Project Runway: Anya’s Fashion Show

For a moment the reality of the situation caught up with Anya and she began to choke. Two of those three outfits she showed during the first half of the finale were unmitigated disasters. She procrastinated, trying to find a way to combine the “urban origami” of her latest creations into the inspiration the islands gave her. In the end, I think the drubbing the judges gave her was the “snap out of it!” she needed. She dropped the urban origami. It just wasn’t working for her in this instance. The judges told her to be true to who she was, and she listened. She went back to what she knew she knew how to do. Fabulous patterns, airy fabrics, simple shapes. Locked away from the world in the glass bubble of a reality show, she buckled down, focused, and pulled off yet another 11th hour miracle. This time it won her $100,000.

Say what you will about the practicality of this outfit in an urban environment, this is as island fabulous as it gets. The fabric is just gorgeous. The watercolor silk brings to mind where the sea meets the shore, with the white foam on the sand. The simple gold chain holding up the neckline is all the gown needs in terms of accessories. It is stunning. Breath-takingly lovely. No, there’s no way you can wear it without a bra, and it would barely be practical on a hot summer day in New York City. But isn’t fashion supposed to take you away to a world of fantasy? This gown does that effortlessly. I look at it and I see a weekend in the Caribbean, the kind filled with fabulous dinners, and long afternoons on the beach with nothing to do but sip the endless margaritas that keep appearing next to you.

The outfit on the left becomes even more awesome when you realise its not a dress. It’s pants. Again, the silken watercolor fabric is lush and lovely. But again the chain neckline demands a braless day in 90 degree weather in a climate where no one sweats. Impractical for the city, but who cares? On the right we have more of the lovely water-color fabric from the dress at the top, this time worked into cute little short shorts and paired with a simple deep blue top. The effect is cinched at the waist with a belt of natural materials, giving the whole outfit an air of thrown together simplicity. Accessories is this are why Kors said that he could see what and Anya handbag, an Anya accessory will look like.

Here are two of the outfits from the first part of the finale, now in second draft form. The outfit on the left is mostly unchanged, having only lost the large belt in favor of a simple brown leather one. As it was the only successful outfit from her first go round, it is not surprising she mostly left it as-was. The one thing she did change was the styling. The hair is no longer up, but relaxed and loose. The shoes are no longer urban heels, but island flats. These small changes serve to move the outfit from urban practical and into her new Caribbean-vacation, all-the-time, every-outfit world. As for the outfit on the right, at the collar we see the only remnant of her disaster of a third outfit. The gold fabric, so tortured and bunchy, with hints of the brown striped fabric accent around the edges has been turned inside out. Now the brown striped fabric is on the outside, and the gold is a pop of accent at the collar. This outfit is now the two piece short-and-shirt equivalent of the left-side dress. The lost belt has found a new home over here, and the styling brings it home to the Caribbean.

The last re-purposing of her failed outfits from the first part of the finale is on the left. Gone is the boring black bathing suit this gold caftan acted as a cover for. Instead the caftan is the outfit, belted together at the waist with a gold version of the belt we saw directly above. No bathing suit necessary now. Instead we pair this with a simple gold booty short, and call it clothing. Hey, when you’re on vacation at a resort, who needs real clothes? Restyled, this has gone from a nothing throw away outfit to glamorously impractical fabulousness. As for the second outfit, here we have the closest thing to a miss left in Anya’s re-edited collection. The fabric has a high-end burlap look, and the cut of the dress is a bit reminiscent of Laura’s pillowcase/laundry bag dress from when she choked right before the finale. The collar isn’t bad though. What really elevates it in the styling, with an extravagant wooden necklace and island flats that give the dress a sense that Anya meant for it to look like this. If this is her throw away out, it’s still head a shoulders above everyone else.

Not that Anya was willing to lose a bathing suit look altogether. Here we see two of the three outfits Anya made from scratch during the frantic two days between the first part of the finale and the runway show. Unlike the boring black bathing suit from before, we now have a patterned one piece that screams high-end fashion. The caftan that goes with it is another piece from the bolts of fabric she grabbed at Mood during that last trip. The result is a huge improvement from her first go round at swim-wear. As for the outfit ont he right, the only complaint I have is the modesty tab. Five of the preceding outfits are all cut down to there, why does this one get marred with a tab? The tab seems to be an afterthought thrown on because the dress didn’t fit the model properly, she didn’t have time to tighten the neckline down with a belt and double stick tape to keep everything in the right place. The tab isn’t even the right color–it’s gold. No to mention that it’s uneven, because the dress is falling down on the right shoulder. But this is quibbling over a minor point. The pattern on the fabric is lovely, and the dress floated down the runway like a dream.

Here is Anya’s closing look, and the third of the three she pulled out last minute. Once again the fabric choice is just spectacular, a loose maxi-dress, the kind Anya herself wears, and is so good at making. This is also the only outfit where Anya styled the model’s hair up instead of loose, and it’s also one of the very few that looks like someone could wear it come summer time in New York, not just floating lazily from pool side to cabana.

Anya took the prize this year because she knew who she was a designer, and was the only one of the top four besides Josh who sent down a cohesive vision from that point of view.

The difference, of course, being that Josh’s line was a study in garishly ugly, and Anya’s was a dream of island living that every urban girl prays one day to have enough money to buy. Anya may be limited in her skills at the juncture of her career, but we’ve seen she’s a quick study. He ability to work under pressure and produce was unrivaled this season. I think, given five years and someone to really teach her, Anya has to potential to really break out into the fashion world. I’m glad this year, the judges got who they handed the win to right.

(For the recap of the last episode, go here. For the recap of the other Project Runway fashion week shows, go here.)

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