Last time on Project Runway, the first part of the finale showed Edmond and Candice receiving serious critiques of their collection, while Kelly and Ashley were merely steered towards a better way of styling what they already have. Interestingly, when we rejoin the episode with tonight’s installment, instead of everyone heading to Mood, and Edmond and Candice buying fabric to make new outfits, only Kelly and Ashley feel like they need to go. This is so totally backwards, the show has to find a way not to send anyone.
So for the first time in my memory, instead of those who want to go to Mood going, Tim goes to Mood for them, like the most dapper assistant who ever assisted. He brings back a bag of notions for Ashley, and 20 lbs of glitter for Kelly. (He can barely contain his glee over the latter.) Everyone settles down to work, and await Tim’s return to double-check the direction they are going. (Which clearly won’t be that far off the one they were already on, since no one actually went shopping.)
Before we get into to the Tim critique, we should note that the fashion press spoke long ago on the subject of these collections, and we won’t even be seeing their favorite on the runway tonight. On every blog that covered the Project Runway show last September, and every celebrity site that makes it their business to post all the pictures of every pop culture event (think Zimbio), one collection got far more pictures and words dedicated to it, and that was Swapnil’s. (It’s not the first time a dummy collection has stolen the show, Alexander Pope did the same thing in Season 12. But it is a bit of an embarrassment when it happens.) Ashley came in second, though that was partly due to the groundbreaking nature of her collection. (Buzzfeed, among other sites, did a write-up for her journey and published it prior to the finale.) Rounding out what most of the fashion world judged to be the Top Three on the night was the other dummy collection we won’t see: Merline’s. Edmond got some love for his upcoming evening looks. But Candice’s barely registered. And poor Kelly’s collection was completely ignored in some places. More than a few sites I rolled by yesterday while prepping for this episode didn’t have a single picture of any one outfit from their collections. Candice at least got her finale walk shot in a couple of places, but Kelly? Nada.
Keeping this in mind, let’s check in with Tim.
- Kelly: Tim clearly adores glitter, and wishes he could sit around and pour it over chunky platforms for the next two days with her. He also suggests mixing and matching her pieces.
- Candice: She’s thinking of cutting everything that was dramatic and fun about her collection, instead of toning down everything else so she has one or two wow pieces. Tim doesn’t dissuade her.
- Ashley: Tim actually bought her a print, which matches the rest of collection really well. Tim is more concerned about the janky zippers.
- Edmond: He’s editing out the ruffles on the more minor pieces to be able to keep them on the dramatic ending pieces. Tim is more concerned about his lack of focus.
The model fittings happen in two rounds over the next day and a half. There’s our last ads for the Name Dropping Hair Salon and the Product Displaying Make Up People. Since sponsor Lexus somehow got skipped in having an episode dedicated to them this season, they also swing by the show off their cars. Because we really care about what the contestants ride in at 4am to the presentation.
After some backstage drama, broken zippers, a few sharp words from Tim about keeping an eye on the details and as least one minor breakdown, it’s time to get down to business. Time for what we care about–the clothes!
For those who weren’t paying attention, Project Runway finale showed at 10am on September 11th, which is why the red, white, and blue motif worn by our judges. Only Carrie Underwood doesn’t really match, in her bird print dress, even though it is red, white and blue. (Edmond also is wearing a flag print scarf.) Another point of order–the introductions we see were not done during the public presentation, nor were the walks at the end. Those were recorded separately in front of a closed audience and then edited in for television.
We will be posting the full lines and reviews of the collections over the rest of the day. For now, let us concern ourselves with the judge’s critiques.
Candice: I am amused that her “muse” model is the gown I picked from this collection when I made my anonymous sampler. But Carrie’s reserved face over the sheer amount of leather speaks volumes, and she calls it Nightmare Before Christmas. Zac and Nina are very careful about how they phrase their critiques so they don’t sound like they’re tearing her down. But it’s telling that Nina’s favorite piece was the last-minute cherry blossom print that didn’t really fit with the rest of the looks, and Zac calls her out for some of the very ill-fitting looks. Only Heidi is bold enough to outright hate the collection.
(See Candice’s full line review here.)
Edmond: The “muse” model is one of the few looks of Edmond’s that the fashion press went for, even if the judges are not fans. To my mind, his closing gown had the right amount of drama with the right amount of conservatism. If Edmond was serious last week about trying to design looks that would appear at the Met Ball, I feel like this is the one where he nailed that. Heidi is all about making sure we remember (again!) that Edmond tried out for Project Runway every single season until they finally ran out of anyone better than him. Nina, Heidi and Zac all disliked his big white ruffled gown, and tell him he needs to keep reigning it in when it comes to over the top. Carrie is very careful to find nice things to say, but the slow way she chooses her words suggests she’s not as impressed as she sounds.
(See Edmond’s full line review here.)
Kelly: That ugly green thing with the “invisible” neckline is her “muse” model?! I would never pick this one. I think I’d pick nearly any other outfit for the collection as a better choice. (Ok, maybe not the wood ones. I’m not a fan of those.) Zac dresses up the trashiness of the collection, but his use of the word is telling. Though he’s being positive, he admits he’s “allergic” to some of the spandex. Nina all but shakes her head that this is the outfit Kelly brought out–she hates this one. (As do I.) Kelly’s reason for highlighting it is because of the technique she used on it. Heidi shrugs that someone will love it. Carrie praises her for being fearless.
(See Kelly’s full line review here.)
Ashley: I get why the closing outfit is her “muse” model. It’s the piece that feels like the statement of intent. It has the floral motif both in the crown and on the outfit itself, and it one of the more flattering pieces she put out there. Nina doesn’t even really care about the clothes so much as she does that Ashley had “the guts” to show a plus sized collection. Zac also is more about raving over the groundbreakingness of the presentation, though he does make sure to highlight his favorite outfits as well, as well as call her out for gluing on her appliques instead of sewing them. Carrie notes how feminine Ashley went, which since plus sized women aren’t treated as women by the industry is probably one of the more radical points of the show.
(See Ashley’s full line review here.)
Candice and Edmond are clearly out before we even get to the final runway, leaving Ashley vs Kelly.
And here’s the thing. If Project Runway functioned in a TV show only vacuum, and were content to only be a reality show, Kelly would win. She has the journey, the upward trajectory, the most wins, etc. But the show doesn’t operate in a vacuum. It continues to have pretensions to relevance in the fashion industry, which means it has to take those opinions into account. There is no way that the have Ashley show a plus sized collection, pull all the press in for it that they have, and then not hand the girl the win. Especially if it means not handing her the win for a collection that the rest of the Fashion Press assumed was a dummy collection and not worth a second glance.
And that is why it is no surprise that Ashley, and the plus size collection, win Project Runway, Season 14.