Project Runway Season 11: We Have A Winner

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Reprinted with permission from

Welcome to the runway! The final three contestants (Stanley, Polka Dots, and Wind Chime) will sweat it out and sew it up and stomp their looks down the runway. But first, Tim Gunn has a surprise—they’re going to Mood! They will have $500 to come up with some Mood magic to fix whatever is wrong with their collections. Stanley is going to finish his dresses, Polka Dots is going to do a simpler version of her finale dress, and Wind Chime is going to change up a few looks to make the collection more cohesive.

Wind Chime is in serious scramble mode, with two holes in the front of her leather pants. There’s something about copper and leggings and baby dolls. Polka Dots knows that she needs to tone down her accessories, but she’s going to take the critique to heart and do the exact opposite. Stanley made a sparkly gold leather jacket that I really want, but would never have any occasion to wear. Tim Gunn is not loving the jacket because it looks to vintage, and overall Stanley’s collection is not modern enough for a runway show. Wind Chime has tried to tie her collection together, but it’s not enough to please Papa Gunn.  Meanwhile, Polka Dots is just chilling out, waiting for the runway show, talking about how the other designers are unprepared. Then, Tim Gunn banishes all of the little helpers from the workroom and replaces them with family members and hugs.

Tim tells the designers that their guest judge is Michael Kors, which is weird because how can you be a guest in your own home?

Stanley’s in bad shape. He still has four garments left to sew, and there’s not even one full look that doesn’t need some kind of work. And time in the workroom is up. So the morning of the runway show, Stanley turns backstage into a sew-a-thon. With two hours left, Stanley puts the backstage staff to work. Like, sewing work. Random people sitting on the floor, stitching sleeves onto blouses and hemming dresses.

While Heidi introduces the show, Stanley decides that maybe it’s time to stop sewing and start dressing. The producers buy Stanley some time by having Heidi drag out the introductions. There’s Zac Posen (not Kors), Michael Kors, and Nina Garcia.

First up is Polka Dots. There’s a mix of taupe neutrals, followed by a pop of quilted yellow. Everything is stiff and slick mixed with flat. It’s got nice texture, and starts to transition into a little bit of lighter fabrics with movement. That olive drab blouse dress covered with the breastplate and skirt from last week looks fabulous, as does a slightly toned down utility coat. The dressier looks, skirts and pants with unique tops, including a bright yellow leather (or is that felt?) top with a massive plunging neckline, are a refreshing pause. The final dress is a red gown with a similar squared-off plunging neckline, and it really works. This was a fabulous show filled with wearable and unique pieces that are both tough and feminine, just like Polka Dots.

The producers take pity on Stanley and send Wind Chime out next. Her collection is dedicated to trees. There are flowing little dresses and swishy pants and—crushed velvet? Oh no. I do not like the crushed velvet. There are a lot of scarf tops that I like, and a cute a-line tent dress, and her fabrics are like a giant watercolor. Scarves seem to flow off of every model, and then we get that killer horsehair hat paired with a gorgeous horsehair skirt. There’s a painted leather jacket with leather shorts that looks a bit frumpy, and that horsehair poncho with black leather pants. No wait—that sky blue shift dress with the blue horsehair hat. It’s..something. I’m not sure that the collection ever came together as a unit, but each piece has its own bit of happiness and was fun to watch.

Stanley! Stop sewing! His collection is called “urban opulence.” There’s a black shantung silk pants suit, a gold and black cocktail dress that is meant for some three times the model’s age, another older look with a black leather swing jacket, a gold shift dress with a short black jacket, that taupe shirt and skirt with the amazing bead work, that gold leather coat that I guess is a coat dress, a brown and gold sequined cocktail dress, a short gold cocktail dress with a flowing back, and a stunning brown shimmery strapless pouf dress. There’s a charcoal grey silk dress with a watery, drapey jacket, and a cream dress with what looks like branches beaded on the bottom. The final look is a red tapestry top with a long pleated bottom that is very stunning and elegant. I guess maybe that’s the take-away from all of this—stunning elegance. Which is kind of like urban opulence’s older cousin.

This wasn’t even close, I’m calling it right now for Polka Dots. But let’s hear what the judges have to say. Michael Kors put on an extra coating of orange for the occasion. Can I say how nice it is to have Michael Kors back, or are we still pretending like Zac Posen is an adequate substitute? We missed you, Madame Kors!

Nina loved the interchangeable pieces in Polka Dots’ collection. She asks Polka Dots to please send her a sweater I didn’t notice on the runway, it has a heart over the heart. But a real heart, like an organ. Michael Kors and Zac Posen didn’t love the hard fabrics. Michael Kors loved the quilting, but Zac Posen found it boring. The judges overall loved the collection and felt that each piece had a practical, wearability.

Wind Chimes explains that she cuts and pounds and textures her own embellishments, and makes her own dyes. Michael Kors loves loves loves it, because he gets a kick out of the craftiness. At first he was “oh my god, the art teacher’s on an acid trip,” but then he let it wash over him and enjoyed the show. Heidi noticed that the crowd was joyful when they watched the clothes come down the runway. Meanwhile, Nina is both revving up and biting her tongue. She was kind of a bitch towards Wind Chime at the last runway show and just doesn’t seem to get the whole textiles concept. Nina wants Wind Chime to make her creative gift more understandable. Well, maybe Nina just needs to learn a new language. Overall, the judges think it’s new, pure, and creative with a special attention to artistic details.

Michael Kors loved Stanley’s bubble dress and the gold coat dress. But the red gown, well, that he calls “Betty White on Dancing With The Stars” old. Zac Posen thinks the mix of materials felt dated. Heidi called him out on what she called “quick sewing.” Well, it was stitched by stage hands. Nina loved the black pants and wanted to see it with the beaded short top. Nina feels that Stanley still failed to bring his collection to the twenty-first century. The judges summed it up with “it’s nice, but not special.”

So it clearly comes down to Polka Dots and Wind Chime. Do they go with a commercial designer, or something from left field? The judges quickly dispatch Stanley to the loser’s lounge. He was okay with the loss, and kind of knew that this wasn’t his time. Much to Nina Garcia’s delight, Wind Chime is out, and Polka Dots is the winner of Project Runway! Oh, and the model gets a fashion spread in Marie Claire, or something.

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