Project Runway season 18

E P I S O D E    O N E

Oh yes I DO want to go to the TWA terminal at Idlewild! Yes, oh yes! I love that Karlie is head and shoulders taller than Christian.

 

The challenge: teams of two, they have to create two looks to be worn at a space hotel. A jumpsuit, sort of space activewear, and a cocktail look for hanging out at the hotel bar, like a space floozy. Of course some of the designers is all up in arms about having to do a team challenge, and of course I will have NONE OF THAT. The designers are told to get a drink and choose their own teammates.

 

 

Of course every designer feels that he/she is the sh-t and better than everyone else, maybe even the best designer ever birthed of human loins. We’ll see what Nina has to say about that!

 

 

A few designers stand out, either because of talent/background or personality:

 

 

Victoria: from Moldova, has a thick accent, was looking for “fox leather” at Mood (aka “faux leather”). Also she broke Asma’s ruler and let out a shriek that was right out of an Almodóvar movie.

 

Sergio: he made Billy Porter’s up-cycled Tony Awards look, the *Kinky Boots* curtain made into a gown.

 

Nancy: 64 years old, I hope she’s on the show for a while, she’s a bright spirit.

 

Geoffrey: hunky but easily rattled, had major indecisive drama at Mood.

 

Delvin: he wears a lab coat in the workroom, as a nod to the French couturiers.

 

Asma: love that they have a Muslim designer, she’s really going to push perceptions.

 

Alan: I don’t even understand how it’s possible that you can go to Mood, buy your fabric, and walk out of the store with no fabric. Wouldn’t you think that, as you’re leaving the store, you’d notice that other people are carrying Mood bags and you don’t have one?

 

Once again, I’m bothered by Christian as mentor. Too hands on, too present, too all about him.

 

Time for the runway: flash sale - - the fan favorite and winner-chosen-by-judges will be sold online. Woo hoo.

 

 

ON THE TOP

I was surprised that Brittany and Sergio were on the top, I thought Delvin and Tyler were stronger. But they nailed the theme of the challenge.

 

Geoffrey and Melanie, really? I thought their outfits were so dull, so Studio 54.

 

 

ON THE BOTTOM

Jenn and Asma. Jenn didn’t do a good job defending her garment. And Asma, why did she buy cotton if she hates cotton?

 

Doyoung and Alan: I didn’t think they were so bad. Plus they more or less got along, unlike Jenn and Asma, who clearly did not. Plus Nina pointed out that Doyoung and Alan’s pieces were cohesive, and Jenn and Asma’s were not.

Brittany and Sergio were the winning team, with Britany the winning designer. And wow, both Jenn and Asma were both sent home! That’s so cut throat, I love it!

 

 

E P I S O D E    T W O

The episode started with EMTs going to the designers’ penthouse and taking Dayoung out in a wheelchair. Hm! She said she couldn’t move her body and felt disconnected from the rest of the world. The other designers basically had the attitude of, “Get better honey, taking care of yourself is the most important thing. Oh and wow, that was a pretty easy elimination, right? Could we have some more of that? And was someone using my curling iron?”

 

Oh no, not a challenge inspired by the movie *Cats!* Whew, thankfully it’s just about animal prints and we were only subjected to a brief glimpse of the movie. It’s also supposed to be Street, which means something different to different people.

 

 

I had my eye on Delvin at the beginning. He chose a parrot feather print silk gazar, a total departure from what everyone else had bought.

 

Christian did a gather-round in the workroom and informed everyone that Dayoung was back in the penthouse and feeling better. A couple of designers visited her back at the penthouse at the end of the day and she said she was nervous but excited to get the challenge done in just one day. It was so inspiring that many of the designers helped her out as they approached the finish. Not every designer, and ya know, it IS a competition. There’s no obligation to be generous!

 

Guest judge: celebrity stylist Marnie Senofonte, who played such a major role in the previous season.

 

 

ON THE TOP

Delvin: so beautifully tailored, head and shoulders above the rest in terms of elegance. The judges were over the moon.

 

Victoria: I thought it could go either way - - high style or hot mess. The judges had lots of reservations and criticisms, I was surprised that she was in the top.

 

Marquise: I didn’t like the asymmetrical flounce on the side. But the judges liked it, and the blouse was good.

 

 

ON THE BOTTOM

Veronica: thank you, Nina, for using the word “bloomers.” And Brondon called it an “exotic diaper.”

 

Tyler: the judges were impressed with his construction but felt it was too well mannered and precise to be Street.

 

Geoffrey: too bland, and yet too much going on.

 

 

I was shocked that Sergio didn’t end up on the bottom. Oh dear Lord it was so dreadful, everything about it was wrong, but most of all the ruffle.

 

Marquise was the winner, they felt he nailed the Street element the best. Veronica was sent home.

 

 

E P I S O D E    T H R E E

Oh yes, the unconventional materials challenge! The audience’s favorite, the designer’s bugaboo! It was interesting watching the recap of the previous episode and thinking, “Hm, I don’t think I’ve ever seen that designer before!” Watch, one of those people will end up being the winner. Will get back to you on that.

