‘Project Runway’ finale part 2 recap: Who was named America’s next great designer for season 16?

Season 16 of “Project Runway” came to a conclusion Thursday night with one contestant being named the next great designer by series judges Heidi Klum, Zac Posen and Nina Garcia as well as guest judge Jessica Alba. The decision came down to the four finalists: Brandon Kee, Kentaro Kameyama, Ayana Ife and Margarita Alvarez, all of who showed a 10-piece collection at New York Fashion Week. Prior to the show, our exclusive odds predicted that Brandon would prevail with Ayana taking the runner-up position. Did those predictions pan out or were Kentaro or Margarita able to come from behind and win? Below, read our recap of episode 14, “Finale Part 2,” to find out.

Taking notes from the judges following the two-look collection preview they showed the panel last week, the finalists returned to the workroom to re-work their collections to ready them for NYFW. Margarita was concerned with Heidi’s comments that her looks were “too tropical,” but Tim Gunn assured her that to change the point of view at this point would ruin the integrity of the collection. Kentaro, on the other hand, was encouraged to change what he could to bring more cohesion to his line. For Brandon and Ayana, who both received glowing responses from the judges, there were only minor tweaks to be made.

On the day of the runway the first to show was Margarita. She called her collection “A Fish Out of Water,” inspired by the idea of an island girl who leaves her home for a new life in the city. As promised, her collection was full of color and did not shy away from pushing the boundaries of tropical streetwear. Brandon came next with his collection, “Layers of Love.” He kept the styling of his models to a minimum, choosing to let the clothes speak for themselves. There was no shortage of his standard tricks — lots of hoops, straps, baggy sleeves and, of course, layers.

Third to take the stage was Kentaro, showing his collection inspired by Japanese culture and featuring music he composed himself specifically for the presentation. His collection felt complete and cohesive after all, transitioning from white and black garments at the beginning and ending in vibrant reds. And rounding out the competition was Ayana’s “Evolution” collection, a documentation of her own journey overcoming the odds. Working with soft silks, distressed denim and floral prints throughout, her collection stuck to her point of view as a fully-modest designer, but with elevated sophistication and attention to detail.

In their critiques, the judges found Ayana’s collection to be informative, in the sense that it showed them that modesty doesn’t have to sacrifice a woman’s desire to be cool and hip. Margarita wowed them with the vibrancy and energy of her textiles and at the end of the day had no complaints about the beachy feel of the collection as a whole. Kentaro surprised the panel with the drama and sophistication of his set, and the strike of red that he built to by the end was perfect. And Brandon brought a romanticism to streetwear that a lot of girls would want to wear, but because he used the same textile and colors throughout the judges felt like it wasn’t the most interesting show to watch on a runway.

In the end, while blown away by all the collections, the judges had to make a decision. Despite her remaining true to her point of view and heritage, Margarita was the first to be eliminated. And in a surprise, Brandon’s unique perspective and consistent branding wasn’t enough to get him the win — the judges gave him third place. Between Kentaro and Ayana, the judges were more surprised by what Kentaro achieved with the poetry and sense of emotion in his collection and so, defying our racetrack odds, awarded him the win!

Here are the answers to Gold Derby’s predictions event questions for “Project Runway” #16.14:

Who will win ‘Project Runway’? Kentaro Kameyama

Who will finish 2nd? Ayana Ife

Who will finish 3rd? Brandon Kee

Who will finish 4th? Margarita Alvarez

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