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Project Runway – Finale Part I

Did the judges choose Jay or Mila for the final spot at Bryant Park?

The 4 remaining designers have a budget of $9000 and 4 months to create a 10 look collection to show at Bryant Park. However, only 3 designers will actually show, leaving Mila and Jay to fight for the last spot. In this episode, Tim traveled to Portland, Washington, Washington Heights, Los Angeles, and San Francisco to visit Seth Aaron, Emilio, Mila and Jay respectively to check in on their progress.

Aside from the actual finale, this is my favorite episode of Project Runway. I love seeing Tim Gunn visit the designers in their homes, and I love learning more about the designers and where they come from—seeing their families and their living and designing spaces. It adds to who they are and why they create what they do.

Seth Aaron’s collection thus far was prolific. Tim was astounded that he had created 15 looks already! This is the most of any designer in the history of the show. However, Tim expected more and asked Seth Aaron to re-conceptualize the whole collection. While the pieces are impeccably made and the garments  true to Seth Aaron’s aesthetic, Tim said, “If you want to win, you’ve got to stretch” and encouraged Seth Aaron to remain true to himself but to add an element of surprise. Seth Aaron looked shocked but agreed. Again, I find myself so intrigued by Seth Aaron and am even more excited to see what he will do with his collection and what he will show at Bryant Park now that he has to re-conceive it.

(And, who didn’t love seeing Tim Gunn jump on Seth Aaron’s trampoline! Even completely out of his element, he handles it with such grace. Gotta love Tim.)

Emilio hosted Tim at his studio in Washington Heights, and there was obvious tension and resistance from Emilio to Tim’s comments. Emilio said that he was inspired by color—turquoise paired with red, and what looked like a dark mustard yellow. Tim probed Emilio as to the color choices and the silhouettes, and noted that there is “an absence of sophistication” in the collection. I agree that the pieces look nothing like Emilio’s winning garments from throughout the season and was disappointed in these garments, but perhaps he will surprise at Bryant Park.

During Tim’s visit to Mila, we got to see that not only does she love to design with black and white but she also lives in a world of black and white–from her home decor right down to her Dalmatian. Mila’s collection follows suit and is primarily made up of black and white separates. Tim loved her collection but warned that it looked a bit matronly. I enjoyed seeing Mila’s inspiration board of shadows alongside her pieces, and thought her garments were interesting and chic, and true to her style.

Jay’s collection was inspired by the Japanese Samurai with a feminine twist. He created pieces with that combined both hard and soft elements. Tim admired the workmanship in Jay’s pieces, but worried that some elements seem overdone. Tim refers to it as feeling like “student work”, which is a big uh-oh moment for Jay.

Back in NY, Jay and Mila set aside their differences as they set to compete for the last spot by showing their 3 strongest looks.

Mila’s three looks are quite strong, and graphic despite the all black-and-white palette. The dress, with a cascade of paillettes, was my favorite garment of this episode. The judges referred to her designs as feeling “60’s retro” and a bit conservative but completely wearable and cohesive. They also note that it feels very “Mila”. The judges however cautioned Mila and asked her to get edgier with her styling and to be sure to stay modern.

Jay’s runway looks are very innovative and fashion forward and I appreciated this quality in his vision. The judges found some of the pieces spot on—they loved the clean lines and detailing in the dress, the toughness of the gaitors and the design of the pants, but they didn’t like overwrought feeling the jacket. Overall, they commented on Jay’s excellent tailoring, but found there to be too much going on and wished that he had shown more restraint.

In the end, after much deliberation, the judges choose Mila to move on to fashion week and Jay is out.

I found myself torn as well, and wish that all 4 could have moved on to the next round. Each designer has great talent, and as a sewer I’m inspired by each for different reasons. I would have liked to see more of Jay’s collection. Perhaps someday we will…

Were you surprised by this decision? What did you think of the garments shown in each of the collections? Who are you hoping will win?


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  1. User avater
    Soli | | #1

    I love the home visits too - it really humanizes the designers, and in Mila's case, it really showed her living her design philosophy. I am quite happy that Mila won the face-off. I want to see design for women over 35 that is edgy and innovative but doesn't fall into the JJill/Eileen Fisher mode. Don't get me wrong, I live in PureJill, but I want clothes that are more fitted to the body that don't look like I'm pretending I'm still 25. I love her aesthetic using clean line and forms. I would wear that paillette dress to a gallery opening with a pashmina shawl. I also love that charcoal funnelneck coat. I would wear that if I could have it a little more tailored to my hourglass shape. I see Mila having a line in Nordstrom/Bloomies/Neiman's. Like I said, there's a need for grown up clothes with an edge. With YSL, Valentino, Givenchy, and Calvin all retired or gone it seems the fashion conglomerates are going for edgy that makes headlines but skews young. Mila has the potential to compete with Donna Karan, Narcisso Rodriguez, Carolina Herrera and Vera Wang for that part of the market.