 

The designers got out of bed to find Christian in the living room, which had been bedecked with holiday finery. Ho ho ho, did you call me a ho? The challenge was to make a chic holiday cocktail dress out of the holiday decorations. Of course it was pande-freaking-monium when they started tearing the joint apart. Tyler put it perfectly when he said, “This is crazier than Black Friday in a K-Mart in Ohio.” Quote of the season, so far.

 

 

Was anyone else driven batty by the endlessly sparkly holiday music on this episode? Arghh. God bless Nancy for being so loud. And wow for the story that Alan told about his father being deported at the holidays. Wow indeed.

 

 

I felt bad for Brittany, clearly she had a very hard time. But in an unconventional materials challenge, don’t you think it would be a good idea to do a little test drive early on, to make sure your materials are behaving the way you need them to? So then you can come up with a Plan B? I’m just sayin’.

 

Guest judge: Kieran Shipka. I didn’t recognize either of the current credits that Karlie mentioned, I will always think of her as the daughter on *Mad Men.*

 

 

ON THE TOP

Sergio: I loved it! The bells were darling! And the dress was so beautifully tailored, beautifully constructed.

 

Victoria: I thought it was too hoochie mama, but the judges seemed to like that. I definitely would have put Nancy in the top instead, her two-piece outfit was a stunner, and the judges generally respond positively to multi-piece outfits.

 

Shavi: I thought it was very pretty, lovely shape. More wearable than Sergio’s.

 

 

ON THE BOTTOM

Tyler: ugh, badly made. This is what Nina said: “You are cute and you are funny. But the dress had construction issues.” You gotta get up pretty early to put one over on Miss Garcia!

 

Brittany: I thought it looked better than it was, but thank you Brandon, for pointing out that Sergio’s dress was also made out of wrapping paper. Karlie put it perfectly when she said the downfall of Brittany was the attitude of feeling defeated.

 

Alan: he decided to pull a Tyler and try to mask his bad work with being cute and funny. I didn’t think it was as bad as some of the others, but Nina was super tired of his excuses.

 

 

Sergio was the winner. He really embraced the unconventional aspect in an exuberant way. Alan was sent home, though he really owned it and made it his moment! Bless his heart.

E P I S O D E    F O U R

The challenge - - the designers needed to make an upcycled look for Karlie to wear at a CFDA event in Paris. Their source for fabric was not Mood, it was Goodwill! And they needed to please celebrity stylist Karla Welch. Very interesting combo platter. I was impressed with Welch, she was articulate and honed right in on what the designers needed.

 

 

Christian visited the workroom and announced that the guest judge would be the one and only Laverne Cox. And did I mention it’s a one-day challenge?

 

 

ON THE TOP

Chelsey: they loved the denim, thought it was fabulous Americana, and they were into all the innovation in the construction.

 

Victoria: Nina pointed out that she gave them Karlie but still stayed true to her aesthetic.

 

Nancy: I loved the skirt but thought the blouse was a throwaway. I would have put Brittany on the top instead, I thought her look was super cool.

 

ON THE BOTTOM

Marquise: so dreadful, badly made, ugly, horrid.

Tyler: oh, it wasn’t a critique, it was a massacre! And he didn’t help things by mentioning The Kushners.

 

Shavi: it was major trouble that the model was doing the Morticia Addams down the runway.

 

 

Victoria was the winner, I was so pleased for her. Tyler was sent home, which was a surprise. I thought Marquise’s outfit was so much more badly made, a much bigger failure. On the most basic level, if Karlie HAD to wear Tyler's outfit or Marquise's outfit, she would definitely choose Tyler's. Something tells me we will see Tyler in an upcoming season of All Stars.

E P I S O D E    F I V E

All hail guest judge Cyndi Lauper! The challenge: the designers were split into two teams - - they used a new spin on the button bag, Lauper chose five names out of the button bag and then Victoria, as winner of the previous challenge, got to choose what team she wanted to be on. They had to make one look each, inspired by Lauper and the 80s, but still modern and cool.

 

One team worked together very well, the other team was totes cray cray, especially at Mood And you know what Mister Michael Kors always says: the challenge lives or dies based on what happens at Mood!

 

The drama continued in the workroom, and was amped up with the surprise element announced by Christian: the needed to create all of their accessories! Dear Lord, they’re even making their own SHOES? Thankfully they didn’t have to make their own shoes.

 

Oh my, major drama back at the apartment. Nancy had been feeling left out in the workroom and that feeling was confirmed when the five other members of her team had a meeting out on the porch and didn’t tell her about it! Yikes! “You had a team meeting without me?” “It wasn’t a team meeting, we were just talking about hair and makeup.” “Uh yeah - - that’s a team meeting.”

 

But what a surprise - - the team that had trouble was the winning team and the team that worked together well was the losing team! You could tell that everyone was surprised by that.

