The Art Of Fashion

The MET helps produce art inspired fashion!

Heidi announces that this is the final challenge of the season and that of the five designers still standing, two will be eliminated. She declares that the designers are taking one last field trip and instructs them to meet me at Fifth Avenue and 82nd Street. Thus ensued lots of "Where are we going?" speculation. Didn't any of them know that this is the address of the Metropolitan Museum of Art? I was absolutely ecstatic about meeting the designers there, because the Met is a major NYC obsession of mine and I was thrilled to share it. The Met is a treasure trove of masterpieces with something for everyone, and that's a massive understatement: 5,000 years of art and artifacts! I'm at the Met all the time; it's my church. Imagine my thrill for all of us when I learned that we would have access to this great institution before opening hours. Wow!

I greet the designers on the front steps of the Met and we enter. Their challenge: Choose a work of art to serve as the inspiration of a look of their choice. They have three destinations: the Greek and Roman Sculpture courtyard, the European Painting wing, and the Temple of Dendur. And we have a mere 45 minutes for all three! Any one of these destinations could consume days! Thankfully, the designers were presented with cameras to record their inspirations. We return to the workroom at Parsons where the designers can print their digital photographs and select one for the inspiration for their design. They have an hour to sketch, followed by 30 minutes at MOOD with a budget of $300. They have two days for this last challenge.

Later in the workroom, I introduce the designers to Collier Strong, consulting makeup artist to L'Oreal Paris, who will advise them how to best enhance their designs through the makeup for their models.

I want to add that this is the first season in the history of the show when most of the designers didn't disappoint me with the last challenge. In prior seasons, the designers performed in a way that said, "I don't care about winning the challenge, I just don't want to be out." The results were lackluster at best. This season, most of the designers were motivated by wanting to WOW the judges, with our special guest judge being Roberto Cavalli. Don't disappoint Mr. Cavalli! raterunway_02_411_220x415.jpg

Christian wins! His look was inspired by a dramatic 17th Century Spanish portrait by Bartolome Esteban Murillo. Christian brilliantly translated the militaristic costume in the portrait into womenswear. Was the outcome a little costume-y? Well, yes, in a way, but it was also dramatic and editorial. And most important from a design standpoint were the silhouette and proportions, which were sublime. His slim, dark jodhpurs offered the perfect counterpoint to the voluminous, billowing shirt in white organza. Over the shirt was a high-collared shrunken vest, and the look was topped with a fedora. Lisa looked ready for a stroll with her petit chien along the Avenue Foch. And Christian, you're ready for an emblazoned tiara! Bryant Park, here you come!Sweet P is out. Her inspiration was a colorful, highly-detailed, and exuberant 17th Century Dutch painting entitled "Peacocks," which was nothing if not a fabulous inspiration. So, what went wrong? For me, it all began to unravel at MOOD: I was confused by her fabric choices, especially the print, because she seemed to want it to serve as faux peacock feathers, rather than layering the fabric in a feather-like way. The result was so disappointing and unambitious: a weird, dowdy house dress that could have been part of Shirley Booth's wardrobe in Come Back Little Sheba. Although the dress was a very basic silhouette, its weirdness derived from these odd side pockets that looked like misplaced godets. Huh? And I was surprised to hear the judges applaud the fit of the dress. What? Lea looked like a waif who was being gobbled up. Sweet P, we love you, and we'll miss you. raterunway_01_411_220x415.jpg

Chris disappointed me. I loved his inspiration: an 18th Century portrait of the Marquise D'Argence by Nattier. What evolved out of that inspiration was, in my opinion, a mere riff on the avant-garde dress of his and Christian's collaboration. Chris used yards and yards of duchesse satin in pearl gray for the body of the floor-length gown and used a darker gray satin for a shoulder-piece-cum-collar. Then, he took a nap. I was annoyed. I was annoyed, because the shoulder piece was so derivative of the earlier dress and the gown wasn't taken far enough. And I was annoyed, because there was plenty of time remaining to fix either or both. No -- he was content. Sigh. Chris, I can't want you to succeed more than you do, and it was evident that I did. raterunway_05_411_220x415.jpg

