Photo: Lifetime

Well, That Was U.N.-expected

A United Nations final runway challenge leads to a somewhat surprising result in the PRAS finale. What to watch, what to FF.

The Challenge

I…should I even bother? Alyssa Milano looks dreadful once again: she's wearing China-Chow-stylee buttondown with shoulder wings, which is a smart choice, but with a sarong-ish skirt that bunches around her middle, shoe-ties that cut her off at the ankles some more, and an unflattering topknot 'do. (I guess that's redundant. The topknot just isn't attractive, ever.) A-line skirt, boss, for the love of little apples. She congratulates the finalists, then tells them they have four days to create a collection with their "heritage" as the inspiration. They'll also visit UN HQ and meet with an undersecretary and some delegates -- and they'll show at UN HQ as well.


Korto's story of a friend of her family from church paying her way through design school is so sweet, and we learn about gold Spanish soil thanks to Seth Aaron's Spanish heritage…and the Ukraine delegate Elena's talking to is keeee-yoot! But: it's the finale. Show some sewing.

Sketching. Flag colors. Traditional garments.


The designers have two grand to spend. Amid the rushing about, Elena explains about overlaying wool with leather to create texture and color-blocking. Korto is choosing among gorgeous yellow prints that I can't wear AT all and so I hope she makes a skirt that I can buy and not have next to my face. Seth Aaron is wearing rad printed shorts.


Korto is doing her looks in runway order, which I think is a smart idea psychologically. Less smart-seeming: Seth Aaron going straight to cutting without making any muslins. Elena jokes about freaking out already, and the other two are like, please no, we can't with this; Seth Aaron interviews that Elena didn't think she'd get that far, and she's in over her head, while snipping away at a patent-leather fabric.

On Day 2, Elena wishes aloud, oh you know no reason, that she wishes they had "some help" to do six looks in four days. Korto picks a wedgie -- love it -- while Seth Aaron re-pins a bright-red maxi dress that I think he should just sew as is pronto and not mess with any further, because the paneling is boss (very Melissa Fleis, actually).

Final Zanna

Zanna Roberts Rassi appears in a super-blunt long bob that isn't the best, and warns Seth Aaron to watch his time management as Elena interviews that he has "editing issues" and his looks can come off "either dated or cartoony." Truth. Zanna eyeballs Elena's puzzle-piece sleeves without comment while Korto interviews that she hopes Elena does go for it with her dream collection she didn't get to do in her season -- because it's exactly what the judges didn't like at that time. Brr. Zanna's like, you have one and a half coats done and two days to go: "This is All-Stars, babe."

Korto tells Zanna about her "very Americanized" version of Liberian fashion; Zanna warns her about the tailoring on some pieces with extra width while Seth Aaron interviews that Korto's collection is "beautiful," but needs more excitement.

Workroom II: Helpers

The fashion gods heard Elena's plea -- read: "that moment was probably taped later/supplied by a producer" -- and produced some assistants for the finalists to lean on for 24 hours: Sebelia for Seth Aaron, Viktor for Elena, and a Team-Korto-t-shirt-clad Palu for Korto. Aw.

Korto wasn't psyched to actually make the chiffon dress in her collection, so she punts that to Palu; Viktor starts on accessories for Elena; Sebelia wonders why Seth Aaron isn't doing quick muslin versions of his designs. Sebelia says it "doesn't look thought out," but Seth Aaron's like, I'm cutting it anyway, fuck it, and I wish they'd get to the drama this is going to cause already.

Instead, they get to manufactured drama, finding Milano in a cute royal-blue leather dress (yay!) to provide a twist: add a seventh look to your collections, using Theodora and Callum scarves and making them at least 50 percent of your look. Gorgeous fabrics; annoying last-minute change-up, but at the same time it's so predictable that any designer who didn't leave extra time for exactly this eventuality deserves whatever happens. But Elena didn't, so Elena is crying that she hates the print while Viktor tries to snap her out of it all "it's so you." Palu and Korto exchange "bitch, please" looks. Viktor says his mom used to tell him, "Don't drown in a cup of water," and Elena finally gets over it, right before the assistants have to leave.

Last Day

The models roll in; the designers praise themselves and talk shit about each other, "Spanish Halloween" this, she's too samey that. We see the designers working on various complicated techniques, but it's edited really fast and we don't get any explanation or focus on it, which is too bad.

Runway Day

Everyone's more or less under control and just doing last-minute alterations. Oh, and fluffing QVC, Mary Kay, and Alterna.

I love Korto's snake-head hoops.


The show is in the main rostrum of the UN (allowing cameras into that room for the first time ever; gotta wonder what that's about), and we watch judges and past designers file in. Milano appears in a strapless floor-length pink-leopard shiny gown with a sweetheart neckline that inverts the usual Milano outfit by being hideous, yet flattering on her. Not a great hair story.

We greet the judges -- Chapman, Le Miz, Zac Posen (yay!), and Gayle King (henh?) -- and then it's on to the show.

