While we wistfully remember our latest fallen comrade Ra’mon, there is exciting news this week: Michael Kors has returned! Lifetime promoted this fact so much during the last week, I almost forgot all the designers’ names by showtime. Nina Garcia is still bored somewhere in Europe, but she will also return to her judge’s chair soon.
As we drop in on the women designers in their suite, Gordana is cleaning furiously as the others lounge around. She compares the current cast to Olympic athletes, where a split second can make the difference between grabbing the gold and going home (I wouldn’t be as complimentary as her, having seen some of the fug that has crawled down the runway so far, but she’s a nice lady so let’s just smile and nod). On the boys’ side, orphaned roommate Logan is moving into the same suite as Epperson, Christopher and Nicolas. Chris and Nic try to act blasé about it, but you can read the concealed glee on their faces. I predict a sharp rise in the number of “accidental” bathroom walk-ins.
Cross-cut back to the women, where Louise is performing bob maintenance, and letting us know that she will no longer be afraid to go over the top, since she was called out last week for creating a “snoozefest”. Cross-cut back to the XY chromosomes, who realize that all of the auf’d designers to date have been boys (if you include Ari), and vow to get a girl out this week. Suddenly (thanks to editing), everyone grabs their gear and heads to
Parsonsthe FIDM building. Sigh.
A Recycled Challenge That Isn’t Green
On the runway, Heidi appears before the designers, and instantly sends them back to the workroom to meet Tim, telling them only that their next challenge will be “colorful”. Cut to the workroom, where Tim introduces a nice lady marketing executive from Macy’s/INC. Badly reading her cue cards, the nice lady explains that they are to team up and design two holiday looks that will complement INC’s current collections, using only the color blue. The winner of the challenge will get the chance to design a new INC look and have it sold at select Macy’s stores and online.
It’s a one-day challenge, and raccoon-eyed Carol-Hannah reads my mind as she reacts to another team challenge by mimicking a sound effect often heard when someone loses on The Price Is Right. This too-familiar challenge is a hybrid between Season 1’s Banana Republic holiday dress challenge (won by default by Wendy Pepper), and Season 3’s INC team challenge, when Keith was discovered to be a cheating sociopath and booted from the show, and Angela won by default. Louise tells us that, even though she vowed to go over the top, now she can’t go TOO over the top in order to fit in with the INC brand.
The designers have 15 minutes to flip through the INC dossier and quickly sketch two complementary looks, and then go through the pitch process with Nice Macy’s Lady. NML chooses five designs, and the five winning designers become Team Leaders and pick partners. The winners are Althea (who picks Logan), Christopher (Epperson), Louise (Nicolas, who has immunity from last week), Irina (Gordana), and Carol-Hannah (Shirin).
Tim lets slip an audible “Wow!” at hearing Louise picked, which I find hilarious. Also, Irina couldn’t decide between Gordana and Shirin, so she asked them to decide; Gordana spoke up first. Irina then explains to us that it’s a team challenge and her partner just needs to be a good worker, so she didn’t care either way. Let’s hope Gordana enjoys taking orders and fetching coffee.
Blue Collar TV
The designers are carted off to Fake Mood, where we are treated to the usual comedy of falling bolts of fabric and people forgetting things. Louise is shown being flighty and flustered.
There’s a commercial break at this point, including an ad for Cotton featuring a carefree, singing Zooey Deschanel. I suddenly remember that her CD (She & Him) is still sitting in my Amazon shopping cart, and I quickly go there to complete the purchase. It’s good stuff, check it out!
Back at FIDM, Carol-Hannah finds being a “team captain” and having someone to help with the work a new but enjoyable experience. Second-time leader Irina just finds it annoying, handing us the age-old “I might as well do it all myself” line. Meanwhile, Louise explains her designs to Nicolas, and he is non-plussed at her liberal use of ruffles on both pieces. He is concerned, and runs to Althea to gossip about Louise’s failings. What a nice guy!
Team Leader Christopher listens to Epperson ramble on about how happy he is to be paired with a designer he respects, handing a slap through the screen at former teammate Qristal. Again, what a nice guy! Christopher’s cheekbones are cherry-red with happiness at the prospect of working with his hetero suitemate, and we are treated to a few minutes of them happily adding to each other’s ideas, and proclaiming their mutual joy after every decision. If there were a field of daisies handy, they surely would have skipped through it.
Bringing us back down to Earth is Nicolas, who introduces a montage of Louise making all kinds of animal noises as a form of stress-relief. She clucks, coos and meeps her way through the day, and it’s up to us whether to find it adorable or troubling. My coin flip is currently at the ‘best-of-seven’ level.
