Designer Jeffrey Williams put his heart on his models' sleeves to produce a flaming-red runway collection to win the second season of Bravo's "The Fashion Show: Ultimate Collection."
The 26-year-old Seattle native, raised in a family of 12 siblings, receives a $125,000 prize and a fashion spread in Harper's Bazaar for his reality win. Williams devoted his collection to his mom, who died of breast cancer in 2004, shortly after his acceptance to New York's Fashion Institute of Technology. Red was her favorite color.
Williams emerged as a come-from-behind contender on the revamped Bravo show, the network's reality alternative to "Project Runway." That show originated on Bravo, but left the network for Lifetime in a litigious 2008 parting.
The show deviated from the "Project Runway" format by putting its 12 contestants in rival fashion houses, where they competed in groups to create collections. Three finalists went solo for the finale.
Williams, who now resides in Brooklyn, N.Y., is a fashion illustrator, consultant and stylist, who has worked with Alexander Wang, Peter Som and international stylist Patti Wilson.
"I always knew I would be in the finale," Williams said, shortly before his victory was announced by supermodel Iman. "My mother gave me the inspiration to be here and believe in myself."
His winning style philosophy: "There's no such thing as what's in or what's out. It's all about confidence and truth. If you feel divine, keep it on; if not, take it the heck off."
Williams' collection of sophisticated gowns, dresses and sportswear elicited approving gasps from guest judge Mary J. Blige. "Everything that came down the runway I would wear," Blige told Williams.
Williams' victory was in keeping with host-judge Isaac Mizrahi's preseason prediction to StyleList that the Season 2 winner would be a contestant barely on the judges' initial radar. Williams, who insisted he specialized in unisex looks, was almost tossed in some of the competition's early rounds for producing "pom-pom looks and elf shoes" that especially offended Iman.
In the end, she said to Williams, "You achieved a great understanding of a woman's body and know how to make her look beautiful."
Belligerent contestant Calvin Tran, 34, of New York and Chicago, finished second. Recent design-school grad Dominique Pearl David, 21, was third.
Speaking of fashion reality stars, read our chat with "Project Runway"'s Tim Gunn about his winning collaboration with Weight Watchers.