‘Project Runway’ recap: ‘Finale, Part 1’ was the beginning of the end, but there was a twist [UPDATING LIVE BLOG]

Four designers went into the two-part finale of “Project Runway” season 18, so how did they spend all their time away from the workroom preparing their collections for Fashion Week, and what twists and surprises were in store for them along the way? Find out below in our live blog with all the minute-by-minute developments as they happened.

Last week the top six designers went to the Vessel in New York City to present avant garde looks. Brittany Allen presented a voluminous pink coat whose execution was lacking upon closer inspection, while Marquise Foster created a silvery Tin Man look that the judges thought was overthought and had proportion problems. So both of them were eliminated — again. Both had been eliminated once before and got second chances on the show, but couldn’t quite take their good fortune all the way to the finale.

That left Victoria Cocieru, Sergio Guadarrama, Geoffrey Mac and Nancy Volpe-Beringer, who had five months and $10,000 apiece to create their 10-look collections. But is it ever really that simple? In a preview for tonight’s show, Karlie Kloss told the designers, “We’re throwing out the rule book.” She revealed that they’d have to show a few sample pieces from their collections to the judges, who would then decide if two, three or all four of them would really get the chance to show their designs at Fashion Week.

So what did Kloss, Nina Garcia and Elaine Welteroth ultimately decide? Who do you think will win the competition in the March 12 finale? And who do you think should win? Follow along below starting at 9:00pm (times listed are Eastern).

9:00pm — We check back into the competition three months after the avant garde challege. The designers had five months total to create their collections for Fashion Week, so we’re a little more than halfway through.

Nancy Volpe-Beringer

9:03pm — Christian’s first visit it to Nancy in Philadelphia. She’s organized with compartments and spreadsheets and a calendar. She is way more organized than she seemed during the regular season when she was “a mess and didn’t know what was happening ever.” And she already has tons of her work done along with a full-size cardboard cutout of Christian cheering her on. “This is really funny, and kinda creepy,” he says.

9:04pm — Nancy’s works in progress look pretty cool so far. She wants to do no-waste wearable art with a lot of liquid-look fabrics. And she wants to be inclusive, so she’s designing another look with a wheelchair-user in mind. I really dig what she’s got going on so far. Christian likes the fabrics and silhouettes, but Nancy needs to play close attention to fit and avoid overworking her designs. And she needs one streamlined piece to bring it all together.

9:05pm — Nancy works overlooking the “Rocky” steps in Philly, so she invites Christian top run the steps with her. Very Nancy. I love it.

Sergio Guadarrama

9:07pm — Next visit in New York with Sergio and his partner Kade. Sergio is inspired by global warming and the melting of the ice caps. So he’s going to dress his models like polar bears and drown them … okay, no. He’s doing looks progressing from ice to melted ice. He’s growing his own leather with kombucha in his bathtub. It looks like he’s decomposing a body. And it looks like that’s what it smells like too. I think Walter White grew his own leather on “Breaking Bad” once.

9:08pm — Christian likes the melting ice color palette Sergio is using, but Christian thinks the design looks more like a “saloon girl” and won’t translate to glaciers. And the fringe looks like a costume. “I’m going to probably stick to my guns,” he says, surprising no one. He’s creating a sense of “wetness and volume.” He thinks when the judges hear about his inspirations, they’re going to love his story. Well there’s a first time for everything.

9:09pm — While Nancy took Christian to the “Rocky” steps, Sergio brings him to soccer practice where he plays for a hot minute, but nah, Christian is gonna have a scone instead. Also, Sergio promised boys in short shorts, but it’s clearly too cold for that.

Victoria Cocieru

9:13pm — Next up is Victoria in Los Angeles in the heat and wilderness. She has made a lot of progress on her collection. She’s using traditional Moldovan patterns (which might’ve helped during the heritage challenge, just saying). Christian is concerned about Victoria’s use of her own logo, and how little cohesion there seems to be between her different looks. She took to heart Karlie’s suggestion that she think of other kinds of clients besides the one she’s been designing for, but Christian thinks Victoria needs to be simpler and more streamlined with a couple of looks.

9:14pm — We get to meet Victoria’s husband Dan and son Christian. “She has all my support, and I will do everything for her,” Dan says. And how! He left his successful soccer career to move to the US with Victoria and now he’s a truck driver, so Victoria missed him when he’s gone for weeks at a time. Winning the show would mean Dan could quit his job and they could keep the family together. That’s really sweet.

Geoffrey Mac

9:15pm — Last stop is Geoffrey back in Brooklyn, and I wonder if they shot these segments in order because it seems a little impractical to go from Philadelphia to New York to Los Angeles and then back to New York.

9:16pm — Apparently he tore his meniscus while skateboarding, which prevented him from fabric shopping and has slowed down his work progress. He’s got sketches, and he’s worried that he hasn’t made enough progress. He may be kinda right. He’s got a lot of ideas, but Christian points out that he has really only just begun developing his ideas: who’s wearing it on the red carpet, who would buy it from the store? Those are a lot of questions he still needs to answers with his collection.

