So here we are, just with two episodes to go before the Season 7 winner is crowned, and I’m just ready for the judges to hand Seth Aaron the big check and be done with it all. The only things holding me back from fully skipping this episode is (a) I need to recap it and (b) I love Tim in hometown settings. I just hope one day a random knock on my door brings Mr. Gunn my way.
On the road with Tim Gunn
After the previous challenge, Emilio and Seth Aaron are set for Bryant Park, but Mila and Jay will have to compete, upon return to New York, for the final spot. Heidi, in the last time we’ll see her with the baby bump this season, sends all four designers home with a budget of $9,000 to create a 10 piece collection over the next four months. Tim comes out to tell the designers he’s proud of them and will be visiting them soon. I never fail to believe Tim is genuinely proud of them, even with an ass like Emilio in the bunch.
Before they depart, we are privy to the designers’ thoughts on Fashion Week. Mila knows she’s better than Jay; Jay knows he’s better than Mila. Emilio is going to bring the showstoppers to Bryant Park and Seth Aaron pledges to not be boring and bleepin’ win Fashion Week. No deep reveals there, folks. Sorry.
Tim sets out on his cross-country journey, first to Vancouver, Washington, four weeks before Fashion Week, to see Seth Aaron. They greet each other with a big hug and Tim checks out Seth Aaron’s 15 (!) completed outfits. He says he wants to take at least 20 looks to New York and edit there. He has done a ton of his usual jackets and some sweaters. Tim just lays it out straight—the looks are cohesive, well made, and beautiful, but Seth Aaron is not going to win based on the collection. There’s no surprise element and it’s pretty much what the judges have seen throughout the challenges. Tim urges him to re-conceptualize the entire collection. Even with those strong words from the big Gunn, Seth Aaron introduces Tim to his family—wife, son & daughter—and they play a round of Pictionary. And somehow they convince Tim to get on the backyard trampoline, and Tim lasts about 0.15 seconds before falling down. Before leaving, Tim reminds Seth Aaron that slow and steady wins the race.
Back in New York, Tim meets up with Emilio and his brothers on what appears to be that paved trail deal along the West Side Highway. Feel free to correct me, though it looks a lot like that. Emilio’s brothers are very proud of him and then, it being the “hometown” visit and all, we have to get the sad tale of Emilio’s growing up in the Bronx in the 1970s, complete with archival footage. Really, give it a rest, Lifetime. No one is going to top Uli’s East Germany upbringing sad tale. Not gonna happen. Back at Emilio’s studio, he shows Tim his work so far. There is a lot of red, turquoise, and this old lady sofa green coat. He’s also got a print with his initials (again) and a “spray paint brocade” jacket that looks like Michael Jackson designed a line for Coldwater Creek. Emilio is sure the judges will love it because they’ve loved everything he’s done. Tim sees old clothes that lack sophistication. The biggest thing I take away from this hometown visit is that it could quite possibly be the first time I’ve seen Emilio without one of his hats on.
Jetting back to the West Coast three weeks before Fashion Week, Tim stops by the black and white world of Mila. Everything is black and white in her house, down to her Dalmatian. Her collection is inspired by shadows, she says, and she’s added a bit of color—aborigine—to her looks. Tim sees her as a designer in the clothes but thinks the collection reads conservative and matronly. He asks her about the showdown with Jay that awaits her return to New York. She’s not worrying about the three looks because she isn’t going to lose to that little bleep, Jay. Tim then meets Mila’s parents and boyfriend. Curiously, her parents don’t look much older than she does. Tim is compelled to ask them if Mila has always been a black and white dresser, and her dad says that Mila always was impeccably dressed for her styles. We see a few cute girl pictures and then some of Mila in her “goth” and “LA” looks. Well, maybe Mila releasing those pictures to Lifetime shows she has some sense of humor. She sums up the visit by saying this chance at Bryant Park is her one shot to get out of costuming and becoming a designer.
Finally, Tim meets with Jay in San Francisco. The Japanese Samurai and geisha inspired the collection he shows Tim. There are a lot of great items, but Tim questions where anyone would be going wearing them. There are some gimmicky details on the sleeves of a sweater and all of this has Tim worried Jay is putting out student work. When Tim asks about the competition with Mila, Jay says he’s not worried about her but worried about competing against Seth Aaron and Emilio. After committing to re-thinking some of his elements, Jay and Tim head down the street for a lovely dinner with Jay’s parents, partner, and aunt. Tim delves into the Filipino meal—he’s never had Filipino food and neither have I, though there’s a new restaurant in town I mean to try—and gets Jay’s back-story of his very supportive parents who sacrificed a lot for Jay and his siblings. Jay tearily promises to pay back his parents for all they have done for him.
