This season's finale was not remotely what I expected. All of the designers had work to do after their preview with the judges, and it seemed like anyone would be able to pull something great off and make it work for the win. Some of the designers surprised and impressed me, others were severely disappointing.
Let's jump right into it.
Laurence's collection suffered from Kini Syndrome: that thing where you do fantastic work the entire season and then your collection is completely unlike anything you've made that the judges loved.
I understood her desire to take a departure from black, and I think the neutral color palette was fine, but there wasn't a single piece on the runway that stood out or made me say WOW. Some of her fans have stated that "if 'sparkle' was required in order to win, that should be a stipulation from the judges before the designers make their collections," and I see the point of that, but at the same time you have to understand that NYFW is a SHOW, and everything you make needs to stand out under flashing lights. Laurence just didn't get that.
To no surprise, her best pieces were in leather. I loved the olive color and her stitching work on the back of both her jumpsuit and her short sleeved jacket were DIVINE. I simply wish she had done more to play with this strength, because only two of her pieces featured it.
Laurence's pearl-detailed tops were also a favorite of mine, although photographs hardly do them justice. Her attention to detail, again, was phenomenal, but if you can't see it on camera it won't put you on the map.
I was glad Laurence edited her lederhosen romper to feature more leather. It elevated the overall look and became a very cute, fresh piece. That said, her styling was a little basic and boring. Most of her models had no accessories at all, and with a piece this simple something extra is needed to amp it up.
Unfortunately, I think most of Laurence's separates were throw-away pieces. Her chiffon tops were literally nothing, her pants, while beautifully tailored, were pretty basic and too ready-to-wear for a fashion show. I could buy most of her pieces off the rack tomorrow.
As she got into her white "finding the light" moments, any detail that might have been there got lost in the whiteness of the white. It has been said many times on Project Runway that an all black or all white collection is a bad idea because detail gets lost, and I don't know how long it's going to take for designers to take note.
And then, of course, there was Laurence's finale look. What. On earth. Is this.
Is it a swimsuit? Is it lingerie? Is it supposed to resemble a mermaid? Why is there an ARROW POINTING TO HER WHO-HA??
Especially given Laurence's clear ability to display a classy, elevated taste level, this look was unprecedented and disturbing coming from her.
Overall, it was quite clear that Laurence was going to be an easy cut. She had so much potential and she just didn't live up to everyone's expectations.
Rik's collection surprised me the most in the best way possible. Going into the final four, I didn't really think he belonged with the other designers, but he absolutely proved me wrong. His collection was quirky, cool, stylish, and unlike anything we've seen over the years.
I was thrilled that he took the judges' advice to have his models show a little more skin and let them breathe. His collection already had enough going on, and the results were fantastic.
Rik's black and white pieces were really strong. His last-minute black dress with his signature paisley applique was genius, and his printed top, followed by his stunning leather jacket showed incredible range within a color story.
The way Rik transitioned the black and white into his denim pieces was flawless. I adored his printed trench coat and vest, and I WANT THAT BOMBER JACKET MORE THAN ANYTHING.
The yellow leather vest with the printed denim pants was a great transitional look and also showcases the full range of Rik's technical abilities.
It was very wise of Rik to take the judge's advice on the next two looks. Shortening the jumpsuit and adding a cool leather weekender brought it to a completely different level, and adding the paisley logo to the tiny bag made the bag + dress combo look elevated instead of junior.
Rik's finale dress suffered the same issue as Laurence - the white just didn't showcase the detail under the lights. That said, his styling with the glasses and the booties brought a pretty white dress into a punk arena, and it was a great ending to a wonderful show.
After seeing Rik's collection I thought he had it in the bag...until I saw Roberi.
I was so nervous for Roberi after the preview, but he TURNED IT OUT. There were very few looks that I had any complaints about, and he created a unique, creative, lovely collection.
Roberi's first look INSTANTLY had me hooked. He created it in a day and that skirt is, was, and will always be everything to me. I want it. I need it.
I was surprised that Roberi didn't really edit the looks from his preview with the judges following their comments, but in the context of the collection as a whole, they worked fine. The separates look definitely benefited from shortening the skirt, and both looked better with the orange shoes.
I'm very happy that some of the separates look in his preview got utilized in his collection. This utilitarian coat was FABULOUS, and paired with another shiny skirt was a genius decision that I never would have thought of.
