Fireworks On The Runway

This season's Fashion Week was like no other season!

I could not be more pleased with the three collections that the Project Runway finalists presented this season. I could not agree more with Tim when he said that the caliber and consistency of talent that emerged from Jillian, Rami, and Christian were like no other season. After a week of back-to-back shows from some of the best American designers, I can honestly say that all of the collections were worthy to share the same stage of Bryant Park. With that said, unfortunately only one designer could be named the winner and for us it was incontestable. tim_08.jpg 

Last week, we got a glimpse of what the designers had in store and frankly I was concerned that Bryant Park was going to look more like a funeral procession than a runway. To my surprise, we saw three strong varying collections that were faithful and consistent to each designer's point of view. Jillian was the first to show. Her collection was an extension of the Metropolitan Museum challenge, crediting the Italian 15th century painting Master of the Argonauts as her muse. Throughout the competition Jillian has really failed to formulate a distinct point of view. I am not sure if it is because she has been working under someone else's vision (Ralph Lauren) for so many years that she is still trying to cultivate her style, but Jillian's final collection was pulled in a lot of directions making it disjointed. I have to say her knits were absolutely marvelous and overall her collection was fun, accessible, and inherently feminine.


Rami, the King of Drapery, set out to prove to the judges that he could produce a collection that was not 12 variations of the same goddess dress and did so with a precise execution. There is no doubt who Rami's clientele is and throughout the competition showed her solely as a woman with a fully active black/tie social agenda. For his final collection he presented how the social butterfly gets dressed for work and not just play. His collection was cohesive, showcasing every category of dressing comprised of wearable separates. Rami did not sway from his distinct point of view with his series of jackets, blouses, and trousers, but verified his status as an expert of evening with his two closing gowns that shined. My biggest problem with Rami was not his technique and execution but in his choice of color. Not only specific to his final collection, he consistently chose colors that were drab, unflattering, and frankly outdated. Remember the prom challenge? Construction-wise the dress was flawless but he chose this sea foam green color that is complimentary on only a handful of skin tones and is most commonly found on a mother-of-the-bride gown, to quote one of Michael's favorite phrases. In terms of the final collection, Rami's color choice was the weakness of an amazingly designed collection. tim_05.jpg

Christian concluded the show and like a 4th of July fireworks display -- it really was the grand finale. The variety of challenges that occurred over this season, from women's wrestling uniforms to candy bar couture, the one who really managed to ride the waves was Christian. At first, his cocky attitude and avant-garde fixation could easily be written off as a consequence of youth and inexperience. But challenge after challenge we saw that Christian's aesthetic was consistent. Despite his flair for drama, which always pushed the envelope, he managed to be conscious of the wearability of his pieces. Although during judging I pointed out that there might have been a little bit too much black in the collection, making it hard to differentiate each look from one another, the dark romantic moment was all the rage at the Paris and Milan F/W shows. tim_04.jpg

Having Victoria Beckham as a guest judge was such a treat. Her love of fashion as a consumer and style icon and her own endeavors in design made her the best choice to judge the final collections. She offered great critique and compliments to all of the designers, but it was undeniable which collection was her favorite. I think we all agree that all the designers presented fierce collections, but in the end Christian's gothic romantic tale was the most major of them all.

The Real Winner

No doubt about this years Project Runway 5 winner!

Just a heads up that my book Fashion Inside Out is almost upon us! Though I've heard places are starting to ship it out, the official release date is on 10/28, so mark your calendars! I'm heading out on a book tour to celebrate with you all, so be sure to check my website for details on times, dates and locations: After a year and a half in the works it would be delightful to see all of your supporting faces!

But NOW, it's down to business! PR5 has finally come to an end. I hope after a week of digesting we've all be able to form clear-headed opinions about who we really thought was the winner.

Oh, don't get me wrong, I hands down think it should have been Leanne, but what did you think? Tightly edited, unique and comparable to no one, I think she did an excellent job of taking her inspiration and running it cohesively through each and every piece she sent down the runway. Unlike some of the other designers, Leanne's work is both subtle and intricate, and I applaud her to no end for being able to successfully straddle that fine line, especially at exactly the right time. Korto and Kenley both showed very nice collections, but I do think that Leanne was the one who had the whole package. Korto's sense of color and proportion are excellent, and the way she styled the looks was just intoxicating - the high buns, dewy skin, and fluttering fans - she certainly infused a lot of "earthy sexiness" into it. That being said, you take away all of the extras and we're left with clothing that didn't quite stand up to Leanne's more intricate work.

To me, watching Kenley's show was like watching your friend go into her glamorous closet, and parade out to see if the look is a "keeper" or a "throwaway." Although it was filled with definite highlights and interesting (sometimes costume-like) elements, I just didn't feel that it was a cohesive collection. One of the highlights for me was the green silk dress with the ballooned shoulders - I just thought it was a chic, well made, and truly stunning look.

All in all, these designers will find work and hopefully create stunning collections in the future. Congratulations to them all for coming this far and a HUGE congratulations to Leanne for the win! I'll see you in NYC sweetheart!