We're only two weeks into the season, but it's already time for a drink. The designers congregate at Jay-Z's 40/40 Club for what they think is some free time, but obviously Alyssa is there to spoil their plans.
The simple goal this week is to create a cocktail dress. I love these back-to-basics challenges, as they often give designers the opportunity to really show off. Alyssa explains that the designers will find inspiration for a modern cocktail dress from the ingredients, colors, and presentation of the cocktails -- with names like La Exotique, Hemingway, and Sardinia -- that they are served at 40/40. Since Michael won last week's challenge he gets first dibs from the list of cocktails, then gets to pick who'll drink next. Michael picks Korto, who's followed by Jeffrey, Viktor, Elena, Melissa, and Seth Aaron. The last designer to choose is Irina. She didn't win either of the first two challenges, but her competitors still clearly view her as a threat. Irina's unphased. She knows there are worse things than being a little icy and unliked, like being out of the competition entirely. She's not here to make friends, etc.
They sketch at 40/40, then head to Mood to spend their $100. The workroom feels pretty chilled out this week, due at least in part to Elena's bouyant mood and also, I imagine, to the low-key nature of the challenge. Nobody can be too cranky when all they have to make is a cocktail dress. Zanna pops it for critiques and to throw in a twist, but even that's not too stressful: The designers have to make a "garnish" for their garments, an accessory of some kind that complements their look.
Our guest judges are fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff and interior designer Nate Berkus.
Viktor - He used a print of a chapel ceiling to make a light, flirty dress with cut-outs. Georgina and Alyssa don't love the admittedly weird flappy panel at front hem, but everyone is very impressed by the design and fit at the bust and shoulders. Rebecca says the print looks like it was engineered specifically for that design. Viktor's our winner.
Christopher - A flapper-esque nude dress with rhinestone detailing. Georgina likes that she couldn't tell the dress was made from a curtain. Nate is over the moon for it, but I agree with Christopher's fellow designers that there's very little work in it. Isaac thinks the rhinestones at the back are gratuitous.
Elena - A white cap-sleeved dress with cut-outs at the ribs and clavicles. The shape is typical Elena but it's very nicely constructed and looks expensive. Nate calls out the similarities to work by Balenciaga and Narciso Rodriguez, which prompts Elena to reiterate that she's an avant-garde designer who's watering down her aesthetic to meet the challenge requirements; later Isaac gripes about her constant need to downplay her looks.
Korto - A bright green and yellow print dress with leather strap details and a high-low pleated skirt. (In the workroom, Jeffrey rightly compares it to something from Isaac's '11 resort collection.) The judging panel is split on the utility and aesthetic value of the patent leather belt, and Alyssa finds the straps on the back unflattering.
Jeffrey - A red halter dress supposedly inspired by the Vietnamese Ao dai. "I can see lots of women wanting to wear that to cocktail parties," Jeffrey says as his model walks. I don't agree! There is a very real carpetbag quality to the fabric he chose and the dog collar halter isn't flattering. His litany of excuses doesn't impress the judges at all. "He's almost begging to be sent home this week," Isaac sighs, disappointed.
Melissa - An electric purple suede sheath dress with a high structured collar and an asymmetric hem. Like Elena's, this look is a summation of all Melissa's tried-and-true signatures, which makes it a little boring. The judges like the fabric choice but dislike that the design elemnents cause the garment to be unflattering and heavy-looking. After two weeks in the bottom, Melissa's finally out.
Was Melissa's cocktail dress your least favorite, too? Which designer's look best matched his or her cocktail? Are you as unimpressed with Jeffrey as Isaac seemed to be tonight? Has anyone proved him or herself to be a real competitor yet this season? Let me know what you think in the comments.