Season 5, Episode 7 Recap: Bait and Switch

If you thought going back in time last week was disorienting, try this one on for size: The designers go to Mood before they even know the challenge. Alyssa is INSIDE of Mood waiting for them. Up is down, left is right, splash some cold water on my face and get me out of this fever dream! It’s all too much!

Alyssa gets straight to business explaining that because the designers have been making garbage fabric choices this season, they’re being stripped of their right to choose their own materials.

The Challenge:

Use a randomly assigned fabric type to create a high-end evening resort look. They have $200 each to spend on their assigned fabric and one day to complete the look.

As the winner of the last challenge, Ken is up first to choose from a pile of brightly colored envelopes. Inside the envelopes are the types of fabric each designer must use. He passes the rest out to the designers one by one. It’s completely arbitrary because no one knows what’s inside the envelopes, but Ken deserves to feel powerful. My favorite moment from this episode is when Alexander reveals he has to choose from upholstery fabrics and even Alyssa looks shocked. Everyone has a reaction to their selections, but it totally doesn’t matter because a twist is on the horizon.

After purchasing fabrics and returning to the workroom, Alyssa breaks the bad news: They must now switch fabrics. Ken is given first choice and goes straight for Asha’s neoprene. Age-old rivals Mercutio and Tybalt, I mean Sam and Kini, have to switch, but otherwise the switches are unexciting.

There’s a lot of complaining and carrying on from the start. Most worried is Emily, who is now stuck with a whole lot of sheer upholstery fabric and not a lot of confidence. My knee-jerk reaction is to wish she would just suck it up and get to work, but looking at this black, white and red polka-dotted mess, I really don’t have the heart to be all Herbert Hoover, jabbering on about how Emily should pull herself up by her burgundy Dr. Martens bootstraps. After a pep talk from Sam, of all people, she does eventually get started putting a look together.

When Zanna makes her plaid-clad arrival she’s bombarded with jumpsuits and excuses. Only Dom seems okay – she’s killing it with a textile she made by stitching together teal and yellow strips of fabric. Zanna warns the group as a whole that they need to set themselves apart from the jump-suited pack if they want to win.

By runway day, Emily has heeded Zanna’s warning and amped up the sex. While it’s still not “resort wear” (it was never going to be, with that fabric) it’s much more fun and flirty. At this point at the very least she’s not an automatic out.

Seconds before runway we have yet another zipper malfunction. In this case Ken is the victim, but he handles it so gracefully that I barely notice.

Runway:

Alyssa introduces Georgina, Isaac, and actress of stage and screen Megan Hilty. Was there a judges’ group text before the runway in which all of the female judges decided to wear white? And did Isaac choose to stand out in black or was he just not invited? Awkward.

The Top:

Ken: Using what was originally Asha’s neoprene, it’s a bright coral gown with an asymmetrical, off-the-shoulder top. His motivation was to create an elegant evening gown from a sporty fabric. Honestly, I think it’s odd, but the judges are generally really happy with the choices Ken made. It’s definitely #fashion.

Dom, the winner: Using Valerie’s collection of linens, it’s a Grecian-looking draped cream top with a teal and yellow striped maxi skirt. Dom has connected the two ideas with a black and white striped band around the waist. Alyssa points out that the skirt looks a bit like a beach towel and Dom explains that this was her little inside joke about resort wear. Clever gal! Everyone else loves what Dom has done.

Sam: Using Kini’s brocade, it’s a sky blue and periwinkle halter-top gown with a very low open back. It’s simple but the silhouette is effective. Alyssa calls it “homemade, and not in a great way,” but the other judges excuse how unfinished it is because they like the overall look. He was lucky to have a light-colored fabric so the brocade didn’t look so heavy on the model.

The Bottom:

Valerie: Using Layana’s lightweight cotton, it’s a coral jumpsuit with a plunging neckline and open back. Alyssa has a problem with the hem of the pant, Megan doesn’t like how wide the neckline is, and Isaac said she should have committed to the simplicity of the look by using fewer accessories, but I think the biggest problem with the jumpsuit is that it’s just kind of boring.

Layana: Using Ken’s silk charmeuse, it’s a sexy, strappy, lipstick-red jumpsuit. The back is super open and there’s something about it that feels like lingerie. The biggest issue the judges have with the look is that Layana has chosen to pair it with heels instead of flats, making the length of the pants look like a mistake. There’s no such thing as sexy highwaters.

Emily: Using Alexander’s upholstery, it’s a thick red crop top that’s almost cut like a sporty bathing suit, plus shorts of the same material. Over top Emily has taken the polka-dotted sheer fabric and made an A-line skirt. The judges don’t like how much skin is showing, considering she had much more fabric to work with. It looks like an idea that’s not fully realized. She explains that this is the third attempt at a look with this material and she’s made peace with it.

In the end, poor Valerie has to watch Dom win with the fabric Valerie chose – and not only that, but Megan Hilty will be wearing Dom’s creation at a Broadway event. But Valerie wasn’t eliminated for her fabric, she was eliminated because she let complacency get the best of her. That’s the lesson, y’all: Keep it fresh.

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