Friday, November 17, 2017

Project Runway Season 16 Finale

Do you want to know how much I love you guys? It's my birthday and I have a cold and I still got up early to get this recap done. Well, I got up early because it's hard to sleep while coughing, but still.

Well folks, we're finally there, the most important episode of the season--the last one. And it only took 46 short weeks to get here. Ok, it just felt like it took that much time, what with being annoyed by the Annoying Twins for more than half of them, then several weeks in a row when the Top Five finalists remained the Top Five because they were so good that the judges didn't have the heart to auf any of them until they absolutely had to. Now finally, in mid-November, we get to see the NY Fashion Week shows the designers presented in early September (although if you read this blog, you were able to see photos from the shows weeks ago).

The episode starts off with the designers entering the workroom to get the last bits of hemming and doo-dad-attachment done. Kentaro is chanting "cohesive" over and over again. He feels like he's already lost the competition, so he is free to do what he likes with his collection. However, he will try to work on cohesiveness a little. At the very least, he's getting rid of the white dress with the hairy tumor and replacing it with something less weird.

Margarita is resentful of the judges comments that her looks are too "Miami" and says that one can't the tropical out of the girl. She's also worried about her parents who are still in Puerto Rico which at the time was being clipped by Hurricane Irma. 

Meanwhile, Brandon is so confident in his collection and has so few things to do, he's stretched out on the couch in the lounge, snoring.

Tim comes in to give everyone (except for Brandon who obviously doesn't need one) a pep talk and advises them all to stay the course, 1000 points of light, etc. He tells Margarita not to undermine her integrity by dumbing down the tropical aspect of her collection. After Tim leaves, Margarita calls her parents to find they've lost power, but are doing their best to make it to NY to see her show. Their flight hasn't yet been cancelled, so they're hoping for the best. Margarita's mom is heard saying that they'll swim to NY if they have to. Personally, I'd have already left for NY and enjoyed a little vacay with my family for a few days, but then I love NY. Maybe Margarita's family doesn't? In any case, fingers are crossed that they'll make it to see their girl at Fashion Week.

The next day, Tim comes in and remarks that he hasn't had a "gather round" all season so it was time for one. He says he's proud of each of them, as well he should be. They are all talented designers, and this is going to be one of the best finale runway shows evarrrr (says the girl who's seen it weeks ago). The designers finish up last minute details before zipping their collections into black body bags and leaving the workroom for the final time.

The designers are up and at 'em at 3:30 am, clothed and made up, and ready to hit the runway. I'm not sure why they need to be up so early, as their show is usually the first of the day, scheduled at 8am in whatever venue is being used that year. (I miss Bryant Park.) We see backstage scenes of the typical controlled chaos of hair and makeup and last minute alterations. Tim tells Margarita that her parents flight was cancelled and they are currently doing the backstroke somewhere east of Delaware. He will keep her posted as to their progress. Drama! Ayana has a ruffle fall off one of her dresses. How that happens is a mystery, but maybe it had only been stapled on? More drama, however mild.

We see the venue is full of curious folks, from fashionistas to fashion bloggers, from former Project Runway contestants to minor celebrities. For some reason, the camera keeps landing on Carly Chaikin, the I, Robot actress who had judged earlier in the season. From what I can tell, she has all the emotional range of Kristen Stewart, but I'm only going by what I see on PR.

The judges enter the arena. Heidi is wearing something so short and sparkly even Barbie would be embarrassed. It looks to be made of many hundreds of purple foil Easter egg wrappers, but not enough wrappers to cover her boobs and legs. Sadly, gravity is affecting even Heidi Klum. The guest judge is Jessica Alba, who has not aged at all. I know she's only 36, but damn she looks so young.

Let the show begin! I love the way they splice in the designers so seamlessly to make them appear to talk to the audience and walk the runway after their models. Because Fashion Week happens so early in the show's airing, it's necessary for the PR show to be completely anonymous. The audience and the designers cannot appear on the runway at the same time. The magic of television, folks!