  2. User avater
    Kate_W | | #2

    I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked what Mila showed, her concept -- shadows, and her home setting -- relaxed and edgey, not grating. I am happy to see her in the final three. I agree with Soli. Mila would have a market. I absolutely love the coat Brandisse wore.

    IMO, Jay's pieces did not look like they were part of the same collection. Based on the judges discussion, I was a little surprised by their decision. Heidi could have just as well said "Mila, you're out." PR is still reality TV ...

    Mila would be my sweet surprise win. Seth Aaron does beautiful fit, works in more black than Irina even, and skews young. Emilio found his Pantone set (grin) which is, or could be refreshing after so much black ...

    I wish the show's format showed fewer designers and followed them _all_ through a set of designs to a final elimination, slowed the pace, showed more process in the development of a project, more background on the designers (like Tim's home visit), etc. But then it wouldn't be Project Runway ... I'm looking forward to the final show. I'm amazed that the season was filmed many, many months ago and that the winner is such a well-kept secret. Great season.

    Thank you Threads for the commentary and reviews. I appreciate the opportunity to share observations and opinion in a community of sewing enthusiasts!

  3. User avater
    auschick | | #3

    Since the top 10 or so designers all showed at Bryant Park (with the exception of Maya), you can actually see all their collections. Here's Jay's. (Just don't click on the others that are currently in the competition if you want to still be surprised next week!)

  4. User avater
    auschick | | #4
  5. User avater
    Soli | | #5

    Auschick, thanks for the link. I'd already seen photos of Mila's collection because she has it on her FB page, but for the rest - interesting. I was thinking that Seth Aaron would have it sewn up, but now I'm thinking it's going to be a tossup between him and Mila. As far as the seven decoys - WTH? Did everyone see the same trend report and go for the linebacker shoulders? It almost looked like Jesse cribbed Jay's notes. And what was up with those weird shorts/rompers that Jonathan was doing? I liked the big pants that were reminiscent of those wrap pants that were in for a while in the 70's and 80's, but the shorts were just awful. After seeing all of the collections, top three should have been Jay, Emilio and Mila.

  6. User avater
    Soli | | #6

    Ooops - OMG, how did I type that. No my top three is Seth Aaron, Mila, and Jay. Good grief. I really, really hated Emilio's collection.

  7. Cherlyn | | #7

    I'm hoping Emilo surprises us at Bryant Park. Mila just showed more of the same, so I hope there is more to this collection than what we have already seen from her. I was surprised to see Jay's and then to see him be booted out. He actually surprised me with those three garments. I expect to see Seth do more of the same as he has done in the past.

    I think it will be interesting this week!

  8. Kathie510 | | #8

    Tim on a trampoline...I'm loving the home visits also!!!!
    As far as winning. sometimes I don't care which designer wins as they are all so good. The designers that are in the finals usually show up designing other places so we still have them around.

    I love that way Project Runway has helped even sloppy me think more about designs, how clothes are fashioned, and what is and isn't approriate. Without a doubt its my favorite TV show.

  9. User avater
    Mrs4Him | | #9

    Thanks for the link to the other collections. I didn't look at the top 3 since I want to be surprised. But, looking at the rest--I really liked Jay's collection. He could have picked stronger looks from his collection than what he chose for the finale competition. And I also liked Anthony's collection.

    I was rather disappointed that Jay was not selected. Mila's looked just like her, but a little too much like her--just too predictable. I liked the dress, but her lack of color (which is something that seems to happen often with final collections) was a downfall to me. I like color!

    I am really looking forward to seeing Seth Aaron's. I do think he should have waited for some feedback from Tim before he sewed most of his collection. And watching Tim on the trampoline was classic.

  10. Flanerie | | #10

    I can't figure out what people see in Jay's designs. I didn't think Jay's finale designs looked fashion forward at ALL! More like 80s redux - leg gaitors reminiscent of the 80s leg warmer trend, and the design with the little wings on the hip would make a size 0 look big in that area. . .very unflattering. . .just silly and costumey Star Trek looks, IMO. . .

  11. cassanneydra | | #11

    i don't understand why mila's collection was strong and graphic DESPITE being black and white. what other colors would be stronger or more graphic?
    the most fun was watching michael go to bat for jay. i don't recall him ever
    breaking a sweat before this. and i thought he was right that jay has more potential even though mila was more polished and complete.

