I don’t know about where you are, dear reader, but it is as hot as a bordello in Hades here in the deep south. So hot, in fact, I can’t be bothered with an (allegedly) witty introduction, so let’s just jump into the action, shall we?
As usual, we rejoin our remaining designers the morning after the prior challenge. Daniel says he is sad that Wesley has left, but Kelli is excited at the prospect of a new challenge. The designers dance around their apartments, bouncing with energy as they get ready to face the new challenge. Let’s see if they can keep this energy up by Week 10. When they arrive at Parsons’ runway room to sort out the model situation, Heidi brings out Tia, Suede’s model, and Alyssa, Wesley’s model. Heidi says that Suede can keep Tia or pick from anyone’s model and shake things up. He, in his usual third-person-speak, keeps Tia so Alyssa is out. And once again we are cheated out of the prospect of a walk-off. Heidi won’t let them in on the new challenge quite yet. She sends them back to their apartments to have a night out on the town with Tim. Red Lobster, reservations for fifteen, please!
Bright Lights, Big City.
Wait…a night out on the town? I’ve heard this story before and it never ends well. Jarell is delusional and thinks maybe it will be nice night out. Stella thinks maybe Tim will take them to one of his favorite bars or restaurants. “Tim-licious,” as Blayne greets him, shows up at Altas in a dapper black three-quarters rain car coat. He cautions them all that it is raining outside so they all don hideous plastic rain ponchos and knock-off Wellies. They walk down the street and find their initial destination: a double-decker City Sights bus. They will ride through the city and make four stops where groups will disembark and take photos to use as their inspiration to make a look for a night out in New York. They will then make their ways back to Atlas. Korto is more worried about her hair than the challenge. Stella, to her surprise, thinks the ride is actually fun, despite having previously (like me) thought those rides are the ultimate of tourist cheesiness.
The first group—Suede, Daniel, Leann, and Jennifer—are let off at Columbus Circle to take pictures. Stella, Kenley, Blayne, and Keith disembark at Times Square where Blayne searches for the nearest tanning salon. I’ve been in Times Square at night; the lights are bright enough to give him a tan. Korto, Kelli, and Joe are dropped off at the New York Public Library, which is near Grand Central Station and the Chrysler Building. Finally, Terri, Emily, and Jarell explore Greenwich Village.
Jennifer takes a picture of a huge clock to use as her inspiration; let’s hope she’s not too much a fan of Flavor of Love. Daniel takes a picture of a woman walking away where the light casts a cool shadow on the ground. Stella would take pictures if she can figure out how to work the digital camera; she begs Blayne for help working the contraption. Kelli spies a “Mad Max”-like fire hydrant at the library that captures her attention and Emily takes a picture of “movement”—taillights or something moving past in streaks. Terri finds graffiti to snap shots of, much to her joy. Keith lets us know that he’s always wanted to move to New York because growing up as a gay man in an all-Mormon family in Salt Lake City isn’t the most ideal situation. Kenley comments that Keith is crazy-competitive, and Stella grouses that he blocked a couple of her shots. Keith doesn’t care about what they have to say—he’s not there to make friends. Ugh. That is sooo Reality 101 and now he’s my favorite to get booted for being clichéd. Finally, the night winds down and they all make it back to Atlas and get ready for bed. Jarell apparently sleeps with a mud mask or something on his face and Blayne sleeps in shiny red shorts. I didn’t need to know either of these details.
By the hammer of Thor!
The next day, in the workroom at Parsons, Tim is still damp from the night before. Or so he says; he looks as put together as always. He tells the designers they will have 30 minutes to pick out a picture to use as their inspiration, then it’s off to Mood to spend $100 in a half-hour. Kenley feels the pressure, but picks out a pretty picture of a tiled wall depicting a map. Blayne chooses a tacky photo of a bunch of neon colors. Keith is enamored with an up-close shot of a trampled magazine page. He wants to do something “sexy with volume” and be the winner. Soon enough, it’s time to go to Mood and, for the first time this season, the designers will get to pick their own fabrics.
It’s also the first time this season we get to see the designers running around Mood like crazy people. Stella is helpless again; she wants assistance to find her leatha. Emily picks some brightly colored chiffon fabrics while Jennifer goes for white and navy charmeuse to replicate the clock face. Time runs out and the designers head back to Parsons with their purchases in reusable Mood bags. How very “green.” They will have until 1 a.m. to work and the winner will get immunity. Tim, getting confused as to where he is, calls out “Push, push, push!” This isn’t the maternity ward, my dear.
