The designers are given $3,000 and have four days and free rein to create whatever kind of mini-collection they want, down to the number of pieces they’ll show. This makes sense, because the fewer parameters in place, the easier it is to declare Anthony Ryan the winner. It’s like playing Candyland with your older brother, who keeps changing the rules every time he’s losing.
Back at their hotel, the designers pull out their HP tablets for one last brainstorming/product placement session. The theme of Uli’s show will be Winter Wonderland, with lots of whites, creams, and detailing. Emilio’s theme is Urban Plantation and is in tribute to his mother, who worked in factories for 30 years. And Anthony Ryan’s collection is called the Thin Line, and is about “the light and the dark place that you balance yourself.” Of the three, his sounds the least like a viable theme for a cohesive collection, but there’s no time to fret about that, because it’s off to Mood.
There’s drama right away once the designers get back to the workspace; Carolyn shows up to inform them that they’ll each get to choose one assistant. All the previously eliminated designers trudge back in for a schoolyard-style pick, but when Anthony Ryan tries to pick Joshua, he shakes his head and says he’s just too tired. Emilio points out that you have to be in a pretty dark place to refuse your best friend your help, but both Joshua and Anthony Ryan defended Joshua’s choice on Twitter, citing exhaustion from the Paris trip. Anthony Ryan chooses Kayne instead, and Uli chooses Cassanova who, when asked if he’ll come back, says, “Yes, because I’m brown nose.” Emilio chooses Althea.
Hilarity immediately ensues between Cassanova and Uli because their styles are so different — he first offers to do patterns for her, and she responds that she never uses patterns, which sends him into a state of (mock?) outrage. He complains about not having his toolbox, and when Uli shows him her (admittedly small) pouch of sewing tools, he fumes, “She has nothing! I thought that was from your daughter! Go to the child care!” Oh, Cassanova. When you’re nearby, looming tragedy seems bearable.
Joanna comes by for her final round of critiques and immediately makes Uli promise to save her the fake-fur vest she’s making. (I’m not sure Joanna Coles would actually wear fake fur, but it’s still a nice gesture.) When Joanna expresses concern about Anthony Ryan’s black and yellow dress, he says, “Yeah, I thought it was a little bit bumblebee, but now it seems more like Speed Racer.” Judging from the look on Joanna’s face, this is not exactly an improvement. She’s very excited by the concept of Emilio’s collection and the depth of thought he’s put into it.
There’s a brief, obligatory montage where each designer talks about why they want to win: Emilio wants to give back to his parents, Uli wants to finally transcend the experience of growing up behind the Berlin Wall, and Anthony Ryan wants to win because otherwise he “can’t do this anymore.” Seriously, All Stars producers? Out of those backstories, you decided “I need to win because otherwise I’ll have to get a day job or something” was the most compelling narrative for your winner?
Finally it’s the day of the runway show, and a spectacularly overdressed Carolyn introduces guest judges Liv Tyler and Margherita Missoni. It’s a strong final three, as I’ve said, and each show is very good. Emilio’s features American-influenced fabrics, bold colors, "Dorothy Dandridge–style do-rags" (his description), and menswear-inspired womenswear. Anthony Ryan’s collection is bold, graphic, extremely well-sewn, and very similar to what we’ve seen from him all season. Uli’s winter wonderland is a weird, ethereal mix of fabrics and textures.
It’s the strongest Runway franchise finale in recent memory, and all three designers are very talented, but it’s Uli’s show that really feels like a collection, not a made-in-four-days assemblage of looks. Elie Tahari, who’s in the audience, agrees, saying that Uli’s show could be on any runway in the world.
The judges, of course, don’t agree with that assessment, and that means that the moral of this season — and probably all seasons of Runway and All Stars — is either “fashion is really subjective” or “reality television is rigged.” It’s probably both. That doesn’t make it any easier to hear the judges criticize collections as “cheap looking” when the designers only had four days to work, and it certainly doesn’t make it easier to hear Isaac refer to one of Anthony Ryan’s looks as “the best dress I’ve ever seen on Project Runway.” Seriously? Ever? In the end, Uli is the second runner up, followed by Emilio, and Anthony Ryan is the winner — or, as Uli said on Twitter, the recipient of Lifetime’s “golden handcuffs.” Preach.
Click through the slideshow to see all of this week’s looks!BEGIN SLIDESHOW
Most Viewed Stories
Josh Kushner, Ivanka Trump’s Brother-in-Law, Was Spotted at the Women’s March
Bernie Sanders Wore the Only Appropriate Outfit to Trump’s Inauguration
A Scene from the D.C. Women’s March
Kellyanne Conway Goes With a Subtle Look for the Inauguration
Here’s the Official List of Speakers for the Women’s March on Washington
15 Protest Sign Ideas for the Women’s March on Washington
Tiffany & Co. Unveils New Collaboration With NYPD: Branded Barricades by Trump Tower
Over 1 Million New York Women Will Have Access to Free Contraception and Abortions
The Complicated, Controversial, Historic, Inspiring Women’s March
The Women’s March Drew a Much Larger Crowd Than Trump’s Inauguration
From Our Partners
Who What Wear
powered by PubExchange
The Cut’s Latest Fashion FeaturesCiara's Wedding Dress Was Too Big for the Chapel
To be fair, it was a 13 foot-long dress.You and Rihanna Will Both Want to Invest in Dior’s New Bag
It's got something for everyone.Polo Shirts Have Turned Their Back on Ryan Lochte
Along with his other major sponsors.Ryan Lochte Will No Longer Be Paid to Wear Tiny Bathing Suits
Speedo remains committed to transparency.Laura Brown Is the New Editor-in-Chief of InStyle
After 11 years at Harper’s Bazaar.Tyra Banks Is Going to Teach a Class on Smizing at Stanford
"If I see somebody not paying attention, I’m gonna call on them."This Floating Pier Is the Most Zen Installation Ever
Walking on water in Italy.Nation Is Appalled by Matt Lauer’s Nude Ankles During Ryan Lochte Interview
What’s the opposite of “Jeah”?8 People at the Life of Pablo Pop-up Explain Why Kanye West Is a God
"I mean, Kanye West is just Kanye West. There's not more or less you can say about Kanye West. He's just Mr. West!"A T-shirt Is Enough
Simplicity, versatility, and cool. What more could you want?
She took a perfect pencil dive off a 30-foot yacht.American Apparel Is Being Sued by Former Workers
As the company considers putting itself up for sale.A Gendered History of the Tailored Suit
From Marlon Brando to Coco Chanel.How Zendaya Developed Such Great Style at the Young Age of 19
The star's best looks from Disney to now.Proof That If You’re Chic Enough, a Little Federal Investigation Doesn’t Matter
Is this the best they could do?5,300-Year-Old Mummified Iceman Probably Would’ve Been a Street-Style Star
He had several different looks and was “pretty picky.”J.Crew Has Identified 226 Shades of Pink
Even more than there are shades of gray.Gigi and Bella Hadid Merch Is Now Somehow a Thing That Is Happening
Today in Hadidiana.Gird Your Loins for the Return of Yeezy to New York Fashion Week
The season approaches.This Indie Brand Had a Great Response to Ivanka Trump
When she bought one of their cuffs, they donated the proceeds to the Clinton campaign.