Back to NYC, back to the Runway
The four months of working solo have come to an end and the remaining designers head back to New York for Fashion Week. Mila arrives at the suite first and is taken aback by the luxury of the place. Jay, in no doubt a producer-inspired move, arrives next. They have an awkward “bygones” conversation but they both agree they need to get past the drama and just focus on the clothes. Ever the light in the room, Seth Aaron shows up and everyone calms down. He says he’s taken Tim’s advice and changed his collection to show his aesthetic but in clothes the judges haven’t yet seen.
And where is local guy Emilio? Well, he turns up last, to be greeted by Jay perched by a window and Seth Aaron and Mila jumping out from behind the couch. He also says he’s changed his collection from what Tim saw. Speaking of Tim, he stops by and gets big hugs from everyone except Emilio, who only offers a handshake. Tim pops open some champagne, toasts to the designers, and tells them they’ll be back in the workroom the next morning.
The workroom, the designers find the next day, only has three tables. This leaves Mila and Jay—at least now on speaking terms—to share one space. Tim arrives to start the three hour clock on the Jay vs. Mila showdown, which shocks them both. They’ll present their three strongest looks for the judges and have very little time to fit the garments on their models and get hair and makeup done. Emilio helps Mila while Seth Aaron helps Jay in the preparation. Mila is worried about the lack of color in her collection, given that Jay has color in his. She tries to add color through makeup. Just before the runway show, both Jay and Mila cry at the prospect of moving on or not to Bryant Park. I don’t want to be the Grinch who stole Fashion Week, but I’m seriously tired of the tears.
Finally, we’re down to what has to suffice as the MF’in walk-off of this season: Jay vs. Mila in the death match for the last spot at Fashion Week. The only judges are Heidi, Michael, and Nina—no guest judge—so at the very least we’ll have some consistency. Maybe not the right choice, but at least there’s continuity. The three looks they show are:
Mila’s (1) Big black herringbone coat over a black and white short dress; (2) black and white horizontal striped cowl neck sweater with black patent leather details; and (3) loose column dress with black and white oval disks covering it with black patent leather neck and top of dress detail.
Jay’s (1) Short black purple dress with zipper down middle, volume detail at hips in waves; (2) black pants with button detail, a sleek grey long-sleeve grey shirt, and a tiny black bolero with epaulets; and (3) maroon leggings, shin guards, and a grey detailed jacket fitted to bum with volume in collar.
Mila says her found inspiration in shadows, with their mysterious light and dark patterns. Heidi likes the pieces and finds the collection cohesive; it may be simple, but it has a twist. Michael sees 1960s and very little surprise; he’d want the hair and makeup to look a bit more edgy to modernize the collection, though the construction was perfect. Nina wonders what would happen if Mila had to do six collections a year—how could that be done in black and white? (Let’s ask White House Black Market, shall we? Not that they’re terribly fashion forward, but they do make a go of it.) Mila did win praise for her accessories—gloves and rings, that she had made for her collection.
Next up, Jay explains his Japanese influence. Heidi seems impressed that he really pumped up the volume (I’m still not really sure what that means…it always just sends me to that cheesy Christian Slater movie). Michael loved the pants with the button detail, the purple dress, and the shin guards. He appreciates all of Jay’s work. Nina sees excellent tailoring but thinks the shirt, pants, and bolero combination is just too much at once. She likes the dress the best. Heidi would wear the dress but doesn’t see cohesion in his collection. Michael is just glad it’s not retro.
Before Jay and Mila are sent off for deliberations, they admit they now get along and had no collusion about both of them using gloves as accessories. I totally believe that—can you imagine that conversation occurring?! The judges set in for their difficult task; Michael would pick Jay while Heidi would choose Mila. Nina is on the fence, which is odd for her. Michael’s problem with Mila is that, while her clothes are well made, they are retro. Nina wonders if Mila can surprise the judges; Heidi sees no problem with doing retro if there’s a twist—she sees a twist in Mila’s work. Michael thinks everything Jay did was perfect, but the ladies find the grey jacket overworked. Michael starts to edit the design verbally, but Heidi stops him, saying that the judges can’t do that at this point.
After a really difficult decision, Mila and Jay return to the runway. Heidi tells Mila she created impeccable clothes with a distinct point of view, but the judges are worried she is too one-note and retro. (They’re just getting this now? Where were they 10 weeks ago?) Jay, meanwhile, created intriguing and fashion forward looks which show he is innovative; however, his looks seemed over-designed like he was trying to do too much. The question for the judges came down to who is more ready to show at Bryant Park, and the answer is Mila. She’s thrilled and Jay is crushed, but he thanks the judges for the feedback and will take it to be a better designer. Heidi has one final word of advice for Mila: she needs to make certain her hair and makeup looks for Fashion week are young and modern.
Tim sends Jay to clean up his workspace with kind words; Jay should have no regrets and he did a great job. Next week, we’ll see who wins—Seth Aaron or Emilio. Really, if Mila had to fight for the third spot, what kind of chance does she have?