomach. I don’t blame her for that – she was a very good judge, as far as non-designers go. (The bar I set is if an actress says anything besides catchy soundbites and “I would wear that”/”I wouldn’t wear that,” that’s a pretty good judge.)

AMANDA VALENTINE
Runner-Up

Photos: Lifetime

Photos: Lifetime

My overall impression of this collection: I probably would have selected Amanda for the win, but her collection and Sean’s collection were pretty close in terms of the level of talent, expertise, and creativity they displayed. Namely, they were a lot better than Char’s collection, and approximately a million times better than Kini’s, but put them next to Christian Siriano or Daniel Vosovic’s finale collections (or a billion other designers from the early, epic Bravo days of this show) and they would have been laughed off the runway. I liked this knit pattern that Amanda designed, but I don’t think she always used it in the best possible way. This tunic is fine, but those baggy leather pants add absolutely nothing to the look. And the top isn’t strong enough to stand on its own without something at least remotely interesting happening on the bottom.

Photos: Lifetime

Photos: Lifetime

Not my favorite, but cute enough, and I like the leather/suede combination. That was another good idea that could have been executed with a little more creativity and interest, but this vest is pretty good. It ends at a great place on the body, and the seaming in back is well-done. (Do these sound like half-assed comments? I’m going to blame that on the half-assed constraints that give the designers a month to create a collection rather than the, what, three months they used to get?)

Photos: Lifetime

Photos: Lifetime

Not a fan of the crotch of these pants. They’re not low enough to be dropped-crotch (which is a look I personally hate, but at least I understand it) and not high enough to be normal pants. They just look kind of depressed and ill-fitting. The top is interesting, though the front and back look like they’re from two different outfits. I know that’s intentional, but it sort of feels like Amanda couldn’t resist throwing some of that knit into this look, which didn’t necessarily need it.

Photos: Lifetime

Photos: Lifetime

I really enjoyed this dress. Or is it a romper? I don’t know, and I don’t particularly care. It’s not mind-blowing in terms of creativity, but it’s chic, mega-flattering, surprisingly sexy, and incredibly true to Amanda’s aesthetic. The cut-out in the center really brings this look to a modern, fresh place.

Photos: Lifetime

Photos: Lifetime

Definitely one of my favorite looks of the collection. She makes fantastic use of suede in this piece, bringing an earthy vibe to an otherwise hard, city-chic dress. I think Amanda does best in that strange space that combines the vibrant yet laid-back American southwest with the fast-paced, hectic aesthetic of New York City.

Photos: Lifetime

Photos: Lifetime

This one felt a little bit awkward, and the knit textile really wasn’t necessary here. If anything, it detracts from the look.

Photos: Lifetime

Photos: Lifetime

Even more awkward. While the cohesion of Amanda’s collection was impressive, this was one look that was actually too cohesive (a problem I’ll discuss further in Sean’s collection). Cohesion, like so much else in fashion, is a fine line to walk – too little, and your collection looks scattered and ill-conceived; too much, and it looks like you’re just sending ten of the same dresses down the runway. This fell into the latter category for me – I think she makes good use of all these elements in other dresses, but she didn’t bring them together well enough here to make me think this was something new, rather than a repetition of her other tricks.

Photos: Lifetime

Photos: Lifetime

Pretty damn cool. It could have been a hair shorter, but the slightly pleated blue leather detail in the back is really exceptional.

Photos: Lifetime

Photos: Lifetime

Well done, if slightly too tent-like. I think this textile-blocking works better in the shorter version she showed earlier in the collection.

A very effective, dramatic final look, featuring what is admittedly one of the coolest necklaces I’ve ever seen. I don’t love Amanda’s work overall, but I do think she has a serious future as a jewelry designer, based on this collection. The jewelry elevated so many looks, it helped make her collection more cohesive, and it just looks like awesome shit that I’d love to wear if I moved to someplace more laid-back than DC.

