Well, folks, it’s finally here: the last challenge before the designers head home and Tim Gunn makes his hometown visits (which is the highlight of the season for me). On the morning of the final round, Anthony feels wonderful after the last challenge and is ready to pump up the volume, both with design and with being loud at the apartment in the morning. Emilio is ready for his shot at greatness and Mila is amazed that she’s made it to the top five, even if she now does have to flat iron her hair alone.

At Parsons, Heidi reminds the contestants that this challenge will determine who goes to Bryant Park. Before they can show at that tent, they have to visit another tent—a circus tent. They head to the Ringling Brothers tent at Coney Island, where Tim Gunn walks out like the ringmaster that he is. The designers must create a high-end look inspired by the circus. To help inspire them, the designers are treated to a bit of The Greatest Show on Earth. Clowns, rope acrobatics, topless gymnast dudes that get Jay hot under the collar, motorcycles in a giant hamster ball, and confetti everywhere.

After the performance, the designers take 30 minutes to sketch. Emilio talks about stripes and polka dots and believes his theater experience will help him create his look. Mila is inspired by the ringmaster’s coat and larger than life personality. Anthony noticed the girl acrobat’s grey/blue swirl print bodysuit and found inspiration in it. Jay loves the exaggeration of the clowns, and you can’t really create high-end fashion based on drooling over topless guys either. Seth Aaron sketches something that looks like the Queen of Hearts would wear. She, by the way, was not at the circus.

Ahh, one last mad dash of fabric shopping at Mood, and the Mood dog makes his final appearance. They have $300 to buy their material; Emilio looks at every stripped fabric, Jay buys leather, and Tim advises Anthony to turn up the volume. Clearly Tim wasn’t in the apartment that morning.

Upon returning to Parson’s, Tim gives them two days to make their garments, which makes everyone happy. Anthony worries his color choices are too different from the rest. Emilio’s ego is reaching epic proportions in the workroom; he goes on and on about winning so many challenges and it gets to Mila—which was his intent, no doubt. Emilio shows off his partially made dress to Seth Aaron and Anthony to gloat even more. I’m getting really tired of Emilio.

Tim arrives for his consultations. Seth Aaron is going extravagant with a long black and white dress, a coat, and a top hat. Tim asks him about how it’s going to be styled and cautions against costume. After looking at Emilio’s black and white stripes and polka dots and asks where’s the color? Emilio gets defensive and says he’s done color all along and he is confident in his look. Anthony tells Tim his concern about not having black and white fabric. Tim says don’t worry about that and he should follow his gut. Mila shows a jacket of black shiny fabric and some ivory fabric she’s thinking of using. He tells her to ditch the ivory and use the striped fabric differently. Jay shows Tim his oversized pants and his “bad bitch” plans for his jacket.

Day two of the challenge brings Anthony more stress trying to figure out what direction his dress will go. Jay’s excited to be getting to Bryant Park and also getting to go home and see his family and friends. The models arrive for their fitting which doesn’t present a whole lot of drama. Seth Aaron thinks Mila’s outfit is a bit over the top and Emilio realizes that yeah, maybe does need some color. His model probably told him that, since apparently she’s the one who made meaningful changes to his winning look last week.

Anthony comments that he’s seeing a lot of costumes in the room and he’s making an editorial, elegant dress. Then it becomes apparent that Jay is making a Sgt. Pepper via Michael Jackson jacket. At this point, I’m siding with Anthony; these aren’t supposed to be outfits to be worn while working at a circus.

And the day of the last runway challenge arrives. Mila is nervous, nostalgic, and confident. Emilio has a lot of work to do and Seth Aaron has his first case of nerves. In another fit of boastfulness, Emilio proclaims his dress is the best ever.

Tim sends in the models and Anthony has another make it work moment when he realizes the waves on his dress are too large. Mila thinks Jay and Anthony should go this week because Anthony hasn’t been consistent and Jay lacks some fashion and textile knowledge. Jay, on the other hand, doesn’t think Mila has what it takes to make a collection, but, of course, he doesn’t like her anyway. After the last tweaks on the garments, it’s finally time for the last show.

