Project Runway: Finale
February 6, 2022 8:50 AM - Season 19, Episode 14 - Subscribe

A winner for Season 19 is chosen at the iconic New York Fashion Week. (IMDB) Contains spoilers

If someone had told me last week I'd be switching allegiance from the designer I thought would win, I'd have said they were nuts, but I did not see it coming.

We started this week with one of my favourite parts of PR - the home visits. I will always remember Tim Gunn visiting Christian in his tiny NYC studio apartment which was crammed full of Christian's half-finished collection. Tim was genuinely shocked when Christian opened a door to reveal a closet with a futon and pillow on the floor, in a space about 5ft x 3ft, where Christian was sleeping. So, he's come a long way, and I, as a huge Christian fan, I am delighted for his success.

His first visit was to Shantall in Miami, where she'd been gifted space in a design institute to make her collection. Her inspiration was a Mexican feathered snake (?) and the Art Deco architecture of Miami. She'd had these made into an interlocking wavy print.

Christian had two major critiques - he didn't like the pale yellow she'd chosen for some of her clothes as he thought it was frumpy. He also thought she wasn't pushing herself enough and that, rather than using all prints with the woven snakey design, she could create a textile
where the fabric was woven instead. Shantall realised she'd have to start from scratch for much of her collection, but she wasn't too fazed (we've seen her do huge amounts of work compared with other designers in previous challenges). I had no doubt she'd get it done. We met Shantall's husband and son, who are both lovely, and everyone had some food in what looked like a kitchen area in the design institute.

Next Christian hilariously wore white crocodile cowboy boots and tight leather pants to visit Chasity in Texas, and was surprised to find she lived in a normal suburban home rather than on a cattle ranch. The house lacked colour of any kind, everything was beige or grey, there was no sign of art or books.

Chasity had done hardly anything, and didn't have a clear story she wanted to tell. I was also confused. Chasity kept saying that she felt she was the 'black sheep' and didn't fit in with her family, or the fashion industry. Yet she had family around her who appeared supportive and loving - her mother and sister.

Chasity's two mini-me daughters were adorable and when her fiancé came in you just knew Christian's pupils had dilated, as he exclaimed "who is this gorgeous person!". Thankfully he managed to restrain himself.

He was concerned at the lack of progress and that there appeared to be nothing other than a beaded jumpsuit and lots of ruffles. I think at this point Christian should have pointed to himself and said "I think ruffles have been done before", but he didn't, and was able to get Chasity to come up with a story about the black sheep who blossomed as her theme.

Christian left Chasity making her promise that next time he came to visit she'd take him to the rodeo. I think he just wants to find himself a cowboy.

Next, it was Coral in Los Angeles, in her lovely sunny apartment with plants and fruit hanging in macramé holders. Coral had a very clear and cohesive story for her collection. She explained that her mother looked Spanish and was very pale, but her father looked more indigenous. Coral's two brothers took after their mother, but Coral was much darker. Coral's son wondered why, and so Coral took him to Mexico to visit his grandfather and understand more about his heritage. She used this as the inspiration for her collection. Christian was concerned at the 'dressmakeryness' of Coral's collection, and the over-use of macramé. He suggested she should sex it up.

I thought we might have a repeat of the Chasity fiancé incident when Coral's handsome son (who looks to be about 19 or 20) came in but Christian confined himself to saying how cute he is. Phew!

Finally, we headed to Queens where Kristina lives in a minimalist apartment with barely any furniture. She'd been busy, and had created prints from poppies. Her theme was the Renaissance, and she had a complicated story about Botticelli's Venus and poppies that I didn't quite get. But her prints were beautiful and she'd also been really clever in having her designs mocked up so she could Photoshop them onto models. Kristina also had a celery print and, hilariously, she forced Christian to drink celery juice, with predictable results.

Christian was worried that Kristina was doing too much of the same things we'd seen before, but she's never taken his critique, so I didn't think she'd do so this time.

Three months later ...

We are in New York for Fashion Week. Thankfully they're not doing the mini-collection thing to eliminate somebody. Everyone is going to NYFW.

Models are selected and all Kristina wanted was someone who could use a hoverboard. Her final model is, apparently, going to Mars. Kristina also chose every model who was from Russia, it seems. Coral made menswear and only mentioned this in passing, which was a pearl-clutch moment for Christian, as they had to make sure there were male models to choose from.