Margarita is first, introducing her collection as "A Fish Out of Water." I think it's dynamite. Jazzmine gives the audience a "wow look" by whipping off her skirt halfway through the walk. Her plus-sized beauty gets an ovation from many people in the crowd.

The Judges Say: so much energy/passion/color; it's joyous and spectacular. Zac is proud of her. It's fun/sexy/so Latina. Heidi says she's not Latina but may as well be as she loves everything. (Quite a change from last week's critique.) The beaded fish dresses were a lot of work that paid off. The only negative comment came from Nina, who thought the feathers were a bit much.

Brandon tells us his collection is called "Layers of Love." Oh jeez. I am going to gag. But I have to remember that he's only 24 and probably still collects Beanie Babies. His collection is predictably full of oversized button loops and tons of straps and loose strings. The shapes of the pieces are actually interesting in several cases, but the flamingo print is so omnipresent and really rather drab. My favorite thing about the whole collection is the penis on look 8, which I guess is a reminder that he's really a menswear designer.

The Judges Say: Flirty/romantic/cool. Zac thought it was a strong collection but it needed more variation. Brandon says that he was referring to collections that had piece after piece of similar looks, but the judges tell him that those were bigger collections, so while there were several looks in a row that were the same, there were also other looks that were different. In a 10-piece collection, one has to make sure that there's both cohesion and difference. Nevertheless, Brandon is called "an incredibly gifted designer" who gave his peers a run for their money. Liris, who did not look happy while walking down the runway, cries as she tells the judges that this "model diversity moment" means so much for "her community."  (As a fat person myself, I've never felt part of a community. But then I don't like people.)

Kentaro hasn't named his collection, but tells us it's inspired by a dead cat that he buried and who later sang to him his native Japan. It's quirky and striking and goes back to the stuff he was designing before Project Runway. The piece he composed is playing in the background, and the audience is so quiet, it's hard to tell if they're holding their breath or have all just gone to sleep.

The Judges Say: You know people love a collection when they're either noisy or quiet. Heidi says it was so quiet in the room that one could "hear a mouse fart." The collection blew Zac's socks off with the level of experimentation, textures, and color, though he wasn't into the two red dresses in a row. One would have been enough.

Finally, Ayana's "Evolution" documents her personal journey. I'm not sure how that works, but the collection goes from more athletic looks to pants to dresses and finally a gown. She's also put head scarves on several of the models, but ones that are somewhat more elaborate than those she herself normally wears. I really love this collection in photos, but less so when I see it walking down the runway. The first three looks especially don't walk well.

The Judges Say: They love her gown, think it is stunning. The looks are hip and seductive. Nina wanted to see more color. The tailoring is beautiful. Nina liked the skirt/pant combo (which is something Ayana herself wore during the show), and Heidi wasn't into the first three looks. They all love the distinctive headwear.

The judges do a little more nitpicking before choosing a winner. It seems that Nina is in favor of Brandon winning, because she keeps reminding the others that he has a real point of view, but I think overall his collection was disappointing in its sameness.

They call the designers back out on the runway. Margarita is auf'd first. When she goes back to the green room, she finds that her parents have finally made it to NY, though they had not been shown in the audience. Brandon is sent home next; he goes backstage and cries like a baby. Again, he's only 24. I think all of the various wins during the competition went to his head so he felt that he could not lose. And with that kind of thinking, it's possible to get lazy.

It was down to Ayana and Kentaro. I was pretty sure Ayana had the win in the bag, but surprise! Kentaro is declared the winner. Thank heavens. The whole season looked like one big fix for Brandon, but it seemed that the judges actually chose the winner on the merits of the final collection. Kentaro showed range, he showed growth, he showed himself. And he definitely deserved the win.

Now how does JC Penney translate his fabulous garments into a capsule collection to be sold on the cheap? 

This one's not so bad, I suppose, though it looks cheap and stiff. The tank has more modest straps and why is it black? The look definitely needs the belt.

This one is nothing like the original. The shirt looks sloppy, and what's going on with the crotch on those pants? WWMKS (What Would Michael Kors Say?) about the model's "polterwang?"

In any case, congratulations Kentaro!

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