 

ON THE TOP

Victoria: I was not wild for that. It was too similar to her winning look the week before, and to quote Mr. Kors again, she was pooping fabric!

 

Geoffrey: very sharp, beautifully tailored, tough but still elegant.

 

Brittany: so well constructed and daring in its design.

 

ON THE BOTTOM

Sergio: either it went too far or not far enough, it was messy. Sergio was wrong to say that he designs for women 40 and up, because hello, Cyndi is over 40. And what a mistake for him to say, “If you like it, if you don’t, that’s not my problem.”

 

Marquise: those shorts were unfortunate, it’s never a good idea to have white shorts with a black zipper, it really draws the eye to the hoo ha in a way that isn’t nice.

 

Melanie: thank you to her for admitting that she had a hard time. And thank you Cyndi for saying, “Don’t blame it on the 80s.” Melanie could have made something sophisticated and minimal that was still rooted in the 80s.

 

The winner was Geoffrey, which was super important and emotional for him. Melanie was sent home. I felt bad for her, but the whole concept behind the show is taking what you do and applying it to the limitations of the challenge, and she wasn’t able to do that.

E P I S O D E    S I X

Oh, poor Victoria! She felt guilty that she’d been on the top so many times. That must be such a heavy burden, I feel awful for her.

 

The challenge: create a look based on your personal heritage. And we had what I believe was our first overt product placement of the season - - Christian said: “Makeup should be a very important part about this look too,, OK? So make sure you guys collaborate with your makeup artists, because Maybelline believes that beauty really comes from diversity and individuality. They make something for everyone and that is exactly what you guys are trying to embrace here.”

 

Karlie told them that they’d be given tablets so they could research their cultural heritage, if needed. Do you think any of them checked their email instead? And while they were on the tablets they got FaceTime calls from their mothers, parents, or other family members. Aw!

 

Sergio’s father is a Mexican immigrant and decided to do a gown that honored the six children who recently died in custody trying to cross the border. Noble and could be very powerful, but it better be a good looking gown! Shave’s gown was inspired by his great aunt, who was part Cuban and was able to pass as white, which helped her in her career as a singer.

 

Dayoung’s grandfather had been a prisoner of war in North Korea - - Christian encouraged her to do something inspired by a traditional garment, but make it something that a girl of today would want to wear. Delvin changed his mind halfway through the day and decided to do a dress that paid homage to his French background by doing a couture gown that was in the process of being created.

 

Guest judge: Fernando Garcia. Never heard of him, but whoa, he is FINE. There was something in the air that night, definitely!

 

ON THE TOP

Victoria: the judges didn’t feel that it had any connection to Moldova, but they loved the fact that it was unexpected. Nina was crazy for it. I felt that Marquise should have been on the top instead, his outfit was super sharp.

 

Chelsey: She was inspired by her two grandmothers, who were both public school principals. Fernando described it as “Balenciaga goes to the tailgate.” It was a perfect execution of the challenge, it honored her family but was still fashionable.

 

Dayoung: I love what Nina said, that she’s a quiet designer but that the work speaks for her. Brandon felt that the jacket could be worn by anyone and that she totally nailed the challenge.

ON THE BOTTOM

Delvin: Fernando felt that the writing on the corset should have been central to the look and not just a small detail on the bodice. And they could tell that the hot pink wasn’t something he wanted. And that back zipper was horrid.

 

Shavi: so badly made, such a terrible use of the fabric, and Nina felt it was a dress they had seen a thousand times, “in every price range.” He got weepy on the runway.

 

Sergio: thank you to Elaine for addressing the political content but saying that it happens apart from the garment, which was not a winner.

 

Chelsey was the winner. Shavi was sent home.

E P I S O D E    S E V E N

Anyone heard of Ashley Longshore? She’s allegedly the new Andy Warhol. Mm kay! Whoever she is, I love her energy and her work. The challenge: they’ were given Ashley Longshore fabric (fabric made from her paintings) and told to make a look using the fabric as their inspiration.

Why was everyone so hating on Sergio?

 

They had one-on-one consultations with Ashley, who was very Southern and kind in her criticism. Bless y’all!. As usual, the designers had varying levels of success with Christian, and as usual he wasn’t exactly helpful.

 

Dayoung, poor thing, got sick again. She saw a medic and decided to push through it. Marquise had bigger issues, it’s always alarming when a designer says, “I don’t think the judges will notice ___.” Well, either they would notice it on their own, or someone on the crew told them about it!

 

ON THE TOP

Delvin: it was a classic design that worked well with the bold print.

 

Dayoung: Nina loved the silhouette and how thoughtfully she placed the solid fabric.

 

Brittany: the 3-D butterflies were fabulous, the overall look was so strong. Nina saw the outfit as a very successful collaboration, between the artist and the designer.

ON THE BOTTOM

Victoria: of course the judges didn’t like the white fabric having such a primary role in a print challenge.

 

Nancy: the judges felt that the model was swallowed by the oversized outfit. It was much stronger when the model turned off the coat. Brandon was undone by Nancy saying that the pants “flooded her basement.”

