'Project Runway' Season 12 finale: 'Scandal's' Kerry Washington passes judgment

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heidi-klum-zac-posen-nina-garcia-kerry-washington-project-runway-12-finale-gi.jpgIt won't air for weeks, but for the "Project Runway" Season 12 finalists, it's all over except for the waiting.

The last eight designers in the reality show competition all presented their collections Friday (Sept. 6) at New York's Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week held in the middle of Lincoln Center.

Judge/host Heidi Klum introduced fellow judges Zac Posen and Nina Garcia, who were joined by "Scandal" star Kerry Washington. Alyssa Milano -- who will host Season 3 of "Project Runway All Stars" -- actress Paula Garces, rapper Bow Wow and 2012's Miss USA Nana Meriwether were also in attendance.

Wearing a bronze, one-shouldered gown, Klum, knowing that the fashion week theaters run on an extremely tight schedule, asked to "get the party started," but not before dragging mentor and host Tim Gunn onto the catwalk for a declaration of love.

"I'm rolling bandages in the back," Gunn said. "Just metaphorically."

Alexander Pope led off the show with a cobalt, satin micro mini. Models wore possibly high heels, and some sported Mr. Spock-like eyebrows. With pronounced shoulders, think "The Jetsons" and crimped hair put into huge up-dos, the show was off.

alexander-pope-project-runway-12-finale-gi.jpgOne blue dress, with trim in odd places, looked as if the model was trying to hide a recent weight gain. And that is hardly the case.

This collection's showstopper was the last outfit, a real what-is-that-moment as the model seemed to be trapped what appeared to be a tree, albeit a fabulous one of chiffon. When she let down the panels, she was left wearing a hat, akin to a very dressy dunce hat, with long, sparkly material shooting out of it, like fireworks, or a Dr. Seuss hat come to life.

Kate Pankoke, who benefited from what was known as "Runway Redemption," got her second chance on the show this season, having been eliminated during the teams season.

"I just want to say in this industry, there is no such thing as a second chance," and she thanked "Project Runway" for the opportunity.

Luckily, there's also an opportunity for editing as the audience was reminded that they were attending a live show whenthe throbbing music abruptly stopped while Pankoke's collection was being show.

kate-pankoke-project-runway-12-finale-gi.jpgHer models, all wearing low ponytails and natural makeup, began with a black beaded mini dress, with filmy sleeves. She also showed gold lame pants with an evening white button-down blouse.

Her black palazzo pants flowed beautifully, and she used a deep coral fabric with lace trim on a couple of dresses.

"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley," Jeremy Brandrick's collection was inspired by the opening line of Daphne Du Maurier's "Rebecca."

jeremy-brandrick-project-runway-12-finale-gi.jpgOverall, Brandrick's clothes were the epitome of elegance. Featuring black, slate and pearl grays in rich satins, there were only two missteps in the collection -- a skirt that, made a whippet-thin model look overfed, and a bustier that looked too much like an undergarment.

Claiming her inspiration was "clarivoyance," Helen Castillo fairly vibrated when she took the stage, announcing, "This is my first collection ever. Ever!"

helen-castillo-project-runway-12-finale-gi.jpgMost of her designs featured a rounded, cutaway hem, shorter in the front. There were outfits one could wear to work or a party and then there was a dress that looked as it were crafted by shiny red Legos.

Alexandria von Bromssen said, simply, "I hope you like my clothes." 

alexandria-von-bromssen-project-runway-12-finale-gi.jpgHer first piece featured a very intricate skirt, which looked like newspaper strips, in the size and shape of dollar bills. Many of her models wore elaborate feather hats, either in a Mohawk style or a cap. Other outfits tended toward slouchy silhouettes.

"My heart is jumping out of my chest right now, I am so excited to be here," Bradon McDonald admitted, explaining that the inspiration for his collection was a crocus pushing through the snow, the first sign of spring when he was growing up in northern New York.

"Spring starts here," he exclaimed.

bradon-mcdonald-project-runway-season-12-finale-gi.jpgHis designs often had an exquisite crocus on the sleeves or back, and he showed a wide range of gowns, jackets and pants. His models' hair and makeup were completely subdued allowing his clothes to take center stage.

Justin LeBlanc offered a true signature line.

justin-leblanc-project-runway-12-gi.jpgHis white dresses were very similar to each other, and others were mostly in white, grays or navy. Each piece included an interesting striated accessory, usually in black and what appeared to be rubber. These were either worn as a necklace, belt, or most often sewn onto the shoulders.

Dom Streater called her collection "Retro Redux" and said, "This is my view of the future, borrowing from the past."

dom-streater-project-runway-12-finale-gi.jpgHer future -- and past -- involves a lot of lavender and deep purple. One gown had an interesting T-strap back, and purple pants were shown with a clear plastic jacket with silver stripes.

Streater was the only designer to present a bathing suit, a one-piece, accessorized with not so much as a cover-up but more of a terrific look-at-me piece as it was completely open and billowed behind the model.

The "Project Runway" Season 12 finale airs Thursday, Oct. 17 on Lifetime.
Photo/Video credit: Getty Images