October 23, 2013

TV Talk: Dom's Da Bomb On Project Runway

Lifetime's Project Runway Season 12 finalists Bradon McDonald, Justin LeBlanc, Alexandria von Bromssen, and winner Dom Streater.

Lifetime’s reality television competition show Project Runway  Season 12 - Finale, Part 1 ended with Heidi Klum bidding designer Helen Castillo auf wiedersehen, and designers Justin LeBlanc and Alexandria von Bromssen advancing to the next round. They joined fellow designers Dom Streater and Bradon McDonald, who advanced directly to compete for the half a million dollar prize, and the final runway show at New York’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week.

The Project Runway  judges were Heidi Klum, Nina Garcia, and Zac Posen. Actress Kerry Washington joined the panel as the guest judge.

First up at New York’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week was Justin LeBlanc. Justin has a degree in architecture and a passion for fashion.  Justin was eliminated during episode six “Let’s Go Glamping,” and Tim Gunn used his “save” to veto the judges decision to send the North Carolina native home.

I have to say that after watching every episode of every season, that no single designer impressed me more than Justin LeBlanc. He’s a gay deaf man who had to work his ass off to make it to the finals. Justin never had a bad word to say about his fellow competitors, and was eager to interact with the judges, and hear their criticism of his work, so that he could improve each week.

During the course of Season 12, Justin spoke about how people defined and dismissed him due to his disability, and his collection reflected his personality and journey in life. His collection was very personal, and each garment had clean lines and a linear sensibility that was honest and pure. He embraced technology and 3D printing to design and produce wearable art that complemented his garments, and made you want to see more.

Philadelphia native Dom Streater followed Justin, and her collection was elegant and exuberant. She designed and produced her own gorgeous textiles, that were sophisticated and beautiful. Throughout Season 12, Dom was steady and sure. She produced consistently good work, as she worked in Helen Castillo and Bradon McDonald’s shadow, because they won the most weekly challenges.

Dom’s work in the final episode was nearly perfect, and the only look that I didn’t like was a bathing suit. She designed cocktail dresses, evening wear, and jumpsuits, that were styled flawlessly, and I knew that Dom Streater produced a collection that was a winner. I don’t know if her design sense was impacted at all by Diane von Furstenberg, but I couldn’t help but see her influence on Dom’s gorgeous collection.

Bay area fashion designer Alexandria von Bromssen opened her show with her unconventional material garment made from old phone books, which was smashing. I thought her entire collection was the most commercial, as I could envision every look in a department store. Alexandria’s separates were easy and breezy, and I felt that her design’s reflected her San Francisco home.

Alexandria was earnest and hard working, and I can’t help but wonder if she over thought some of her designs. While her collection was cohesive, she focused on separates and trousers, in largely neutral colors, that lacked the design diversity reflected in Dom’s collection. Regardless, I think Alexandria did a fantastic job, and her hard work and attention to detail, really won me over.

Of the final 4 fashion designers remaining, Bradon McDonald won the most challenges over the course of Season 12, and he was an early favorite to win Project Runway. He was incredibly creative and fearless, and I was pulling for the former dancer all season.

Bradon wears his heart on his sleeve, and I admire that. For some reason, I couldn’t relate to his New York’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week collection at all. While he chose luxe fabrics, and had some interesting individual pieces, I wondered where the designer went that worked so hard during the course of the season.

Somehow Bradon lost his way, and I couldn’t help but wonder who he was designing his collection for.  Some of the looks were more appropriate for an old lady than a young model, and the lack of cohesiveness resulted in him being eliminated first.

Dom Streater was aptly crowned the winner of Project Runway  Season 12, and Alexandria von Bromssen was the runner-up. Justin LeBlanc finished in third place, and Bradon finished in fourth. I can’t help but wonder how Helen Castillo might have impacted the final runway show.

Dom, Alexandria, Justin, Bradon, and Helen, have lots of reasons to be proud of their performance on one of the most enduring reality competition shows on television.

Lifetime’s Project Runway has a winning formula that’s still compelling, and is a real joy to watch. Both Season 11 and Season 12 produced great TV, and I’m looking forward to the third edition of Project Runway All-Stars that starts tomorrow night.

Project Runway  and Project Runway All-Stars  airs every Thursday night on Lifetime at 9pm Eastern and 8pm Central time.

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