 

Marquise: of course the judges asked to see the outfit without the jacket, so they could see just how badly fitted the blouse was. Did I call that?

Brittany was the winner, such a fantastic look. And touching because she’s a big Longshore fan. Marquise was sent home, his outfit was clearly the biggest fail.

Next week looks like high drama - - more illness from Dayoung and big big drama from Victoria. Oy.

E P I S O D E    E I G H T

It was hard to see Victoria being so down on herself. I know that they’re all in a pressure cooker and everything is amped up to an 11 at all times, but part of being a successful ANYTHING is staying cool under pressure and not letting a bump in the road derail your journey.

 

The challenge: create an editorial look using sheer fabric. My thought was, “Could be a disaster!”

 

But zoinks, Victoria’s crisis of confidence seems like small beans compared to Dayoung getting another visit from the set medic! Ugh, how awful. She decided to leave the competition and take care of herself.

 

Of course since they were down one designer, they brought back an eliminated designer, and of course that was Marquise, who was the last designers to be eliminated. The other designers were all surprised and and excited. I know I say this every season, but have they never watched the show before?

 

One aspect of the sheer fabrics that I hadn’t thought of was that the seams would be exposed. And you know the judges miss nothing.

 

Interesting workroom situations: Christian warned Victoria not to keep doing the same silhouette over and over, Sergio declared himself King of the Hill in terms of technical prowess, and Geoffrey was outside smoking. And to cap it all off, Victoria decided to leave, due to the fact that she didn’t really understand what “sheer” meant the expectations of the challenge. A few of the other designers did an intervention with her and basically told her to put on her big girl panties and stay in the competition.

 

In this episode we had the defining moment of Christian as a mentor: he checked in with Victoria in the sewing room and she was silent and sullen. He said, “Does this mean you’re mad at me?” Can you imagine Tim Gunn saying that?

 

Guest judge: model Paloma Elsesser.

 

ON THE TOP

Nancy: so strong, so lovely, so beautifully made, perfect for the model. They were all crazy for the pockets. Elaine said the dress took her somewhere she wanted to be. And isn’t that what high fashion should do?

 

Sergio: beautiful, but I felt like the tassels on the pelvis were a little dicey.

 

Marquise? I thought his look was a little hasty. I would have put Brittany on the top instead of him, I thought her look was super cute and beautifully made.

ON THE BOTTOM

Chelsey: it looked unfinished, Brandon was anticipating a nip slip moment with the bandeau bra, and Nina didn’t understand why the skirt was done in off white rather than blue.

 

Geoffrey: Brandon felt like the boobs were too loose and free. Elaine liked that he stayed by his look, stood true to his aesthetic, and didn’t make excuses. Which I thought would lead us straight to Victoria!

 

Victoria: oh girl, why did she say she was about to quit? Brandon: “This industry is not for babies.” Elaine felt like the dress celebrated the body of the model, but yes, it did look like it was made in two hours.

Sergio was the winner. I would have given the win to Nancy, but I loved that she was so happy to be in the top two and genuinely pleased for Sergio. She’s a class act. Chelsey was sent home.

E P I S O D E    N I N E

Top seven! Wow, we’re closing in on the big finish. The challenge: reinvent the tuxedo in a modern, fresh way. Christian said that the primary difference between a tuxedo and a suit is the inclusion of satin. I love that they featured Christian’s tuxedo gown that he made for Billy Porter to wear to the Oscars. The first man to wear a gown on the red carpet at the Oscars. Hell to the yes!

 

They felt that the perfect tailoring of a tux would be difficult to achieve in only two days, so they brought out eight eliminated designers to serve as helpmates. With the twist that it was the eliminated designers who chose the competing designer that they wanted to work with! The order was chosen by the button bag. Big surprise, Victoria was the designer left on the bottom of the pile. She was matched up with Alan - - he asked what she wanted him to do, and she said he should relax. His reaction, in the afer-the-fact commentary: “Ha ha! Victoria is definitely a solo designer. She does not work well with other people, she barely works well with herself.”

 

Another twist: they were given male, female, and non-binary models. A few of them chose male models, they were up for the challenge.

 

And look who showed up in the workroom: Sebastian, winner of season 17! Love that man. He had some great advice for the designers, also a bag full of carbs. Bless his heart. Lots of drama and talking of trash in the workroom, as usual. Do you suppose the designers sign a contract saying they’re required to supply drama and trash on every challenge?

 

Exhibit A: Nancy broke the buttonhole machine. Insurmountable horror! Thank you to Christian for saying, “We did not HAVE a buttonhole machine back in my day… And I did just fine.”

 

Guest judge: the marvelous Thom Browne! And wow, he looked super sexy in those shorts.

 

ON THE TOP

Geoffrey: sleek, understated. Though Nina and Brandon both thought the bow tie was a little off.

 

Victoria: Nina loved the mixture of powerful and sexy.

