INSPIRATIONS: Hawaiian beaches (Ivy Higa), dreams involving statues (Andy South), and tea-party dolls washed away at sea (April Johnston) were among the themes. Two-time challenge winner and controversial contestant Gretchen Jones referenced "running through thunder."
Meanwhile, whimsical Valerie Mayen riffed on what would happen if Rainbow Brite had a love child with David Bowie. Michael Drummond referenced X-ray machines, Mark Rothko, and lingerie. Christopher Collins called on his "roots and grace." Casanova and Mondo Guerra both paid tribute to their grandmothers, while Michael Costello dedicated his collection to a female friend. Ah!
TOP LOOKS: Higa's gauzy yellow sundress with surprise rhinestone embellishment in back; Collins's minimalist, navy hooded silk dress; Mayen's especially well-constructed candy-colored frocks; Guerra's plaid bubble dress with a pink belt detail; South's one-shoulder green mini with cascading ruffles
ACCESSORIES: Johnston's models wore massive, nude hair bands. Higa and Jones both showed models wearing sun hats. Jones's models wore geometric statement necklaces of silver, gold, and rose gold. South put shiny, metallic star-studded headpieces to reference his dream-statute muse. Mayen's models wore mod two-tone sunglasses and glossy, bob wigs. Casanova's models had gold appliqués on their faces and sported enormous bangles. Guerra topped his models' Flintstones buns with giant, silly bows.
WHO WAS THERE: Guest judge Jessica Simpson as well as "PR" regulars Heidi Klum, Nina Garcia, and Michael Kors. Designer Betsey Johnson, actress Jamie-Lynn Sigler, and "American Idol" winner Jordin Sparks, who told StyleList, "This is my first fashion show ever and I'm so excited."
Also there: Hollywood mogul and "PR" producer Harvey Weinstein, Marie Claire Editor-in-Chief Joanna Coles, "America's Next Top Model" judge Jay Manuel, and season 7 "PR" winner Seth Aaron Henderson.
Other "PR" alumni in attendance included season 2 winner Chloe Dao, season 5 winner Leanne Marshall, season 6 fourth-place finisher Christopher Straub (now a blonde), and top season 7 contestants Jay Nicolas Sario and Maya Luz.
WHAT WE THOUGHT: While there was a welcome absence of black in the contestants' fabric choices, many played it safe. Costello's evening wear was red carpet worthy, but his collection (which lacked a true day look) was incomplete. Perceived front-runner Jones did ten refined but dull pieces. Casanova's collection was typically vulgar.
Higa produced a beautiful resort-themed story that may have been too relaxed for the dramatic finale. Quiet Collins surprised StyleList by being especially strong with his minimalist sportswear. Our picks for potential winners? South, for pieces that were consistently beautiful, or Mayen, who sent a fruity, knockout punch down the runway.
Want more runway? Check out StyleList's Spring 2011 Fashion Week coverage.