Watch Project Runway New Zealand on TVNZ 2 on demand.
This is it you guys, the final episode is finally here. And much like the episode itself, I’m going to keep it brief, succinct and get straight to it.
Last week we saw the final four designers create a piece befitting of their own personal collection. Ball gown queen Judy Gao lacked confidence in her vision delivering a final look that fell flat and ultimately sent her home. But fear not, fans of Judy, for Project Runway was only the beginning. Turns out, this one-to-watch has been invited to show in Paris – plus, is in talks of a bridal collection. Well, that’s what she told us following her elimination anyhow.
With Judy’s exit, Whanganui pattern maker Kerry, 33, and Aucklanders Jess and Benjamin, both 23, remain in the competition.
Scroll for this week’s recap:
Georgia and Andreas meet the remaining designers at the runway to brief them on their final challenge. Georgia is wearing a pearl choker. I pause the episode to find out where I can get my mitts on one. I discover it’s Mercantile and $245. Maybe not. Although… Santa? *Sends link to boyfriend.*
I resume play.
The designers have $2,000 and three weeks to design a five look capsule piece collection that embodies their design aesthetic, including the look they created in last week’s challenge.
The winner of TVNZ 2’s Project Runway New Zealand, however, will come away with their very own Holden Astra, a cash prize of $50,000, and a six page editorial shoot in Fashion Quarterly magazine. (And we have it on good authority that the latter is kind of a big deal!)
This is the last time the designers will be essentially working in the same room together. Andreas probes for their vision before they set off. Kerry and Jess don’t hesitate to think out loud. But, of course, Benjamin keeps his collection a surprise. Move over Austin Powers, there’s a new international man of mystery in town.
During the Challenge
We just cut to Jess in the workroom who’s miraculously sketched her 5 designs and half-assembled them on the mannequins behind her. Anyone else suffering a mad whiplash right now? “I’m convinced you’ll make it work,” Andreas on Jess’s collection.
We check in with Kerry who’s working in what looks like a compact dark workroom belonging to another designer in the industry. Fabric swatches in erratic prints and colours are strewn across his mood boards. It’ll be interesting to see if he evolves his use of colour from his chartreuse number last week or whether he recedes. Either way, I’m just praying he does it in good taste.
Benjamin’s studio is –as you’d expect – in a white open industrial space with lots of natural light. His pieces hang on the rails. The palette: monochrome. The texture: one dimensional. Andreas urges him to play with texture and colour as he did with last week’s look. Will Benjamin take this on board or will he dig his heels in?
I guess we’ll just have to wait until the runway – Oh wait, it shouldn’t be long. We’re less than 8 minutes into the episode and we’ve progressed as far as the day of the runway. Part of me hopes that the rest of the episode continues at this fast, punchy pace, but the reality is that it just means the deliberation will be hella drawn out (most likely).
Jess is so honest. Honest about her collection – flaws and all. Benjamin just listens, shielding his collection in garment bags. Kerry arrives fashionably late. Andreas is not impressed but at least it gives Benjamin and Jess something to bitch about. Ahhh, who am I kidding? The producers probably put him up to this.
Unlike other episodes, instead of scanning over the Maybelline beauty zone and the Schwarzkopf hair studio, there’s a strong emphasis on understanding the thought behind each designers’ beauty look as it relates to the story behind the design.
Following hair and makeup, the models stand dressed and ready to go. I have a quick glance at the three tribes of models each with the own vibe. Jess’s girl gang fuelled sheer awesomeness. Benjamin’s effortless, understated, and confident. And Kerry, well, his sort of forms a dark cloud in the corner. This is one serious crew. Which is surprising because throughout the season all he’s delivered is a myriad of interesting colour combinations. Right now I’m seeing a lot of black. But if there’s anything working in retail taught me, it’s that Kiwi women ~love~ black. Going for that
sex black sells methodology, Kerry?
Judging this week’s final is Fashion Quarterly magazine editor Sally-Ann Mullin, WORLD director and designer Benny Castles, supermodel and host Georgia Fowler, and guest judges stylist Kylie Cooke and fashion designer and winner of Project Runway US Season 13 Sean Kelly.
Normally, I’d summarise the judges’ comments following each look, but given that there are five looks per designer and this is the final (after all), it’s best you just shoot on over to TVNZ 2 OnDemand to hear what they have to say. But if you’re just eager to pour over the garments, up close and personal, you’ve come to the right place.
Scroll for the final runway looks from the final of Project Runway New Zealand:
So, who wins the first season of Project Runway New Zealand?
Kerry is the first to go. Georgia, who usually springs up to hug each designer as they’re dismissed each week, just sits there before permitting Kerry to leave the runway. But that’s okay because little does Kerry know, his family is all waiting for him backstage.
Rather than using his chartreuse lace suit as the starting point for the remainder of his collection like fellow designers Jess and Benjamin, Kerry used it as the endpoint. While the judges couldn’t fault Kerry for his technical ability and impeccable tailoring, there wasn’t enough for the judges to vibe. In fact, when it came to his elimination, they didn’t even produce a reason.
Benjamin has been a strong contender from week one; it’s no wonder he took this out. But with Jess’s swift ascent and fire lit from under propelling her to the top, there was a high chance she could, in fact, take it out. A joyful colour palette and brave, creative designs versus intelligent “breathtaking” designs that are daring yet wearable was the result of the judges’ deliberations.
When Georgia congratulates dumbstruck Benjamin on winning, Jess giggles before becoming a bumbling tearful mess. She’s happy for him, she’s happy for herself and I’m getting super emotional watching what feels like the first raw unscripted elimination in the entire series (but, like, happily?).
Benjamin might be taking home the title and the cold hard cash but in all reality, they’re both winners. Such skill, maturity and self-assurance at the tender age of 23. They’re not perfect; they both have room to grow, but they’re unapologetically honest and authentic. Of everyone’s designs throughout the competition, theirs are the most wearable and yet push style boundaries in so many regards without being far-fetched. I can’t wait to follow their journeys (and resume my Monday evening barre classes).
Until season 2 (that’s if they do one, I’m just speculating here), au revoir!