 

Marquise: Nina was on fire in this episode, she had so many wonderful comments. She loved that the model looked so regal, poised, and powerful. It was definitely my favorite look.

 

IN THE MIDDLE?

Sergio, Sergio, Sergio: Major misstep talking about how America was great in the 1950s, that was very ill-considered. And Nina rightfully pointed out the similarity to Celine Dion’s backwards tux look from the Oscars a few years ago and he feigned ignorance. Please. The judges said he was in the top but clearly he wasn’t as good as the other three.

ON THE BOTTOM

A quote from Delvin, from when his model walked down the runway: “I definitely felt like the quality of my garment is unmatched from anyone else in the competition.” Well, if by saying that you mean it’s WORSE, then yes, sweetie, you nailed it! Bad tailoring, bad design. The model looked horrified during the critique.

 

Brittany: bad, bad, bad, all of it bad. Each piece was badly made and looked dreadful. She knew she was a loser and had a hard time speaking during the critique. Elaine described it as a “douchey Hamptons party” look.

 

Nancy: I was surprised to see her on the bottom, I thought her look was very strong. Sure, it was too similar to other things she’s shown, but I liked it.

 

Marquise was the winner, such a wonderful “I’ll show you” moment from him. Brittany was chosen as the loser. I felt bad for her, she’s a sweetheart, but her look was really awful.

 

But wow! Christian used his Christian Siriano Save to keep Brittany.

E P I S O D E     T E N

You know how each episode starts with a recap of the previous episode? It was delightful to see Christian save Brittany again.

 

Karlie introduced the challenge: make an elevated tie-dye look. Nina came out on the runway wearing a crisp white cotton dress with emerald green tie-dye designs, made by Prada. The designers got a master class from New York’s premier dyeing company, Metro Dyeing. Some designers were more attentive and more engaged than others. Will this have an effect in the final results?

 

The trip to Mood was typical but we had lots of adorable footage of Swatch! I love that dog.

 

Another wrinkle of the challenge: the designers were not being sent back to the apartment at the end of the day, they were spending the night in the workroom. Have we seen that before? The dyeing results were predictably variable, it seems like nearly all the designers were surprised, shocked, and/or horrified by the way something came out.

 

On to the runway: I almost never mention what the judges wear, but what was Karlie thinking with the lemon yellow blouse and the golden yellow detail on the skirt? Ugh, that was gruesome. But my distaste was wiped out by guest judge Leslie Jones! WOO HOO! I was undone by her loud commentary during the runway show

 

ON THE TOP

Sergio: I thought the tie-dye was too subtle, but the judges loved that. And the dress was crisp, lovely, divine. And the godet work was exceptional.

 

Geoffrey: a bold choice on the muted color palette, and such a gorgeous shape. Leslie was crazy for it.

 

Nancy: they thought the tie-dye was the most controlled of all the designers, but they weren’t into the design.

ON THE BOTTOM

Victoria: oh so awful. The overall look was bad, the flounce was dreadful, and don’t even start about the denim diaper. Thank you Brandon for coining that phrase.

 

Delvin: the judges hated the colors and thought the silhouette was mumsy and dated.

 

Geoffrey was the winner, his dress had more drama. Delvin was sent home, though I thought Victoria was the bigger fail.

E P I S O D E    E L E V E N

Happy birthday, Victoria. Let’s get some positive attitude from you today, shall we?

 

The challenge: create a victory dress for an Olympic or Paralympic athlete. The designers were clearly inspired by their clients, there was a wonderful spirit in their conversations with them. I was concerned that the bright spirit would continue when they saw the damn dresses!

 

I loved the silliness in the workroom, with the designers (and Christian) doing their version of Olympic events. My favorite was Marquise, who rolled across the room on his mannequin. The highlight of the episode was the late night conversation between Nancy and Brittany - - Nancy went on and on about the challenges of her design and Brittany was OVER IT, on the brink of falling asleep. Hilarious.

 

Guest judge: Lindsey Vonn. 82 World Cup victories, wow!

 

Did you notice that the judges were all sweetness and light while the clients were eon the runway? It was impossible to tell who would be on the top and who on the bottom.

 

ON THE TOP

Nancy: wow, her look was amazing. so extraordinary. Nina put it perfectly, it was a great combination of fashion, function, and fantasy.

Victoria: she did great job of catering to her client but still delivering the (four or five) things that she does.

 

ON THE BOTTOM

Sergio: I thought the dress was very basic and Karlie made the point that even though she was pregnant, she could still be fitted.

Brittany: Nina thought it was cliché. Brittany defended herself by saying that she gave her client what she asked for, but Lindsey said, as a frequent client herself, she often has firm ideas of what she wants but then is shown or talked into something else by the designer or stylist.

Geoffrey: I thought the dress was a show-stopper, but there were some fit issues. I like that the judges gave him a pass for the blotch he got from the “community iron.”

Marquise: they felt the top should have been lined and the overall look was a little junior.