The designers have 13 hours on the clock to get their looks done. Suede tells us, in his usual third-person style, that he’s there to (1) rock it, (2) make dress in with a shirt dress silhouette, and (2) add flecks of color. Well color PhoneGrrrl excited...not. Kenley is working with a print that looks to me like a Hawaiian shirt and to Joe looks like something you’d use to cover a lawn chair. Leanne worries about being too creative and losing again; she’s focusing on the tree planter picture of concentric circles. Oh no, not circles again! The skirt is shaping up well, but it is taking her a long time and worries that she won’t have time to finish the top.
Blayne stands around eating orange slices and making crazy eyes at Kenley. He (jokingly?) threatens to eat her. Dude is seriously creeping me out, but at least they’re being consistent and keeping with the serial killer theme from the first episode. Meanwhile, Keith is affixing hundreds of pieces of fabric to a simple A-line slip dress. The dress is white but some of the fabric pieces are colored; he says it is an interpretation of a fringe dress. Stella doesn’t like Keith’s dress and thinks no one would want to wear it. Terri, after finding the perfect print, is busy making a dress-like top with a fully open back that will sit atop long black pants. Emily is constructing a black sheath dress upon which she’ll place brightly colored ruffles. Kenley thinks Emily is in trouble. But at least she’s quiet. Miss Helpless, Stella, can work a hammer and is pounding grommets into the faux leather fabric she got at Mood. The pounding drives everyone insane, especially Blayne. Stella’s inspiration is the leather blinder on a carriage horse because, well, she likes leatha and if you don’t like the hammering, get the %&$! outta he-ah!
Tim ain’t no holla back girl.
With three hours remaining on the day, Tim comes by for his spot-checks. Tim is dismayed at Jennifer’s unfinished hemlines and sleeves, but says that since she knows what she is doing, she should keep working. Daniel opines that Jennifer’s dress is looking matronly. Tim then checks in on Keith’s weird “fringe” dress and wonders if it will be fitted to have a shape. Keith assures him that it will be and Tim tells him to keep working. Observing Kenley’s odd print and purple/blue tulle, he says the fabrics could look costume-y but she’s confident in her project. Terri thinks she is going to win with her combination of “street” and “high fashion”; Tim looks a bit concerned with the dress/pants duo. Next Tim takes a gander at Leanne’s muli-layered but fitted short skirt and likes it a lot. He only worries about finishing the top. He is not impressed with Emily’s black dress with a “great big oversized corsage” of brightly colored fabrics. He encourages her to take the design further but she obstinately says that she’s happy with her design. Oh, Emily…always listen to Tim. It’s the cardinal rule of PR.
As Tim departs, Blayne starts spewing all sorts of iterations of “holla!” “holla at cha boy!” and the like at him. Tim is a bit perplexed and Terri has to spell it out for him. He tries the phrase but, really, he looks silly. I don’t like my Tim Gunn looking too silly. Bad Blayne! Don’t make Tim look silly! After Tim leaves, there’s hardly any time left and the sewing pace picks up, as demonstrated by the crazy early 80s electronica playing under the shots. The day ends with Keith vowing to show his own point of view and Blayne freaking out (and needing to wash his nasty hair).
After a night of rest, a new day dawns as does the realization that no one is finished with their garments. They get to Parsons and sew some more before Tim comes in with the models and announces there is only one hour for hair, makeup and fitting. He then breaks it to Keith that Runa won’t be continuing on the show so they’ve brought Alyssa back, which causes Keith some consternation. Jennifer works to the last minute on her clock dress and Daniel freaks out because he can’t find the scissors. But then time is called and the runway beckons.
Paging Edina Monsoon, your new Lacroix is here.
Heidi arrives on the runway to introduce the usual judges,
Heckle and JeckleMichael Kors and Nina Garcia, and the guest judge, “New York nightlife aficionado” Sandra Bernhard. Then it’s time to start the show! The designs are:
Keith’s white slip dress with a bunch of colored and white small fabric pieces hanging off in an allegedly fringe-like manner;
Blayne’s black dress that looks like a neon balloon factory blew up all over the front;
Joe’s structured bustier top, reminiscent of Aeon Flux or the Chrysler Building atop a plain black skirt;
Emily’s black sheath dress with brightly colored flounces across the bust line and down the side;
Leanne’s intricately tiered and tailored skirt made of black fabric with grey accents on the tiers on one side of the dress, with a simple black drape/scoop neck blouse;
Jennifer’s navy and white “clock” dress made of shiny charmeuse; it has three-quarter length sleeves, a white cummerbund waist, and a layered skirt to the knee and screams “maternity nightlife”;
Jarell’s long gown (not particularly nightlife-y in the length unless you are a street-sweeper) made of dark brown green fabric through the bust and hips, then a lighter brown-green fabric in a long tiered train in the manner of a flamenco dancer;
Kelli’s simple black slim, short skirt topped by a black top made of what appear to be woven together pieces of fabric and a center cummerbund of printed black and grey fabric;
Daniel’s gold and black asymmetrical, one-shoulder cocktail dress that we’ve seen about 385 times on this show;
Kenley’s high round collar, long sleeved dress made of the print fabric that comes down in a diagonal to expose one hip which is covered with blue/purple tulle;
Suede’s simple shiny brown sleeveless shirt dress, with a popped collar, a short A-line skirt, and bedazzled with gold flecky things on top;
Stella’s faux brown leather pants with a lace up front and a silver halter vest that looks like everything Stella wears;
Korto’s black jumpsuit with a blousy backless top; and
Terri’s print long-sleeved dress that comes high across Xaviera’s neck but fully open in the back over boot-cut black pants.
