And the season 16 winner is...

By Dalene Rovenstine
November 16, 2017 at 10:32 PM EST
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Credit: Barbara Nitke/Lifetime

Our Sweet 16 Project Runway Party has ended. And from start to finish, it was quite the surprise.

The final episode began with the designers stressing over the critiques they just received from the judges — except for Kentaro, who has decided that he’s already lost and he’s just going to do whatever he wants. Meanwhile, Margarita is stressing in double time: In addition to showing a collection at NYFW, Hurricane Maria is headed toward Puerto Rico and her family might not make it out in time. She still works on finishing touches, along with Ayana and Kentaro, while Brandon takes a nap in the workroom.

Tim comes in to talk through changes with all of them (the resounding takeaway is “you do you” but in a very eloquent Tim Gunn way) and then they have model fittings. They work for another day, but honestly it’s mostly just filler and flashback to remind us of their journey. If this were Survivor, this would be when they light the torches for the past contestants and we all itch to just fast-forward.

The morning of the runway, Tim tells Margarita that her parents are still trying to get out, but they’re playing it hour by hour. Then the fuses backstage start blowing so they can’t use their irons. Then Ayana rips a ruffle straight off her dress before sending her model out. So basically a typical runway day.

All four designers show their 10-look collections before Heidi, Zac, Nina, guest judge Jessica Alba, and a large crowd of people, including all the other season 16 designers, a few season 16 guest judges, and former Project Runway contestants. Some of the more notable guests in the crowd give their feedback after the show (they all love everything!), but back on the smaller runway, the real critiques begin…

Credit: Barbara Nitke/Lifetime (10)

Ayana’s collection is titled “Evolution” and is meant to document her personal journey. And though her journey may have been rough, this collection is not. Zac says he loves how she can dress women in forms of modesty that are still hip, and she’s truly representing a whole community of women who are often ignored in the fashion industry. Nina likes it, too; she’s impressed how the collection goes from athletic wear to street wear to the “precious” finale gown — although, she does wish there were some color in the collection. Jessica tells her the tailoring is beautiful. Heidi says that the looks got better and better as the collection walked the runway. She’s obviously a fan of not-modesty (“Don’t judge me, but I like to show a little skin!”) but is still in love with most of the looks. And everyone is in love with her final gown.

Credit: Barbara Nitke/Lifetime (10)

Margarita’s collection, “Fish Out of Water,” takes her culture as inspiration and finally shows the judges what she’s all about: vibrancy! Nina is overwhelmed by how much energy, passion, and color runs throughout this. Zac says it was spectacular and even “joyous.” Jessica loves how it’s sexy, sensual, and Latina. Heidi says, “I’m not a Latina, but I might as well be one” since she’s into all the glitz and glamour. There are places where Nina thought it was too much, but she does think Margarita did one thing truly well: making a runway moment. When Jazzmine ripped off her sarong on the runway and revealed a bathing suit beneath, the room went wild. (I was there; they weren’t joking when they said everyone burst into crazy loud applause.) And even Jazzmine pointed out how important it was for not only Margarita’s collection, but for the plus-size community as well. (Collections from Kentaro and Brandon continued on page 2…)

Credit: Barbara Nitke/Lifetime (10)

Kentaro says this collection wasn’t even about the competition — there was no winning, no losing, just him showing something beautiful. Every designer should take that approach because the judges are obsessed. Nina says the fact that the room was so quiet showed how great his work is. Heidi elaborates by saying you could “hear a mouse fart in the room” (I don’t know that I would use that expression, but it was eerily quiet during Kentaro’s collection). Nina says the way his collection built in drama and provided a shock of color was perfect. Zac agrees, although he would have thrown out the second red dress — but the female judges all say they loved that one. Heidi says she loved the variety of silhouettes, and Jessica says Kentaro’s Japanese-inspired collection would make his country proud.

Credit: Barbara Nitke/Lifetime (10)

Brandon’s collection is called “Layers of Love” and is inspired by his girlfriend, Dina, which is very sweet. Jessica says the collection is flirty and romantic with an underlying cool factor. Zac says the collection is strong and Brandon is incredibly talented, but this wasn’t a great runway show. Record scratch. This is not the critique I was expecting! Zac says there wasn’t much variation, and Heidi agrees — she says he needed a different color mixed in. Brandon tries to explain that designers he loves do much of the same thing in a 30-look collection. But Nina clarifies that in a 10-look collection, he has to amp it up a bit more. She does appreciate that he stuck to his aesthetic and his own signature details, though.

At the end of Brandon’s critique, Heidi asks Liris about how she feels and the model tears up while thanking Project Runway for the opportunity to show at NYFW. All around this season has been great, amirite?

But on to why we’re really all here: to find out who is going to win that lifetime supply of pens! The winner of Project Runway season 16 is…Kentaro!

Honestly, I did not see that one coming, but Kentaro is an incredibly talented designer and seems like an all-around good human. I’ve been so pleased with this season, though, I probably would have been happy with anyone winning.

What did you guys think of the season and the finale? Were you happy with the winner? Relieved to see Margarita’s family made it out of Puerto Rico in time to see her backstage? Surprised to see Brandon so emotional? Confused that the editors decided to leave in Kentaro’s dad falling off the stage? Feeling other emotions I haven’t mentioned or thought of? Let’s talk it all out below in the comments.

And before you go, be sure to read our interview with Kentaro or shop his looks on

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Project Runway

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