CHAR GLOVER
Fourth place

Photos: Lifetime

Photos: Lifetime

Against Tim’s express wishes, Char put this dress back in her collection. I don’t think she necessarily made the wrong choice there, but putting it FIRST in her collection was a massive mistake. It’s just not a strong look. While her collection was scattered and slightly sloppy as a whole, there were also enough absolutely fabulous looks that she could have had a show-stopping opening and closing look. But her pride got the best of her, and she put the dress she knew Tim hated front and center.

Photos: Lifetime

Photos: Lifetime

Char should have opened with this gown. Actually, she should have taken this mixed-print fabric as the inspiration for her entire collection. Even if she only used this actual fabric in two looks, she could have found or created textiles that look like the prints within this one – it would have made for an incredibly cohesive and creative collection.

I like the hood and the fabric, but I hate that slit. I’m not sure there’s anything on earth less flattering than a round-topped slit. Make that shit a sharp angle, or don’t do a slit at all. It just looks like the model tripped and tore her dress right open.

Photos: Lifetime

Photos: Lifetime

A very strong look. Char works well with prints – why she would do anything like that first teal dress or the white dress coming up next in the collection is beyond me. That is simply not where her strength lies. She can combine prints in a way that makes real women want to wear them, but she didn’t do enough of that in this collection.

Photos: Lifetime

Photos: Lifetime

The front looks like a cheap Marchesa knock-off; the back is an unmitigated disaster.

Photos: Lifetime

Photos: Lifetime

Tacky, dated, and lame.

Photos: Lifetime

Photos: Lifetime

Phenomenal. Definitely one of my two or three favorites of the collection.

Photos: Lifetime

Photos: Lifetime

For some reason, Char thought this look was the most emblematic of her aesthetic, the one that truly defined her as a designer. That’s strange, because I don’t really see her voice in this at all. I think it’s total filler, and there is no excuse for filler in a ten-look collection.

Photos: Lifetime

Photos: Lifetime

I loved this in part one of the finale, and I love it now.

Photos: Lifetime

Photos: Lifetime

The pants are terrific, but the gown-vest thing on top of it is awful. I don’t know why Char thought she was a skilled enough seamstress to make this out of upholstery fabric, but it looks as stiff as my grandmother’s couch. I still feel that Char’s collection was miles better than Kini’s, but this collection really lacked cohesion. And she didn’t start OR end with her strongest pieces, and that was a rookie mistake.

KINI ZAMORA
Third place

Photos: Lifetime

Photos: Lifetime

God almighty, did I hate this collection. Boring, tacky, cheap-looking, and overworked. It displayed all of Kini’s worst qualities – he can’t seem to make anything that would be worn after 1997, and he overdesigns to death. It’s very nice to be an uncommonly fast seamstress, but I still hate that that one skill alone is enough to get a designer into the finale, even when it’s always been clear that Kini has very little in the way of design skills.

Photos: Lifetime

Photos: Lifetime

Didn’t Kini make fun of Char for wanting to put a sweatshirt in her collection? What the fuck does he call this, if not an 80s-style sweatshirt? I understand it might be made of stiffer fabric, but it still looks like a sweatshirt, so maybe he should have shut his damn mouth about that.

Photos: Lifetime

Photos: Lifetime

The top is dated (those shoulders!) and the skirt looks like an unreasonably short, cheap Chanel rip-off.

Photos: Lifetime

Photos: Lifetime

The pants are okay from the front, I guess. The top just doesn’t do it for me. I don’t think it’s well-constructed or well-fit enough to give off the vibe it was meant to give off.

Photos: Lifetime

Photos: Lifetime

That skirt is overworked and ugly to boot.

Photos: Lifetime

Photos: Lifetime

The pants are fine, but again, that jacket looks like it’s been tortured half to death.

Photos: Lifetime

Photos: Lifetime

Pretty sure you can already find this in any mall in America.

