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Project Runway: Junior Crowns Its Second Champion

After the final collections are shown in L.A. (ew), one kid goes out on top, while the others are left to tote their own garment bags home.

Catching Up With The Kids

The final kids gather for their final stretch of semi-panic in the workroom at FIDM in L.A. Hawwaa is still reveling in her defeat of Tieler, but at least her lips are a normal color.

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Meanwhile, Chris is happy to be the traditional one boy in the four-girls-and-a-boy finale (when I die, it will be on a pyre à la Myrtle Snow, screaming "Zachaaaaaarrrrrrrry"). Chelsea's working on processing the whole situation.

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Izzy's too busy painting shoes to really reflect.

Werking The Workroom

Maybe watch if you're into Tim's subtle shade (the way he pronounces "Hawwaa" when naming the final four masks his disdain only with...contempt), but otherwise the only thing you need to know is that

1. Alyssa Milano drops by.

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2. She introduces a video message from Georgina Chapman.

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It's sweet? Or a not so low-key way to pimp Project Runway: All-Stars. You choose!

Tim Checks In

With only two days left before the final runway, Tim finally finds the time to gift the kids with his unfiltered judgment. Luckily (for us), Chris and his "New York-inspired collection" are up first; the ironic drollness with which Tim promises he "always love[s] a New York collection" is a contradiction wrapped in a suffocating hug that makes you feel warm inside.

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The first thing Tim suggests axing is the "baby blue-slash-turquoise" accent color, while the second is a really unfortunate pair of perforated shorts. It's all too much for Chris, who winds up "shaken up" with "a lot to process" after the critique, but at least Tim pays him the compliment of saying "some pieces are stronger than others."

As Tim moves on to Chelsea's collection, he becomes (even more) pensive.

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While she describes her inspiration story (moment of silence for Chelsea's commitment to stories with powerful female ninjas), he picks over certain fabrics, calling them "cheap and tawdry." In her defense, Chelsea literally says, "I'm a tenth-grader!" in her talking head, which: fair point. Tim also then decrees that Chelsea must remove some navy leather sleeves from an otherwise floral dress, before snatching up the tawdry fabric to take home.

Fortunately, Tim adopts a better mood upon arriving at Izzy's station, despite the fact that her collection is basically repeated variations of a look we've already seen from her. He has high praise, saying that she's managed to elevate a basic track jacket, but that doesn't sit too well with Hawwaa, who tosses in a death stare from behind a mannequin.

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In fairness, it's not completely undeserved, as Izzy follows up Tim's mention of Tilda Swinton by asking if she's a Food Network and/or Titanic star.

Finally arriving at Hawwaa's station, Tim cleverly manages to avoid providing his actual opinion in favor of asking Hawwaa what notes she was taking away from the judges' critique last week. She mentions a few things, like the deeper V that Kelly wished to see in the back of her jumpsuit...

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...and then Tim holds up her one ugly skirt ask Hawwaa if she's noticed how uneven it is. Unfortunately, Hawwaa hasn't, but promises to make it work anyway.

Model Fittings



The kids are all overwhelmed by having so many models, and blah blah blah...

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...Izzy's the only one without issues.

Last Stitch

With the models thoroughly measured and fitted, Chelsea rushes to make a new pair of pants, despite the fact that she's never actually made a pair of pants before. Still, she succeeds, and even has time to model a coat Chris just made. Before we're given a chance to fully appreciate that fact, Tim arrives, complete with a little speech about how honored he is to have gotten to work with these kids. It's adorable, and also -- just hear me out -- makes me yearn for a Tim Gunn/Joe Bidden buddy comedy, where they just go around smiling and hugging people like the two best friends that anyone could have.

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It could work, no?

Making Up The Models

Though, fair warning, Hawwaa's models all have blue eyebrows. Consider this your last chance to save yourself.

Run Up To The Runway

Yada yada, suspense, yada, drama, yada yada, etc.

The Final Runway

Hannah and the judges hit the runway, and it suddenly becomes clear that Aya is quite tall.

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The bonus guest judge is Olivia Holt, a former Disney Channel star. (You're forgiven if you don't know her, since I, a professional Disney Channel watcher, had to Google.) With introductions all made, the show then kicks off with Chelsea's collection.

In taking her inspiration from the story of an android who slowly becomes more human after falling in love with nature, Chelsea mixes androgynous lines with softer details. The elements compliment each other, but don't necessarily lend themselves fully to the story at hand.

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Her first look consists of black leggings and a leather crop top that, while adorable, is pretty much the same thing that I wore to work today. The second look is Macy's-esque, while the third is nothing more or less than a well-executed red leather mini dress.