9:17pm — Geoffrey even had to take another job while recovering from his injury — working with Zaldy to do “The Little Mermaid Live” costumes, not bad — and he broke up with his partner too. Sounds like his last three months could fill an entire “Project Runway” spinoff series. I hope he’s able to recover because he could make an amazing collection. “He’s just got to get to it,” says Christian.

Back to New York for Fashion Week

9:24pm — The designers are all back in New York for Fashion Week, and they’re actually attending Christian’s own fashion show, which opens Fashion Week. Damn, Christian’s got some really gorgeous looks, bold and creative dresses. The ruffles! And that purple dress is fire. He might just make it in this business.

9:25pm — The next day they’re off to a new workroom with boxes full of the designs they’ve been working on. That’s a lot of boxes. Now I kind of want to see a spin-off series about how all those packages got shipped. They could’ve had Victoria’s husband drive them down.

9:27pm — “I took Christian’s advice to heart, which was, ‘Get started.'” Yes, Geoffrey, that’s an important step in doing: starting the doing. Meanwhile, Victoria revised most of her designs after Christian’s visit. And Sergio didn’t take Christian’s advice, per se, but rather is leaning into the whole Victorian saloon thing that Christian pointed out … as a criticism. Hmmm.

9:28pm — Karlie Kloss visits them in the workroom to introduce, of course, a twist! “We’re throwing out the rule book,” she says.

9:32pm — The designers are showing the judges three looks from their collections in 48 hours. They can choose their very best, or show the judges pieces they want feedback on. It’s possible all four of them will go on to the final runway show. Or three of them. Or two of them. I don’t like this turn of events. After five months, all of a sudden one or two of them may not get their Fashion Week moment after all? Hopefully they just let them all through.

9:35pm — Sergio feels he’s grown in the months since the regular season. He wants to be more respectful, so he’s less aggressive about selecting models. But Geoffrey will cut you if you try to come between him and his favorite model Thijin, but he has no idea how to decide which of his looks to show. I suppose it’s a good sign that he’s so unsure of himself. That’s what often happens before he has an awesome runway show.

9:37pm — They’re trying to give Victoria a language lesson about the difference between “khaki” and “cocky,” and to Sergio she’s like, oh cocky is what everybody says you are — accidental burn! Nancy thinks he’s been misunderstood in that he’s said “some crazy things” but has never been rude or cruel about or towards other designers. And she’s right about that. We haven’t seen him really put anyone down in the workroom (except to constantly say that he’s the most advanced designer in the competition) because if the producers had a lot of that footage, you know full well they would have used all of it.

Day 2 in the Workroom

9:39pm — Christian wants to see Geoffrey first because he hasn’t seen anything from his actual collection yet. Geoffrey’s naming the collection in honor of his father and wants to get a proud dad moment. Man, they’ve been setting up a whole dramatic story arc for him and his father. I wonder if we’re finally gonna meet him by the end of the show. But Geoffrey hasn’t tried any of his looks on actual people. Kind of a problem. I’m not a fashion expert, but I find that clothes function best when they’re worn by humans.

9:44pm — Geoffrey also has a sleeve coming out of a boob on one purple dress. And a big puffy jacket over it. He still doesn’t know what direction to go in with it. And there’s a giant glittery puffy coat thing that he says you need to be shirtless to wear. It looks ridiculous, and is also maybe my favorite garment ever made. I want one in fleece that I could use as loungewear. I could sleep standing up in it.

9:45pm — Victoria needs to avoid over-styling her looks because she’s accessorizing the hell out of her looks. Christian likes her layered sportswear the best, and now she has a lot of editing to do, while Geoffrey’s feather stuffing is crawling around the whole room like fluffy spiders.

9:46pm — Sergio “needs to modernize a little bit” to avoid his looks being costumey. He’s showing the judges three stages of arctic ice melt. The idea doesn’t really come through from the looks themselves (they never do), but they’re nice looks.

9:48pm — Nancy’s strategy is to wow the judges and not hold back so that she can make sure she makes it to the final runway show. She’s showing her wheelchair look, one of her liquid looks, and a nice tailored suit in a big bold print. Oh, and a box wine bag. God, I love Nancy. Only slightly disappointed that there are no dildo references … yet. But after the consultation Nancy gets choked up, so Geoffrey check in on her. She’s just happy that Christian liked her work. Nancy and Geoffrey are like walking hugs. I just want to have brunch with them every week after the season is over.

Model Fittings

9:50pm — I’m a little worried about Geoffrey’s model fittings. Instead of giving Thijin a sleeve boob, now he’s giving her a sleeve dick. He’s planning to show the judges two very similar puffer looks, and I really think he should stick to one, because those two together would not make me want to see the rest of the collection with their messy strands hanging all over the place.

9:55pm — Christian is giving Geoffrey some risky advice. He wants Geoffrey to get feetback on those weird purple and mustrard looks, but Geoffrey wants the judges to see things he thinks they’ll like. Geoffrey is low-key freaking out, and I’m freaking out for him because I think I have a similar temperament. I’m literally freaking about about seven different things entirely while writing this.