 

I loved that Nancy was the winner. But how on earth could they not choose someone to go home? One day you’re in and the next day you’re still in? And yes, they will be eliminating two designers in the next challenge.

E P I S O D E    T W E L V E

I really hate the middle school playground system of choosing anything - - each person chooses the next person and some poor schlub is left last. As much as I don’t like Victoria, I did feel bad for her.

 

The challenge: create an avant garde look to be presented at The Vessel. A dear friend who is an architect says that The Vessel is “the most derided piece of public art in world history.” Which is an achievement, right? I haven’t been there, I’m sure I’ll go there at some point but I have no burning desire to go anytime soon. The designers were informed that two of them would be eliminated in this challenge, they’re be choosing the final four. So bring it on, kids.

 

The were given a full hour and $600 at Mood. We learned Geoffrey used to have a latex company. Was anyone surprised about that?

 

Surprise! Christian took them into a side room where all of their work from previous challenges was on racks, and they were told to choose two pieces to show with their new piece. Very interesting, I liked that a lot.

 

Geoffrey had a mishap, cut himself and was bleeding on his garment. What a shame he wasn’t working on latex, he could just wipe it off. I LOVE that he was schooling his model about the uses for lube. He was using it to shine up his latex garment. No, really.

 

The judges arrived at The Vessel and Brandon, who is terribly afraid of heights, planted himself on a lower level. Bless his heart. Guest judge: Rachel Brosnahan, our beloved star of *The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel!* I thought it was interesting that she was introduced as an “actress,” not many women are using that word there days.

 

I have to say it was high drama seeing the models go up the elevator and go down the stairs. I wish they had touched on how the designers needed to take into account the scale of the space and the use of the stairs.

 

Brittany: the judges loved the impact and drama of the hot pink coat. They weren’t sold on the dress underneath. Brandon said it might have been better to pair the coat with jeans, that would have been cool.

 

Nancy: Nina wasn’t floored by it, she said it was “a black cloud.” She felt like it didn’t live up to the setting.

 

Marquise: the judges felt the outfit was a bigger success without the jacket. Maybe the model should have removed the jacket on the runway.

 

Geoffrey: Elaine loved that the latex was used with fluidity. Nina wished he had worked in latex earlier. Brandon thought it was “Land Before Time,” which I didn’t understand.

 

Sergio: of course he had to go on and on about his female samurai inspiration. Oh Nina! She called him out for the John Galliano and Alexander McQueen reference with the hair and makeup.

 

Victoria: I was least impressed with her outfit, it looked like a lovely red carpet look to me, not really avant garde.

 

I thought it was interesting that the judges talked almost exclusively about the new pieces - - why did they show three pieces if they’re only going to address one of them.

 

The final four: Geoffrey, Victoria, Nancy, and Sergio. Which means that Marquise and Brittany were sent home. Interesting that the two auf’d designers were the two who had been eliminated. It has to be really tough being so close and then sent home.

 

Breaking news! One of my favorite people and a devoted reader sent me the official preview for Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum's new show on Amazon! It's just a few weeks off, I can't WAIT to see that.

 

 

 

F I N A L E ,     P A R T    O N E

This episode opened with one of the best parts of each season, the home visits. It’s such a hoot seeing the designers in their natural habitats.

 

Of course Nancy lives in Philadelphia! I loved that she was so organized, and what a scream that she had a life-size cut-out of Christian in her workroom (though really I think it was more than life-size - - you know that Christian is teeny tiny, he sleeps in a thimble). Christian was impressed that she had so much work done and encouraged her to edit, think about fit, think about her finishes.

 

Nancy showed him the view from her workroom window - - she had a direct shot of the Rocky Steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. She said she wanted to run up the steps with Christian. He said he’d had a cheese steak, so he was up for it. And he made it up the steps before her!

 

Do you hear that whistling in the background? Yes, that’s the tea kettle, the water is boiling, I’m about to spill the T. I have never seen the movie *Rocky.* I saw the Broadway musical, and loved it, but no, I’ve never seen the movie. I should, right?

 

Next up: Sergio in New York City. We met his hunky cutie partner, Kade. His collection was about global warming and the melting of the glaciers. He showed Christian his fabrics, told him it was a challenge to use up-cycled textiles, and Christian asked how else he was being sustainable in his work. Sergio said he was using a technique to grow his own leather using kombucha, and he invited Christian to their cat’s bathroom to see how it’s done.

 

Say what?

 

Sergio pulled aside the shower curtain to reveal a goopy, slimy, curry-colored gelatinous mass in the bottom of the tub. Christian was on the verge of barfing, he said it was giving off a very strong odor. I’m a big fan of classic cheesy horror movies, so I found myself visualizing this Kombucha Leather Monster stepping up out of the tub in the middle of the night, sludging down the hall to Sergio’s and Kade’s bedroom (of course the cat would see it and let out a feisty “Meow!”), and you can imagine the rest.

 

I was not impressed with his garments. The light blue fabric looked bargain bin, the white fringe was a bad idea, it was not promising. Christian’s visit ended with him attending Sergio’s soccer practice. That wasn’t as exciting as I wanted it to be.

