Ideally, each season of a show brings a fresh perspective. But Lifetime’s Season 11 of “Project Runway,” which has its finale Thursday, April 25, genuinely was new.
For the first time, designers were divided into teams. Zac Posen replaced Michael Kors as a judge. And host Tim Gunn reveals tells Zap2it what he thought of all of it.
“This will be a first,” Gunn says. “I have never commented on any of the designers’ work.” Gunn has always been a mentor, not a judge. After decades in the business, he certainly knows what works, and he agreed to critique some of the looks that will be in the season finale.
“Season 11 was very different,” Gunn says. “And I don’t say these words idly: This was my favorite season ever. I loved the team construct. I loved that each designer is responsible, in a manner of speaking, for more than their own work. And I have to say the level of talent — I am totally blown away by it.”
Judging just by what people in the street stop him and say — no one has ever accused New Yorkers of being shy — “it is also our most polarizing season,” Gunn says. “People either love it or hate it.”
The hair screams Andrews Sisters while Daniel Esquivel’s jacket whispers “The Jetsons,” but Gunn says, “There were a lot of, to be perfectly blunt, matronly dresses. Our biggest challenge was to make them have pizazz and have a little relevance in terms of today’s fashion.”
The gloves are embellished with shagreen stingray. “The shagreen isn’t a contrivance,” Gunn says. “It is on the glove, where it belongs.”
Gunn had nothing good to say about Stanley Hudson’s gown with a bulky crimson satin skirt and a bodice resembling flecked velvet wallpaper. “In terms of execution, it looks dated,” Gunn says. “It looks vintage, however, vintage what? Who would buy this? The way it is sewn in, the whole thing is a big, hot mess. He is incredibly deft in execution and superbly talented. This was the first time in the history of the show I thought he would not be able to send 12 looks down the runway.”
Once you get past Dr. Seuss’ Thing 1 headdress, the cocktail dress is a work of art. It hearkens to Patricia Michaels’ deep Native American roots. She crafted the giant sequins and sewed them onto the blue organza, which has a mod feel. “When the show began, Patricia would drive me to total despair,” he says. “By the end, I was enraptured. I love and adore this woman.”
“I loved this whole collection,” Gunn says of Michelle Franklin’s designs. “And this look is very emblematic of the collection. It is very crisply tailored, and a lot of color blocking and this ziggurat of pleats like Aztec pyramids. It is very architectural, and I am wowed by the whole thing.”