A lot of people complained that the purple dress was disconnected from the rest of the collection, but I adored it. It reflected the classic styling he showed throughout the whole season: ageless, timeless, and beautiful.
Roberi's more casual denim looks were just as strong as the rest. The dip-dyed denim pants were phenomenal and I want them immediately; pairing them with another phenomenal quilted top and a cool jewel-toned cardigan seemed disjointed but somehow all worked together. The shape of his denim jacket was gorgeous and I loved that he kept the theme of pairing the utilitarian style with a pretty, shimmery dress.
The feather dress was stunning, and I never would have thought it would make any sense paired under a printed track jacket, but it was SO BEAUTIFUL.
I was also thrilled that Roberi got to showcase his macrame technique again. The dress, while a beautiful fabric, was a little too simple when he showed it to Tim, but with the threaded overlay it was transformed into something completely unique and lovely.
Roberi's finale look was the only real weak point of the collection, which definitely isn't the place you want to have a weak spot. The top is glorious, but the skirt is a bit sad and drab. If he had used his shimmery fabrics to create an explosive ballgown skirt, I would have declared him the winner in a second.
Unfortunately, sometimes it's just a finale skirt that can cost you the win.
You all know that I have been on Team Erin since episode one, and after the judges preview I thought she would turn her collection into something brilliant, but on the whole I just wasn't digging it. She made so many better things throughout the season, and while some of her pieces were good and you could argue she's more of a "visionary," her collection definitely wasn't better than Roberi's.
So let's break this down:
Erin's first look, which should ideally be one of your strongest, was incredibly weak. Pairing an orange top with a tomato red skirt just looks like a mistake - like she was trying to match, but it was too dark in her workroom. Normally I love her applique details, but the plexiglass on the skirt just isn't impressive. The top could have been fine with a different bottom, but this outfit as a whole just doesn't work.
I was glad Erin kept her original print, but the bikini-style top didn't really fit with the style of the rest of her collection, and the pants were just...nothing. Way too simple for her out-there style.
Erin's third look was one of my favorites. The gold had great runway impact, and the fact that it was hand-painted added a great "Erin" touch. That said, the print was so small I'm not sure her efforts were completely realized.
Erin only made minor adjustments to her separates look from the preview; she shortened the skirt a bit and swapped out the shoes, which improved it dramatically. She left the neoprene dress alone, which was a good choice.
I was glad that Erin was able to salvage more of her original print, and her next flirty dess was the kind of design I would have liked to see more of. Creative prints, flattering solids, and textured details are all a part of Erin's signature, and the "moody designer feelings" bag was super cheeky and cute.
...and then this weirdo look happened. The stiff, shiny fabric didn't have nearly the same effect as Roberi's flowy styles, especially in the midi length, and a matchy-matchy shoe is never a great idea. I like the brown top on its own, but with the rest of the outfit it just doesn't work.
The pink coat look was another one that was definitely an Erin signature, but like some of her coats throughout the season, she could have taken out half the volume and it would have been just as good, if not better.
...and along came this atrocity. Erin made this top in the 24 hours before the show, and I don't know why for the life of me. I get that she felt the need to add another separate, but this is NOT the right one. Does anyone remember Sandaya's American Girl challenge look? Do we not notice the resemblance? It's a ridiculous clown costume, end of story.
Annnnd we end with the banana look. I actually don't mind it as much as some people did; I would definitely wear the jacket with a white tee and jeans. The look reflected a lot of the items she made before the season began and I think it reflects her aesthetic well. I wish she hadn't put it with such a throwaway top underneath, but all in all it was funky and fun.
So who do you choose as a winner? Erin, the season favorite who can create masterful pieces but had a hit-and-miss collection, or Roberi, the underdog of the season who brought forth brilliance in his final show?
Obviously we have no way of knowing what led to the judges' final decision, but it must have come down to this:
If you're judging based the NYFW collection alone, Roberi should have won. He had more interesting pieces and more successful looks overall. If you're judging based on on the body of work throughout the season, Erin had it in the bag, hands down.
However the judges came to their choice, they chose Erin. I've been saying I thought she should win from episode one, and I wish I could be a little more excited about it - Roberi put up quite a strong fight.
But I am happy for Erin, truly. She has an aesthetic the world has never seen, and I'm excited to see what she has in store!
All photos from www.mylifetime.com