  12. bjsuetterlin | | #12

    It seems to me that Jay has an obsession with fabric at the hip. He was warned several times this season about that, and yet, what does he show up with? I was confused when the the judges commented on his dress. Dress?? To me a dress has to have at least a little skirt--at least as long as Mila's. To me Jay was showing a tunic top. (To prove I'm really not a dried up old prune I have to say I admire a lot of Seth Aaron's pieces and think he will win.)

  13. fiberann | | #13

    Wow, Soli you absolutely expressed what I was thinking! I could wear Mila's work and best of all, most of it is pretty timeless. With changes of accessories to meet whatever the current scene requires, you could invest in garments like these and be happy with them for years and years. That's the kind of clothing I like. I will have to retract my comments from a couple episodes back, where I thought Mila was really losing her way.

    Jay's work is too overdone, for my tastes, but he has amazing potential and we should see his work around in the future. He needs to get over his fixation with hips--it seems to be the opposite of the fixation most of us have about hips! You would have to definitely have the hips of a model to wear most of his things.

    Seth's tailoring is incredible, although, once again, most of those garments wouldn't be for me. But I love the look anyway.

    I don't understand how Emelio got so many wins. His look isn't cohesive, not well fitting, mainly meh.

    Kate W, I like your recommendations. I hope PR people read comments like yours and take such suggestions to heart. I think PR would be a much better show for it.

    I, too, enjoy reading the comments from the sewing community.

  14. sews4fun | | #14

    I REALLY liked Mila's coat and the dress underneath. I didn't much care for the houndstooth checked tunic top or whatever it was but I DID think Mila's collection showed more classic lines and is much more wearable than anyone elses. Mila pleasantly surprised me and I hope she does well at Bryant park. I didn't think Koor's was very surportive of Mila's work and his praise of Jay was unfounded. I thought Jay had some interesting things and I liked the pocket dress or top or whatever it was but it wouldnt look good on most of the population since most of us do not wear a size 2 and live on diet water all our lives. Then Jay had some costumes right out of the sc-fi channel. From what I've seen of emillio, he sure doesnt deserve to win, his stuff looks dated in a bad way and is this the same person who has continually won the challenges on P.R. all season long? I bet Seth Aaron will come up with something interesting, his stuff is a bit "out there" for me but all of his sci-fi gothic space gear is always well tailored. I hope he doesn't take Tim's advice to heart too much, while he may be "out there" I don't relish the idea of him putting something on the runway like "Aunt Bea meets June Cleaver" sort of stuff. Even a goth Judy Jetson is more interesting than aunt Bea!

  15. stsimon | | #15

    I'm probably the only person living in New York City who thinks that black clothes, and also black and white clothes, are boring. With a black wardrobe, you never have to think about your clothes, just grab and go. Obviously, there's a lot more thought in Mila's collection, but honestly, will she do only black and white collections for her whole life? Rooted so strongly in retro and minimalism, will her designs progress in future years?

    The collection that I thought was consistently beautiful was Jay's. If I were 20, and if I were going to an event in Soho, I would yearn for one of his outfits. I loved his beautiful use of greys, and I thought that the proportions of his clothes made them feminine and wearable (I don't mean to go to the supermarket!)despite the hard sci-fi edge. He's not the only one of the ten designers' collections shown on the Blogging Project Runway site that used those weird hip thingies, and where they appear in his clothes, they are balanced by other parts of the design. Another aspect that I liked was that his curvy clothes emphasized the models' waists. Other designers had flashes of brilliance during the season, but seemed to be treading water in their final collections. Jay,and Mila, I'll grant, moved forward in their final collections well past what they had created earlier.

  16. User avater
  17. dlgiles | | #17

    I think the judges made the Jay-Mila decision based on a certain balance they were looking for in the final 3. The combination of Seth Aaron, Emilio, and Mila will bring very different looks and perspectives, which will be interesting. Of course, Jay would have been interesting, too, but think about it--we've now got an out-there Seth Aaron, a retro chic Mila, and a (usually) balanced/glamorous Emilio. I think the final runway is going to be great!

  18. dlgiles | | #18

    I think the judges made the Jay/Mila decision based on a certain balance they're looking for in the final three. The combination of out-there Seth Aaron + retro-chic Mila + sophisiticated-glamorous (usually) Emilio will bring a lot of variation to the runway. Jay would certainly be interesting to see, but I think he needs to mature a bit in his taste. I am very much looking forward to the final runway. This has been a great season, and I'm so glad it's been in NYC!

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