Chasity had a massive amount of work to do. Nothing was finished, no zips, tons of beading to hand sew. I was worried for her.

Shantall took Christian's advice and ditched the yellow, using more grey instead, but her clothes were, I was very surprised to see, rather horrid. Boxy, unflattering, power suits - honestly, it looked like she was designing for a re-work of Heathers or Working Girl. Christian pitched a fit and told her to add slits, show some flesh, make the clothes look, well, flattering. There was one grey dress Shantall didn't like on any of her models, so she wore it herself at the runway show. I thought it swamped her (it was made for a 6ft woman) and she should have ditched one of her outfits from the show (a red coat with a wavy front) and got her model to wear the grey dress instead.

Kristina intended to open the show with a model wearing what she said was a 'sheer' top, but which was totally transparent, with nothing on underneath. The model was okay with it (“I’m French”) but Christian was aghast, and didn't think nipple covers would cut it with Nina. He left Kristina to think about it. Kristina grudgingly decided to make a tiny bra.

Christian had virtually no criticism of Coral's clothes (other than not liking the skirt of one of her garments), but she really needed his help in deciding her running order, highlighting her lack of industry experience. She was going to start with a fantastic short white jacket with magenta embroidery. Christian said Nooo, as this was needed to break up the black she was using a lot, so she needed to put that mid-way through the show. He suggested she start with her menswear, which she did. The final piece was never in doubt, a showstopper with an amazing headdress.

At hair and makeup, I had to rewind to make sure I saw what I saw. Usually the MUA applies lipstick to the model using a brush. This time he used the lipstick direct on the model. So I have questions. Does he use a fresh lipstick for each model? If not, how can it be justified in
these unprecedented times™ to use the same one on each model, direct on the lips? This cannot be right!

So, finally to the runway show. At this point we learn that Elaine Welteroth isn't there and in her place is Tommy Hilfiger. I will say at this point that if it had been Elaine and not him, I think the outcome would have been different ... but I'll come to that later.

So, the show began with Kristina, who looked fabulous herself. I liked her collection far more than I thought I would. The fabrics were beautiful, there was so much colour and movement, there was an amazing pink satin gown with a huge swirl of a skirt that would look great on a red carpet, as well as a silver gown with beading, and the model on the hoverboard at the end was next level weird and amazing.

Shantall is next. Her woven textile looked impressive, and there were a couple of outfits - a black silk dress, and a black and white coat with a sheath dress underneath - that were incredibly beautiful. But some were misses, including the red coat I thought she should have dumped in favour of the grey dress.

Chasity started her show with what I would describe as a hoochie-at-the-club dress, and then went on to more Cher/Disney gowns. Her collection was very one-note, a palette of black and blue, with lots of ruffles and beading, the only break being a blue satin suit that I rather liked. The beaded jumpsuit was paired with what looked like a huge ruffled skirt but which turned out to be a coat, tied round the waist in the way that you do on a hike when it's too hot and you have to take your sweater off. I liked it though, but there was nothing in her collection that looked new or modern to me.

Coral surprised everyone with her menswear, and her model looked hot as hell in the outfit, leather with zips. Coral's collection was beautiful, a mix of her signature macramé incorporated into beautiful dresses, and edgier more structured pieces with zippers. Her final look, inspired by Frida Kahlo, was the most gorgeous embroidered jacket with a skirt underneath that had a tulle overlay. It was absolutely stunning, a real showstopper. Coral got a standing ovation from the eliminated contestants who were at the show, and deservedly so. After all my criticism of her this season, I came out firmly on Team Coral. I could not have predicted that, but I thought her collection was amazing.

The judges all had good things to say about everyone's collection, but criticism too. Nina loved the hoverboard, but Brandon hated it. Chasity was praised for the beauty of her outfits but criticised for too much beading and ruffles. Kristina's prints won high praise, but there were concerns about how wearable her collection was. The judges agreed with me about Shantall's red look. Everyone loved Coral's embroidered pieces and wished she'd done more of them, but also said hers was a collection of two different styles.

