Making Runway History

Why this is the best challenge.

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The avant-garde challenge -- and I missed it! Oh BRAVO gods, wherever you may be (probably in LA as I know most of you) how could you do this to me? Why not on Season 2 I ask you -- nay -- I beg you!?! Ohhh, what a world ... what a world ....

OK -- so now that I have that out of my system, let's move on, shall we? In case you couldn't tell, I LOVED this challenge. It's the epitome of what I feel designers going onto Project Runway, and viewers watching it, had in mind when the words "fashion" and "television" were first combined. C'est la vie. I must be content with what I have, which is flying to LA next week to shoot SEVEN magazine covers for the new Lipstick Jungle television show starring Brooke Shields and co-produced by Candace Bushnell (the mind behind Sex and the City!!!) I'm super-excited to be art directing as well, but more on that later -- let's get back to the couture! raterunway_01_408_220x415.jpg

Team Ram-P
(giggles) Overall, I like both looks. I like them a lot. This is why: Both were clearly born from the hairstyle (which was the challenge), beautifully executing the concept of hard and soft, structure and free-flowing, so kudos for that because I feel it's the best visual representation of the hair out of any teams. I do think, however, that the avant-garde piece could've gone further: in shape, in color, in drama. Rami seems like an excellent designer in how he can restrain his designs to just the edge of everyday practical drama -- which is not a simple thing -- but for this challenge, where most others finally felt "unshackled" and were let loose, Rami almost showed too much restraint. The day look, however, is ADORABLE: the gradating hues, the juxtaposition of textures and fabrics, and most importantly, the overall look! Overall, I think that they did a nice job, and though it wasn't perfect, I though both designs were executed beautifully. raterunway_03_408_220x415.jpg

Team Chris-tian?
(I guess the Hollywood abbreviation trick doesn't really work with them.) Now THIS is a design that will be remembered when the history of Project Runway is brought up: chic, elegant, interesting, and beautiful ... what else is there to say? This team couldn't have been better matched -- Chris with his knowledge of infrastructure, and Christian with his zeal. I applaud them both for so successfully pulling together their best efforts to create not one, but two gorgeous looks. Bravo to both designers on a job well done! raterunway_05_408_220x415.jpg

Team Rick-it
(Ha -- I like that name!) I really did think that the idea for their avant-garde piece was interesting and unexpected, though obviously fell a bit flat somewhere along the way. However, I did love the hairstyle they chose -- it's perky, it's sweet, and I see what drove them to the design concept. I also applaud the fact that they built the hoop infrastructure of the skirt so well, as when I was watching I thought to myself "What the h**l! Where did they buy a hoop skirt from? At MOOD!" But low-and-behold, the power of editing. Anyways, from the fabric, to the flatness, it all kinda went sour I love the shape, however, and if different fabrics had been used with the same concept, I think it could've have been a black sheep, but alas, we were left with Jo-Ann Fabrics' remnants.

Oh, and the day look kills me and is obviously an afterthought. "Simple and cute" can still be interesting. This look unfortunately doesn't have ANYTHING to say besides "home-sewn." ... OY! And paired with black pumps? REALLY!?!? I just don't get it .... raterunway_07_408_220x415.jpg

Team Victor-ian
(Damn another good one!) Firstly, I cannot believe that they sewed an entirely finished, entirely lined, fitted trench coat with -- TAH DAH -- FUNCTIONING snaps!?! That is something you just don't see very often on PR because of the time restrictions, and honestly, I'm stunned. There was so much work put into the avant-garde look, and it shows, that their hiccup came in designing/producing the day look. I have no doubt that they both could've upped the look of the day piece tremendously if given more time, but, unfortunately, to me, it still looks a little rough around the edges. Whereas Team Chris-tian brought equal interest to both pieces, balancing the attention, Team Victor-ian's leaned a bit too heavily on the avant-garde. Well, they both should be so proud of what they accomplished, because it truly was fantastic!

The Final Showdown

Bryant Park was a frantic frenzy backstage but most kept cool.

After weeks of vigorous drawing, designing and sewing, the final three designers arrived at the last challenge. The pressure was on for Leanne, Korto, and Kenley as they geared up to show their collections at Bryant Park for New York Fashion Week!

As the TRESemmé Styling Team entered the fashion tents, we were filled with excitement and anticipation to see what the designers put together. Since each contestant had 10 models each, backstage was buzzing! Kenley was frantic because some of her models were missing and didn't even show up until the last minute. Leanne was the complete opposite - she stayed calm and collected and even had all her models ready to go way before runway time. Korto looked nervous but was ecstatic to be at Bryant Park. She told us it was something she had been dreaming about her whole life. After we gathered the 30 models, we split them up by designer so that the TRESemmé Styling Team could start transforming the girls. Korto's collection reflected her African heritage and culture. To complement the loud prints and bold colors, we decided to give Korto's models an up-do to accentuate the embellished detailing on the neckline of the garments. First, I started by taking a zig-zag section from ear to ear across the crown. I worked in TRESemme Anti-Frizz Secret Smoothing Crème to help create a sleek base. Then, we tied two separate ponytails to the right side of the head within the top and bottom sections. To add volume to the ponytail, we created waves using a 1″ curling iron, and then teased the hair. After, we lightly brushed the surface for a smooth exterior and neatly twisted and pinned the hair into a doughnut-shaped bun.

For Leanne's collection, she found inspiration by the lake near her home in Portland, Oregon. Each piece in her line had some sort of ripple or wave effect to it in different shades of blue and cream. We wanted to create a hairstyle that had a similar wave-like effect. Leanne envisioned the hair to look natural, organic and earthy. I began by generously spraying TRESemmé Thermal Creations Heat Tamer throughout the models' hair. After blow-drying, I gave her models a deep left side part and tied back the front pieces of their hair into a ponytail. I pulled the remaining hair and the ponytail into one low pony and curled it to create soft waves.Kenley designed an assortment of colorful knee-length dresses that she hand painted herself! She wanted the hair to be classic and sophisticated, so we decided to give her models Marcel waves. To get this look, I created a low left side part from above the eye to the crown, then sectioned the hair from the crown to behind the right ear and clipped it aside. Next, I put the remaining hair into a side bun to the right side of the head. After, we released the top section of the hair from the clip and misted the hair with TRESemme Thermal Creations Heat Tamer before blow-drying for a smooth finish. Then, we finished by applying TRESemme Thermal Creations Curl Activator Spray to the front pieces and used a 1" curling iron to create face framing Marcel waves. Finally, we loosely pinned the remaining length of the hair into a bun.

Even though all the collections looked amazing on the runway, there can only be one winner of Project Runway. Tim Gunn, who surprised everyone as the guest judge, thought Leanne's line was uniquely structured and versatile. Heidi said her cohesive collection floated down the runway. The judges all agreed her designs were flawless and Leanne was crowned winner!

It has been such a memorable experience seeing Leanne grow into the designer she is today, and I'm sure we can expect many more beautiful collections from her. I can't wait to see what type of ripple effect this designer will make in the fashion industry!