Project Runway Season 12 Finale

That was probably one of the least controversial finales IN THE HISTORY OF PROJECT RUNWAY. While I have seen some disagreement online about who should have one, most of the Internets seem to agree that Alexandria, Dom, Justin, and Bradon all had their strong points and they all seem to be legitimately decent human beings.

I think the disagreement stems, in part, from the shifting ideas about the purpose of Project Runway’s final fashion show and prize. Is the idea to give a forum to innovative voices that might otherwise have trouble finding backing? provide a kickstart to designers without traditional credentials? find America’s next big designer? give seed money to someone who is truly ready to start their own line? Depending on how you answer this question, you will choose a different winner. I don’t think this has been consistent throughout the years–just compare Jay McCarroll, Christian Siriano, Leanne Marshall, Seth Aaron Henderson, and Dmitry Sholokokhov.

At the very least, this year was no Gretchen versus Mondo and there were no cheating accusations or other scandals.

Before the designers show, they have one more garment to complete: the Tide washable challenge. I really like the idea of this challenge but I wish it hadn’t been shoehorned in at the last minute.

The designers receive an additional $250 on the Go Bank card. I like the idea of budgeting but they all had so much left for their last challenge look, received the same amounts for their final collections, and got additional funds for the last-minute Tide challenge. I hope they up the stakes next time by either allowing the funds to be used on the final collection, making the budgets a little tighter, and/or not suggesting the budget for each challenge!

Everyone is super busy but focused. Alexandria and Justin are struggling to respond to the judges feedback from last episode on their three selected looks and Dom and Bradon are concerned about hitting the runway without that feedback.

Dom worries her unconventional materials dress is a Nightmare. Justin offers, “A beautiful nightmare.” Dom playfully asks, “What are you, Beyonce?” And Just affirms, “Yes.”

If there’s going to be drama, it is going to have to come from the fashion.

Tim is on his best behavior, too, urging Justin to “wipe the librarian out of there” then hastily amending, “no offense librarians…I love librarians!”

There is some concern that Justin’s 3D pieces are fragile. Alexandria is trying to replace her t-shirts since Nina didn’t like them–a tough but perhaps necessary last minute course correction. Bradon is dithering over what to cut to make room for the Tide look.

They all get their garments finished and wrapped up for transportation to the big runway show at Lincoln Center!

Backstage, there are some issues: Justin’s model broke an ankle, Bradon’s spills coffee down the front of a silk charmuese dress…but overall these don’t seem to affect the runway shows.

Justin LeBlanc

Justin’s first three looks represent the purity of his early deafness. The pantsuit is the strongest of the looks with its cut out back. The other two dresses are nearly identical, with a difference in the hem. One of them is extremely short in the back. It would have been nice if there had been more variation in these two looks.

Justin’s looks that represented the chaos of hearing sound when he received his cochlear implant are the strongest (with the exception of his conventional materials. I don’t like the neckline proportions of the first look but I do like the sound wave print and splatter paint effects. The 3D printed jewelry also works well in this series of looks. I feel like he could have gone bigger here and maybe used some color.

The sheer panels definitely add some texture but they seem a little odd, here. The pure white is too close to the first series of looks. I think if he had upped the volume in the middle section, he could have settled into a balance at the end.

The unconventional materials gown is stunning, just as it was last episode. Overall, Justin picked his three strongest looks to secure his spot in the finals but didn’t have much else up his sleeve.

Zac likes the ease and femininity of the collection and says there is a gentle architecture. Kerry likes the fabric diversity. Heidi says the collection is polished and enjoys the integration of the sound of rain in the gown. She appreciates the cohesion of the collection. Nina likes that he used different shapes but wishes he had two more outfits with a wow factor.

Justin believes he should win because most of his life he was walked over due to his deafness…I kind of zone out and just hear “deaf, deaf, deaf…did I mention I was deaf?” Not that I blame Justin because this is clearly what the producers want. He does joke that he didn’t win a challenge and would like to win this one. Hard to hate on Justin when he seems like such a sweet guy.


Bradon McDonald

I cringe with Bradon’s first look. That shaving cream, icing froth on the bottom and metallic fabric just look cheap. And the top doesn’t go. The second look is more chic with plenty of texture and a nice surprise pop of color and pattern as the model turns. The third look brings back that cheap looking shiny fabric. I wouldn’t have minded it as an accent but there is just too much of it!

I like the patterned pieces the best. The Tide washable look is a throwaway — it just looks like fabric tacked on a white dress and shows no cohesion with the rest of the collection.

The final three gowns bring a lot more style and drama. The ombre gown is lovely but it has definitely been done many times before. The print gown that was nearly destroyed by a rogue coffee is my favorite of the bunch. The final gown is a little Laura Ashley but is pretty and does fit. I could do without the ridiculous ruched metallic strap, however.

Zac likes the inspiration and appreciates the expressionistic and abstract vibe of Bradon’s work. Heidi actually likes the first look. Nina admired Bradon’s laser-like focus during the competition so was surprised to see such an unfocused collection.

Bradon really suffered from inexperience. He has some interesting ideas that are knock-outs when they work and responds well within the confines of a challenge. Left to his own devices, however, he seems to have wandered off into the weeds. I think some more time and guidance will help him develop his voice.

Bradon’s got his lines down pat now and talks about his passion for dance, finding a new passion, excitement, cue crying…he’s sweet and I wish him and his fiance the best of luck…but he’s not ready for prime time.