And it is here where I think Tommy Hilfiger influenced the judging towards a decision that I think might have been different if Elaine had been there instead. His comments leaned really heavily towards branding and commercialism - perhaps understandably, given that he has one of the most recognisable fashion brands in the world. He didn't think Kristina's pieces would sell for more than a single season. He thought Chasity's talents would be better suited to celebrity costume design (I agree), and he wondered who would buy more than one dress with macramé on it. But he thought Shantall's woven snakey pattern had mileage for many years to come.

So, the result, when announced, wasn't a surprise, and I can't really say, given her performance over the season, that it's undeserved. Shantall is the winner of Project Runway.

The only photos I can find are these few on Tamara Tattles. Even Nick Verreos doesn't have any on his Insta yet. It's shocking that Bravo doesn't have any photos up.

Interestingly, in the aftershow chat between Christian, Kristina, Chasity and Coral, Kristina is very vocal that she thinks the judges made the wrong decision. I think they made the wrong decision too, but it wasn't you who should've won, Kristina. I went into this episode truly hoping Shantall would win, but once I saw what she'd made, I really didn't like her outfits. I think Coral's collection was by far the best, and so I ended this series rooting for a designer who, a few weeks ago, I thought should have gone home the week after Katie went. Who knew?!

Thank you all for reading my recaps this last 14 weeks. It's been fun.
posted by essexjan (9 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I truly don’t get it. Most of Shantall’s stuff just looked like large format prints on boxy silhouettes, but the judges got to see it up close. It didn’t come across in the TV format to my untrained eye. She has a customer in south Florida resort-goers.

Tommy Hilfiger was terrible; threw off the entire vibe of what they’d been judging for across the season. He thought he was on the new Tim/Heidi show where most of what counts is salability. And prints are no good when you can’t reuse them across seasons? Gtfoh.

Coral had a great story and cohesive collection, Kristina I thought was the most interesting and pushed herself the most (but strayed *too* far from what the judges expected)
posted by supercres at 9:48 AM on February 6, 2022

Christian is a terrific personality, and I agree, he's come a long way and deserves his success.

Yes, Shantall did not look good in that gray dress! It was huge on her. So much hard work and design in her collection, but not really my taste.

I think Coral may have won if she used less black, but I could be mistaken. I wonder if there was discussion about not giving her the win because she never won a challenge. I don't know, but I agree Coral's show was the best, and her final look was the best look of the night. I think Tommy Hilfiger would still have been the guest judge even if Elaine was there - I think they often had a guest judge at the finale? Either way, I would love to know who she thought should have won.

Chasity had a show to be proud of with some stunning beadwork. I actually liked those crazy ruffled pants. She should do well with celebrities, as mentioned.

I didn't like much of Kristina's at all. I did not like the prints very much, or the weird shaping. The final alien look was terrible. Who would wear that and where? And then, being such a poor sport publicly. Not a good look.
posted by Glinn at 12:51 PM on February 6, 2022

essexjan, I haven’t watched PR since Andre’s Red Lobster days, but I thoroughly enjoy your recaps. Thank you!
posted by roger ackroyd at 12:54 PM on February 6, 2022 [3 favorites]

The thing about Shantall's collection was that the really interesting woven fabrics are not reproducible outside of couture. There's no way you can weave the fabric like that and have it fit a range of sizes in a mass merchandizing setting. The black dress and black and white piece over it were stunning, but really nothing more than a beautifully made nightgown and robe.

I thought Tommy Hilfiger was awful and completely missed the point. But I did agree with his assessment that Chasity could be clothing the likes of Rihanna and J. Lo right now, and should be. I hope her stuff gets seen by the people who can do that.
posted by QuakerMel at 2:34 PM on February 6, 2022

The show seemed fairly weak to me. The winner was appropriate, I guess, but relied too heavily on the snake motif. Kristina's was surprisingly bad, but I will give it up for the sheer boldness of the hovercraft look, and at least she wasn't as matronly as the others.

Tim Gunn visiting Christian in his tiny NYC studio apartment which was crammed full of Christian's half-finished collection

Was it even a studio, or did he have roommates? I remember seeing his place and thinking, "Well, at least his story is legit. No slumming rich kid would live like that!"

Does he use a fresh lipstick for each model? If not, how can it be justified in these unprecedented times™ to use the same one on each model, direct on the lips?

