The Friday finale runway show of “Project Runway” had so many designers that even its surprise guest judge had trouble keeping track.
“I remember pieces,” country singer Faith Hill said after the show, admitting that she hadn’t yet learned the names of the contestants that she’ll be critiquing. “If I had my book in front of me, I would be able to remember. But I just remember the pieces so vividly.”
To prevent the audience from leaking the identities of the show’s final three contestants, “Runway’s” remaining 10 designers all offered collections, turning a normally refined runway into a whirlwind of faces, names and genres. Even with the larger number of lines, many themes repeated in the designers’ pieces: military, industrial colors, sportswear, the 1940s and conversely, back-to-the-future looks.
Jay Nicolas Sario and Jesse LeNoir referenced the military uniform, ranging from Sario’s futuristic urban warrior to LeNoir’s costumey pinups reminiscent of World War II nurses — and flight attendants. Seth Aaron Henderson claimed his inspiration was “1940s Russian-Germany military.”
Other designers found inspiration in nature, including Jonathan Peters and Janeane Marie Ceccanti. Peter said his aviary theme was “an experiment in volume and a celebration of all things insect.” Ceccanti’s mantra was “things that aren’t alive but grow anyway, like crystals.”
Fan favorites like Mila Hermanovski and Anthony Williams presented cohesive, wearable lines. Hermanovski, who has notched several wins on the show, offered striped knitwear in cocoon and batwing shapes. Williams showed cocktail dresses and evening wear embellished with floaty ruffles, sparkling ombres of paillettes and swishy fringe.
Ben Chmura cited "The Martian Chronicles" as his inspiration.
By far the most interesting, though least wearable, were Amy Sarabi’s pleats-and-prints separates. A white pantsuit looked like it had various water stains that formed an ethereal pattern, while an off-white knit dressed exploded with pleats that draped the body haphazardly.
Though judges Michael Kors and Nina Garcia both said before the finale that the latest season — the show’s seventh — its most directional in terms of the contestants’ styles, to show mentor Tim Gunn, there was only one designer who stood out. But he’s not naming any names.
“I’ve never seen a season of ‘Project Runway’ that has had such a distinctive point of view among a group of designers,” he said furtively after the presentation. “Any of the 10 could rise to the top, to be honest.”
Reuters contributed to this report.