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“We made it!” The three top designers, Hester, Garo, and Sebastian, are basking in the glow of the finale in a new loft in Brooklyn. They made it.

Like a next door neighbor in a sitcom, Christian Siriano bursts through the doors of the new workroom. “You made it!” Christian Siriano tells them. They made it!

Christian reveals that Marni is coming back to help them style, and also that they need to pare their collection back to ten looks. Garo just about rends his garments at this, as he has created 17 looks. SEVENTEEN.

Here’s how the next two days are going to go: The designers have to view 50 models and cast their shows, finish adjustments, fit their looks on their models, edit down to 10 looks, accessorize with Marni, and possibly make something new. This last part is strictly optional but Christian opens the door to the possibility of one final trip to Mood and $300 to spend there. The only catch is it will take away from their other work.

The workroom

First up: model casting. Garo wants someone who can fill out a corset; Hester wants a “badass tough chick who is going to hold her own at a rave or a punk concert.” Love Hester’s complete vision. She also characterizes her aesthetic as “Sophisticated Clown Clothing.” Obsessed.

Next: Mood? In the workroom, Sebastian and Christian perform a brief five-minute comedy pilot when Christian asks Sebastian where his breather look from last week, the one the judges loved, is. Sebastian says he cut it because he wants to present something new. Christian is like, “Uh, the judges pick the winner so…” Sebastian’s like, “Oh. Good point.” Then Christian asks if Sebastian needs to go to Mood. Sebastian says he does…to get thread. “You don’t have thread?” Christian exclaims. I can’t tell if Sebastian is just cycling through thoughts as he tries to figure stuff out or if he is actually out to lunch, but whatever it is, I love it, especially juxtaposed with Christian’s tiny exasperation.

Sebastian, who is always so detailed and finished, is doubting the detail and finishing of his collection, having seen how much Hester and Garo are fixing and changing. Garo is throwing out his breather look from last week and Hester is re-tailoring hers. They’re all running around, slowly spiraling over the work they have left.

The next day, the Sebastian and Christian show continues at…Mood! Christian is waiting for him; Sebastian has brought a cup of coffee because he knows it’s early. Christian tells Sebastian that he has the whole store and it’s just the two of them because the other designers didn’t opt to use the time. “So what are you going to do?” Christian asks. Sebastian hesitates. “Maybe something cream,” he says. Christian doesn’t just roll his eyes, he rolls his whole head. Give them a spinoff immediately.

Sebastian is at Mood buying cream to create “something new” for his earthtone collection. “I love that we’re here for charmeuse,” Christian purrs sarcastically. Sebastian orders his fabric. Christian flounces away, “Ugh! Charmeuse!”

Back in the workroom, Garo realizes that he has to resize a corset gown for model Kate, which is no small task. Marni comes in to consult. She tells Garo he needs a punk rock vibe, which is interesting considering Hester’s vision. The collection as it stands looks like a collection of gowns, and Marni knows that Garo has more edge than that.

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Bravo

Christian tells the designers that they’ll be meeting this week’s guest judge early, as the guest wants to meet them that evening. It’s Diane Von Fürstenberg! They gather in the lobby of her offices, where she descends an impossibly tall staircase. Like, it is so tall that they have to cut away and cut back when she’s farther down. It’s probably, in reality, a 13-minute walk. This is true glamour.

She sits down with the designers and gives them sage life advice. “The truth is that your huge moment of success, maybe you didn’t feel like that at that moment. And then at some other moment, when people think, ‘Oh, she’s a has-been…’ You already know that you’re not.” She’s not specifically talking to me,f but I am taking it personally and I’m going to reshape my entire life around this advice.

The next day, Christian strolls back in and Sebastian reports that based on Diane’s advice, he has decided that the new look he’s designing doesn’t spark joy so it’s out. The trip to Mood was for naught. Christian is over it. Christian then surveys the other things that Sebastian has cut based on Marni’s advice, namely belts, and cosigns the decision. “They are fabulous Christmas gifts!” Christian says, which isn’t really a read but feels so deliciously read-adjacent I got goosebumps. I will be using this henceforth whenever possible.

Next, Christian visits Garo and is gobsmacked to find that Garo has cut the silver paillette dress that the judges loved last week. “Oh, I’m going to black out!” Poor Christian is going through it! He cannot handle this decision at all. He lobbies hard for its re-inclusion. Garo isn’t sure. This competition is hard for the contestants, but it’s truly an ordeal for Christian Siriano.

The final runway

Backstage is organized chaos. There are dressers, makeup artists, models, and, of course, our final three running around. Garo discovers a rip in a cape and decides to free cut the fabric; Christian can’t look! Sebastian finds a stain on a white organza dress; fortunately a dresser is able to get it out.