Jillian was a strong contender for the win, again, as demonstrated by the judges giving her an assured place at Bryant Park. Her inspiration was a 15th Century narrative battle painting entitled, "Master of the Argonauts." Owing to the fact that she was borrowing elements from many aspects of this highly detailed and complex work of art, her outcome was the least literal of the group and I applauded that. Furthermore, it was the most ready-to-wear, too. She created a stunning military-inspired fitted jacket in black with gold piping. The piping served to punctuate the gold lame lining of the jacket and the matching gold lame mini-dress. The effect was sexy and sophisticated and very, very modern. Frankly, we all swooned. Congratulations, Jillian -- you're going to Bryant Park! raterunway_03_411_220x415.jpg

Rami was very close to being eviscerated by the judges for being "too expected" and "too Rami," and I felt sincerely bad for him. He is the only one of the designers who didn't use a work of art from the European Painting wing as inspiration. Had he, I would have been shocked, since the Greek and Roman Sculpture courtyard had "Rami!" written all over it. He chose a 1st Century AD sculpture of Aphrodite for his inspiration, and inspiration it was, indeed. Rami's tactical error was to focus on masterful craft over drama. I truly loved his lavender matte silk crepe dechine toga dress, but I was also cognizant that it was missing a "Wow!" factor. The qualities of his design were in the details. Those details required thoughtful study and how was that going to happen in this context. "Wow!" it was not.

So, the judges were deadlocked. Rami and Chris will both create collections and compete for a spot in Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at Bryant Park. When they arrive in New York at the beginning of Fashion Week, they will each present to the judges their three strongest looks. The judges will determine which one of them will be the third member of the Final Three. Fasten your seat belts.

You May Also Like...

Recommended by Zergnet

Leanne Speaks!

May we present season 5 winner of Project Runway- Leanne Marshall! How did you feel when you won?
I was just in shock for a good couple of minutes after Heidi called my name. I was exhausted and exhilarated. It was the most amazing moment of my life. Were you shocked by the result?
I was shocked. It was a big shock. I had hoped and I had my fingers crossed but it had been a long week and I was really sleep deprived so I didn't know. What are you going to do with the money?
Going straight to the horse races... No, I'm actually going to re-locate to New York to further develop my clothing line. I'm actually going to hire some people to help me and hopefully show at fashion week again. What did you think of the criticism the judges had for you?
I definitely would have had a lot more variety. I just always had in my mind, throughout doing the collection, to keep it really cohesive. Creating it I had so many different ideas and I started to go off on tangents so I was thinking that I can't do too many things with such a small collection, I had to keep it cohesive. What did you think of the other collections?
I think Korto showed a really strong collection. I loved her colors and she makes great clothes for women. I think Kenley had some surprising pieces that looked really great on the runway. I definitely liked certain elements of Jerell's collection, the drama and the sparkle. It's very Jerell. Joe surprised me too. It was really well made. And Suede also did a really good job. Are you prepared for your life to totally change as of tomorrow?
I'm not. After finding out and coming back I've been living my life normally as if nothing ever happened. Yes, it's going to be crazy and I'm really excited about it all. How did you keep the secret?
I threatened to break anyone's arms who spilled. No... My family, my boyfriend, everyone was as strict as making sure that they don't say anything as I was. It's a great surprise and we want everyone to be surprised in the end. And I don't want to ruin it for anyone. You're only the second female to win Project Runway. How do you feel about that as a female designer?
It's awesome. It's really exciting. I think there are a lot of strong female designers out there. It just so happens that a lot of the Project Runway winners are male. It's definitely about time. Have you kept in touch which any of the other contestants?
I have been in touch with Korto and Jerrell. Also, Blayne every now and then. I definitely would love to keep in touch with them for a long time. Where can we buy your clothing?
Go to my website,, and I also link to my Etsy page where I sell things online. Two shops in Portland, Oregon, Seaplane and Foundation Garments. And I just got a ton of requests so hopefully everywhere soon! Any final words for your fans?
I'm just so touched and thank you for supporting me, coming up and saying hi and all that. I love it and I'm so appreciative of all of it. It kept me going and propelled when I was creating my collection. It's hard putting your self out there but one of the rewards is having [great fans.]

You May Also Like...

Recommended by Zergnet