PRAS: Runners-Up

Posted on March 23, 2012

As lackluster as this season – and especially this finale – was, as we look over these two collections, there’s no doubt that the judges made the right decision. Both of these designers are capable of better than this and it seems to us that the way the finale was constructed ensured the win for the contestant best able to manage the time constraints. Which isn’t to say that the winner didn’t deserve it; just that we can’t judge any of these collections the same way we’d judge ones that took weeks and even months to complete.



Honestly, we get what he was going for here, but the result is just comical. It turns out you really can’t mimic 18th Century-style panniers on a pair of pants. And look how badly they’re finished. The hems look like they’re glued together.

This was really well done. A very salable dress, although the skirt might need to be toned down a bit.

We might as well take this point to mention the styling, which did nothing but demonstrate how out-of-it Austin can get sometimes. He can talk about Fragonard and Hasidic Jews as much as he wants; all anyone else saw was a bunch of creepy broke-down dolls.

Disappointingly standard; the only interesting bit was that puff of tulle, but let’s face it, very few women want to look like they’re shitting tulle when they walk away.

The pink-and-black color story was terribly limiting for the collection.

God, we hate to say this, but … HIDEOUS. Everything from the fabric choice to the shape is wrong wrong wrong. We look at this and we see a designer lost in his own fantasies. There’s no evidence of a designer who took a step back to assess what he was doing. Granted, he was in a reality show bubble and exhausted, so it’s not a commentary on his skills generally.

This had the whiff of last-second desperation to it. It feels like the afterthought it is. We think injecting a little rock and roll was not a bad idea for this collection, but this was a bit too far away thematically from the other pieces. And it’s just not all that well-executed.

But credit where it’s due: this was pretty breathtaking. If he’d somehow managed to produce 6 looks on this level, there’d be no question that he deserved to win.



It’s no secret that we rarely respond well to Michael’s work. Much of it is wearable and extremely salable, but we never felt he produced anything worth applauding in a design competition. In a way, this finale was perfect for him because he was being judged by Neiman’s fashion director and shooting for a prize that included space on the Neiman’s racks. As such, this is one time where the phrase that so often comes to mind when we see Michael’s work, “department store clothes,” is a point in its favor.

But that means we have virtually nothing to say about any of these designs.

Seriously, we don’t meant to be dismissive, but these are so standard we don’t know what else to say except we think his print choices were a bit on the tacky side. Decent work from a designer whose clothes would look at home in a department store like Neiman’s but nothing to write home about.

Austin went off on fanciful tangents and that was probably a bit too far for Neiman’s, but Michael wound up giving them what they most likely already have on their racks. One went off course and the other was too on-point. Mondo’s was the goldilocks of collections. Not too wild and not too standard.


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