We’re a week away from the Season 12 finale, “Project Runway” fans, and that means that someone’s dreams are about to ripped right out of their hands.
After last week’s cop-out of an episode that eliminated no one, tasking all five remaining designers to return home and build a collection for New York Fashion Week, though only two had guaranteed spots, it was time to reveal who would be joining Dom and Bradon in the actual, official, for-real finale: Justin, Helen or Alexandria.
This episode felt especially cruel, as all five designers were sent home and tasked to create a collection for the finale, complete with the requisite visit from Tim Gunn at their home. (Dom’s prints: Swoon! Helen’s construction: Worry! Alexandria’s lack of color: Snore!) However, for three of these remarkably talented contestants, there was one final challenge. Upon returning to NY, after creating, I repeat for dramatic emphasis, an entire collection, Justin, Helen and Alexandria still had to show three garments representative of their collection as a whole in order to win a spot in the finale.
Throughout the season, Justin has had his share of struggles. Not only was he spared from elimination thanks to this season’s innovation, the Tim Gunn Save (patent pending), but he consistently found himself the object of criticism, rather than praise. The theme of his collection, however, worked heavily in his favor, as he found inspiration from sound waves, opting to tell the story of his transition from before his cochlear implant to after. It’s a shrewd move that builds in an automatic sympathy factor. Luckily, he backs it up with sheer talent. His use of 3D imprinting, coupled with the most obvious cohesiveness of the three mini-shows, all but secures him a spot in the finale.
So, it comes down to Helen and Alexandria. Helen has racked up an impressive number of wins this season, and her vision and talent can’t be denied, but her genius seems to reveal itself only when she’s under the wire. The amount of time given to create the collection seems to have worked against Helen, as the inspiration seems just a little lacking and the construction just a tad poor.
Alexandria, on the other hand, hasn’t been much of a frontrunner through out the season. She’s proven herself difficult, repetitive (relying on a drop-crotch pant one too many times) and more than a little entitled. (Her continued criticism of Helen had more to do with age than talent, belying the fact that Alexandria feels owed something because she’s been in the game longer.) Her mini-collection feels safe and overwhelmingly muted. She continues her drab use of neutrals, avoiding color as if it’s the plague. The black glove pants aside, there isn’t much here that doesn’t feel like it could be found on the shelf at All Saints. It’s well made, but nothing feels inventive or fresh.
In the end, judges Heidi Klum, Nina Garcia and Zac Posen (no guest this week), advance Justin first, obviously. After a debate between Helen and Alexandria that finds Nina chiding Alexandria for lacking in the wow department and all three coming down hard on Helen for her poor execution, Alexandria scores the fourth and final spot, sending Helen home.
Is it the right decision? Probably. Is it the safe decision? Certainly. Nina’s critique of Alexandria’s collection was spot on. Her designs feel familiar and, while a lack of color isn’t total suicide, the collection better be wildly exciting to compensate. So far, however, her neutral-toned designs pale in comparison to her competition. Barring a miracle, I wouldn’t expect her to take the win next week.
Who do you think deserves to be crowned champion? Did the judges make the right call in saving Alexandria over Helen? Let us know in the comments below.