Project Runway: Big Fat Wrapup

Posted on October 18, 2013

We have …


No complaints. Seriously.

When four talented people show good collections and don’t engage in any drama or backstabbing, and then when a worthy person is chosen for the win, what do two bitchy recappers like us have to say? Not much, it turns out. It wasn’t the most entertaining finale of the show, nor were these the most beautiful of the finale collections in the show’s history, but that’s okay. After the episode was over, we were struck by how odd it was to have four talented finalists and no personality orders on display. The biggest drama moment of the evening? Someone spilled coffee on a dress. The only drama that caused was with the Tide PR people, who  were seething with frustration that it was spilled on silk charmeuse. They all would have orgasmed on the spot if someone spilled coffee on one of the “washables.” They’d be frantically wheeling a fucking washing machine across the Lincoln Center plaza within minutes.

Incidentally, thank you to our fairy blogsisters the Fug Girls, for pointing out on twitter last night that what everyone else kept calling “washables” over and over and over again, the rest of us just call “clothes.”

Anyway, major congratulations to Dom, not just for winning, but for being the first black winner in the show’s 12-season history. The reason this is notable is because typically, the fashion world has a distinct problem recognizing black (and especially African-American) designers and styles. We’re gonna leave that there, though. Dom doesn’t deserve to be designated a standard-bearer by us or anyone else. It’s enough for us to note it, but the deeper congratulations are for a job well done.

Now let’s get judgey.



Huge disappointment. There’s no getting around it. He Vosovic’d. He skated into the finals high on perhaps a little too much praise from the judges and not enough constructive criticism. He has a wonderful eye and a great facility with various techniques, but we think his collection lacked vision and cohesion. And when you strip the tricks away, the designs are basic and even a little on the boring side. He doesn’t know yet who he’s designing for. He just knows she likes pretty things.


The ruffle on the bottom of that skirt is gorgeous, and like Zac said, if he’d rendered the whole thing in a creamy white the look would have been vastly improved. Bradon doesn’t have the best eye for textiles. He was a bit too in love with this blush metallic. To be fair, it really was seen a lot on the runways this past season, but we don’t think he utilized it well.

Pretty. Not enough excitement for a ten-piece collection, though. This is a look you show among 50 other looks.


Retirement community.


Credit for picking that print, which is beautiful, but we didn’t see one good or inspired use of it. We’re all for mixing prints, but the juxtaposition has to have some sort of impact. She looks exactly like someone who only has two clean items of clothing left.




Golden Girls.

It seems to us that gay male designers over 35 on Project Runway have a tendency to make mature-looking clothes.




The skirt’s pretty but the bodice looks like a pillow sham.


The bodice and neckline are poorly fitted. The dress is pretty, but kind of expected considering the print.


Without the metallic ruffle, it’s a pretty if un-notable gown. With the metallic ruffle, it’s a metallic ruffle with a dress attached to it.




Justin’s collection was impressive, but largely because it was surprising. He never really did work on this level when he was in the competition. Even the judges noted what a surprise his collection was. But even so, we think that might have been overstated a bit. Justin is definitely a designer with vision, but when you strip away the showier techniques, like the much-mentioned 3d printing and the sound wave motif on the fabric, you’re left with a lot of very simple forms rendered colorlessly. We think it’s a good idea for him to explore his deafness in his design, mainly because the idea of using the tactile and visual to represent sound or the lack of it is an interesting design challenge. But we think this collection lacked a personal exploration or statement from him. It was just “about sound.” Personally, we’re more interested in why a man whose primary sensory experience his whole life has been visual would be so averse to using any color.


But let’s be clear: the 3d printing was a brilliant idea, beautifully executed. It elevated every design. This was one of our favorite looks from his collection. We loved the open circle formed by the vest on the back. We have an issue with almost all his fabrics, though. They tended to look flimsy and a little cheap.

Basic dress.


Another relatively basic dress.


Nice, but somewhat too similar to his first look.


Paint splatters are such a cliche, but Heidi was right. He really did find a very subtle and chic way of using them. That skirt’s kind of dowdy and there’s probably one design element too many in the top.


Again, take away the 3d printing and the print on the dress and you’re left with something very basic and colorless. Still, we like this look.


This seems to be the one where he threw every technique and motif in the collection into one look. We think the print motifs are fighting each other and the whole thing looks too … pleated, somehow. We’re not loving the way he used the 3d print pieces here.


So basic it’s almost shapeless.




A true showstopper piece. And the fact that it made so much noise on the runway was a lovely statement that couldn’t fail to make everyone in the tent smile as it clattered up and down.

We think if we had one constructive criticism for Justin it would be that he explore form a little more over technique and think about what he really wants to see as a deaf man designing fashion.




And to prove that we’re not totally averse to colorless collections, Alexandria was our pick for the win. We’re not upset over it, because Dom was almost equally as deserving in our eyes, but we do think Alexandria made the most modern, cohesive, and polished of the collections, with the most firmly declarative aesthetic; a cool, chic, slightly askew point of view with a very Scandinavian feel to it.  We still wish she’d used some color, but at least there are a range of greys and blacks here to provide contrast, as opposed to Justin’s one shade of grey.


