‘Runway’ recap: We have a winner

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imageAll three finalists on Season 7’s finale of “Project Runway” brought their A-game. True “wow” moments from Mila, Emilio and Seth Aaron helped the final runway overcome a less-than inspiring overall season.

Seth Aaron went first and brought a sophistication to the aesthetic we already loved and took it to the next level (top three photos). Despite a purple bubble dress that didn’t work and made the model’s ass look terrible, the rest of his collection was innovative, playful and chic.

imageMixing patterns from graphic houndstooth and stripes to dainty dots and popping plaid, most of Seth’s pieces were wearable on the street, but he styled them to put on a show. Adding funky hats, patterned leggings and fun gloves let us know this is Fashion Week, not the rack at Macy’s.

Mila’s black-and-white signature (middle two photos) was less a departure from her work throughout the season, but her execution was impeccable. Her most inspired pieces mixed patterns and textures that took her ‘60s vibe and modernized it.

imageMila took the judges’ advice by roughing up her models’ makeup and rocking out their hairstyles, bringing her retro aesthetic into the 21st Century. It worked. If she had chosen one “pop” color for accents—and not a few muted egglplant dresses—the collection would have gone to its highest potential.

Like the judge’s told him, Emilio’s collection (bottom two photos) was by far the most commercial of the three. We initially thought his color combinations of turquoise, red and pea green were odd, but on the runway, the colors popped and drew a few gasps of delight out of us. Unlike the others, he also gave one show-stopping gown at the end; unfortunately, it didn’t connect with the rest of his collection.

imageDeparting from his mostly flowy, feminine challenges during the season, he did a lot of suiting with jackets, coats and even pants with more structure than he’s shown in the past. The few clues we had prior to the runway looked matronly on the hangers and mannequins. Now that we’ve seen it, we realize that he’s bringing back the ‘90s, just in time for the 20-year fashion cycle.

While we loathe his arrogance, we must hand it to Emilio, we were impressed.

On the judges’ runway, all three contestants received glowing reviews. Guest judge Faith Hill opined over Emilio’s collection, repeating that she was “blown away by this guy.”

imageThe other judges agreed but felt a lack of showmanship for a New York Fashion Week show. They loved it, but as Michael Kors said, they would have liked to have seen the “volume knob cranked up just a bit.” He said it was more of a line than a collection, and having heard it, we see his point.

And like us, they hated Seth’s purple dress but admired his showmanship, creativity, tailoring—and perhaps most importantly, how much he grew from the regular season to the final runway. We have to agree. Heidi and Faith were already shopping for several pieces out of the collection they’d like to own.

imageMila heard a few “concerns” that her show wasn’t “surprising” enough. They called it chic and praised her ability to mix patterns, and again, both Heidi and Faith picked out pieces they’d wear themselves.

In the final minutes, Mila was sent off with praise. Emilio was so excited about his upcoming win, and when it didn’t happen, he was visibly shaken. Seth Aaron took home the title.

Heidi said they were both deserving, but that only one could win. We are happy that it was Seth because we like his progressive aesthetic as much as we like him. We loved the win even more when he and his son both cried tears of joy after the announcement.

It was a mixed, if not full-on disappointing, season. The wrong contestants were sent home before their time several weeks, some of the better designers never got their spotlight (Ben, for example), and there were few show-stopping garments.

But in the end, we think three finalists did an amazing job in the finale show that negated many of those missteps and gave us that old “Project Runway” feeling again.

Click any of the photos here for larger versions or see all the collections in the Rate the Runway section on the official “Project Runway” page at MyLifetime.com. You can also catch up on our “Runway” recaps from each episode this season.

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