It’s so satisfying to get what you’ve hoped and dreamed and prayed for. One designer got to experience that feeling on tonight’s Project Runway All Stars season 5 finale — and I suspect most of the audience felt that way, as well. After a fairly tumultuous season, it was almost rewarding to see a winner who stayed above all the drama be the one to win.
Here’s how it happened…
The final three met Alyssa on the 102nd floor of One World Trade Center. As she tells them that they’re in the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, she also fills them in on their final challenge: an 8-piece collection, including one menswear look, that draws upon the experiences of New York City. They have four days and $3,000 each to complete it.
After model casting (I wish we could have seen scenes of them fighting over models because there’s no way they divided up the 24 options that easily), sketching, and Mood shopping, the designers get to work on their collections. Kini wants to design for an uptown girl who hangs out downtown, a.k.a. “a Park Avenue princess who likes to use funky silhouettes.” I wasn’t aware this was a girl who existed, but Kini thinks she wears bright plaids.
Ken is inspired by a much further uptown girl, one from the Harlem Renaissance era; he wants to incorporate next-level tuxedo pants and infuse the whole collection with elegance. Although he’s using a primarily black and white foundation, he does purchase a bright yellow fabric to give the collection a pop.
Dom goes the opposite direction of these two and wants to hone in on the chaos of New York that she felt when she first visited. She paints two of her own prints, in addition to the textiles she purchased. “You got a whole damn art gallery going on,” Ken tells her.
The biggest challenges for the designers going into the finale are time management and the menswear look. All the designers — even Kini — struggle with getting all their looks done in time; and all of them are fairly unfamiliar with designing for men. (“Those pants are not of the Lord,” Ken says about Kini’s men’s pants.) But they all want the win…which they repeatedly tell us in the confessionals.
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Zanna comes on the second day to give her thoughts (essentially “push it more” for Dom and Ken and “push it less” for Kini). She also gives them some help: Layana, Alexander, and Asha walk in the workroom. They’re paired with the designers, who will get this extra help for 18 hours. They all work together for the rest of Day 2 and most of Day 3 before the designers are left on their own for Day 4.
On Day 4 they scramble to finish while talking to their families via video-chat and then finally leave the workroom to drink champagne at Hudson Hotel (sponsor alert!) and discuss their time on this past season. “I knew you bitches was gonna be in the damn Top 3,” Ken says. Aww, how sweet.
NEXT: A “Smash”-ing runway[pagebreak]
Before an audience filled with Project Runway alums, Alyssa introduces the guest judges: actress and Runway super fan Debra Messing and Marie Claire editor in chief Anne Fulenwider. And with that out of the way, she kicks off the runway…
Thanks to her painted prints, Dom was able to capture the busyness and movement of the city. Georgina loves how the first print gives off that energy, but she isn’t crazy about the plaid-painted one. Isaac says Dom’s collection actually made him emotional — he’s just “mad” about her black skirt, even though he doesn’t love the final look. Debra says the first look is “magical,” though she also acknowledges problems with the finale. Anne doesn’t like the kimono/pants look, but when Alyssa asks what’s under the kimono, they also like the jumpsuit that’s underneath. Alyssa says the whole collection is “refined in an interesting way.”
Ken went with a more literal interpretation of the city: He used the architectural elements of the city to inform his elegant, refined collection. (I’m not sure what happened to the Harlem theme.) Isaac gives him a few highs and lows, including how he likes the bone-colored suit but the fit of the crop top look is upsetting. Overall, though, he says Ken’s collection is the most commercial. Georgina likes the volume of the trouser on his opening look, but she’s not a fan of the top. Anne goes so far as to say the top looks like it came out of a mall in Jersey! Rude…but maybe true? She says the collection feels successful, but there’s no wow. Alyssa disagrees — she thinks Ken took a lot of risks. And Debra says she responded the most to this collection.
The grid lines of NYC streets led Kini to his geometric and plaid collection — which makes Alyssa smile. She thinks the construction is beautiful, and Isaac says it was a refreshing end to the three finale collections. Although Isaac does feel that the lengths on the dresses are all off. Anne says the collection gave her a very ‘80s vibe; she sees Madonna in Desperately Seeking Susan…but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Georgina says there’s joy in Kini’s clothing, and she likes that he went a bit “nutty.”
The judges narrow down the top two to Kini and Dom. (Bye, Ken! Please take Isaac’s “commercial” comment to heart and start selling those looks because I would like to wear most of them.) Then it’s a matter of deciding on Dom’s risky artistry or Kini’s joyful impeccability.
Are you doing Dom’s happy dance for the win? What did you think of the season finale? Be sure to leave your comments below, or find me to chat on Twitter @realdalener. And be sure to check out EW.com’s interview with Dom about her All Stars win.
See you all for Project Runway season 15!