The final runway is at Skylight One Hanson, a huge, gorgeous former bank. Isn’t it a shame that banks aren’t pretty anymore? They all look like takeout joints mixed with a marketing research firm in an office park. Maybe in the future our Bitcoin Palaces will return us to splendor.

Speaking of splendor: the runways!

First up is Sebastian. His collection is called “Reminisce” and is inspired by his memories of Colombia. The predominant themes are laser-cut leather strips in earth tones—burnt sienna, orange, tan, white—and woven together. Gauzy fabrics also feature prominently. There’s a real sense of movement, even in more architectural looks like a stitched trench-coat wrap dress. The collection ends with a pop of color in the form of a turquoise pants and bodice pair and a teal trench jacket.

Nina says it looked effortless. Diane says the pieces were casual, streetwear, but very refined. Karlie says that so many pieces felt like aspects of Sebastian. Brandon and Nina agree that the opening look, an orange woven coat, was not a bold enough choice. But they all agree with Elaine when she says that his potential is exponential.

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The paillette!

Bravo

Next is Garo, who tells the gathered fashion show audience: “Get ready for a detour through my cosmic mind.” This cosmos contains a lot of black, gray, and pearl, many of it on iridescent fabrics. The first half of the collection is made up of the darker looks: a shimmering, translucent black sleeveless dress, a sequined black bodice, a black knitted hoodie. The collection takes a turn with a gray cocktail dress made of a material with a subtle rainbow reflective hue. Garo closes out with a trio of architectural gowns with his trademark corsets and structured bustlines.

Karlie compliments how wearable the collection looks. Elaine loved the “intergalactic crop halter” and reveals that she sketched the looks in her notepad, which I’m obsessed with. Diane notices a little bit of Mugler in Garo’s influences. However, Nina and Brandon were longing for the paillette.

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A look from Hester’s collection

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As you might remember from last week, Hester’s theme is “Y2K-coco” or “Cyber rococo.” Her opener is huge: Hester puts her model in a lilac tulle tutu and a braided bouffant with garters on her arms and legs. The rest of her collection toggles between three dominant fabrics: a print with a rococo illustration of a baby angel, a black, white, and red check, and a lighter lilac, red, and yellow check. Hester mixes and matches these ingeniously, like putting the a minidress with the rococo pattern under a lilac coat with red fur lapels.

“She’s talented,” Diane says. If Diana Von Fürstenberg said “She’s talented” about me I’d put that on my tombstone and then immediately die of joy. What more is there left to live for?!

Brandon and Nina loved the Marie Antoinette–meets–Clueless opener but felt there was a disconnect between that and the second look, which was a pair of pants in the check pattern. Still, Nina is really taken by the collection. “The skill that you have for accessories is unparalleled. That little bomber jacket with a matching tennis shoe,” she raves, “It drove me crazy.”

“You are a vibe!” Elaine says. Brandon liked the light print but wasn’t feeling the black and red print. Diane disagreed; she saw Hester’s spunk and a push and pull between expectations and desire. “If you don’t win, you can work for me,” says Diane Von Fürstenberg. DIANE VON FÜRSTENBERG JUST OFFERED HESTER A JOB ON TELEVISION.

The deliberation

Garo is the first to get cut from consideration. There were some tailoring issues and the judges like the collection but didn’t feel it quite compared to what Hester and Sebastian brought. Nina thinks Sebastian’s collection flowed like an arrow and that he walks the tightrope between art and commerce. Brandon says he knows how to make clothes in a way that would rival anyone at fashion week.

Elaine is taken by Hester’s designs and her persona. Nina thinks she has the ability and creativity to move the industry forward. Diane says, “I could sell her in a minute.” Karlie says that she thinks Hester could benefit from Diane’s mentorship. “Alright, we’ll see,” Diane replies cryptically. Oh snap, Diane is DEFINITELY going to mentor Hester Sunshine.

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Bravo

But for now the winner is Sebastian! Nina tells Sebastian, “You are the personification of the American dream. You came to this country, you worked really hard, you never lost sight of your goal. And you’re standing here as a winner on talent alone.”

Sebastian goes home with the largest prize in Project Runway history: a total of $300,000 in prize money, $250,000 of it provided by Pilot’s FriXion Erasable Gel Ink Pen, and $50,000 from Bluprint; he also gets a feature in ELLE, a featured role in a Bluprint digital series, a capsule collection manufactured by Nineteenth Amendment, and a one-on-one mentorship from the Council of Fashion Designers of America.

Congratulations to Sebastian and all of this season’s incredible designers. Can’t wait to catch your looks on the runway!

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