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Project Runway NZ Recap: The designer, the builder and the soul

At the start of the second to last episode, judge Benny Castles joins Andreas and Georgia on the runway to tell the four remaining designers, Benjamin, Jess, Judy and Kerry, about this week’s challenge.

The designers must create a sneak peek of their Spring/Summer collection.

Besides creating a collection, the task is about coming up with a ‘signature’ look. As designers, they must be able to create a distinctive look that people would recognise as theirs before seeing the label. For Benny, achieving a ‘signature’ involves cohesion, personality and execution.

With $500 and two full days in the workroom, the designers set out to create that ‘signature’ look that will make them move forward in the competition, probably win it and launch their own careers in fashion.

Kerry says this is personal for him. It’s been a year since his long-term relationship with his partner crumbled, and he wants to recreate the black cloud he was living under following his break up and coming through on the other side.

For that, Kerry’s chosen black chiffon and yellow lace and rather than creating an elaborate design, he’s decided to let the fabrics speak by themselves.

Judy knows this challenge can’t be about her usual evening wear, but she doesn’t have a story to tell. So, Kerry tells her to make it epic.

And then there were four.
And then there were four. Source: Tom Hollow

Epic she tries, but Andreas is not impressed. He thinks Judy is playing it safe and not taking advantage of the leather she’s chosen. He tells her to turn up the volume.

So, Judy abandons her design and once again finds herself starting from scratch just like she’s done in other episodes.

Benjamin hates to be told what to do – shocker! He’s always done what he wants. For this challenge, he’s excited but nervous because the judges can like anything.

Although the judges told Benjamin he’d played it safe in the previous episode, he doesn’t want to go too ‘nuts’ with his design and come across stupid this week in front of the panel. But Andreas recommends him to give more volume to his design.

Jess is pleased with the silhouette she has created.
Jess is pleased with the silhouette she has created. Source: Tom Hollow

Inspired by all the women in her life who raised her, Jess wants to create a collection to empower young people. For that, she’s creating an ensemble combining pink and red leather.

Andreas only comment is to be careful that the leather doesn’t make her design look heavy.

While Benjamin and Kerry are making collections that start and finish with them, and Judy – well, it’s not clear what Judy is all about, Jess is a designer with a purpose. Although her design is also about her, she wants to share the joy, and may I say the blessings of her life, with others through her work.

After Georgia reminds the designers that only three of them will go to the final, the runway show gets underway.

Judy loves the front of her design.
Judy loves the front of her design. Source: Tom Hollow

First one up is Jess whose ode to powerful women who have shaped her life is a success among the judges.

Later, Georgia and Sally-Ann will praise the colour combination. Guest judge Georgia Currie, founder and designer of Georgia Alice, commends Jess on the pleats and neckline of her design.

While Benny believes that Jess has created a true and wonderful representation of what she’s trying to design.

Next up is Judy whose inspiration is the journey she’s taken during the competition and as someone who has “let go of perfection’ – whatever that means.

Benjamin thinks his design is everything he wanted.
Benjamin thinks his design is everything he wanted. Source: Tom Hollow

Sally-Ann believes the skirt is a dream that can be combined with something simpler on the top. Georgia Currie loves it but doesn’t know if the girl to wear it exists.

Although Benny loves the skirt, he thinks there are fitting issues, and overall look is busy in the wrong way.

Kerry’s story and motivation behind his design are touching. A suit gives you posture to make you feel tall and proud, he says. It helps you to step out from darkness into the light.

Georgia compliments the choice of fabric and believes the shirt with ruffles on top is great for the catwalk. Sally-Ann loves its boldness and construction.

Guest judge, Georgia who loves suits, gets Kerry’s story. That moment when you’re down and after putting a blazer on you feel powerful. I can see it too.

Kerry's design represents moving on from the darkness to the light.
Kerry's design represents moving on from the darkness to the light. Source: Tom Hollow

Kerry’s look has made Benny smile. It is the look with more taste Kerry has sent down the runway, Benny believes.

Finally, there’s Benjamin’s contrasting play of utilitarian, masculinity and femineity elements is also a winner with the judges.

Sally-Ann loves the mixing of textures and the colour palette. Guest judge Georgia thinks a lot is going on, but since it is the same fabric, it doesn’t seem much.

It’s not Benny’s design, but he can definitely see the beauty in Benjamin’s garment.

Jess wins this week's challenge.
Jess wins this week's challenge. Source: Tom Hollow

The winner and first one to go through to the final is Jess. I adored everything about her look. The materials, the colours, the actual design, and the vibrancy of the story behind it. I can’t wait to see the rest of her collection. She could easily create a trend.

Second through is Benjamin who’s also managed to create a spectacular and inspiring garment. What I like about Benjamin is how he manages to create looks that you think could only exist on paper. I’ve said it before, he’s the one to beat.

Last to go through is Kerry. As usual, his execution is impeccable, and any woman would look great on it. I just despise yellow in any hue. It should be downgraded to a dwarf colour or something.

With that, Judy is left alone on the runway and walks out of the competition. I didn’t get her look. There was nothing new about her skirt and whatever she had on top was unappealing and had an off the rack vibe about it.

Time for Judy to walk. Kerry hugs her goodbye.
Time for Judy to walk. Kerry hugs her goodbye. Source: Tom Hollow

It should be an exciting final. Benjamin is the designer, even if fashion weren’t his thing, he’d still be designing in other areas. Kerry is the builder, he knows how to construct flawlessly and exquisitely pieces. And Jess is the soul, there’s love in her designs, passion for her craft and respect for the woman she designs for.

* Project Runway is on TVNZ 2 at 7.30pm on Mondays and on TVNZ OnDemand

By Luis Portillo - 1 NEWS producer

Georgia, Andreas and Benny explain this week's challenge.
Georgia, Andreas and Benny explain this week's challenge. Source: Tom Hollow