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Rising to the Challenge

Laura Brown knew Jeffrey could rise to the challenge, and that Dominique and Calvin could as well.

Bravo: So we are talking about the final three, were you surprised at who made it to the finale and how do you feel about the round?

LB: I think Calvin developed week after week and showed that he could refine his point of view, and indeed that he had a point of view. I think people were surprised that Eduardo or Cesar didn't make it, but what was more interesting to the judges about these particular three  was that they were more adventurous and did something a little bit more distinctive, rather than pretty dresses everybody would like. I think they had more to show us.

Bravo: Each of the designers had to present a final 10-look collection, what were you hoping to see from each them?

LB: I was hoping for Dominique to do her wacky thing, but to be a bit more grown up about it. For Calvin, I was hoping he would take his signature—that great skirt he does, the cowl neck, that great sort of hip-swiveling flow he ha —with great fabrics and a level of taste that he didn't start out with. For Jeffrey, I wanted to see him work that great fluidity, but to give his collection a story.

Bravo: Let's talk about Calvin's collection, he has really evolved, he showed much simpler and more understated definitely compared to what he did last season. What do you think of his collection?

LB: I think you can see the bliss on my face that he didn't make something yellow with diamante and a camellia, because I swear to God that first outfit traumatized me. I just think he grew up. Whether his humility was faux or real, I don't really care; I liked his minimalist palette and his cuts. He listened to what people had to say to him. Thankfully, he wasn't too proud or too obnoxious to take it on board and I think he sort of reflected it more in what he designed. Bravo: So Dominique, once again, went bravely forth. She dyed fabrics, and she made some pretty bold choices. What do you think of Dominique's work she did?

LB: I like Dominique's work. But as Dominique reminds us endlessly, she is 21, and she has a long way to go. She could have a store in Nolita or a store in Williamsburg, and cute girls like Dominique will wear her clothes, that's the level she is at right now. I hope that she matures so her pieces develop more sophistication and polish.

Bravo: Do you think this collection accurately captured her?

LB: I thought it was a perfectly pleasant collection. I don't think it was groundbreaking, but that's why she didn't win. I don't want her to go off the hook all the time but maybe she could have gone a tad crazier. Ten percent more crazy, but not a pig coat or anything.

Bravo: Jeffery's collection was really modern and fresh, but it was still really wearable and flattering. What are your thoughts of his collection?

LB: I died for it. I loved it. I was sitting next to Mary J. and we were nudging each other saying, "I want that dress, I want that dress." I have a soft spot for anything in that color and I loved that jersey situation—it looks to me like a Rick Owens, but not so dark. I like that Jeffrey kept his color palette to white, gray, and red. Everything moved beautifully and it just looked cool. The lengths were longer for the most part, but he dropped his unisex thing. There are a couple of dresses that I am totally hitting him up for.

Bravo: So of course he was the winner, why do you think he won? Tell us about his work over the season.

LB: I think Jeffery needs to capitalize the momentum and start his own line. He has been planning for it, and his sister has been doing a business plan for him. I think it should be relatively commercial. If he can cut a great jersey dress, then he should cut a jersey dress to sell and then he can do his more adventurous stuff. Once he finds his feet, then he can rock it out. He is such a unique kid. Ever since I first saw him, I knew he had something to say. I'm glad he rose to the challenge, and it validated what I thought he had in him.

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