 

Next: Victoria in Los Angeles. She used traditional Moldovian decorations and was also inspired by the Egyptian pharaoh Khéops. She took on the name Khéops as a brand name and stamped it, stitched it, blazoned it all over hell. It looked very Upper West Side Boutique Ending up at Loehmann’s.

 

Christian felt that the pieces showed a strong sense of Victoria’s aesthetic, but they looked like they came from different collections. Victoria said that Karlie had encouraged her to think about other women she could design for, so she was trying to do different things. Still gotta make it cohesive, darling!

 

We met her husband Dan (darling) and her little boy Christian (super cute, but clearly not wild about this whole TV show situation). Victoria made an appeal directly to the camera that she be chosen as the winner so her former-professional-soccer-player husband could stop working as a truck driver and spend more time with his family, where he belongs. Judges, were you watching this?

 

And last but not least, Geoffrey back in New York City. Oh my, he’d recently had a skateboard injury, tore his meniscus, was put in an immobilizer, was then using a cane. Bless his heart, he turned his frown upside down and said that the cane was getting him a seat on the subway! He said the injury prevented him from fabric shopping. Is Mood not ADA? And even if he wasn’t able to go to Mood (or any other fabric store), he should have spent his time making muslin demos of every single piece in his collection, so when he had the actual fabric he could just whip it together. Of course things would change a lot, based on his handling of the final fabric, but he would be a lot more advanced for having done all of the prep work. I’m just saying what *I* would have done…

 

Plus he shut down his business to be on PR so he had to take a high-profile gig to pay the rent (something about Disney’s *Little Mermaid,* I didn’t quite follow), and he split up with his partner. Poor thing has a lot on this plate.

 

Home visits over and we went straight to Christian’s New York Fashion Week runway show. We got a little glimpse of each of the designers arriving in their NYFW finery, talking about the dream of showing at New York Fashion Week. That was a nice wrinkle on the finale storytelling process, I liked that a lot, I hope they do that again.

 

I can’t go on, I have to document what the designers were wearing:

 

Nancy: white fluffy faux fur jacket, beige slacks, and oversized coat in a colorful abstract print in black, lavender, and hot Chinese red. Divine.

 

Sergio: white cotton wing-tip shirt, grey metallic-print sport coat, blue jeans. The sport coat was ill-fitting, it accentuated his pudginess. Maybe not the best choice for the NYFW set.

 

Victoria: do I refer to the blonde sections in her hair as “frosted”? Killer heels, fabulous earrings, sleek black dress. Very sharp.

 

Geoffrey: full on gay clone, all black, leather jacket, pectoral cleavage, the kit and the caboodle. The leather cap sealed the deal.

 

I’m sure you noticed that the designers were in standing room up in the balcony, rather than in chairs on the main level. Sends a statement, don’t you think?

 

The designers arrived at their new workroom, unpacked their stuff, and showed their work to each other. A visit from Karlie and a new dramatic curve ball! The designers were given 48 hours to choose three looks from their collections to show to the judges, who would choose to advance all four, or only three, or only two! NOW WE’RE TALKING.

 

The designers had a surprisingly contained conflict over model choosing. Again, I’m taking over and improving on the process. They should have said, from the get-go, each designer chooses one model who is not negotiable. If two designers chose the same model, flip a coin. After that, it would be Negotiation Central. Done and dusted!

 

Christian met with each designer to go over what they had done.

 

Geoffrey: It was the first time Christian had seen any of his stuff. He was a little concerned that he hadn’t tried it on anyone, he was a little shocked that he hadn’t found a single person in New York who could come over to his place and try something on, and some of the pieces (I’m thinking of the dresses with no closure between the boobs) were dicey in terms of concept and construction. The highlight of Geoffrey’s show-and-tell was the ginormous black sequined coat. Christian was wild for it, he tried it on and it was easily twice as big as him.

 

Victoria: Christian advised her to focus less on the styling and more on the actual garments. He encouraged her to go with the more streamlined sportswear pieces. The hand-crocheted bags and baseball caps, those were not going to wow the judges.

 

Sergio: Christian felt like the period references in his pieces could verge on costume, so he advised him to rock in up with the styling and veer away from the silver high heels. His stuff actually looked much stronger than it did in the home visit.

 

Nancy: He was a little concerned about her having a model in a wheelchair in the presentation for the judges, but her feeling was that it meant a lot to her and she thought that showing that it would give her a bigger chance of being in the finale. I agree with her! And I didn’t even understand what she had done with the scraps and the handbag. Something about a cover for a wine bladder? Huh? She’s cookilicious, I love her.

 

The designers were all over the map in terms of what pieces they were going to show. Geoffrey’s nerves were on edge in the makeup room, he had difficulty explaining what he wanted with the jewels affixed to the cheekbones. Again, I’m taking over: maybe he should have done a sketch? That would have taken about two minutes.