Elena's first. The cutout wool coats and coatdresses over fit/flare skirts, with tights and booties? I would wear the shit out of these; they look comfy and warm, but also chic, and cute, but not too young. I'm not sure about the blue pleather skirt, but I love the rounded shoulder -- very slimming -- and the acid yellow is good for a few seasons. Love the long band on that one shirtsleeve. It looks well made, and there isn't much variety but it's cohesive and it would sell like whoa at Uniqlo.

Seth Aaron called his collection "Olé!", which is silly, and the sexy-librarian styling on his models is meant to nod to his own giant glasses, but just reads dowdy, along with the forward-tilted Gibson-girl hairstyles -- GOD I hate that look. It's, like, everything I hate about Jessa from Girls. The dresses are mostly simple silhouettes, not necessarily cut so well that he can get away with the somewhat indifferent shapes; the laser-cut-neoprene-looking pantsuit is cheap-looking. The scarf dress is cut beautifully, but goes back to that Delia's place he sometimes gets stuck in. And we barely see the red dress I'd looked forward to, except to see that he added bell sleeves, which I don't love. Nothing hideous, but nothing gorgeous either. Felt like he didn't push.

Last but not least, Korto. Love the tribal-makeup styling paired with resort-y pieces. Love the fabrics, too; it's a lot of cuts I can't wear -- backless; midriff cutouts; cascading pepla -- but that dress with the pearlized mantle? Want. I would totally Milano that and wear it even though it's a wretched color on me and bound to make me look pregnant. Korto's is just fun, confident and proud. I'd even consider the jumpsuit! (Wrongly, but still.)


One last full-length tour of the prize package, Milano reviews the season's challenges, and then FINALLY it's on to the judging, which happens solo while the other designers wait in the lounge.

Chapman loves the draping in Seth Aaron's but "question[s]" the fishnet ensemble. Le Miz admires that he got brights with black to work, but calls the styling "a disaster." Posen likes the elegance of the simple white dress, though he isn't a fan of the pant lengths. "Architectural … but still feminine" is Milano's decree. They do point out positive details I missed, but overall I'm not feeling what the judges are as far as it being on-trend and memorable.

Le Miz "had such a moment" with the first classic-Elena coatdress. Me too! But step away, it's mine! It's very sophisticated in terms of cut, he says, but the pants don't fit. Chapman notes that the bubble skirts needed backing so they wouldn't collapse, but likes the humor; Milano is on point saying that Elena spends most of her time on the tops, and the bottoms get overlooked, and Posen adds to that that you have to send an immaculate pencil skirt down the runway if you go that way.

Korto's flattering, feminine silhouettes get raves, but Chapman isn't sure about the structured pieces; Posen agrees, and "the peplum story doesn't work" for him. Gayle calls yellow "my happy color too." Milano likes the different cuts on the same fabric. Le Miz says she's the most inventive with her vision of "how easy a woman's life can and should be," which Korto should put on her business cards. He wanted to "cry or something," seeing her designs. Aw.

In the lounge, nobody can call who's going to win.

More Judging

"Sometimes he goes off into this place which is a little frightening," Chapman says of Seth Aaron. Gayle wants his scarf dress; Milano and Posen both say he's very aware of the wow factor he needs on a runway, but they're not entirely in favor of that, also saying he should beware of getting too theatrical.

Chapman once again points to Korto's "effortless chic," but calls the mini-collection "kind of a mess" in the end -- too-short hemlines, fabrics not behaving, that sort of thing. But Le Miz had an emotional reaction to it, and Posen says that that sort of response "is everything."

Milano says Elena's strength, consistency, is also her weakness. Posen jokes, "Reputation is repetition" -- good line! -- and Gayle wants a designer who has a broader appeal, and just like that, Elena's out of the discussion. So it's down to Seth Aaron's runway eye vs. Korto's ready-to-wear aesthetic, and it's apples and sequins. Who wins? At this point in the episode, I'm betting Seth Aaron, though going in I would have said Korto, and she's the one I'm rooting for.


Elena is pageantishly declared "second runner-up." She's not pleased, but thanks the judges graciously and leaves. Milano taffy-stretches the outcome like a champ, and when it's a gossamer candy thread, at last: Seth Aaron. Well, okay. "I'm second place again, it is what it is," Korto sighs in an interview, then cracks, "Who gets to the finale as many times as I do!" Aw, Korto. Come over, we'll hang out.

The cast files out with champagne flutes. Seth Aaron is stunned at his win and thrilled to have "a double title"; I'm also somewhat stunned, and a bit confused, but I like Seth Aaron generally and I'm not going to take to the barricades or anything.


On the episode: fast forward until Viktor and his fan show up, as it's slow until outfits begin to take shape.

On the season: reeeeally weak start, but S3 got its legs under it around halfway through. Understanding and accepting that a good quarter of the running time will be spent on time-wasting infomercials is key to enjoying this franchise here in 2014, and while PRAS never figured out how to dress its intrepid host, it did seem to figure its shit out later on.

And speaking of Milano: big improvement over the previous model and big improvement within the season as well. But she needs to fire her stylist.

On the win: well, that didn't go how I thought it would, like, at all -- but the judges had sound reasoning for the decision and it didn't seem cocked up to me. Approved!

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