The proportions here are a bit on the crazy side but we thought this was stunning when it walked out. Love that vest.

Our only issue with her Swedish-punk aesthetic is that it occasionally looks a bit… expected. We really love that top, but the pants feel like an afterthought.


Gorgeous. We realize a lot of her work is not wearable in the real-world sense or for women above size fill-in-the-blank, but we do love the way she plays with proportions. Those pants are beautiful, even if they’re only gonna look good on .01% of the population.


Too basic for ten pieces. If it weren’t for the booties and the headpiece, there’d be nothing to look at here.


Again, the pants aren’t gonna fly off the racks, but we love the design. The jacket is ridiculously chic.


Once again: like the top but the pants are too basic. We also think she needed to show a different pant silhouette at least once in this collection.


Chic, but too minimal for a show like this. Love the pocket thing. It’s not practical, but it’s cool.


We actually think this an interesting look, even if the skirt’s ridiculously impractical and the top is too stiff. We’re not even sure these pieces belong together, but they’re both such statements from her. We think that’s partly why we respond so well to her collection; it was the clearest and most declarative of the four.


Chic and very modern-looking. This is what the runways of the spring ’14 collections looked like to us. She’s the most on-trend of the four.


Yuck. Really don’t like this one at all.





Alexandria’s collection may have been the most declarative, but one look at the above picture and you can see that Dom is no slouch in declaring who she is as a designer. Every model looks like a taller version of her. Like Alexandria(but unlike Bradon and Justin), she has a very defined vision of who she is as a designer. Also like Alexandria’s Scandinavia-lite aesthetic, Dom’s origins and background have an influence on her work, but not in an overt way. She has a fantastic facility with prints and loves to use saturated colors in her designs. Again, not to make her a standard-bearer, but these are elements (along with shiny fabrics, also seen in her collection) that help define African-American fashion. Once again, it’s notable that the judges gave a win not just to a black designer, but a black designer with a distinct, if subtle, African-American sensibility in her work. The world of fashion is primed to wrinkle its nose at shiny, bright fabrics and wild prints, after all. Alexandria’s collection is more in line with what someone like Nina or Zac is going to automatically praise on sight. Dom did it her way and forced the judges to see the value in her work. Can’t argue with that.


It’s a gorgeous print and a true wow piece. It’s not fitted as well as it could be, though. And it wouldn’t have been our choice for an opening look.

We’re not at all crazy about the jumpsuit. It doesn’t seem to have much shape to it. What really works here is the plastic jacket, which was one of the most visually exciting pieces in her collection. We think Dom needs to learn how to style her work, because pairing it with this focus-pulling purple jumpsuit drastically reduced its impact. Still, she could have won the whole thing based on that jacket alone. It’s a shame, because you really can’t see it well in pictures or on TV.


Another stunning print. We like that she offers the option to be covered up sprinkled among  her sexier looks. We just think the neckline here looks a little strangling.


As much as we love that clear plastic she’s using, we can’t get behind using it as a peplum. And like the purple jumpsuit, this gown looks a little shapeless and limp.


We’re getting a little repetitive at this point, although we do love the idea of the print going black and white like that halfway down the look.


We give her credit for trying to break things up with a bathing suit, but she made a bathing suit that looks an awful lot like most of the dresses in her collection. We would’ve liked a little more variation. And this would have been a better place to put a plastic jacket, we’re thinking.


Love the jacket, but if you’re gonna use a fabric that shiny, we think you should leave it alone as much as possible. It’s looking pretty close to tortured, especially in the bodice.


Love it . No complaints.

Okay one, but it’s a general one: we didn’t like the hair styling.


It feels a little left-field in relation to the rest of the collection, but we love this look. What really works about all these pieces, even if some of them have problems, is the range of styles and women being addressed. Of course the flipside of that is a lack of cohesion, because it’s hard to reconcile this classically chic look with the purple satin disco jumpsuit and clear plastic jacket further up.


This is what she should have opened with. A total knockout of a look. Granted, things do go a little bare around the crotch. That could be improved.

We think Dom won it over Alexandra because she showed a little more ambition in her designs, even if they weren’t as cohesive. Alexandria’s collection looked chic and on-trend to us, but Dom’s collection looked more like someone who had a lot to say and not enough room or time to say it. There’s an energy there that probably appealed to the judges greatly. And it’s just nice to see someone win it who isn’t an asshole or whose win seems highly questionable. Maybe not the most exciting finale in the world, but a satisfying one nonetheless.

And with that, we are HAPPILY taking a break from all things Project Runway, including what looks to be a truly horrible season of All-Stars starting next week. No, kittens. For the first time in seven years, we’re looking at an impending season of something with a Project Runway name attached to it and saying, “You know what? We think we’ll sit this one out.” Don’t take it as a grand statement on our parts. We’re just burnt out on the back-to-back-to-back seasons.

In the meantime, check out the November issue of Marie Claire, which us has chatting away with Nina Garcia on all things PR-related! Because you LOVE us! Also, because we love YOU, we’re opening the T LOunge every Friday night starting next week, just so the Bitter Kittens can chat about all things bitter and kitten.








[Photo Credit: Pawel Kaminski/Lifetime]

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