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‘Project Runway’ Recap + Review: ‘Finale, Part I’

Lifetime

We’re just one week away from the finale of ‘Project Runway’ and the fashion show that will determine the winner of this season — but before we get to that, Tim Gunn is visiting the finalists at home to check on their progress. So how is everyone doing anyway?

Heidi and Tim are here to send the finalists packing, but first: a round of good cop/bad cop! Heidi wants everyone to be nervous and on the verge of a panic attack, but Tim wants to remind everyone that he believes in them and they are beautiful snowflakes and everything will turn out okay. Maybe.

As has become tradition, the final four aren’t guaranteed a spot at Fashion Week, and they’ll each have to show the judges three looks from their collections to determine who will make the final three for the most important runway show of their lives.

Tim Visits the Finalists

Christopher — It’s always fun to see Tim visit the designers and their families in his cute little suits like a fashionable uncle who sporadically apparates to give advice and concerned looks. Christopher has a lot done and says his inspiration is an X-ray from his mom’s body after she got in an accident — but it’s very literal.

He had the X-ray image made into a print, and the effect is actually pretty interesting. Eschewing the typical black and white, the print goes for a deep brown. There’s a lot of smart tailoring, but Tim worries that some of it reads too sweet. The most interesting part of the collection is this technique where Chris has applied bleach to leather, which he worries has unpleasantly corroded the fabric, but Tim swoons and so do I.

It’s trashy in a good way — sort of like when you wake up and your eyeliner is still on from the night before but it somehow looks good? That.

Fabio — His collection is like tie-dyed Grecian maternity wear. What is this? It’s like kids at a carnival vomited cotton candy all up in here and then he stuck some platform brown industrial boots underneath like some J. Lo disaster. Fabio calls his collection “Cosmic Tribalism” because, well, obviously. We get it Fabio, you have a beard and you wear skirts and the Burning Man probably gave birth to you whimsically while everyone was choking down peyote.

Tim seems to be giving more specific advice this season, telling Fabio he might try his pants in organza. I imagine Tim gets this rush of adrenaline every time he gives the designers more advice than he probably should.

Dmitry — His collection involves “organic architecture” and “geometrical forms.” I’m not really getting that, but I like what he’s done here. He gets a little redundant with a white suit jacket that uses the same elbow effect he implemented in the avant garde challenge, but hey, it worked on the judges once — no harm in trying again.

The pastel lime green dress looks so Christina Applegate in ‘Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead.’ The color on its own doesn’t work, but played into the collection with the whites, blacks, and touches of hardware, it makes sense. It’s a smart color choice, actually, because it’s unexpected, and any color could play with his aesthetic here.

Tim doesn’t have much to say and overall seems pleased, though not overly-enthused. The two retire to the balcony to sip tea and eat cookies and fruit and it’s like seeing Tim in his natural environment. Quiet, watch as the bespectacled and kind uncle sips his tea gently. Let us admire his dainty finger placement.

Melissa — Our remaining female competitor implements a crackle-painted leather, lots of black (of course), and some interesting textiles to boost the wow-factor. Tim is impressed and more so with her confidence, though Melissa is more concerned with what her competitors are doing. You can see Tim thinking about telling her that she shouldn’t worry because her stuff is awesome, but instead he gives her some vague advice about keeping her confidence intact and standing behind her work. Then he goes boating with her family and is the best-looking person aboard the ship. He’s like the living embodiment of a Ralph Lauren advert.

Back in New York

Dmitry shows up wearing an orange polo shirt and it’s like a vampire just returned from a golfing vacation with his grandparents in Florida. There’s no time to discuss what the hell Dmitry thinks he is doing because the designers are sent straight to the work room to put the finishing touches on their designs before they present them to the judges.

Tim pops in again to see what’s been changed since his last visit, and Fabio has changed the color of his shoes and added some colorful laces, but mostly it’s still Patchouli Mom hosts a crystal-reading party. Melissa and Christopher struggle the most — Chris has so many separates that mix and match well that it’s hard to decide which combinations are the strongest. Meanwhile, Melissa second-guesses herself, but Tim tells her that the quality is top-notch and her collection is strong. Mostly everyone is stressing over which looks they should show to the judges.

The Runway and The Judging

Dmitry’s looks are very architectural and geometric, as promised, but there’s a hint of BDSM ‘Black Swan’ goes out for cocktails. I’m not in love with the jacket on his final look because tassels give me hives unless they’re on bicycles.

Christopher’s trio of looks are very youthful but sophisticated, and the subtle bleach work on the leather keeps those pieces from feeling too basic. The print isn’t as exhilarating as perhaps he intended, but the combo with the leather and these brown satin shorts is fabulous.

Fabio’s collection is still looking way too Earth Mother for my liking. I want to throw granola at my TV but I like granola and I don’t need to eat off the floor because I am a grown woman and I can have it all. Also, his accessories are made out of those canvas sewing craft things — you know, the things that come in sets for Christmas and Halloween, where you follow the colored guides and put your thread through the square holes to pretend like you are as crafty as grandma. You are not fooling me, Fabio.

And finally we have Melissa. It’s edgy but clean and while some of it looks severe, her pieces look effortless to wear. It’s got the appeal of high fashion with the added bonus of looking comfortable, which isn’t an easy feat.

The judges like Fabio’s strange point of view but worry about how fashionable it really is. Nina slowly and carefully chooses her words because she is a robot, and it’s like she’s playing Mad Libs with her opinions this week. “I hope that…,” insert desire, “I would…,” insert advice, “I like the…,” insert adjective and noun.

Still, the judges like Dmitry’s collection but worry about the styling and whether his collection has enough “wow.” They feel the same about Christopher’s looks — it’s interesting but they don’t think it goes far enough. Nina’s more concerned with the lack of clothing, in that most of what Chris has shown is rather skimpy.

When it comes to Melissa, the judges worry about her lack of color and whether she’s played it too safe, while Michael is more concerned with the horrible wigs her models are wearing.

Overall the judges are underwhelmed with all four designers and it’s not easy to come to their final decision, but here we are — and the big twist is that everyone gets to go to Fashion Week!

See you all next week.

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