Project Runway Power Rankings, week 11: The end is nigh

In the eleventh episode of Project Runway New Zealand, the designers had to make a look representing their hypothetical spring/summer line. Henry Oliver ranks the results and predicts the ultimate winner.

Ahhhhh the final challenge. Traditionally, the first chance the designers have to just make something they want to make. No herbal soft drinks, no shopping malls, no rubbish dumps. No themes, no trends, no restrictions. Just show-us-who-you-are-as-a-designer in two days and with $500. Capture the essence of a potential collection in one look. All you need to do is make something amazing, something representative of your aesthetic, and something that makes the judges (and, in turn, us at home) want to see more.

Easy!

We tend to think of Project Runway as a design competition. And it is – the ultimate winner is usually (but not always) the best designer. But as much as it is a design competition, it is also a game show that just happens to incorporate fashion design. And, as the end of the season draws close, you should know by now which designers are better at the game, and which are better at the competition. And if you didn’t know, there’s one way to find out – an open brief. Don’t tell the designers what to do and you’ll see what they can do. And tonight’s episode did just that.

4. Judy

It was sadly obvious that Judy was going to be the weakest link here. Her lack of skill and experience has become more and more glaring as she got further and further in the competition. She said her design was about letting go of perfection and embracing the imperfection, which is all well and good, but maybe incorporating that concept into her skillset rather than trying to do something she doesn’t know how to do at all would have been a better idea. A collection of Judy gowns probably isn’t going to win the competition, but a home-run gown could have got her into the finale if she’d pushed it and herself in the right way.

But with this, shit… it’s all over the place. The zips, the shoulders, the construction. This was both too safe (aesthetically) and not safe enough (skill-wise). Judy should be super happy, though. Fourth is amazing for someone who’d only made barely-constructed gowns before. So that’s a win in itself. Expect to see her work on the red carpet of the New Zealand Music Awards next year.

JUDY (PHOTOS: SUPPLIED)

3. Kerry

I like this! A fluoro, goth clown outfit. In a good way. BUT, if you discount the colour (if you can discount the colour) is it, dare I say, a little boring?

Here’s what I like: the colour, the cut of the pants, the clown collar and cuffs. Actually, I like the cut of the whole thing. It fits amazingly. And one of the things I like about the colour is how un-Kerry it is. He’s done so much gold and navy and dark red, that colour-palette seemed like the obvious choice for Kerry’s collection, so the fluoro yellow was a welcome surprise. He also took the judge’s critiques to heart and edited down his ideas into a slick, simple outfit. Did it blow my mind? No. But was it more tasteful and more basic (in a good way) than what you’d have thought Kerry was both capable of and interested in. Not the start of a must-see collection though.

Will he win?

No.

KERRY (PHOTOS: SUPPLIED)

2. Jess

I’m so into competitive, IDGAF Jess. She’s living her best TV life when she’s all “I’m gonna win this,” “you better step up,” “I’m this shit.” (These are all paraphrased and not actual quotes, BTW. Just the vibe.) Anyway, Jess’s braggadocio runs right through her red and pink overalls. And that’s what I love about it.

She said it was time to show her most authentic self and this look, while not my favourite thing she’s done (that’s still the long coat from early in the season), it’s the most her. And that’s what the challenge was about, showing us and the judges what you can do and what you would do if given the chance.

So… what’s good about it? The colour and the materials are bold and fun, the shirt is great, and the jacket’s fine. But put all together it’s a great outfit. What’s not good about it? The diagonal bits across the crotch are weird. I know I bring this up every couple of weeks, but if you’re going to do something designy around the crotch, it has to be perfect. PERFECT. Otherwise, just keep it simple and leave the frills and the pleats for other parts of the body.

(Side note: it was hilarious and odd to suddenly give all this airtime to Jess’s model Heidi who said the dress made her feel like a rose, a Turkish Delight and a marshmallow.)

Throughout the competition, Jess has thrown shit at the wall and sometimes it’s really stuck. This was one of those times. Can she throw a collection of shit at the wall and have it all stick? I doubt it.

Will she win?

No.

JESS (PHOTOS: SUPPLIED)

1. Benjamin

Benjamin, pouty Benjamin. Rebellious Benjamin. “You’re told as a kid that you should get a good job and just earn money and all that shit,” he pouted. “But I’ve never been interested in any of that. I’ve just always done whatever I want, what I feel is right and I hate being told what to do.” (Jokes! I actually liked him saying that because it reminded me what it was like to be young, which is a valuable reminder.)

Anyway, this was both exactly what I expected from Benjamin, who is clearly the most talented designer in the show. It has the billowing, puffiness that we’ve seen in various challenges but turns it way up, taking it out of the high contrasting colours he’s always used (black, navy, white, light pink) and into this mouldy golden brown.

Was it perfect? No. The construction was off (“This is a design competition and I’m a designer. I’m not a seamstress,” he pouted), but the design was the most compelling thing on the runway tonight and an obvious start to a collection that I’m the most excited to see more of.

Will he win?

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Yes.

Will he be happy about it?

Barely.

BENJAMIN (PHOTOS: SUPPLIED)


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