Project Runway aired its 17th season finale on Thursday night, which means viewers finally found out which designer walked home with the coveted first place prize. It was a tough battle for the designers and a hard decision for judges Karlie Kloss, Christian Sirianoto, and guest judge Diane von Furstenberg to choose a winner from the talented final three contestants: Hester Sunshine, Garo Sparo, and Sebastian Grey. This year’s iteration of the show has moved the series back to Bravo after running on Lifetime for the past 10 years.
At the start of the show, Christian tells the designers that for their runway show collections at Skylight One Hanson, they must pick ten out of their eleven looks to show. Garo had 17 looks to choose from and still had not made the necessary edits by the end of the first day. Later in the program, the designers are transported to an undisclosed location to meet the guest judge for the finale, Diane von Furstenberg. She imparted some advice to the contestants, telling them that what is most important is that they are true to themselves. After receiving a pep talk from Christian, the designers prepared for the next day and their final judging at the runway show.
Each designer sent a ten-look collection down the runway for what was a successful outing. As the judges convened, they decided the winner would be chosen from the top two: Hester and Sebastian. The judges commented on Sebastian's talent for navigating art, commerce, and his “flawless presentation,” and said his clothes were as good as any of the current collections shown at Fashion Week. The judges commented on Hester's modern sensibility that would appeal to consumers, that her clothes would sell immediately. After the deliberation, it is ultimately decided that Sebastian is the winner. Sebastian cried tears of joy, saying “I went from cleaning houses to being the winner of Project Runway!”
While all three of the finalists had impressive and competent collections, Sebastian was easily the most consistent designer when taking the entire season into account, as he appeared to almost sail through the competition. The 32- year-old Colombian immigrant-turned-janitor-turned-Project Runway winner was in tears as judges congratulated him. Garcia told Sebastian, "You came to this country, you worked really hard, and you are standing here as a winner on talent alone."
Sebastian, who came to America only four years ago, took home the biggest cash prize in the show’s history: $250,000. As the winner, he'll also be the subject of a feature in Elle magazine and get his own role in a Bluprint digital series, with an additional $50,000 to put toward his own design studio. Nina referred to Sebastian as “the personification of the American dream.”