Well, lovely ladies and gentle gents — here we are peeking right ‘round the corner at that New York Fashion Week finale and I, for one, am loving what I’m seeing!
In this episode, Tim visits each designers’ space for some in-depth critiques of their collections, the designers complete what they can and then head back to New York for a preview show for the panel of judges.
But first, a little “Tim Travel.” First, Tim makes his way to the workspace of our favorite leather-worker in Los Angeles, Laurence. She’s working out of this gorgeous, spacious loft that makes me want to pretend to be a ballerina and spin until I fall over. She explains to Tim that her collection will be autobiographical and shares with him the traumatic story of her coming-of-age and young motherhood. The collection will naturally flow from dark pieces to light, in a sophisticated fashion metaphor. But then, quelle surprise! Laurence has omitted black from her palate, not-so-subtly proving to the judges that she’s the versatile designer they want her to be. A “wildly enthusiastic” Tim tells Laurence that he is “not even remotely concerned.” He then sits with Laurence’s hilarious and adorable son, Marley and her beautiful daughter Victoria, who we had the pleasure of seeing just a few weeks ago in Episode 9. It’s really nice to see Laurence in her element as both a mother and an amazing designer. Tim leaves feeling excited about her fashion week prospects and his enthusiasm is infectious.
Tim doesn’t have to travel far to see the next designer as Rik is also an LA local. Tim is greeted by Rik, his mother Delia (who wore the winning look from Episode 9) and Rik’s cousin Mayra for a little fancy bowling. That’s just code for “bowling with Tim Gunn,” who surprisingly does very well! Then Rik and Tim head over to see what Rik has been working on and it’s a bit all over the place. Rik’s inspiration comes from the 60’s (he cites “Sgt. Pepper”), the 70’s (he’s included a paisley print on denim throughout the collection) and the 80’s (the whole collection has a punk twist). Rik also included some optical illusions using leather and the sort of magic eye effect of some of the textiles. Rik also created glasses for some of the models to wear that are sort of mod, but also look kind of like 3D glasses from a movie theater. Tim says he sees “at least three collections here,” and encourages Rik to mix and match the looks more to find the right balance.
Next, Tim makes his way to Boston where he finds Erin in the workroom at her alma mater, MassArt. It seems that without the pressures and time constraints of the competition, Erin spent a whole lot of time working on tiny little details and while she has very cool textiles, she doesn’t even have one finished piece to show Tim. Some of the things she has done include: made small sequins of glitter Plexiglas that she’s laser cut into circles, collaborated with a friend who painted characters and printed them onto a romantic light pink fabric and acquired some fly fishing lures she plans on using as embellishments. Tim doesn’t let himself get too overwhelmed by how much Erin still has to do, but rather he encourages her, knowing she will deliver when the time comes. At lunch with Erin’s friends and mother, Erin’s loved ones confirm that her last minute habit has been a problematic personality trait since before she even left the womb.
Finally, Tim travels back home to New York City for his fourth and final critique. Roberi absolutely shocks me when he explained that he only left Caracas for the US four months ago! He explains to Tim that the trouble in Venezuela forced him to close his business, leave his family and boyfriend and start all over again up north. All the while the Statue of Liberty looks down approvingly at the two of them. In his workspace, Roberi says that he would like his collection to emit feelings of travel and reflect his own eclectic past. He wants it to feel like the same woman in different places. Tim worries that it doesn’t look like the same woman. He expresses this concern that there may be too many ideas. Roberi says, “It’s not over design, it’s just maximalism,” which I love but I fear the judges will not. He tells Tim that the cohesion will come in the silhouettes and shapes of the designs, but Tim says the silhouettes are too simple for the entire collection to rest on them. And with a warning that he is going to be very harsh, Tim says that if Roberi is merely trying to put slight spins on classic looks then he’s “not a designer but a dressmaker.” As with Rik, Roberi has some serious work to do to make sure the collection looks unified.
When the designers get back together it’s all love and no drama. Now that I’ve had my fill of “oh. my. god.” moments, I love that we’re at the point where there’s no pettiness, just talented people doing their thing. Tim announces that the designers need to put together three looks to show the judges as a teaser. They are also to use the Brother Dream Machine to present the judges with a logo.