Photos: Lifetime

Photos: Lifetime

Straight-up hideous. GIVE UP ON DENIM, KINI. YOU ARE NOT THE MASTER OF DENIM YOU BELIEVE YOURSELF TO BE. Is there a Denim Addicts Anonymous we can ship him off to? Remember, Kini, the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. With denim.

Photos: Lifetime

Photos: Lifetime

This looks like it weighs about 4,000 pounds. It’s cool to see denim be this tightly pleated, but one good trick doesn’t turn a boring, stuffy look into an interesting one.

Photos: Lifetime

Photos: Lifetime

A truly terrible gown. She looks like she’s wearing gigantic, high-rise panties on top of her dress. The shoulders, like so much else of this collection, are a tacky, dated disaster. And the skirt is just. too. damn. much.

SEAN KELLY
Winner

Photos: Lifetime

Photos: Lifetime

I felt Sean’s collection suffered from the too-cohesive problem I discussed earlier. Cohesion is so important, but his seemed to say, “I can do clinical shit, and fringe, and that’s virtually all I’m capable of.” It just depresses me to no end that that’s enough to win Project Runway these days. Anyway, this look is pretty good. Definitely labcoat-chic, which isn’t an aesthetic that works for everyone, but I don’t hate it.

Photos: Lifetime

Photos: Lifetime

This looks like pajamas. Like an albino Muppet’s pajamas.

Photos: Lifetime

Photos: Lifetime

I know it’s not the same silhouette or color, but does this really show us anything that isn’t reflected in every other look in Sean’s collection? At least attempt to surprise us, man.

Photos: Lifetime

Photos: Lifetime

Whatever. It’s a satin tee-shirt and a flapper skirt. Am I supposed to get all worked up about this? Snooze.

Photos: Lifetime

Photos: Lifetime

One of his better looks, if still lacking originality.

Photos: Lifetime

Photos: Lifetime

Still looks like an abstract tampon to me and my fiancé.

Photos: Lifetime

Photos: Lifetime

I mean, sure, I guess there’s a Hollywood starlet out there who just wants to look like a hairy human creamsicle.

Photos: Lifetime

Photos: Lifetime

Great color, nice draping. Not particularly innovative.

Photos: Lifetime

Photos: Lifetime

We’e seen this from Sean what feels like a million times before. Yes, this bright, saturated orange looks divine on the model’s dark skin. But that’s the only thing that makes this dress different from any of the thousands of other fringe-induced calamities he’s designed.

Thank you for sticking through another season of insanity with me, dear readers. My recap of the decoy collections will be posted later this week. I will not be covering Project Runway All Stars or whatever that children’s Project Runway show is called, but I will be covering the next regular season of Project Runway, no matter how terrible it is. Because discussing it with you all is really what makes this show worth it.

Judges’ Top 2: Sean, Amanda
Diva’s Top 2: Amanda, Sean
Judges’ Bottom 2: Kini, Char
Diva’s Bottom 2: Char, Kini


© Democracy Diva, 2014.
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15 responses to Project Runway Recap: Season 13 Finale

  1. Yeah…I might have given the win to Amanda, too, because she had a point of view, while Sean had a gimmick. Thus said, the orange thing was a show stopper and the best thing on the runway…not that it is saying much. All in all I am very dispassionate about the final result, since naturally the best designers were all in the decoy pile (I am still stumped how they managed that…that one designer fell through the cracks, okay, but two or three?).

    Kini…I called it. From the get go I said that being able to sew something doesn’t make him a good designer. It is no wonder that he had his best results when he was working with someone else.

    Char…no patience for her. It is not her fault that they insisted on keeping her, but please. The only good thing in her collection was the fabric Tim Gun urged her to buy, and I am ready to bet that he steered her away from other fabric beforehand. The ironic thing is that Char claimed that she would base her collection on the fabric, but that’s exactly what she didn’t do with all the black and white. The only reason why her collection was better than Kini’s was because she didn’t age her models or combined a jockstrap with an already ridiculous evening robe.

