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It's time for the finale of Project Runway's Eleventh Season—the season of teams. Last week Daniel bit the dust, thanks to an all black mini collection that put the judges to sleep. His "aufing" left us with our top three designers for the season: "Type A" Stanley, tough girl Michelle, and artsy craftsy Patricia.
In response to the judges' harsh critiques last episode, things kick off this week with the three finalists trying to polish their collections. Stanley needs to make his glam designs younger and more contemporary. Michelle must cut down on an overabundance of accessories and hardware—as well as clean up her models' styling. And Patricia, well, we're not exactly clear on what Patricia's notes were—but we're pretty sure they involved horse hair.
After a quick trip to Mood (with special attention paid to Swatch!), the designers return to the workroom to complete their collections. Michelle, who is very organized, finishes most of her work quickly, but Patricia has more to do—including searching for a couple of her pieces, which she's lost in her own overflowing bags. Unfortunately. Stanley has so many changes to make to his designs that he may as well be starting a new collection from scratch.
Ironically, in a season that began with the designers hating that they were forced to work on teams, the three finalists are more supportive of each other during the finale than contestants from any previous season. Michelle packs up Stanley's designs to give him more time to work, all three designers hold hands and Michelle and Patricia whisper, "I love you" to each other on the runway. It seems that all that mandatory teamwork in the beginning led them to help each other in the end—when for once they didn't need to.
Our special guest judge for the finale is Michael Kors, who is, of course, the best guest judge, ever. Oh Michael, we had no idea how much we missed you until you came back! Michael and Zac Posen seemed to get along very well, with no visible competitiveness, but Nina and Heidi are at odds. During the deliberations, while Heidi gushes over Patricia's work, Nina looks like a mother-in-law being forced to eat her daughter-in-law's cooking.
During Fashion Week, at the actual live show the collections were shown anonymously, with no intros by their creators. On this finale episode, however, thanks to a second filmed run through in front of a small audience of insiders and the magic of editing, it appears that each designer personally presented their collection to a packed house. When anyone with a computer can find out the truth with one quick Google search, we're not sure why the producers bother.
A Stanley Design
After the runway show and much deliberation, the judges announce the Season Eleven final results. In third place, despite an impressive run of challenge wins this season, is Stanley. Although he raised most of his hemlines and reworked the majority of his designs, Stanley's collection still comes off as dated and a bit old, inspiring descriptions like, "It's Betty White on Dancing With the Stars," and, "The mother of the bride left it behind in her hotel room." (Yes, it's nice having Michael back!)
Stanley did a lot of great work during the season, so we're not sure what went wrong with his final collection.
One of Patricia's Designs, With Real Horse Hair!
Coming in second is Patricia—despite Executive Producer Heidi's fan-girl obsession with her. Just like the Gretchen over Mondo win of Season Eight, Nina's opinion trumps Heidi's.
While most of the judges love the Native American inspiration of Patricia's work and are impressed that she dyed her own fabrics and hammered her own metal embellishments, they worry that the collection is not cohesive enough, and question whether they should give a win to someone who will probably only be designing on a smaller, less commercial level.
One of Michelle's Designs
Our winner this season, despite quite a few mean-girl interviews, is Michelle. Her wolf-inspired collection of cutting-edge clothing (which showed significantly better in person than on television) looks expensive and fashion forward. The judges love her "Bleeding Heart" sweater, the same sweater that Tim Gunn begged her to dump.
After her unusual save a couple of weeks ago, many will question whether Michelle's victory was fair. Perhaps it wasn't, but having seen all the collections in person, we agree that hers definitely deserved the win. And if the early morning sell out of her Lord & Taylor challenge dress was any indication, she has the potential to do very well commercially.
Season Eleven Winner: Michelle Lesniak Franklin!
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