After the show, Keith, Kenley, Emily, Terri, Jennifer, Leanne called forward and the rest are safe. Heidi then brings out the models and the questions for the three top and three bottom contestants.
Kenley is the first to defend; she says her picture was of a tiled wall and wanted to pick a print that looks painted and artistic. Sandra says that you’d have to be tall and thin to make the dress work. Kenley counters that a girl with hips could work it, since it is full at the hips. Michael says maybe if the girl has one big hip and Sandra tosses out the possibility of maybe sporting a goiter under the puffy tulle. Michael then says it is kind of 80s/Joan Collins like but if the girl wasn’t around in the 80s to see that, she may like it. Nina says it definitely beckons back to Lacroix or Ungaro of the 80s and loves the dress.
Keith faces the questions next and describes his picture of the trampled magazine page. Michael says the problem is all the white fabric that shows through—it looks like toilet paper caught up in a windstorm. Heidi says it has no shape and Nina thinks it is unfinished and sloppy. Terri gets better treatment with the panel; she describes her graffiti-inspired dress/pants outfit as something her confident girl would wear. Sandra agrees that the wearer would look fierce, sexy, and in control. Heidi loves the look and Michael says that you’d want to get to know the girl who would wear the outfit.
Emily then explains her inspiration was a streak of light she captured in Washington Square Park. She says the movement of the light is the essence of New York City. Sandra says that the color streaks would have been more interesting if they were flat into the dress rather than ruffles. Nina says it looks like Carmen Miranda exploded on the front of the dress. Did Nina slip into a coma when Blayne’s model came down the runway? Michael says that the ruffles were placed in the wrong way and are unflattering; he further cautions that, when in doubt, keep the dress simple. Next, Leanne says that the rainy streets made her notice different things, like the planter grate that inspired the dress. Sandra thinks the skirt is pretty and asks if the skirt and top are separates, which they are. Michael likes the idea of separates and Heidi says she’d wear it. Finally, Jennifer says she was inspired by the clocks and, quoting herself from the first episode, says she is “Holly Golightly meets Salvador Dali” and likes to incorporate surrealism in the design. Michael doesn’t see the surrealism in the dress and the hem sewing is so bad it’s distracting. Heidi says that it is matronly and Nina says it is merely okay but boring. Gah! “Don’t Bore Nina!” is the second rule of PR!
The designers and models are dismissed while the judges deliberate. Sandra adored Terri’s design and Michael loved the pants and the dress. Michael thought that Kenley’s dress has real energy and doesn’t look like what she’s done before (only what Lacroix and Ungaro have done before, apparently). Nina says Kenley’s dress had a lot of elements but came together well. Michael is impressed at how fast Leanne learned to edit herself. Sandra loves the dress and is surprised to learn that Leanne was in the bottom last week.
As for the bad, Emily’s dress had the problem of insane ruffles; it was so bad it renders Nina speechless. Michael didn’t like the toilet paper effect of Keith’s dress and Sandra and Nina agree it had too much white. Jennifer’s was not surreal, it was watered down; Heidi does not want to see more of her work, she was so bored. Plus, it as Sandra says, it was not well-executed.
The designers are called back in and Terri is safe. Kenley is announced as the winner and Leanne is safe too. Then Keith is inexplicably in, so it comes down to between Emily and Jennifer. I want Jennifer to go because she looks so much like Leanne, I can barely tell them apart.
Heidi says that Emily’s dress was distractingly clichéd and her voice as a designer did not come through. Jennifer’s dress was not surreal but boring and matronly. Nevertheless, Jennifer is safe and Emily is out. How the hell she lost when Blayne did an uglier version of the same dress perplexes me. Emily goes to pack up and is disappointed, but she has a collection back at home to put out and she is going to take the experience and run with it.