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.
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 Not only specific to his final collection, he consistently chose colors that were drab, unflattering, and frankly outdated.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.
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.
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.