    Not sure if I should even watch Project runway any longer.

    • democracydiva – Author

      I’ve been having that same debate with myself for years. But I hope you keep watching, if only so I’m not going through this torture alone. 😛

  2. 5 years ago, I watched S7’s finale during office hours and I really couldn’t care less if anyone gave a damn or not because I was so into it. This time, I can count by the fingers of one hand the times I actually *looked* the screen instead of just listening whilst doing other stuff. It really is sad. On top of it, I follow Tim Gunn on Facebook, and when he (or whoever writes on his behalf) wrote this was the tightest finale ever, I couldn’t help myself and replied that this didn’t come anywhere near the tighest PR, which IMO took place during S4, S5 and S7. I’m not surprised at all that my comment is the only one without a Like from Tim in a sea of “oh yes totally, such magnificent collections!”-like comments.

    Happy for Sean (go, homeboy by affinity!), but sad overall for reaching the bottom of the well, quality and interest-wise.

    • democracydiva – Author

      I feel like we all have stories like that – of Project Runway finales being a moment of excitement and suspense and real fashion, and how those finales are in the very distant past. We’ve had so many consecutive years of crappy finales, but this was one of the most boring ones yet.

      • It pains me to say this, but even if the Gretchen-Mondo finale was a travesti due to the outcome more than the actually quality of the collections), it was still miles better, more interesting and (yikes!) tighter than this one. Last season’s finale between Dom and Alexandria was tighter and better. Michelle had no real competition so I won’t go there. The only thing worse than this one was the Anya scandal (I still pretend that never happened). And these are only the Lifetime years, I won’t even commit the sin to go anywhere near the golden era of Bravo…

        I don’t know if you have ever done something like it, but have you ever considered doing a post with your Top-X PR outfits of all time? I know Tom and Lorenzo did it before S6 and I had a blast reading it, it would be awesome to have a list from you too 🙂

      • democracydiva – Author

        Comparing the Lifetime seasons to the Bravo seasons is almost unfair. They’re practically two different shows. And yeah, even if Gretchen winning was total bullshit, at least we got to see a collection as great as Mondo’s was. But it just kills me that they’re combining less talent with less time to create the finale collections than they used to. It just makes for such an unmemorable season.

  3. eric

    can we comment on how unbelievably skinny some (most) (all) of these models are? it’s freaking me out

  4. Gabe

    It is just so sad to see the talent drop from one season. Like if you put anyone of the finale 4 designers for last years fashion week next to these guys they would have won. casting really dropped the ball this year.

    • democracydiva – Author

      That’s so true, but the worst part is – I’ve had that same thought the last four or five seasons in a row. Every year I think, “last year’s crew was so much better,” even though I can barely remember half their names by now. The show keeps dropping in quality every year, as far as I’m concerned.

  5. Lougarry

    I am in the UK and PR isn’t shown here anymore so I have to go to great lengths to get hold of it. In past years I have been desperate to see it. The last couple I haven’t much cared, and this season I have yet to see the finale. Sad.

  6. Thibaut

    I love your taste level and your funny comments, thank you for your blog 🙂 I agree with you about Kini’s collection. I’m in the middle of the All star 5 season and he has’nt change a bit… Still matronly ruffle gowns and the worst part was that he totally copy an Alexander McQueen fall 2010 look for a gothic challenge… No one said anything, it was not an inspiration or a modern twist, it was a total copy… He could be the best “première d’atelier” for a designer but he doesn’t have many designer skills…

    • democracydiva – Author

      Thank YOU for reading! And for confirming that I’m right to have given up on this show. 🙂 I just can’t abide a competition where the rules change minute by minute and the judges have no consistency whatsoever. It’s just not fun to watch!

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