It's Maybelline. You could probably buy a lipstick for each look for the entire show and come out safely under $500.
posted by praemunire at 9:51 PM on February 6, 2022

I was concerned during Chastity's home visit - does anyone else remember the mall store Caché? The early collection looked like that to me - wildly expensive mall outfits that I couldn't figure out the audience for. She got it together for the runway, though.

I enjoyed Tommy Hilfiger's contributions to the judging panel - he came with lots of encouragement which is always refreshing.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:58 AM on February 7, 2022 [1 favorite]

I found all four collections underwhelming although there were a couple pieces I liked. That’s often the case with me. During the season there are some really fabulous looks. Then at the end, Christian (or Tim) does the home visits and it’s such a shambles (Shantall’s ugly red dress with the black buttons—it’s almost like the cameraman tried to get it in the background of every shot). Then they arrive back in NYC with racks of finished garments and the glimpses we see look very interesting. Then there’s the show and it’s a let down again and the hair/makeup/accessories styling makes everything look worse.

These contestants need Christian’s (or some professional) opinion during the whole process. Not just their family or friends. When you think of it, all Big Name designers have a team not just to help them design but to give feedback throughout the process. For the show, they could do this remotely. Anyway…

Shantall was declared the winner for her 80s power suit revival. Did she even say that was her inspiration? I don’t think she did. A consistent look if not an attractive one and, regrettably, coming back in style. I don’t like the weavy texture she does. It looks thick and bulky; Christian was right to tell her to mimic it in prints. The one piece everyone likes is the simple black one-shoulder sheath gown. Not groundbreaking at all but just such a relief from all her heavy looks.

Coral, well I will never be a fan of her macramé. It’s too gimmicky. It ends up being thick trim and long dangly ends. Maybe switch to rat tail which is thinner? The piece I did like was the structured white suit with a bit of red embroidery at the sides. It was good to see that she can do something besides lace and macramé. The jacket at the end was good, also the headpiece really sold that look. I wish she’d done more with the traditional embroidery. I did see another piece on her rack which she didn’t use?

Chasity. Full on stagewear. When I went back to look at the season on Nick’s Instagram, my favorite of hers was the white ensemble in the Couch to something challenge. It seemed like she wanted to break away from the Disney Princess stuff but couldn’t quite trust herself. She seemed very fragile in the home visit. With the publicity from this show I hope she’ll be able to restart her business.

Kristina had the most contemporary collection and seemed the most promising with her photoshop renditions and her focus (only a single pillow because that’s all you need!) (Christian must have been having flashbacks). What I think happened was she fell in love with her poppy print and she obviously loved her clothing designs and she needed to step back and think, is this the best print and color way for this outfit? What I remember is that bubblegum pink full skirted gown with splotchy black flowers. Really not good. Also clear paillettes. Dangling straps.

Finally, the weirdest thing was the judging. Not just Tommy Hilfiger opining on the commercial aspects of print motifs, lol, but the brevity of the debate. Since it’s usually a two-part finale, there was a big chunk of airtime given to the home visits in this one that should have been spent debating the merits and failings of each collection. Maybe it did go on for an hour so the designers could get some realistic feedback. Maybe they were just sick of doing the show. Or maybe it’s just another example of Bravo strangling the show since Heidi and Tim left.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 7:24 AM on February 7, 2022

This was a huge disappointment. All season I wanted Shantall to win, but her final collection was pretty bad. I liked the snake motif, but that was it. She shouldn't have worn that grey dress because she couldn't alter it and it looked huge on her.

I was all for Coral at the final show. Yeah, I thought she could trim the fringe on her macrame, but I thought her designs were beautiful and she did menswear too. And her story just made me weep. The final jacket in that glorious print was wonderful.

Tommy was right on the nose with Chasity--she would be great at stage wear. But he was not a great judge otherwise.

So as far as I'm concerned, Coral was robbed.
posted by ceejaytee at 8:16 AM on February 7, 2022 [1 favorite]

Hilfiger may not have been an ideal judge for this type of event, but for a senior guy in the industry dealing with younger aesthetics and the kinds of designers (demographically) he didn't have to have too much to do with coming up, I thought he was gracious and encouraging. I doubt he was determinative in the decision-making.
posted by praemunire at 9:33 AM on February 7, 2022

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