Next up is this week’s required “everyone thinks Logan is hot” montage, this time narrated by Gordana. I just adore the editor’s bad-joke quick-cuts to Chris’ and Nic’s heads turning as Gordana tells us “even the boys think he’s hot!” Ho hum Joking with Althea as they work, Logan once again asserts his heteroness by correcting her to call him her seamster, not seamstress. Althea adds an interesting comment about how she is enjoying working without the distraction of all the “big” (read: gay) personalities. I’m filing that one away for now. Quick-cut back to Gordana, who is frustrated about receiving no direction from Irina; we then find out that Irina is too busy hating the monochromatic aspect of the challenge to give directions.
Piercing through the hate is a visiting Tim Gunn, there to play his patented game of Caucus & Mitigate. He starts with Carol-Hannah and her sister Shirin, who again channels Monica Geller from Friends by proclaiming them “Team Awesome”. Tim is generally pleased with their work, even though one of the looks includes leggings, which apparently gives him gas. His next stop is Louise, whose shiny waves of two-tone blue give him heartburn, but he is confident that they will figure out what needs fixing in time.
Tim then strolls up to Team We’re-Not-Gay, where he is impressed by Althea’s fresh and original take on a woman’s business suit. He then listens to Irina and Gordana going several rounds on how to finish a blouse and belt, and quickly tiptoes away. His toes lead him to Christopher (of course) and Epperson, who are still quite joyful. While Tim likes the potential in their designs, he has concerns…oh let’s face it, he hates their fabric choices. In addition to being shiny messes, their two looks really don’t have anything in common, which is an important part of the challenge. Tim seems confident that they will be able to work magic in the next few hours, and somehow make everything perfect. I don’t quite share his optimism.
Tim surprises everyone by bringing in the models for a quick fitting, and we get to see again why models, thank heavens, aren’t designers, as they slip on hot messes and squeal with delight. After the models file out to rejoin their own film crews, we are treated to another verse of “Nicolas Hates Ruffles” – I think I’ll start calling him Pringles from now on.
The night winds down, and everyone starts looking tired and weary. Carol-Hannah starts second-guessing herself (probably because it involves a hyphen); Irina tells us that she thinks C-H’s pieces look very “$10 discount” – does she mean that they would have won the SJP Bitten challenge? Somehow I don’t think she does…
Time for another commercial break; does everyone else think Sherri Shepherd’s new sitcom is going to die a quick and painful death? Or is it just me? Oh well…
The sun rises on Los Angeles, and as the designers get ready for Runway Day, Irina is confident in her designs, but Louise is worried and tense. Nicolas tells his roommates that he’s going to help Louise all he can, but her fatal flaw is that she still doesn’t know who her designs are for, which is how designers usually get tripped up on the runway. And let’s not forget, Michael Kors is back! Seldom has it been spelled out so plainly in an episode that a particular designer is toast before the runway show even begins. Will there be a twist? Or is it just another example of how poorly this season has been edited?
A Thin Blue Line Between Love and Hate
Back in the workroom, Althea and Logan are concerned (but in that subdued, non-flamboyant way) because they have a lot of details left to finish on both looks. Directionless Gordana is still frustrated, as Irina’s hatred of the color blue has now become pathological. Tim enters and gives the usual 2-hour call for hair and makeup, and the music hits double-time as everyone scurries around making last-minute decisions. Epperson loves the work he’s done, but Louise is freaking out at the state of her garments as Tim makes the final call for the runway show. Gordana quickly asides to us that she thinks her work was good enough to prevent Irina from throwing her under the you-know-what during judging. Christopher thinks he is sitting on a winner (insert your own bad joke here).
On the runway, Heidi recaps the challenge and the prize, and introduces the judges: First, in case you missed it the first 23 times, Michael Kors is back! Next is this week’s substitute teacher from Marie Claire, senior editor Zanna Roberts, and finally, the Nice Lady from Macy’s/INC, who can’t stop smiling. This is a common trait in LA, apparently. Heidi drops a quick bomb by informing the designers that there will be one winner, but one or more designers will be out. Let's start the show!
Irina/Gordana present a flowing daytime dress in shades of blue so muted, that I would check the color knob on my TV if such a thing still existed. The second look is a bright blue top and navy skirt that looks princess-y and business-y at the same time.
Althea/Logan show a navy business suit with a short skirt that gets shorter with every step Tara takes. Also, it has a back-slit problem that harkens back to Robert’s awful navy skirt in Season 3, ironically also for that season’s Macy’s/INC challenge. The second look is a casual ruffled top in light gray-blue with shiny charcoal blue slacks. The crotch is just there, baiting Michael Kors to trot out his legendary “insane” line once more.
Louise/Nicolas dispense her two bags of Ruffles, with a two-tone above-the-knee dress that looks already wrapped for a Blue Christmas, and a shorter navy tube dress with a jarring waterfall of two-tone ruffles coming down from the neck. Oy vey.
