The inaugural season of Project Runway Junior was filled with young, humble, and honest designers, all who just wanted to express themselves creatively while learning from their mentor and judges. There was no drama, no catfights, no arguments in group challenges, no diva behavior; in sum it was a pleasure to watch. So it’s fitting that upon hearing Hannah Davis say, “You’re the winner of Project Runway Junior,” the top designer says, “No, you’re kidding,” and the runner-up next to her looks about as happy to be “a close second.”
These kids were a joy to watch — you can tell Tim Gunn and the judges feel the same — so hopefully we’ll get to watch many more seasons with designers who have that same spark.
But before we chat about future seasons, let’s talk about how we ended up with our season 1 winner.
Following last week’s critiques, the four kids are all nervous and kind of confused. Tim talks through the judges’ responses with them to help the designers all decide what they need to do in the next two days to get their six-look collections ready for Fashion Week. They’re all concerned about the work that has to be done, but Tim has a bit of good news for them: They’re getting one more trip to Mood, and they’ll get an extra $250 in their pockets.
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The next morning, the final four are flying around Mood. Samantha is picking up another canvas, in red, so she’ll have some additional color for her collection. Zachary needs to redo a few looks, so he buys fabric for that. Peytie also has to re-create the orange dress; and Maya needs to work on her color palette per Christian’s comments.
Back in the workroom, it’s clear who has the most work: Samantha. Although Zachary and Peytie are both making new looks, Samantha has multiple looks that still need to be made; plus she has to remake the shorts she made the day before. Everyone is feeling the time crunch. In a confessional, one of the producers asks Zachary, “How are you going to finish?” And he responds with my new favorite GIF:
And then he goes on to say my new life motto: “You have as many hours in a day as Beyoncé, so…gotta get it done.” Zachary is a sound-bite machine.
Tim comes around to give them critiques on their edited work. Maya is struggling to add in the color that Christian requested, and Tim tells her just to own what she has. So she scraps the idea of more color and sticks to her black-and-white guns. He also confirms Zachary’s suspicions about the flowers on his runway gown: They need to go.
NEXT: One last twist
Tim tells the designers that they’ll get a model fitting in the morning, their last day of work. The next day the designers know they have to maximize their time to get everything done — so naturally they freak out when they see a video monitor in the room. Tim comes in to explain: “In the spirit of Project Runway, there’s a little twist.” He goes on to say that Hannah is on the monitor with instructions, and they’re going to Mood… PSYCH! It’s just Georgina Chapman with a Project Runway All Stars reminder good luck message. It was nice of Georgina to wish them luck, but that was a pretty cruel prank, Tim Gunn! These poor kids can’t take much more stress.
That’s why when six tall women stand before all of them, they look extra frazzled. Maya has the worst luck with her fittings: Her models all have longer torsos than she anticipated, so her tucked-in shirts are looking like crop tops. Zachary’s need to re-fit a skirt looks like cake compared to Maya’s adjustments. And even though she doesn’t have multiple items finished, Samantha has “perfect” fittings for the few looks that she does have ready.
Tim comes to the room once more and asks them to gather round. No practical jokes this time — he just wants to tell them how proud he is of them and to have one last group hug. It’s pretty adorable how attached Tim has became to these teen designers. Although, they haven’t even had a bathroom break, I kind of wondered if they were thinking “gotta get back to work” during this whole special moment.
I didn’t think Samantha or Zachary would be ready for the finale, but somehow it happened. The day of the show, they get to the runway early to take it all in before the room fills up. They’re so excited to be standing there on the Project Runway Junior stage — and even Tim Gunn’s heart is going “pitter-patter” for them. Backstage is insane as per usual. Maya is even asking a model if she knows how to sew. (She doesn’t.)
Hannah comes out onto the runway to welcome everyone and introduce the guest judge Bella Thorne (Lifetime must have gotten a two-for-one deal when she guest judged on regular Runway last season). The audience — filled with the designers’ families, all the other junior designers, many past adult designers — is ready for the runway.
Maya kicks it off. She thanks her friends and family and introduces her “female warrior in a field of flowers” collection.
Maya said she wanted to own the black and white — and she does. The yellow floral print is mostly just accents, but it works. It’s a beautiful, elegant collection. My complaint was she should have flipped her first and last look. Her final look down the runway didn’t have as much of a wow factor as the first. But the judges don’t seem to mind the order. Kelly says we finally see the true designer in Maya. Everything looks impeccable, and Christian even calls her waffle pant look “so major.” (I wonder if Rachel Zoe would agree?) Aya appreciates how Maya paid attention to detail and gave all her looks a 360-degree appeal.
Samantha goes next. She also thanks her parents and explains her menswear/military tactical uniform inspiration.
How Samantha was able to finish all this in two days is a mystery. Everything looks polished and finished — the color palette is pretty much what we saw last week, with a bit of red added to help it pop. She listened to the judges and incorporated a dress and a skirt. And the judges are happy for it. Kelly loves the color aesthetic and is just generally happy that Samantha finally gave them what they were asking for. Hannah says the inclusion of the aqua dress helped the collection have something for everyone. (I’m still not sure I get her style, but I can agree that Samantha is a great designer.) Christian thought it was a great show, as far as styling, hair, and makeup are concerned, but he wishes she had done a bit more with the silhouettes.
NEXT: Two down, two to go
Zachary says he feels like he’s dreaming. Even flustered, he’s so well spoken. He thanks his family and says he can’t imagine his career getting a better start than Project Runway Junior.
The dichotomy of pastels and black works well in Zachary’s collection. He uses heavy fabrics but is able to achieve a light, flowiness. You can barely tell which dress was made in the past two days — it fits flawlessly into the collection. And because he chopped the final look into a top and skirt and removed the flowers, it’s become more youthful. This change makes Hannah the most happy. She says the addition of the black belt helps, too. Aya says his evening pant looks are stronger and have a more modern flavor than his gowns. Bella says this is her favorite collection and sees a lot of room for him to grow.
Last to walk her collection down the runway is Peytie. Before she can go out to thank her family, and her sister specifically for contributing textiles to her collection, Peytie has to sew the back of a dress together. As the models were lining up, the beaded portion detached. But thanks to some quick skills, she sends completed looks down the runway.
Peytie said from the beginning that she wanted her girl to be one who had lots of stamps in her passport, and she wanted the textiles and looks to showcase that. That definitely shows in these six looks. From a romper with a fringe skirt to a printed crop top with a sheer gown, Peytie’s looks are decidedly different but cool. The judges are a little split on it; Hannah says there are fit issues but is glad that she honed in on what she’s good at. Aya likes that everything seems experimental while her models seem “at home” in the clothing at the same time. Kelly applauds her eye for pattern and texture.
After a bit more deliberation from the judges — in which we learn that during one challenge Christian had to fight for Peytie to stay — they bring the designers back out. And Hannah announces…
Winner: Maya, the youngest designer at only 14
Maya’s family and Tim join her on the runway to celebrate the victory. “You were born to do this,” Kelly tells her. The whole room is full of joy — even the kids back in the waiting rooms with their parents seem satisfied with how their time on Project Runway ended. Samantha took second, Peytie third, and Zachary fourth. And Maya leaves us with what is probably the best takeaway of this show: “It doesn’t matter if you’re 8 or you’re 98, you can do absolutely anything you set your mind to.”
What do you think Runway fans? Are you happy with the winner? Did this episode give you tears of joy? (No, just me?) Are you ready for 10 more seasons of Junior? Tell me below, or find me on Twitter @realdalener.
Be sure to come back to EW.com tomorrow when I’ll have an interview with Maya about her win.