On the runway, we are greeted by a virtual Heidi. Stuck in LA doing a live event, she can only be there by the power of technology. In her physical stead, our long-lost friend Michael Kors joins Zac and Nina, though Heidi will still be watching and weighing in remotely. Tim also sits-in to take notes for the designers, who Heidi says often forget the important parts of their critiques.
Rik presents a black-and-white graphic printed scuba bodysuit. Over top of the long-sleeves and pants the model wears a black leather A-line skirt. She also wears the red glasses. Next is a sleeveless leather dress with red top and blue mini skirt. Finally, Rik walks an oversized, paisley-printed, cropped denim jumpsuit. It’s one of those cuts that makes you ask — is this a long short or short pant? Zac thinks the collection is fun, but suggests Rik take it to the next level. Heidi doesn’t see cohesion in the three looks, but prefers the red and blue look, as does Michael. Michael calls the collection “all over the map” and hates the coveralls. Together the judges revise the coveralls, asking Rik to remove the belt, bring the leg up and unbutton the front. Nina suggests heavy editing. She also calls the glasses juvenile, but Michael likes them.
Erin walks an oversized light pink neoprene dress with shoulder cut outs and the laser cut glitter Plexiglas sequin embellishments. Next is a flow-y, sort of festival tank maxi dress, made of the printed fabric she collaborated with her painter friend to create. Last is a cropped, oversized wool sweater with oversized, handwoven sleeves, paired with an orange leather button-down skirt. Michael loves the neoprene dress, but hates the clutch Erin made. I love it, but I also think it looks like a fun pencil case you might get with the purchase of a feminist zine. Nina says the maxi dress doesn’t belong in the collection or even look like something designed by Erin. Zac suggests losing the large cropped sweater because the weight of the sleeve makes it fit in an irregular way. Heidi thinks the orange leather skirt is too long and proportionally off, but appreciates the use of unconventional materials. Erin promises there will be more.
Laurence presents a sort of light olive green linen romper with brown leather straps. Second, there is a tight mint green pant with a fitted, short-sleeved orange and pink floral blazer. Last, Laurence walks a silky, open-back white top covered in hand sewn pearls, paired with white capris. Michael loves the white top, but thinks the collection lacks cohesion. He compares the romper to a German costume and feels that the linen is too relaxed in comparison with the other looks. Heidi and Zac like the romper, saying it brings a freshness to the collection, particularly when contrasted to the crisp tailoring of the other two looks. Zac says that Laurence is the best tailor he’s seen in his time on the show. Nina loves the jacket but says when paired with the too-tight pant and exposed navel, it’s cheapened. Nina also doesn’t like the makeup Laurence chose, calling it too severe.
Roberi presents a dress that is calf-length, with an A-line opalescent pink pleated skirt and a fitted, sleeveless almost vest-like beige and tan top. He also walks a white blouse with an iridescent purple knee-length party skirt and medium-length army green vest that he has left open. Last is a loose coral, belted pant, white blouse and slightly over-sized army green jacket. Zac appreciates the balance between the “My Little Pony” fabric and the earthy tones, though he thinks the purple skirt is unpolished. Heidi is not excited by the looks, calling them unsexy, but Zac defends Roberi, saying the “nerdy, dowdier girl” is his aesthetic. Michael argues that not everyone wants to feel “sexed up” and Roberi chimes in, explaining that the “cha cha sexy” look isn’t for him. Nina explains that what is missing isn’t a sexiness but a luxuriousness and the styling might be part of the problem. Michael points to the dress and says he loves her look head to toe. The designers agree that the coral pant look isn’t offering much.
All in all, the word of the day is “cohesion” and four panicked designers have basically one day to fix a multitude of problems. Roberi explains that it’s not that the judges didn’t make great points, it’s that in order to implement the changes they want they would all need much more than the time allotted.
Personally, I loved bits of every collection. I think Rik has something really cool going with his graphic print and optical illusion angle, Laurence has found an unexpected romance in the softness of her fabrics, Erin is churning out the most unique work I’ve seen in a minute and Roberi’s wallflower-with-a-wild-side aesthetic is fresh and young. I’m so excited for next week, when we get to see how it all shakes out!