 

On to the runway. Guest judge: President of the CFDA, Steven Kolb. Love that man, he is the bomb.

 

I’m sure they said this earlier in the month, but they really had five months to make ten looks? That’s a LOT of time. Come on.

 

I’ll start with my thoughts followed by the judges’.

 

SERGIO

Impressive technique but didn’t look young or fresh. The final cocktail dress was stunning, but the other two looks were not where it’s at. And did you notice there was no kombucha leather?

 

Steven felt like the message wasn’t connected to the clothes. Elaine felt like he put a spotlight on a different issue each week and the clothes were secondary. Nina didn’t know many women who would wear those looks. Brandon told him he needed to edit, that Sergio was trying to show off all the things he can do in one garment.

 

NANCY

I love that she opened with model in the wheelchair. The skirt-to-cape thing was marvelous. The tailored suit was sharp, and the final gown was off the hook. And her two causes, zero waste and inclusivity, were apparent in the work itself and didn’t need to be explained by an accompanying brochure or Power Point presentation.

 

Elaine thought the styling could be more modern. Nina loved that the pantsuit was so fitted and encouraged Nancy (if she made it to NYFW) to think about the order of her looks. Nancy shared that Brandon inspired the bag - - it was a wine tote. He thought it was cute but didn’t really work as fashion. He asked the model in the gown to remove the “tamale wrapper” around the neck, and it really did look 300% better.

 

VICTORIA

Ugh, the colors of the first look were so bland and the embroidery looked super mom-made. The center pantsuit and coat were fabulous. The final jumpsuit was very strong, but I thought it would look better without the jacket.

 

Nina was worried about color and fit. She loved that she showed separates, which appeal to editors and retailers. Elaine thought the jumpsuit looked cheap and ill-fitting. They all loved the hats. Elaine didn’t like the bags, and Brandon didn’t feel that she had earned the right to put her brand name on her clothes.

 

GEOFFREY

Wow, he really pulled the rabbit out of the hat with the first look - - good choice to get rid of “the dick dress” and make a brand new skirt, it was a stunner. The center dress was fascinating, with the open bodice. And the final menswear look was fab.

 

Brandon felt like he didn’t handle the metal mesh in the best way. He felt like the looks were all great from the waist up but not from the waist down. Nina felt like it needed to be more luxe (especially when the fabric was so expensive), and Elaine felt like the dress was shapeless. Steven felt like the looks were all unsexy.

 

Of course we had a cliffhanger and they won’t tell us until next week if anyone was eliminated, who was, or how many. I am on tenterhooks!

 

F I N A L E   U L T I M O

How do you like my use of the term "finale ultimo?" Pretty cool, huh?

 

I was so disappointed that they didn’t eliminate even just ONE designer. Come on people, do the words, “One day you’re in and the next day you’re out” really have no meaning?

 

The next day started with a visit to the CFDA with Christian. The designers had one-on-one consultations with two women from the CFDA, looking through photos of the pieces in their finale collections, mostly talking about branding and identity. The odd thing was that they had these one-on-one consultations with the other three designers in the room.

 

They went back to Mood and were given $400 and 45 minutes plus seamstresses to help them in the workroom, and Karla Welch giving them expert advice on styling. This is not the way it used to be! They used to make their finale collections and show them, none of this business of critique from the judges and reworking by the designers.

 

Christian announced that the guest judge would be Serena Williams and the designers all lost their sh-t. Geoffrey had a meltdown in their last hour and a half in the workroom - - is he too fragile to make it in this business?

 

On to the runway!

 

VICTORIA

I thought she was wrong to lead with such an ordinary look. The coat dress was fantastic, and the final look, the slouchy dress, was stunning. Interesting that the two strongest looks (in my estimation) were the most understated. The whole collection was definitely cohesive (but the judges didn't use that word in any of their critiques, interesting).

 

NANCY

I love that she led with the model in the wheelchair. The second look, the jumpsuit, was stunning. The rubber dress was beautiful, but why did she show it with the cowl? The judges told her it was so much better without. The model with the Swarovski prosthetic came out on the runway and got applause - - that doesn’t happen every day, applause in the middle of a show. Wow, her collection was so vibrant and exultant.

 

SERGIO

His collection seemed very flat and underpowered, not just the colors but the design itself. The full-skirted cocktail dress was fantastic. But oh dear Lord, enough with the fringe already.

 

GEOFFREY

Yes for the redo on the opening look, pairing the big puffer coat with the little dress. His clothes have a lot of attitude. The two open-front dresses looked too similar to me. It was great to see men on the runway.

 

Am I wrong thinking that Sergio getting down on one knee and proposing to his partner was a made-for-TV moment?

 

Interesting that they announced the winner the previous designers and friends and family there in the room. Also interesting that they only announced the winner, they didn't do their standard Miss America thing and announce the losers first.

 

Wow, Geoffrey was the winner! I was surprised by that, I thought it was going to be Nancy (I was hoping it would be Nancy). But oh yes, I was a weepy mess when he called his father to tell him he had won.

 

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