Carol-Hannah/Shirin present a deceptively simple high-waisted skirt/blouse with a scooping neckline that is attractive; the notorious leggings follow, but they are paired with a nice top that features a ruffled neckline that shows how ruffles can be used as part of a design (as opposed to instead of a design, as Nic might say).
Christopher/Epperson remain joyful over their shirt-dress, which looks like little more than a big & tall men’s shirt made from a picnic tablecloth and held hostage by a wide black belt; what follows is best described as something a child would wear if she was asked to appear in the school play as a green onion…and the school was Montessori Progressive.
Blue Team vs. Agent Orange
Althea and Logan are immediately called out as the middle-scoring "safe" pair, and are allowed to escape to the green room. Heidi then announces that Louise/Nicolas and Christopher/Epperson are the bottom 2 teams (!), and just to make them freak out more, she asks them to leave the runway, so they can shower the top 2 teams with praise. Christopher gasps audibly, as Irina and Carol-Hannah each try to suppress a happy dance.
The judges start with Carol-Hannah’s pieces: they all agree that both tops are interesting and well-made. Heidi loves the tunic, and Michael appreciates the design of the other top. Then, Heidi asks “The Question” to Gordana: how was it working together? Gordana describes it as a “challenge” but states that she is happy with how the garments look. Irina immediately (but sweetly) goes on the defensive, and informs Gordana that maybe she is too shy as a designer, and that she needs to be more direct and constructive when given tasks.
They almost get into it, but since they might be the winners and Heidi doens't want a repeat of Mitchell’s unprecedented auf’ing, she cuts them off and starts praising the pieces. She and Macy’s Lady both love the longer dress, and Michael loves the way Irina created a pattern on the skirt with alternating strips of fabric. Heidi and Michael both love the blouse from the Princess Businesswoman outfit.
What About Bob?
The high scorers leave, and the low-scorers crawl back onto the runway to take their licking. Heidi reminds them that one or more of them will be out, and then launches into Louise. After Louise explains the pieces, Heidi just looks at her for a second with scrunched brow, which I would bet caused Louise’s bladder to loosen just a little. Substitute Nina telegraphs Heidi’s looks by asking who wears stuff like this these days, not really expecting an answer. She says thata if she walked into a Macy’s and saw these dresses on the racks, she would walk right back out. Macy’s Lady is kinder, saying that she happens to like ruffles, it’s just that, well, these ruffles suck. Michael punctuates this crucifixion as only he can, comparing the lighter dress to a bridesmaid’s outfit with shower loofahs ruched up the front. Suddenly, Heidi remembers that Nicolas is standing there as well, and asks him what he thinks. He diplomatically says that ruffles were never his thing, but that he really tried to help Louise execute her vision (he might as well have discreetly circled a “crazy” finger by her head as he said it). Heidi asks him if he has immunity. When he answers yes, she delivers the fatal blow by telling him “Boy, aren’t you lucky!” Wow, that’s harsh.
No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)
The judges reload for Christopher and Epperson, as Christopher nervously explains that he wanted to take simple silhouettes and update them in a fresh, modern way. Heidi is “blown away” at how not-modern the garments look. She calls out the big ruffled neckpiece on the teal top, comparing it to a lobster bib (shout-out to Andrae!). Michael zooms in on the shirt-dress, which reminds him of a worker’s smock from 1979, and pronounces the fabric tablecloth-y. Moving over to the green onion, he prefers to think of it as a “teal charmeuse disco pumpkin”. This is too much for
BambiChristopher to take, and he starts fighting back the tears. He tries to answer, but he has to turn away as Epperson fills the dead air with ramblings about how they chose their fabrics. Macy’s Lady also adds her bewilderment at the shiny plastic-looking fabric used for the shirt-dress. Finally, Heidi excuses the designers to go lick their wounds while they await the final verdict.
During deliberations, we hear “unwearable” and “lost track of the customer” for Louise’s looks, and a reiteration of the Top 10 grocery-related insults for Chris/Epp’s pieces. Irina’s looks were “lovely” and "they would sell” at Macy’s, and Carol-Hannah’s garments had “instant appeal”.
The designers all regroup on the runway, and Heidi picks them off as follows:
Shirin is in.
Irina is the winner!
Gordana and Carol-Hannah are both in.
Epperson is in.
Nicolas is in thanks to immunity, leaving Louise and Christopher as the bottom two.
After another recap of how awful their work was this week, Heidi announces that Louise is out. Christopher is left wondering his fate, and after a long pause, Heidi tells him that he is in. He breaks down again, and leaves the runway so that Louise can receive Heidi’s auf wiedersehen kisses.
Next week, the designers are getting “new models”! Also, it seems that many bad outfits are made, and during judging, Heidi asks the designers if they were clear on what the challenge was! Pack some extra Kleenex for next week’s episode, which will once again be brilliantly recapped by PhoneGrrrl. It’s been a pleasure being your substitute teacher.