Tonight the judges are Heidi, Michael, Nina and Cynthia Rowley (who looks like she forgot to go to the hair department before getting on set). The designs are:

Jay’s fitted at the waist and calves black pants with a red military-meets-ringmaster jacket of red, gold, and black.
Mila’s hot mess of neon pink pants, neon yellow top, and long cut-away coat of black and white stripes on a diagonal (so it looks like color blocking) and shiny black fabric.
Anthony’s long blue gown that opens in the front and has large wave details at the shoulders and back.
Emilio’s black and white striped gown that trails in the back but is pulled up in waves—almost bustle like—in the front. And there is some red in the stripes, so he did use some color.
Seth Aaron’s stole from Tim Burton particularly from Beetlejuice and Alice in creating a black and white stripped jacket with overly long sleeves, a white shirt with a collar that stands up to the model’s ears, and some crazy red leather pants.

All of the designers and models take to the runway to face the judges one last time before going to Bryant Park. First, Seth Aaron says he designed out of emotion and reaction to the circus. Heidi likes it; Nina likes the drama and fantasy but it feels a bit costume-y. Cynthia is impressed with the use of wire to defy gravity. Michael sees crazy-crotch on the pants but likes the jacket. Then Anthony explains he wanted to push the envelope but didn’t want to go for a costume. Nina likes the dress from the waist up but the rest of the dress is a snooze. Michael questions the fabric, as does Cynthia. Michael goes so far as to get up and feel the fabric. It’s polyester and they all chide him for spending $300 on polyester.

Jay says that his jacket was military inspired and the pants are his style. Michael and Heidi get him to remove the jacket and they say that there is nothing exceptional about the pants, so it’s all about the jacket. Nina likes the pants and thinks they are well made. Turning to Mila, she says she was inspired by the master of ceremony’s jacket. Michael thinks it is dramatic but not a costume. Nina is not crazy about the look. Cynthia in general likes it. Emilio explains his dress, Heidi and Cynthia like it, and Michael thinks it’s the best garment of the season.

The designers then have to dance even more for their chance at Fashion Week and tell the judges why they should go. Seth Aaron says he’s well-rounded in all areas, can tailor, and can design. He thinks Emilio and Jay should go with him. Jay says he should go because he can create an amazing collection; he would take Seth Aaron and Anthony. Jay and Anthony both tear up at the suggestion of going. Mila thinks she should go to Fashion Week because she’s a strong, thoughtful designer and based on consistency and points of view, Emilio and Seth Aaron should go. Emilio says his strong sense of technique and inspiration make him qualified to go. He’d take the strongest competitors—Seth Aaron and Mila. Anthony says he should go to Fashion Week because he has made some beautiful clothes and, when left to his own area of design, he can find his center, look up what “viscera” means, and compete well. He’d bring Emilio and Jay to share the experience.

The judges deliberate. Emilio’s dress was sophisticated and looked effortless. Seth Aaron wasn’t as sophisticated but it was innovative and they are curious what he’d show at Fashion Week. The judges are disappointed in Anthony’s fabric choice; he lacks technical knowledge but does have talent. Mila’s clothes usually seem one-dimensional but her garments are well made. Jay’s clothes are modern but it’s hard to tell who he is as a designer.

At great last, the decision is finally made. Emilio’s dress was unanimously their favorite, so he is in. Seth Aaron has consistently proven he knows what he’s doing, so he’s in as well. Anthony, despite growing as a designer and producing some great pieces, he’s not ready for Fashion Week so he is out. Mila has impressed them throughout the season, but the last look fell short. Jay makes beautiful clothes but the last look was too safe. Heidi then says Mila is in, but not dismissed from the runway. Jay is then also in. In a redux of Season 5, they will both create collections but only one will show at Bryant Park. So, fashion fans, it won’t be until next week that we know who the real final three are.