Project Runway Season 16 Recap: Finale Part 1
With five contestants still trying to compete for the televised portion of Project Runway’s NYFW show, it’s time for a full episode of home visits.
Project Runway is once again baiting and switching their contestants. Last week, they claimed all five of the remaining contestants will go to NYFW, but as Heidi reveals tonight, that was just a lie. They’re really only televising four collections, as they’ve done ever since Season 9. (Heidi tries to pretend it could be a Top 3, but they literally haven’t done that since Obama took office, so we can most likely ignore that.)
There’s a still a dummy collection joining Michael’s among the five. It’s just that this year, they’re letting the audience see the behind the scenes creation of one of those dummy lines before cutting down to four who will have their collections shown on television. It’s the closest the show has ever come to admitting dummy collections happen every season. (I mean, they’re not giving someone $10,000 and ten weeks and then that person isn’t going to show. That’s actualfacts nonsense, and I hope audiences at home are smarter than that.)
Project Runway has taken to making these finale episodes a full two hours in the last couple of years. (Well, an hour and 20 minutes-ish, if you cut the commercials.) With five home visits to get through, that’s going to eat up a lot of the episode, so let’s bullet point our way through Tim’s journeys home.
- Ayana (Salt Lake City): We meet her family first, well, her mother anyway. Apparently, there are 11 kids in the family. (This is what happens when you’re happily married with no birth control.) Ayana, we learn married at 20, but has since divorced and now lives on her own. Her collection is behind due to her apartment flooding, but the nature-inspired collection has some lovely fabrics involved, even if only a few of her “modest” designs have been assembled. Tim’s only concern that her looks stay elevated and her collection stays coherent.
- Kenya (Atlanta): Her collection is “ocean and sand and sun” according to her. But all I see is neutrals, greys, beige, blush pinks, and endless peplums. Kenya claims to be stuck. Tim loves the silhouette but admits he’s underwhelmed by her lack of color. He calls her palette a snoozefest. He begs her to add color. We’ll see if she listens. At home, she has several generations of women waiting to meet Tim: her grandmother, her mother, and a mess of aunts and cousins. It’s a world of female power. (Though a few men turn out to have been present in the ending cut, they were just outside.)
- Kentaro (Los Angeles): This is one of those situations that crop up where there is no family here in the US for Tim to meet since Kentaro immigrated from Japan. So we see his family during a weirdly awkward facetime call, where his mother compares Heidi to Princess Di. (All white people really do look like.) Tim meets him at the studio, where he has several looks completed, all striking, yet none of which make any sense together. But Kentaro absolutely did not want a cohesive look. Tim throws up his hands. It’s Kentaro’s choice, but he argues cohesion doesn’t have to equal boring and to think about that. (Kentaro also composed a piano track to go with the collection, which renders Tim dumbfounded.)
- Margarita (San Juan): The show notes this is six weeks prior to Hurricane Maria. Margarita was smart enough to take Tim on a tour of the Old City to boot before meeting her parents. The Old City is the inspiration for her collection. Tim loves her fabrics and calls himself crazy about her palette. Her crochet stuff is so pretty, but the gold rings are not going to fly with the judges, and Tim is blunt about that. Nina’s going to call it cheap and costume. Tim pushes her to be less beachy and more NYC street wearable.
- Brandon (San Francisco): His family isn’t available, so Brandon brings his girlfriend to have a trendy looking crunchy breakfast in the park. She’s very supportive but she warns Tim his print is terribad. She ain’t kidding. It’s a terrible old lady floral, but Tim likes how weird it is against his other “home furnishing” fabrics. The clothes themselves are so Brandon.
Then we’re back in NYC and prepping to show the judges two looks from their collections to be judges to see which will be televised from Fashion Week. Tim judges the looks they’re choosing from what they’ve brought. Tim calls Margarita’s choices “compelling.” Kentaro is now fretting about cohesion, which Tim has to soothe. Brandon is going to let the models shop his rack and choose. Kenya has the eyes of someone who knows her time is up, Tim tells her to push through it. Tim pushes Ayana to show the less expected pieces.
Let’s see what the judges think, and who gets cuts.
Heidi is wearing a television screen. AKA, she’s not here, but she’s Facetiming in via a giant screen. Zac and Nina showed up for work. There is no guest judge because no outside opinions are going to interfere with Nina’s predetermined choices if anyone can help it. Tim is on hand to take notes for those who will have to make edits.
Brandon: Zo Brandon. Zo very. Nina calls it “the female version of you, in clothes.” Heidi loves it but suggests he should streamline and edit a bit. Only Zac is honest that the first outfit is too busy and is drowning the model in fabric and unflattering. He’s the only one who tells Brandon to fix it, but even he basically all but admits Brandon’s a shoo-in. No surprise when he is told he’s going through first.
Ayana: Love the first outfit. Love the pants. love the jacket. Love the second outfit! Smart choices because they’re not what I expected. Heidi loves everything. Nina says she loves that these pieces are modest, but don’t scream “I’m a modest designer.” Zac is wild about the jacket. When Ayana admits she’s planning to headwrap half her models for the final show, Zac encourages her to think how she can make the hijab feel fresh and new. They might as well admit she’s a shoo-in as well. She’s second through which is also no surprise. At this point, I’m pegging her to win if the judges can get over Brandon.
Margarita: Those bellbottoms! That jacket! The top and shorts on the second outfit are messy though. She created and beaded her own textile. Zac says it’s so bold it’s almost hideous, but not quite. Heidi says “bold” as if she’s not sure if that’s good or bad. She decides she loves the print though, so there’s that. Nina tries not to wrinkle her nose as she suggests perhaps using these loud pieces strategically. Zac suggests cutting the sloppy shorts. But she’s through, which I’ll bet Project Runway is *really* thankful they did since Hurricane Maria hit right as NYFW was happening.
Kentaro: Zo Kentaro. Zo very. Heidi hates the white look and doesn’t get how these pieces work together. Nina agrees there’s a disconnect, but she’s clearly committed to butting him into Fashion Week come hell or high water. She hates the styling, which she calls robotic, and complains he’s overthinking. Zac says he’s nervous about putting Kentaro through to NYFW.
Kenya: Better than expected. More youthful than expected. Zac loves the cover-ups, but the underthings are not as edited as they should be. Heidi is bored. Nina complains about the styling, and makes her take the cover-ups off, and claims the collection is solved.
Kentaro self-sabotaged up on that runway, waffling on whether he was really ready with this collections since they hated his white outfit so much. But Nina really really wants to put him through. That means Kenya is out. She’ll be showing at Fashion Week, but just not on camera. I think what hurts the most here is that she has to lie on camera and pretend she’s not showing — though I suppose the idea is “if it didn’t happen on camera, it didn’t happen”? Either way, it’s everything I hate about how Project Runway lies to the audience about the dummy collections.
We’ll look at how Kenya edited her collection in our next post.