Finally! A challenge that allows the designers to design! Three garments, two days, 500 dollars and an assistant! It’s so reasonable. No birds, no stilts and no sheepdogs, just a three-piece mini collection based on the inspiration of their choice; a completely appropriate challenge to choose the designers who will “return to New York with collections.” Notice that Heidi didn’t say “return with collections for Fashion Week,” which means we can look forward to an elimination upon their return, but in a season where jacking the designers around has been the name of the game, this challenge seems refreshingly straightforward.
Another big change in this episode is the queen of mean himself, Joshua. Instead of the straight-out aggressive Joshua, we are treated to the passive-aggressive Joshua, who instead of confronting designers to their faces, chooses to talk about them behind their backs — and by “them” I mean Anya. He still has a problem with her sewing skills and the fact that jackets are not in her repertoire, and he’s not afraid to let Viktor know it. Oddly enough, when asked who should join him at Fashion Week, Joshua chose Viktor and Anya. (?!?) The one thing we have learned this season is that Anya has laser focus and she has her eye on the prize. She may be a bit unaccustomed to not being loved by all, but she didn’t let Joshua trip her up, and girlfriend brought her A-game.
I would venture to say that Anya’s mini collection was the only slam-dunk on the runway. All three pieces were modern and effortlessly chic — nothing fussy or overworked. Asymmetry was the thread that held them all together — undoubtedly with some of Bert’s construction skills. There was a lot of talk about how complicated the ivory dress was, and how it needed instructions, but it didn’t come off that way at all. Yes, you had to have beautiful coloring, be six feet tall and be thin as a rail for the dress to work, but her model was all of those and looked fabulous in the dress. The short black dress was flawless, and the rust-colored wrap pants were a clever twist on the two dresses. I haven’t been drinking the Anya Kool-Aid all season, and I have questioned many of her wins, but this week she definitely deserved the first slot in the finals.
Next to move on up was Viktor. (It’s the Viktor Kool-Aid I’ve been drinking this season.) I find his designs to be modern and classic and elegant and sexy, all at the same time — not to mention his superb construction and craftsmanship. I also think his designs appeal to women of varying ages; I can see his pieces being worn by both mothers and daughters. All that said, while there was nothing inherently wrong with his mini collection, there was no wow factor either. It was all certainly done in great taste, and the fabric choice that represented the city skyline was brilliant, but there was no there there. Luckily for Viktor, the other designer didn’t bring it, so his second slot in the finals was secured.
This is where I’m glad I wasn’t sitting in one of those judge’s chairs. The last three designers were completely equal, in my opinion. If I had to choose which two would stay and which one to send home, based solely on the garments on the runway for this challenge only, I would be hard pressed. They each had exactly two duds and one decent piece.
Joshua’s winner was his white dress with the net top. I wasn’t crazy about the plastic netting he chose; the edges didn’t finish well, and on a garment this simple, flawless construction is mandatory. It was nice enough and it was clean-lined, but things went south from there. I’m not sure why Joshua keeps dragging out that circle skirt, because it always comes off as costumey. It could only be worse if black felt poodles were appliquéd on. This week’s version was especially horrendous. The length, the layered netting, and topping it off with the studded striped tank just added insult to injury. Even he admitted that the pieces didn’t work together. Only slightly better was his one-shoulder Lurex gown. I liked the idea of a gown layered over a tank, but not that gown in that fabric with that plastic belt, and not that tank. Despite the fact that he needs to edit (translation: he has bad taste), the judges like the idea that he has ideas, and he moves forward.
Kimberly’s silver cocktail dress was her success. It was a bit heavy-looking, probably due to the fabric, but the diagonal draping was interesting and, I would imagine, flattering on women who are not model-sized, and the proportions were spot-on. Her other two pieces, not so much. The coat didn’t immediately remind me of a Dutch exchange student like it did Heidi, but it did come off as very pedestrian-looking, and the color was unfortunate. The sculpted silver skirt was a valid attempt at a unique silhouette, but it just didn’t get there. For her dress Kimberly earns 1 point, enough for her to make it to the next round.
Laura Kathleen had only her graphic circle gown between her and the auf. I thought the design was strong, and as guest judge Zoe Saldana pointed out, the circles were gracefully placed. I think that this gown was potentially the best piece in all three of the remaining designers’ mini collections. If it had been executed with better craftsmanship, Laura would be in the finals and Kimberly would be packing up her puffy metallic brocade, but the poor fit and the weak construction (the overlay circle fabric didn’t lay properly on the lining) were just too distracting. Laura is sent packing after getting so close. (She may have the last laugh. I hear her decoy collection at Lincoln Center was one of the strongest.)
Next episode, home visits! Who doesn’t love seeing where everyone lives?