Morning of the Runway

9:58pm — Geoffrey’s feathers are still over the damn place, so much that Nancy needs to vacuum the workroom. Meanwhile, Sergio’s model has visible panty line problems. Actually, not just the panty line. You can completely see the panties through that body suit, and it is not a good effect.

9:59pm — More drama than usual with hair and makeup. Geoffrey is micromanaging the models and makeup artists with these pearls he’s having applied to their cheeks. Sergio just wants his models to look like they’re “cold and melting.” Maybe he really is going for the drowned polar bear look.

Runway Show

10:05pm — First off, I’m already thrown off that Brandon’s glasses aren’t his signature black wide-rimmed variety. It’s like, new glasses, who dis? The regular judges are joined by Steven Kolb, the president and CEO of the Council of Fashion Designers of America. Steven will have a big impact on the career of whoever wins.

10:06pm — Sergio’s designs are first. The VPL on the first look isn’t quite as bad as I thought it would be. I really love how he ruffled the second look on the sleeves and skirt, complex but clean. And I love the fringed cocktail look, which he says weights 45 pounds, so I’m thinking Yuen will love taking it off after. I think he picked a good trio of looks that feel cohesive.

10:07pm — Nancy starts with her wheelchair model where the skirt turns into a cape. “You know what I love most,” says Brandon. A reveal! Killer first look. The tailored suit is really great too, and I love her use of print. And DD’s liquid fabric looks is dynamite. They don’t feel quite as cohesive to me, though the colors feel like they play well off of each other. A stellar three choices to show the judges.

10:09pm — Victoria’s first look has a lot of nifty pieces, though I’m not overly excited about the whole look put together. I like the second pant suit look too with the coat over it, but it’s very familiar Victoria. And I like her third hooded, glittery jumpsuit look more than I did in the workroom, mostly in how bold it is following the two that came before. I think the colors may be a little underwhelming, though. A lot of tan and beige. They don’t really pop on the runway.

10:10pm — And now Geoffrey. Okay, I love how he paired that big puffer jacket with that gorgeous metallic skirt. I like the second metallic dress with the open bra too. Very futuristic, maybe even a little sci-fi, but I’m not mad at it. The third look with its own puffer jacket is a little underwhelming after the first one was such a showstopper; it looks a little saggy on the model.

10:10pm — I’d say my favorite of those mini-collections are Nancy’s and Sergio’s. My favorite individual look is Geoffrey’s purple puffer. My least favorite mini-collection was Victoria’s, but not in the sense that it was bad. They should all get to show their full collections. They’ve earned it.


VICTORIA — Nina is worried about the colors and the fit. She needs to do better tailoring. Elaine doesn’t think the glittery jumpsuit is well made. It looks cheap. But Nina thinks the collection is smart to do separates because editors love separates, and so do retailers. Steven likes the crocheted caps and thinks they should be Victoria’s signature. Karlie thinks the handbags are unnecessary. And Victoria’s branding on her looks is premature for her in her career. Ouch. I didn’t think the judges would go that negative.

SERGIO — Steven doesn’t think the climate theme comes through in the clothes themselves. Because his messages never do. Elaine also thinks Sergio keeps bouncing around between political themes and he needs to pick one and back it up consistently. Elaine loves how ethereal the first look is, but it’s too sheer and looks like lingerie. Nina thinks the three garments are “gorgeous,” but the styling is “dated” and she doesn’t know many women who are looking for designs like these. Brandon says Sergio needs to “f*ck it up,” put his own stamp on women’s wear. And he needs to edit: don’t show off every technique he knows on all of his looks. Hmmm, I liked these collection previews better than the judges did.

GEOFFREY — Brandon thinks he needs to work on how to better showcase metal mesh. He feels like Geoffrey’s looks are both cheap and overdone. Up top they look good, but the silhouettes on the bottom “fall flat.” Brandon tells him to edit himself. Nina thinks the puffer jacket needs to open into something beautiful and slinky. Elaine actually loves the mustard yellow coat and octopus sweater. But the black dress is “shapeless” and “not flattering on her body.” Steven agrees there’s not enough shape or sexiness in his looks.

NANCY — Elaine thinks the styling could be more modern. The second look has dated hair and makeup. Steven likes the adaptability look, but the skirt needs to be worked on. Nina thinks the fitted suit is very new for Nancy, but she needs to tone it down because “there’s a lot right now.” Brandon appreciates the wine purse, but thought it looked like a bird. They don’t like the collar around DD’s neck, and when they take it off the judges like the look a lot better. I dunno, I really liked that headpiece. Once again, “edit” is the watchword.

10:30pm — Those critiques were tougher than I expected. I liked all those mini-collections. So do all four designers deserve to advance to Fashion Week? … To be continued. Oh for crying out loud! Just tell us. I’ll be even madder now if they send someone home. Just keep ’em in.

Be sure to make your predictions so that the contestants can see how they’re faring in our racetrack odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before the next episode airs every Thursday on Bravo. You’ll compete to win a spot on our leaderboard and eternal bragging rights. See our contest rules and sound off with other fans in our reality TV forum. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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