Best: This IS Project Runway, after all, so we're not looking for looks that would be worn by ordinary mortals in our ordinary lives. So although I loved Newton's slim black halter gown, it didn't show anywhere near the creativity and uniqueness in this black and white number. By all rights, this dress should look stiff and bulky, yet somehow it looks light and flowing. I love the way the bow at the neck flows down the front and then circles the hem. It's not smooth and even, but it's just stiff and geometric enough to break up the simple lines of the dress and avoid looking like the piping on a wedding cake. The proportions are perfectly balanced, so the model doesn't look overwhelmed by the dress, but instead it looks like it moves gracefully as she walks. A great look.
Ashley Nell Tipton
Best: Okay, I had to cheat on this one because I simply couldn't decide which look I liked best. The embellished satin skirt with matching short bustier and coordinated chiffon overlay was just stunning. It's not easy to design a hugely full skirt (particularly for a full-figured model with hips!), never mind to add heavy appliques and three-dimensional detailing to a generous length of the hem, without creating a bottom-heavy or bulky silhouette. But somehow this skirt works. The chiffon overlay skims the hips beautifully, with a small amount of detailing on the hem echoing the skirt hem without competing with it. The neutral but not boring hues include just enough tiny pops of brightness to add visual interest without drawing the eye too much, and the contrast of shiny fabric in the skirt with the matte chiffon of the top (which also tones down the shine of the bustier underneath it) hits the perfect balance.
My other favorite look was this adorable lace shorts and jacket set. The black lace overlay on dark champagne fabric showed off the gorgeous texture of the lace and created a sweet peek-a-boo effect without actually being revealing. I loved the wide neckline of both the jacket and the mint green tee underneath. What I think I loved most of all, however, was the designer's bold choice to use a lace that created very distinct horizontal stripes. On a plus size model. Who looked FABULOUS in them. Who says you can't wear horizontal stripes if you're not super-skinny? Ashley Nell Tipton, that's who.
Best: I was somewhat underwhelmed by Cuoco's collection in general, but I did love the lace jacket in this look. The high collar, open front, and wide satin trim at the hem created sleek lines that were softened nicely by the rounded patterns in the lace and the swinging fullness in the jacket. It paired well with the sleek black satin leggings and the leather bustier, adding a touch of sweetness and softness to an otherwise very "tough girl" look.
Bottom line? If I were choosing a single favorite look, I think I might go with Dempsey's 60s-inspired tan and silver gogo dress. It's fun, it's wearable, it's unusual without being weird, and it's visually balanced. But in terms of an overall, unified collection of well-done pieces with essentially no misses, I have to go with Tipton. Every piece in her collection was wearable, flattering, coherent, and interesting. Not to mention that, being a sucker for hats, I loved - no, I ADORED - her use of huge floral hats to accent every one of her pieces and tie her collection together. They could easily have looked cartoonish or forced, but instead they connected every look beautifully into a coherent whole in a way that highlighted instead of distracting from each look.
After I finished writing this review, I looked up who the winner was, and it was no surprise to me that it was, in fact, Tipton. Her collection showed a cohesiveness and maturity that was lacking in some of the other designers, and I have no doubt that she will soon make quite a name for herself in the world of fashion design.
Hmmm, when does season 15 start? I might have to start watching this show regularly! I don't know how I'll fit it into my schedule, but I suppose I'll have to, in the words of Tim Gunn, "make it work."