Dom Streater

I felt a little bit of a letdown with Dom’s looks. Don’t get me wrong–they were good. I just expected them to be better. Dom was smart to play up the use of pattern and I like that she designer her own patterns but I also suspect that choice led to less pattern mixing. If you design your own fabrics, there is less need to mix others to get the effect you want. The challenge of fabric mixing during the competition really elevated some of Dom’s designs. The bathing suit is meh and I feel like we are looking at a sonogram of her uterus. The purple gown just seems too pale.

I liked the addition of the transparent plastic jacket and even the peplum in these looks. Dom definitely has an ease with draping as well. The looks are coherent but are not copies of one another. Most of the time, she also lines up the print masterfully. No easy thing.

The washable look blends right into her collection. I like the jumpsuit, too, although you’d never catch me in one…even back in college when I was a size 0. The silver gown is the big needle scratcher for me. That fabric almost always looks cheap when used for an entire garment. Dom’s unconventional gown is powerful and beautiful, though, and rivals Justin’s.

Nina said it was an entertaining show (remember, don’t bore Nina) that told a story without words. She nitpicks the order of presentation but overall praises the looks.

Kerry is impressed by Dom’s prints.

Zac says the retro-futuristic theme is a challenging one and for the most part Dom pulled it off, though he’s not wild about bathing suits.

Heidi also think she rocked the prints and asks, which was the unconventional dress? That’s always a good sign! Heidi says it is a stunning dress, modern and cool.

Dom is the least coherent in justifying why she should win. I think she maybe just started singing a pop song through tears. Something about needing fashion like she needs life. I have to give it to Dom. She has worked hard, grew up with very few material advantages, but still seems grounded. She’s unwilling to exploit her “disadvantages” to get ahead. I suspect that she sees these more as “challenges” than disadvantages–whatever the judges think of her collection, Dom has a winning personality.

Alexandria von Bromssen

Alexandria decides to lead with her unconventional materials dress which is the weakest and least coherent of her looks in my opinion. The concept is clever but the execution looks crafty. The other two looks are stylish but lack any sort of real impact. The white jacket/vest us the best piece here.

These are well-executed and definitely coherent but are mostly forgettable. These asymmetrical pants are probably terribly hip but they make me twitch.

Again, these are all pieces a certain type of stylish woman would want in her closet…but none of them are wow runway moments. My favorite look is the sleeveless wrap top that evokes menswear paired with the flowy, diaphanous skirt. I think this would have made a better departure point for her collection.

Heidi, always Alexandria’s champion, says the collection is young, hip, and now. Even though Heidi has a few years on me, I would wager she’s more tapped in than I am so I will take her word for that. She also likes the crazy woven phone book dress, saying the show started with a big old “BAM!” (Probably in hopes of heading off Nina’s criticism.)

Zac also calls it a successful runway show with spice and attitude and strength but also vulnerability.

Nina carefully says “I liked very much your show.” I wonder if her mind was changed, if she was mollified by the corrections Alexandria made, or if Heidi is strong-arming the other judges. Ever the magazine editor, she says it was styled well and editorial. She loves the spirit, describing it as easy-going and effortless.

Kerry likes the separates.

Alexandria tears up but gives the most pragmatic answer about why she should win. She describes herself as bankable (and somewhere, Michael Kors cheers). She knows what girls want to wear and how to run a business. Then, suddenly, she starts reading from the script for Lifetime’s latest made for TV movie…”I have sacrificed; I deserve it and I want it…it’s my turn.”
During the closer look and deliberation, Nina just wants to know if  if Justin’s pants have pockets.

The judges all agree Bradon had some great competition looks but that his runway show suffered from a lack of experience.

There is a lot of excitement about Dom. Nina says it feels very now and she’s a colorist. Zac agrees she is very sophisticated, perhaps more so than she realizes.

Zac wants a close look at Alexandria’s finishing since she touted it as part of her professionalism. Zac seems almost disappointed that the garments are impeccable and  Tim says Alexandria has an eye to quality.

Suddenly, the judges come to a realization that many viewers had last week–there is a marked similarity in Justin and Alexandria’s collections. Both use primarily white, black, and the shades of grey in between. Both have a chic, understated vibe. The difference is that Justin has a handful of wow moments and more “big ideas” while Alexandria’s is more polished, more hip, and more on target for her customer.

The designers are called back.

Bradon has good pieces but his collection lacks cohesion…so he is out.

Everyone is impressed with Justin and relieved he justified the Tim Gunn save but his collection just does not measure up compared to the very similar collection produced by Alexandria…so he gets a pat on the head and an auf.

Down to simple, chic, and luxe, versus bold and distinctive…and Dom takes the win. Kerry Washington goes on and on about being here for this moment. I suspect she’s talking about the first African-American win on Project Runway though she doesn’t come out and say it. There have been a number of amazing African-American designers on Project Runway and there have been some grumbles that none of them ever won. I think the show has showcased a lot of diverse talent, though, even if you might disagree with the actual winners. I’m not sure breaking the color barrier on Project Runway wins is a major moment in African-American history but I’m all for more diverse voices in fashion. Hopefully Dom can use this money to launch herself.

What did you think of the win? Will you tune in for Project Runway All Stars?

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  1. Linda Rand says:

    A Wonderful recap. So happy for Dom!!

  2. Christy says:

    Who makes those camel booties that Alexandria used in her collection?