The final episodes, can you imagine! It all went by so fast. The assignment: create, design, and merchandise a pop-up store that displays your brand. As Esther put it, you need to create a universe to embody your brand.
They also needed to create a ten to twelve look collection for a runway show, and a business plan for how you plan to use the $1M to serve their brand. So grown up, very impressive. They were leaving Tokyo and would have 30 days to do their thing.
The special feature of Tim and Heidi packing, what a scream. My favorite quote, from Tim. “OK, we’re all set. And just barely, the car is coming in three hours.”
Jonny flew home to LA for one day, had coffee with his handsome husband, and flew straight to Bali (!), where he met with the people who fabricate his clothes. He knew that he would lose his rhythm and drive if he took more time off, I love that he’s such a clear thinker.
Sander went home to Belgium and we saw him walking through the woods with his mom, who was so beautiful. He knew that his aesthetic was abstract and high fashion and that he had to make it grounded and more accessible. One of his plans for his pop-up store was to have an in-house tailor.
We saw Esther in her all white apartment. Makes sense, she works primarily in black, so her living space would be white. She showed us her designs for the pop-up store, she seemed to be on a great trajectory (as Tim would say).
They arrived in New York, where they’d be building their pop-up stores and showing their collections (they’d been working with the space designers already). Wow, how considerate and thoughtful, the producers of the show decorated their workspaces specific to each designer.
Tim met with them and explained the next steps. The pop-up shops would open in two days. Consumers would be coming in and placing orders, which would be tallied. And KABOOM: they’d be doing an elimination after the pop-up shops, one of the there designers would not be showing their collection on a runway show. Ouch.
We saw the designers meeting with the pop-up designers and hm, both Jonny and Esther were doing their stores in concrete. And sort of similar grooves for their clothes. Jonny made the prediction that if one of the three designers would be sent home, it would probably be him or Esther.
I had concerns about Esther and Johnny: Tim expressed concern about the ropes being a trip, stumble, and fall hazard, and it appeared that she trimmed them. But Jonny, his space looked really amateurish and the voguers, would they be taking up too much space and isn’t vogueing totally 90s?
It was fun seeing the consumers in the store, most fun seeing Heidi and Naomi going all girly and buying everything. Heidi’s quote (I’m paraphrasing): “Only $325? Well, then I’m not choosing between blue and black, I’m getting both!”
The judges spoke with Jonny first. Nicole loved that he called his collection Metamorphosis because she felt that he had really evolved from the designer who started in the competition. Heidi felt that his pop-up shop looked like a real shop.
The judges felt like Sander had a fantastic idea with the onsite tailor, though Joseph felt like the tailoring was lost with the primary focus being T-shrits and the like. Naomi felt like his brand was very junior and she wondered what it would look like online.
Heidi felt like Esther’s store was lots of fun and a great expression of her style. Naomi felt like she walked into Esther’s world. Joseph thought she could communicate that black was central with her collection, but do it with other colors besides black. Nicole said that it was up to her whether she wanted to do only what she wanted to do, or get bigger. Getting bigger would require she uses more colors.
The judges chose Jonny as the winner, and to me, his shop was the least successful! So once again, it’s proved - - what do I know. And break my heart, Sander was eliminated. His exit was very high-spirited but I imagine that he was, in private, totally GUTTED.
Next up: Jonny and Esther each needed to present their business plan to Christine Beauchamp, the buyer from Amazon. Tim would be there as moral support.
Jonny said that all of his successes and failures as a designer and entrepreneur have led to this moment. I found that very profound. Esther was thrilled to see her looks on the models, she had only seen it on herself.
The pitches! Christine immediately latched onto Esther’s philosophy: the mix of strength and vulnerability is what it is to be a modern woman. Esther’s presentation was very composed, very intensely thought out. Christine asked how she would expand her brand to include color, and she said she would start with black and white, then add grey, and branch out from there.
Jonny was SO NERVOUS. Christine made an effort to calm him down, which I thought was very kind. Did you notice that he didn’t have any slides? Esther had a really precise and concrete plan spelled out in her Power Point presentation, and Jonny just had his name on the screen. Jonny left the room feeling like he killed it, but I felt like he was too nervous and his pitch seemed much more basic.
The runway show! Can we talk about Heidi’s dress. Love the fabric, love the shape, but I felt like having her gazongas front and center, to that degree, was vulgar. Am I a prude?
Jonny’s show was stunning, it was aspirational yet attainable, distinctive but not wacko. Heidi didn’t like the “washing the dishes gloves,” which Nicole called “a little murderer.” Tim said, “It’s a fashion show. It’s not just a bunch of clothes.”
Esther’s first look was stunning, what a way to start the show. Her clothes were very special occasion, unlike anything else out there. I thought having a visor on every model wasn’t the best idea. The way she used the filmy, transparent fabrics, fabulous. The judges loved that she had a few pieces using white. Did you know that the final procession of all the models is known as “a train?”
The final tribunal! The judges had a little quarrel before the designers came in. Rather than arguing about Art versus Clothes, like they do on Project Runway, the subject was Art versus Commerce.
The judges saw Esther as a true artist. Naomi asked if she would be open to color, and she said the same thing she had said to Christine in her pitch. Heidi asked Esther why she should win. She said, “I’ve put all my seeds in the soil and it’s time to water them.” She ended by saying, “I’m ready for it.”
Joseph felt like Jonny had opened himself up to new elements after the neutrality and toughness of Skingraft, he described it as “candy.” Naomi said she had felt his “lifestyle” in his pop-up shop. She asked him if he had a solid plan, and he said he started his first workshop in Bali with $500 and one sewing machine, and now he has 100 tailors. He has done this, he knows how to do it.
It came down to:
Naomi chose Esther.
Heidi chose Esther.
Joseph chose Jonny.
Chiara chose Jonny.
And drumroll, please: Nicole chose Jonny, he was the winner.
I love that they brought Jonny back to the runway, with no one else there. That gave a nice sense of closure.
You probably picked up on the fact that I thought Esther was the stronger designer. I have two thoughts on the subject, of why they chose Jonny over her. First, she heard over and over again that she needed to start using color, and she gave a very compelling and honest response to that question, that she could be talked into it. Well, why didn’t she just DO it rather than say she could be talked into it? If she had shown some real color in her finale collection - - let’s say one of her black dresses in purple, another in medium grey - - she would have won.
My other thought: the judges said in nearly every episode that they were choosing the designer as much as the clothes. Jonny is a more engaging personality, Esther is more introverted. So the judges might have felt that he’d have an easier time being the face of his global brand.
I wasn’t able to find anything online about season 2. I REALLY hope the show has a season 2, I loved it big time.