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PROJECT RUNWAY.....Season 11 Project Runway Recaps: Episode 13 Pre-Finale

Top Four: (Left to right) Michelle Lesniak Franklin, Daniel Esquivel, Patricia Michaels, and Stanley Hudson--Project Runway Season 11

ALMOST New York Fashion Week...This episode was the penultimate Pre-Finale episode of this season's Project Runway. Yes kids, Season 11 Project Runway is on it's final "fashion lap" and there are four designers remaining: Used-to-be-Bad Luck Michelle Lesniak Franklin, Cry-a-Lot Mustached Daniel Esquivel, Miss Native American-Momma Patricia Michaels and Not-Nice-to-Tu Sweatshop Boss Stanley Hudson. In this last week's episode, they finally left the Project Runway workroom and went home to create their 12-look Mercedes-Benz NY Fashion Week Collections. Heidi gave them $10,000 and many, many months.

Three's Fab: Nick Verreos with Michael Costello (left) and Project Runway Season 7 Winner Seth Aaron Henderson ---Project Runway Season 11 Finale Mercedes-Benz NY Fashion Week

The show ended filming around July/August and the Season 11 Project Runway Finale NY Fashion Week show was on February 8th (I know because I was there). So, if my Calendar Math is correct...that gave them 6+ months to create their collections. was time for the "Tim Gunn Visits" and he went to:

 Taos Pueblo New Mexico--to visit Patricia

 Portland Oregon--to visit Michelle

 Austin Texas--to visit Daniel

 And...Los Angeles--to visit Stanley

After the visits and after several months went by, the designers returned to NY. Tim told them that they had to show their three best looks to the judges and then one designer would NOT go to NY Fashion Week--even though we ALL KNOW that EIGHT of the designers--the three Finalists plus the next Auf'ed designers Layana, Samantha, Amanda, and Richard of Season 11 Project Runway actually DID show! (lucky them!).

The Runway:
 My Favorite: Michelle's looks were my fave of the four designers--BY FAR!

Michelle Lesniak Franklin--Michelle was inspired by Wolves and particularly, a "Lone Wolf". It was very "Hunger Games Hipster Fashionista", and I really loved the three looks. I didn't like the makeup and hair necessarily (neither did the judges) but this was certainly the freshest, most directional and new of the four designer's showings.

 This coat was so FAB!! (just too many bags!)

Stanley Hudson--I expected Stanley to be Michelle's biggest competition. And he wasn't. His designs were very luxe, elegant and he used very expensive fabrics yet...there was nothing new. It didn't look "NY Fashion Week" fresh and "What's Next" in terms of what editors and fashion experts look for.

This gold below-the-knee dress above (left) from Stanley was pretty but so dowdy. And again, nothing about it said "I'm The Next Fashion Wunderkid". It was all very Barbara Walters and Oscar de la Renta.

Patricia Michaels--Patricia maximized her ability to use textile manipulation and Native American details. The first look was this dress above and it was tacky, dated and over-accessorized. Not a good sign...

She did better with the other two looks she showed--this horsehair cape-and-pants ensemble and the light blue sequined dress with horsehair headdress. These two were new, innovative and wanted me--as well as the judges--to see more from her! Therefore she was moved on to the you-get-to-show at Finale Mercedes-Benz NY Fashion Week stage.

Daniel Esquivel--Daniel showed three ALL BLACK looks --allegedly inspired by Salvador Dali, Berlin, and the Nebulae around Planets. Showing three all black looks to the judges was a BIG gamble--especially since he had actual COLORS in the rest of his collection. Well, it didn't pay off. It was BA-BA-BORING.

Sweater Boring: But not as boring as this sweater and black pants he showed. I am still NOT OVER the model holding her purse as if she was Queen Elizabeth II ! I am kind of mad at Daniel for wasting this opportunity and showing a BLACK SWEATER and BLACK PANTS look. Seriously? It's NY Fashion Week! HELLO!

And now...Here's my Full Recap for this past week's Episode...

Only One Can Win…And I Have a Good Guess!

When looking back at past seasons of "Project Runway"—and particularly the pre-finale episode—it wasn’t always obvious who the winner might be. Whether it was the editing or the amount of talent, there was always a sense of "I wonder who it will be?" Not this time. At the end of this episode, it was pretty obvious that this was Michelle’s year to win. The other designers didn't even come close, in my eyes, to what she presented. So how did this penultimate episode play out and will my prediction be right? Time to discuss…

Fall Schoolin'
Michelle, Stanley, Patricia and Daniel are in the top four. The episode begins with Heidi and Tim congratulating—and reminding them that "only one can win." Heidi announces that she’s giving them each $10,000 to create a 12-look collection for Mercedes-Benz NY Fashion Week (That’s about $833 per outfit!). Oddly, she then tells the designers that they need to use Fall colors, make sure to forecast Fall Trends, and think outerwear. It reminded me of when I give a "How to Make a Collection" assignment to my fashion students; it’s understandable that I have to tell my students this, but why say it to these designers. Shouldn’t this be obvious if you are showing during Fall Fashion Week? But I's time for the designers to head home and create their collections.

Taos Momma
Four months later and Tim begins his home visits. First, he’s in Taos Pueblo, NM, to visit Patricia. After a nice lunch with her family, he surveys her pieces. Patricia’s inspiration is "trees." She’s done a lot of fabric manipulation to the textiles she’s using, giving her collection a definite "Patricia" stamp. Tim is intrigued but worried it might look too "arts-and-crafty."

Portlandia Hunger Games
Tim is now in Portland, OR, to visit Michelle. Her inspiration is wolves, and particularly a female hunting "lone wolf," which she says is a perfect metaphor to how she felt during the entire filming of the season. She’s making breastplates as well as a great hunting coat (She listened to Heidi and her "make some outerwear" directive!). It looks very “Hunger Games," the Ready-to-Wear Collection. And just from the small sampling of garments she is offering up to Tim, I can tell it is going to be a great collection.

Salvador Daniel Cosmo Girl
Next up, Tim is in Austin Texas to visit Daniel...

Click HERE to read the rest of my RECAP! 

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