Barbara Nitke/Lifetime

There are four distinct collections, but there can be only one winner.

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November 06, 2015 at 03:57 PM EST

The next morning at 3:30 a.m. (that’s how you know designers are committed — you couldn’t get me up at 3:30 a.m. for anything), the designers arrive at Moynihan Station (Lincoln Center is no longer in vogue). After a bit of backstage craziness and a busted zipper, the four collections walk the runway.


As Kelly‘s “disco Barbies” were walking down the runway, I wrote “fun!” in my notes. And that’s exactly what the judges think, too. Zac says “it’s a little flash, a little trashy,” but he’s a fan — even though he does have an “allergic reaction” the to the Spandex-like fabrics. However, Heidi is on board with those. The long wood-panel-like dress is her favorite, and she says the matching fanny pack is “chic”…the first time that word has ever been used in reference to a fanny pack. Guest judge Carrie Underwood says Kelly isn’t afraid, which pretty much sums it up. Any designer who can send models down the runway with bedazzled wedge heels and headphones has no fear.


Edmond dedicates his 10-piece collection to his mother and calls it “Anna’s Roses.” Apparently “Anna’s Roses” is code for “Lots of Dresses.” Edmond was one of my favorite designers all season — and I know many of you liked him as well — but I’m pretty confused by this collection. There’s nothing wrong with an entire collection of dresses, but there’s no cohesion here. The judges agree here, too. (Maybe I should apply to be a judge for season 15!?) Heidi says half of the dresses were good but then he had looks like the “toilet paper gown.” Nina says he lost his essence: Instead of creating sexy clothes like we’ve seen all season, he tried to created showstoppers, and the collection got away from him.


Even though the judges hated the cherry blossom fabric, Candice was running out of looks to complete her collection, so at the last minute she threw in a cherry blossom dress. It started her show, then it transitioned to leather dominatrix-style looks, then it finished with Asian-influenced costume designs — yes, they were costumey, even without the ginormous hoop skirt finish that she scrapped. She definitely edited down from her original three-look critique, but the collection still lacked cohesion. With absolutely no context, Carrie says it’s hard for her to get behind a lot of leather (which made me LOL). Nina liked Candice’s first look but didn’t think it worked with the rest of the collection. Zac called her a little “witchy,” and Heidi referenced Frederick’s of Hollywood. Ouch. (But kind of true.)


Ashley‘s collection changed the least from the three-piece critique to the final 10-piece runway collection. She improved the zippers and fit issues, and she pared down the floral headpieces. The judges are clearly fans. Nina appreciates how she’s creating the kind of clothing that isn’t already on the market for plus-size women. Ashley has incorporated flawlessly forms that are considered “taboo” for full-figured women. But there are some flaws in her collection: Heidi doesn’t like the romper, and Zac says she took a few shortcuts, such as gluing on the flowers to her final look.

After the designers each tell the judges why they deserve to win and the judges deliberate a little longer, the decision is announced.

Winner: Ashley

What do you think Runway fans? I was really torn between Kelly and Ashley’s final collections, and I’m still not sure what I think. Let’s talk about it below and on Twitter @realdalener.

Be sure to come back tomorrow when I’ll have an interview with Ashley. And I’ll see you here next week when we get to do this all over again with Junior! (Get your first look at Project Runway Junior here.)

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Karlie Kloss and Christian Siriano guide undiscovered designers through the harrowing rites of fashion.
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