The Final Three Plus Five: Project Runway Season 12 at MBFW

Written by: Maggie Blaha

Photography by: Anthony Morrison Photography /

Unprecedented? You bet! Past seasons of the Emmy-nominated reality show Project Runway have, on occasion, sent four designers to fashion week, but this season eight aspiring designers clamoring to get themselves that fashion spread in Marie Claire magazine presented their 10-look collections before Heidi, Tim, Nina, Zac, and guest judge Kerry Washington at Mercedes-Benz New York Fashion Week.

Project Runway has seen a lot of updates this season, and perhaps the increased number of finalists is another new element to the show, but we’ll have to keep watching the remaining episodes to really find out (if you want to be surprised as to who the lucky eight are, you should stop reading this now). The updates season 12 has seen include designers tracking their own spending with a GoBank account (each challenge has a suggested spending limit) and the audience interacting with the show by voicing their opinions about what happened each week. A new institution has also been created, called the “Tim Gunn Save.” Basically, Tim gets to sit on the judges panel as the looks come down the runway (not as a judge, just as an onlooker) and has the power to save one designer that the judges eliminated who he feels deserves a second chance.

Eight collections with 10 looks each made for one very long fashion show, something that is certainly unprecedented at MBFW. The show opened with Alexander Pope (perfect designer name), 38, from New York who has proven that he has a very gothic and dramatic aesthetic. All his pieces were avant-garde, and all his models were styled like Helena Bonham-Carter. They were over-the-top in a good way, and apparently there was some buzz at the show that Pope could be the next Alexander McQueen, especially after his final look (his model was literally styled to look like a Tim Burton tree) took everyone’s breath away.

Kate Pankoke, 24, from Chicago knows how to flatter a woman’s figure. Pankoke’s collection was cocktail inspired, as it included a range of dresses, both short and long, and tailored separates. The one trend that ran throughout her collection was the use of sequin details, which she used very tastefully. There was no wow-factor to Pankoke’s collection, but her clothes are certainly very wearable and most women would want to wear them.

Jeremy Brandrick’s collection was super feminine, featuring both dresses and separates. The 41-year-old New Yorker made good use of florals and flowy fabrics to create a very cohesive collection that culminated in a beautifully draped evening gown with a plunging neckline.

Perhaps taking a cue from some of the dramatic Jane Eyre silhouettes in this fall’s collections, Helen Castillo has created a collection that we can call “vampire chic.” The 25-year-old New Jersey native used a palette of deep reds and purples to create structured bodices that flowed into long skirts. Many of the looks had interesting cuts that were dramatic but not necessarily flattering.

Alexandria Von Bromssen, 38, from California is a designer to watch out for. Even if she doesn’t win Project Runway, we’re sure to see her clothes in stores. What was great about her collection was how it ranged from high-end editorial pieces to ready-to-wear street style. The designer used a lot of leather and feathers throughout the collection, and even designed headpieces for a number of the looks. Bromssen’s collection exudes the very rocker glam she, herself, exudes.

Justin LeBlanc, 27, got the lucky Tim Gunn Save during the season because Tim believed that he had what it takes to get to MBFW. The collection stuck strictly to a very earth-toned palette, mostly whites and grays. White is certainly a color that is going to be big this spring, but for a designer who received the Tim Gunn Save, we expected something fabulous to come down the runway.

Brandon McDonald, 38, from Los Angeles played with waistlines (high), necklines (plunging), and textures (ruffles, draping) in his collection. McDonald also used a variety of pretty fabrics and silks to create separates and beautifully flowing dresses.

The final designer was Dom Streater, 24, from Philadelphia, who definitely closed the show with a bang. Her collection has been described as a futuristic recreation of the past, which is evident in every look she presented. Whether it was a futuristic Mad Men or Jackie O look, Dom Streater created super sexy and sophisticated clothes that any woman would envy.

While we still have to wait for the winner to be revealed, we predict that the judges will be torn between Alexander Pope, Alexandria Von Bromssen, and Dom Streater. These designers are the three real contenders who set the pace of the Project Runway fashion show, and regardless of the outcome these are three designers to keep an eye out for.

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