Project Runway Review: The Week Before THE Week

Going into the final challenge of the competition, all of the final Project Runway designers Kimberly, Laura, Anya, Viktor, and Joshua have won at least one individual challenge this season, except for Laura.   For the final challenge, the designers got the opportunity to get out of the city by ferry and head to their inspiration for their next challenge. At Governors Island, Tim Gunn and Leslie Cunch, the president of The Trust for Governors Island, along with John Stern, president of Storm King Art Center, presented the designers with the final challenge: to create three looks that demonstrate a range – not just three pant suits or three gowns.  With an hour to explore the island and sketch, a golf cart with which to get around, and a camera to record their experience, the designers were off.

Kimberly found her inspiration from the sculpture New Beginning.  The artillery and stained-glass church inspired Joshua.  Laura couldn’t get the circular shapes that she found around the island out of her head.  Viktor found inspiration in the silhouettes of the structures with New York City in the background that created a warm, metropolitan feel.  He was also inspired to do a cigarette pant.  Anya was inspired with how the sculptures created lines with negative and positive space.  Although she won last week’s challenge, she planned to do the antithesis of her usual style to show the judges that last week’s win was “not a fluke.”

After being duly inspired at Governors Island, the designers headed to Mood to shop and spend, spend, spend.  Then it was back to Parsons to design.  Once back in the design room, Tim arrived with “the button bag” and announced that he figured the designers could benefit from “a lot of help,” and in walked the previous five eliminated designers.  The still-competing designers were told to choose an assistant according to order in which Tim pulled each designer’s name from the velvet button bag.  First, Kimberly was chosen and chose Becky.  Viktor chose Olivier.  Laura chose Anthony Ryan.  Anya chose Bert, thus Bryce was left to work with Joshua.  Ironically, it seemed all the designers and former designers got who they wanted, except maybe for Bryce, knowing how controlling Joshua could be.  Nevertheless, on they stitched.

The tension between Anya and the envious Joshua thickened like a McDonald’s milk shake.  He filled Bryce in on how the “beauty queen” has been sliding by, and he questioned whether she stole last week’s $20,000 challenge win from him by her beauty or her talent.  Retracting the claws and getting back to work, the designers approached day two of the challenge.  Kim nixed the cocktail dress, wove in separates, added milk, and stirred.  Laura didn’t like the color of her chosen fabric, so she got to dyeing.  When Tim arrived in the design room for the consultations, he discouraged Laura from using the circular stencils in all three of her designs.  Hopefully she’d remember that over the last few weeks the judges like the literal interpretations the least.  Tim questioned Kim’s choice for the texture of the wool top with the texture of the pant, and then he called one of her soon-to-be-fitted dresses “the Statue of Liberty.”  Tim said Viktor’s designs had “profound sophistication.”  Enough said.  While doing a plastic skirt, Josh edited his designs from his usual signature in-your-face looks and added hints instead.  Lastly, Anya was inspired by the angles of the sculptures and how when you walked around them, no one look was the same.  Tim encouraged her to “keep [her] eye on all the moving parts.”

Kimberly’s seam began to weaken.  She continued to ditch so many of her ideas that when her model came, she didn’t have the third dress for one model to try on, and the other model’s butt was exposed, with no more material to fill the empty spaces.  Anya’s weaknesses were also showing through when Bert had to walk her though how to sew a sleeve.  How she has gotten this far without cutting a jacket, a tailored shirt, or real sleeve has been true sleight of hand.

The day of the runway show, Kim arrived and decided she wanted to scrap the pant and make a skirt because the pant didn’t fit.  Becky exhaled and said, “OK.” Laura also ditched something that probably sounded like a great idea at the beginning but would have just replaced another garment.  Poor clothes.  They thought they were going make the cut.  Laura was disappointed with the fit of her final garment.  Anya had put her model in her dress backwards.  These designers can see the finish line and are catching leg cramps.  Viktor is the only one who seemed to be breezing through the design room as cool and calm as a coat button.

Zoe Saldana, actress and co-founder of myfdb.com, joined Michael Kors, Nina Garcia, and Heidi Klum on the judging panel.  Even before the judges assessed the designers, Viktor and Kimberly stood out as top picks.  Viktor always delivers consistent, clean looks, and although Kimberly’s vision wasn’t clear in the design room, as her models walked the runway, the metaphorical image of the sculptures showed through brilliantly.  Ironically it was Joshua’s design that Zoe said looked like “the Statue of Liberty,” although his white dress was beautiful.  Zoe had nothing but good things to say about Kimberly’s designs, although Michael said the color palette was odd.  Nina and judges loved her cocktail dress, but when they critiqued the skirt and suggested she should have left it as a straight skirt, Kim went on the defense.  Heidi loved Laura’s gown, but everyone noted that her third look didn’t keep in with the circular theme with which she started, and it looked “cheap” and “pillowcase-ish.” Michael used “sophisticated” to describe Anya’s collection.  He said she knew how to dress women’s bodies.  Although Viktor got good critiques, the judges used the word “boring” to describe his collection.  However, Michael said his collection was “commercial” because it is “wearable, as is” today.  He just suggested turning the volume up.

When asked who they would take to Mercedes Fashion Week with them, Joshua said he’d take Viktor and Anya.  Kimberly’d take Laura and Anya.  Anya mentioned her contrast to Joshua and, thus, chose Viktor because he already has an audience.  Laura would take Viktor and Anya.  Viktor chose Joshua and Anya.  With that being said, the judges raved over Anya’s “sophisticated” styles.  They were “super impressed” with Viktor’s style, and they said he’s shown he can make clothes for the masses.  They consistently used the word “editing” in reference to Joshua’s designs.  Nevertheless, they believe his ideas are fun.  ‘Tis better to have too many ideas, like Joshua, than no ideas.  Michael said Kim has “this glamour quotient.”  Heidi wanted Laura to go to fashion week just because of the passion she displayed.  After deliberations the judges revealed that the designers showing at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week will be Anya, Viktor, Joshua, and, last but not least, Kimberly. Therefore, Laura, the only one who’d never won a challenge by herself and who’d dreamed of showing at Fashion Week since she was eight years old, was out.

Season 9, Episode 12: “The Finale Collection” (originally aired October 13, 2011)

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Images courtesy of Lifetime


  1. I wish writers do their own research first before sharing articles like this. To correct you, LAURA did win a challenge, and it was the runway show with STILTS. She won that with her lacy red dress.

  2. I wish writers do their own research first before sharing articles like this. To correct you, LAURA did win a challenge, and it was the runway show with STILTS. She won that with her lacy red dress.

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