Four Left at Fashion Week

We have come to the final episode. It is week 14, and if we look at some interesting facts about the number 14 we see that a) it is the number of Stations of the Cross, and b) it is the number of pieces Osiris’ body was torn into by his brother Set. Both are emotions I’m sure our designers felt during this episode (only slightly dramatic here).

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Never before have there been four designers left at Fashion Week finals, Heidi informs us. While this is true, to me it rings hollow. I believe these four could have been pared down, but nevertheless, we have four at the finals.

Oh, yeah wait, wasn’t there something about Tide? Yep, the infamous final challenge. We are reminded that the Tide customer is fashion-conscious, but one who wants ready-to-wear clothes — literally, wash it and it’s ready to wear. Each designer gets $250 and one last visit to Swatch, I mean Mood, and a day to do it in. I remember when we had our final challenge, we had help from the most recently excused contestants. No such luck for these four.

Tim visits the final collections. Bradon is first, and where did he go? Because in his place is Jeremy’s collection. Old and not very fashionable (Talbots anyone?). I don’t see how the judges can give him the win. Strong all season, he lost his mojo. He has a hill to climb if he is going to finish higher than fourth. Dom produces what she has all season, similar silhouettes, some prints. It’s overall a good professional collection, not very ambitious, not very adventurous, but very bog-standard. Justin is also a bit safe, but what he does have is variety. That, in this era of 10-piece collections made in 6 weeks, may be enough to give him the win. Boy, talk about a save. Alexandria may have a collection that is too simple, maybe too monotonous says Tim. Too many T-shirt style tops says Tim, Nina hates them. Alexandria starts to tailspin. But, she does have backup, plenty of backup (30 pieces?) to pick and choose from.

Here is where I miss some of the features from my season. I liked the footage of the three of us picking models. It was an introduction to the real world of fashion and organizing fashion shows. As Jay McCarroll famously pointed out, “Don’t just give me money, show me how to run my own line.” While they may still do these things—and I do not know if they do or don’t—I missed seeing it. I miss some of the “behind the curtain” scenes. “Project Runway” has a tenuous grasp on the real world of fashion, but I do miss some the more mundane, real-world aspects we used to see.

As the designers fret through the last stages they become a little emotional. These are people with imagination, so what this all means to them is great. We see them at the before-dawn walk to the runway. The emotion of being at Fashion Week, and the last minute problems that crop up—models with broken ankles, models spilling coffee on clothes—it’s a madhouse. Bradon freaks, but the show must go on.

Runway time, with Kerry Washington (I love her! She was a guest judge on our season) is guest judge this time as well. Justin is first up. He presents a collection that is varied. Shorts, dresses, gowns, pants, he seems more ambitious than maybe other designers, but the limit of color makes the collection slightly boring. A woman will only put up with so much white in her wardrobe. His unconventional materials dress steals the show. Strong, yet very consistent, it’s a solid placing for Justin.

Dom is next. While I loved the prints, I actually thought there should have been more of them. Those are truly her standout pieces. I love her chic, simplistic dresses but thought the collection was a bit all over the place. Is she an evening wear designer, resort, or RTW?

Alexandria comes out with an exuberant show of simple, yet exciting looks. Well done. Not all the looks were my favorite (the first look really made no sense to me) but she is clear who she is as a designer and produces excellent separates which is what today’s woman wears.

Bradon comes last. And it has the first Tide challenge look. Oh, yeah, there’s that look. Otherwise it was a hum-drum showing of easy pieces, some too simple to be thrown into a 10-piece collection. As Nina would point out it was unfocused.

To me it was a race between Justin, and Alexandria, both the controversial, and most likely unpopular choices. Ultimately Dom takes the prize. She is a talented designer who has an excellent eye for print but I still am let wondering what type of designer she is.

Althea Harper


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