Oh, I do have to mention one very notable thing: none of the three finalists are white. In a field where the vast majority of designers are male and white, it's refreshing to see that everyone is encouraged to flourish on Project Runway. There also seems to be many more models of color on the show than are actually represented on fashion runways the world over. That said, 46% of PR winners and 60% of PRAS winners have been white men.
Ken, Kini, and Dom meet Alyssa at the One World Observatory on the 102nd floor of One World Trade Center, the tallest building in the western hemisphere. There, our charming host tasks the designers with their final chore for the series: to create an 8-piece collection that draws on their experience in New York. They have a budget of $3000, but only four days in which to put the collection together. Unlike non-All Stars Project Runway, they will not be going home to their own studios for this challenge, and there certainly won't be any visits from Tim Gunn.
Ken is inspired by the Harlem Renaissance from the 1920s. He's playing on suiting, and taking the tuxedo pant to a new level. He also plans to use the tuxedo stripe motif in other pieces, like gowns and dresses.
Dom is inspired by the whole chaos and movement and energy of the city, which she noticed on her very first trip to NY back when she was 16.
At Mood, they have a very generous hour to shop. Dom is going to work with patterns, of course, but she intends on painting them herself. She purchases plain white fabrics, leather, a few small-scale prints, and lots and lots of fabric paints. Kini thinks his confused Uptown/Downtown girl would wear plaid, so he invests in a lot of wildly colored brocade fabrics that are slightly shiny and maybe a bit tacky. He thinks they're tasteful, but they're not really. Ken is still itchy from having to use a print last week, so he's sticking not only to solids, but to plain black and white. And maybe a little screaming yellow for a punch of color.
With only four days to complete 8 looks, each designer has a long and ambitious list of things they want to complete in the first day. Dom immediately sets to painting her fabric. She lays one out on the floor and daubs it with various shades of blues. The other, she suspends and paints with strokes of primary colors in a sort of plaid. Sadly, as the designers are taking a dinner break, a dress form passes out onto the painted leather drying on the floor. Just suddenly collapses right there onto her work. Accidentally. Uh-huh. Dom shrugs it off as a "make it work moment."
The next day, the designers come back to the workroom slightly disappointed that hoards of elves did not sneak in during the night to finish things for them. Zanna comes in for a visit. It seems oddly prescient of her to be wearing plaid, as two of the finalists are using plaid fabrics in their collection. It's also odd that the plaid doesn't quite seem to match up where the bodice and skirt join, despite the obvious expense of Zanna's dress. (In pretty much every shot, and definitely in every still on the Lifetime site, she has her arms positioned over the area in question, as if she knows it doesn't match up.)
Kini is told that his opening and closing looks should be powerful, but the collection as a whole should not be gimmicky.
Ken tells Zanna that he's considering scrapping his bright yellow fabric, but she talks him out of it, suggesting that the color would slap the judges in the face. And by this point in the competition, we'd all like to smack them around a bit.
Zanna leaves. Ken says, "I need help. I hope Jesus comes through the door." Unfortunately for him, Jesus is nowhere to be found. However, Alexander, Asha, and Layana are more than willing to lend helping hands to their friends.
Alexander, Layana, and Asha are godsends to Dom, Ken, and Kini. They are immediately put to work on both large and small projects and lend their hands through day two and day three. There's no tension, no drama. Nobody messes anything up for anyone else, apart from Layana not planning for enough seam allowance on a pair of Ken's pants that end up not fitting his bootylicious model. But he adds more fabric on the side seams and makes it work.
At the end of day three, the designers retire to the Hudson Hotel for a bit of champagne. They were at the Hudson in the very first episode - were they staying there? And if so, why were they being punished in such a cruel manner? If you've never been to the Hudson, let me illuminate my comments for you. Actually, it would be nice if the Hudson had illumination at all. Mr Minx and I stayed there several years back. I had gotten a deal on a room via Priceline.com's name your own price scheme; you can only pick the star rating and the neighborhood, so we didn't actually choose to stay at this particular hotel. Clearly, the Hudson is designed for young, spry people with good vision. The place is barely lit. Halls are dark, elevators are darker. I recommend packing a miner's helmet or at least a flashlight to improve the lighting experience. The rooms are tiny, and the beds are basically expensive mattresses placed directly on the floor. Honestly, if you are prone to falling out of bed, you won't notice at the Hudson, since you'll only fall about 8 inches. If you have bad knees and need to go to the bathroom more than a few times during the night, this is not the hotel for you. The Hudson is for you, however, if you are a bit of a voyeur. The wall separating the bathroom from the bedroom, at least in our room, was clear glass, so people could watch each other shower. Or poop. Thankfully, there was an additional shower curtain on that wall that could be closed for a bit of privacy.
The outside bar area seems nice though.
On day four, the designers have to get everything finished, models in hair, makeup, cheesy shoes, and cheesier jewelry, and down to the runway.
Ken's hugely wide-legged pants are my favorite thing, and I was glad he did end up using the yellow. But the fit is problematic in both the yellow dress and the yellow top. I think it's clear that Ken is not going to be the winner of season 5, but I have been surprised before.
Meanwhile, Zanna is backstage with the designers, heaping praise on every look as it comes down the runway. She is a bit overly-effusive, which makes it seem fake. (While Tim Gunn has also been a bit over-enthusiastic about runway shows, he somehow never seems like a big phony.)
Back out before the judges, Ken is told that he's the second runner-up, which of course is disappointing for him. He really grew in the time between his season and this one though. Not only is he a better designer, but apart from that one "I'm taking my ass home" fit he had a couple weeks back, he's been the picture of decorum and stress management. Then Dom is announced as the winner, much to her own surprise.
I've been #TeamDom from the beginning. Dom is so talented, and seems so sweet. She's the kind of person I wanted to be when I was in art school - a cool kid, but not contrived in any way. Totally "normal" in her artsy-ness. I would have loved to have friends like her. Instead, my cool normalcy made me a real nerd magnet, so I ended up hanging with girls who had vampire fetishes. I am so not into vampires. Anyway, enough about me (but hey, it's my blog).
Congratulations Dom Streater! May you have a long and fruitful design career. And don't forget about us plus-sized gals who would love to wear something you've designed (apart from a cell phone case). And Mazel Tov on the recent wedding and upcoming baby!
Posted by theminx on Opalescentminx.com
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