The designers show a sneak peek of their final collections
Credit: Barbara Nitke/Lifetime

The moment we’ve been waiting for is here: the Project Runway Junior finale… Except you’re going to have to wait another week for the real finale. Tonight was essentially a sneak peek.

Tim and Hannah come out onto the runway and say how excited they are for these designers to show at New York Fashion Week. Hannah thanks Tim and says how happy she is to see Zachary around. She’s so genuine in that moment it makes me think Tim really did choose to save him at the last minute.

But there’s no time for gratitude now — these designers need to get to work. They each have four weeks and $4,000 to create a six-look collection. These young designers need to go, go, go!

But first, they need to pause for Amanda Valentine to come in and tell them all about some eyeglasses brand. As part of a sponsorship for an eyeglass company I’ve already forgotten the name of, they must use eyeglasses on one model for the runway show.

Okay, now, they can go start working. Samantha takes the subway to Queens while Peytie and Zachary head to California and Maya goes to Ohio. The designers give us camera-phone video check-ins as they work. And unlike the adult designers who can focus fully on their final collections, these kids have school, too. As Peytie puts it: “What other designer has to deal with sophomore year and fashion week at the same time?”

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The first three weeks fly by, and then the designers come back to NYC for individual critiques with Tim. First up is Peytie. She tells Tim that she hasn’t slept for weeks because she’s so worried. But he’s impressed with what she has done. Her inspiration is travel, so she uses lots of different fabrics and patterns. Her sister helped her by hand-painting gold designs on some of the fabric. That’s one talented family! Tim’s critique is that she needs to work on her construction and tame her textiles a bit.

Maya is up next. She’s almost in tears when Tim walks in because she’s so nervous. She said she’s been struggling with who she is as a designer during her time home. But her “Warrior in the Springtime” collection doesn’t show it. As Tim says, the inspiration is very Maya, but he does want her to make sure it doesn’t go over the top. Like he told Peytie, Tim says Maya should be careful with her textile use. But other than that, it’s just working on details.

Samantha has way more than just details to work on. She doesn’t even have enough pieces to show Tim. She’s doing a feminine version of the military uniform as inspiration; the pieces are so detailed that she’s running out of time — and oddly she doesn’t seem concerned by it. Tim wants to see more color from the collection; it’s very one-note. And he says she needs to worry about her silhouettes, that they don’t go “Michelin Man.”

Zachary gets probably the most detailed critique — which makes sense considering he was the last eliminated designer. His inspiration is the duality of the world, so he’s tried to incorporate black with pastel colors. Tim’s a little “troubled” by the collection; he doesn’t want it to be a “Zachary collection pu pu platter” — which is a nice way to say it’s not cohesive.

Following each designer’s critique, Tim met with their families — the highlight being when Zachary’s mom grabbed Tim Gunn’s face and thanked him for saving Zachary. Tim Gunn also played pingpong…and high-fived Peytie’s dad. Amazing.

The designers head home one more time for a final week of work before coming back to the workroom with their garment bags in tow. Samantha is still incredibly far behind but still not as worried as she should be. Tim comes into the room as they unpack their work to tell them how they’ve been using the JustFab accessories wall all season — hold up, HAVE THEY? This is the first time we’ve heard of it.

Anyway, then Tim gives them real news: In two hours, they’ll be presenting two of their six looks to the judges. They act shocked, which always makes me LOL. This happens every season. These kids act like it’s the worst news they’ve ever heard, but really it’s just to help them have a better collection for the finale AND SHOULD NOT BE A SURPRISE.

NEXT: Two by two…by two by two

After a bit of scrambling, they each send two looks down the runway…

Credit: Barbara Nitke/Lifetime

Peytie chose her not-quite-least-favorite looks to get the judges’ opinions. And the judges have mostly favorable responses. They appreciate her inspiration and like the fabrics, but she needs to work on fit issues. Aya says there should be darts in the top; Hannah wants the gown to flow more; and Christian thinks she should amp up the styling. Kelly thinks she did an amazing job, but she needs to work on finishings.

Credit: Barbara Nitke/Lifetime

Zachary emphasizes that he was inspired by the softer side of nature — which Kelly likes, but most of the judges worry about the youthfulness of the collection. Aya says she doesn’t mind that he designs for a mature woman. Hannah thinks the black and the pastel don’t incorporate well together; and Christian thinks the two looks don’t feel connected. So all around confusing responses for Zachary to interpret.

Credit: Barbara Nitke/Lifetime

If I had to guess, I’d say Maya‘s collection is the judges’ favorite tonight. Aya loves how her looks played with “illusion”; Hannah thinks the movement is great; Christian says he loves her details; and Kelly’s mind is blown…again. The feedback they do give is that maybe she could infuse more color and incorporate a day look or two also.

Credit: Barbara Nitke/Lifetime

Samantha starts her explanation by saying she made the shorts that morning — which isn’t getting her off to a great start. Regardless, Christian thinks it looks “amazing.” Aya wishes she would play more with silhouettes and quit sticking to boyshorts and culottes. The judges also ask for more color and maybe an evening look. Do the judges realize Fashion Week starts in TWO DAYS??

Tim tells the designers they need to step it up, and then we’re left waiting for next week. What do you think — can these designers make the necessary changes in time? After seeing the collections, who’s your favorite frontrunner? Tell me below or on Twitter @realdalener.

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Project Runway Junior
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