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Look 4, the floral tube dress with navy leather sleeves, is really where she begins to innovate, though it's hard to tell exactly what the mesh jacket in Look 5 is supposed to be; best guess is a rain coat for the android to jog in. The final look, however, really wows in its technical execution, even if it does look like a slightly risqué update of something definitely previously seen in Elaine Benes' wardrobe.

Chris is up next.

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His "New York collection" starts off strong with two looks that make interesting use of negative space; the first is an oversized checkered crop pant with a sleeveless collared top that has a surprise cut-out back, while the second is basically another crop top and pants, with strips of fabric and an oversized pocket necklace on top. (The impossibility of really wearing a bra with either of these looks is how you know Chris is the sole male designer left in the season.) Innovation-wise, it's all downhill from said pocket, however, with Look 3 really just a zipper-front patterned dress.

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Looks 4 and 5 continue the trend by resembling pieces that could easily fit into an architecturally interesting take from DKNY. They're light and sporty, but not really anything to write home about in the long run, unless "home" is a group text chain used to complain about the impracticalities of using the bathroom while wearing a jumpsuit. The final look is an expected hot mess of patterns, but at least it looks like something an older lady would be comfortable wearing to a casino (visor not included).

Izzy follows Chris, with the most unified collection of the bunch. It's sporty, it's fun, and it's boring, repeatedly using A-line dress shapes and color-blocking panels, but it's also fairly wearable.

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The most notable piece comes in Look 3, where a pair of hip-exaggerating harem pants steal the show in a color and fabric texture otherwise unseen in the collection. They manage to elevate everything else with their mere presence, with the black and white textured fabric and impeccable fit taking the whole vibe of the collection to a higher level of sophistication.

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The final jumpsuit (these kids use jumpsuits like last year's kids used crop tops!) follows the elegant vibe, but with the typical bright color-blocking seen in the other pieces, balancing on just the right side of the fun/ridiculous line. All in all though, it feels very safe for someone best known for wearing sprouting plants on their head.

But on the opposite side of safe, there's Hawwaa's circus-inspired collection, which I believe can best be described by saying it's what Will would have worn on The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air if Will were a girl with an overt fondness for neon. While most of the pieces are color-blocked nonsense, the few recognizable "normal" pieces are where she best shows her point of view. From the fuzzy white shortalls in Look 1 and the paneled skirt and sleeveless collared top in Look 3...

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...to the electric robin's egg blue pencil skirt in Look 5, these toned-down pieces offer a more edited presence.

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The problem is that everything else is so over the top that it forces you to defend fuzzy white shortalls in the first place; there's no visual breathing room. While the wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am aggressiveness is what's gotten Hawwaa this far, it finally feels too overwhelming to consider as a collection with anything other than an exasperated sigh. The problem isn't that it's weird -- being weird is great! -- but, as Aya has repeated all season, it's too juvenile. This would make an otherwise great collection for Barbie, though.

The After-Show

While it's not really necessary to watch the kids hug their parents in celebration, or to list all of the people in the audience, a special shout-out to Season 1's Peytie...

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...whose commitment to giving good camera face has never met a sunburn she couldn't work with.

Judgey Judges Gonna Judge

For once, the judges' review actually falls into a Skip, since they don't really have anything interesting to say: this is the end, so they play it nice. Kelly once again advocates for Hawwaa while everyone else rolls their eyes and guest Olivia has nothing to offer except the repeated use of the word "creativity." Christian and Aya talk amongst themselves about how they wish all of the collections were a bit more edited, but overall agree that the kids did an expectedly great job with their collections.

Winner And Losers


While technically they're all winners in that they're teens who we are considering with quasi adult-level seriousness, only one can be #1, and that is...

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CHELSEA!!!

Aside from Tieler, she's really been the one to beat all season, with her ninja-like skills crowning her the repeated champion of weekly challenges, while also winning her a trip to Italy in the process. And now: college! And prize money and manufacturing contracts! It's an exceedingly well-deserved win.

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And, for what it's worth, Chris doesn't even cry when he realizes he got second place.

Verdict


While I know the math doesn't exactly add up to this being a Watch, it's definitely a DVR and Fast-Forward Through the Boring Parts. I mean: it's the finale! Some drama is definitely lost by changing the setting from New York, where the kids obviously felt a certain level of pressure, but the presentation of the collections themselves is no less a milestone, and the episode's issues have more to do with editing than anything else. After seeing the kids evolve all season, it's interesting to see that they're all confident in their work, and to learn their current ceilings. While Izzy plays it safe without the weekly pressure, Chris manages to evolve past patterns when left to his own devices, and his work is stronger as a result. Hawwaa shows that she will always be something of an oddball with an attitude, while Chelsea is a predictable, lovable mess of sunshine, poor time management, and girl power. Seeing her win is deserved fun for everyone.

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