Season 15 Premieres September 15 at 9/8c

Mila Hermanovski's Blog

I'll Take Manhattan

By kim_messina 04/12/2013 04:22AM GMT

So...another cliffhanger ending leaves us on the edge of our seats wondering what sort of "do or die moment" Michelle has been given, since she was about to be eliminated (over Patricia!). So the designers are assembled in the lounge backstage, in awkward silence, waiting for Tim to come in and tell them what the hell is going on (and what they are supposed to do next). The waiting game: you sit back there, wait for Grim Reaper Tim to come in and tell the eliminated designer to "clean up his/her workspace," and then you usually have a quick catered dinner break (which Iʼve affectionately called "nursing home food" because is usually all the same color), change clothes (so it looks like the next day to the viewer) and go down to the runway to get your next clue from Heidi. If youʼve been eliminated, well, the road ends before you can have your last monochromatic meal.

Tim arrives and (shocker!) explains that NO ONE is going home. All five designers go to the runway and Heidi and Tim explain that for the next challenge, each designer and a newly assigned "sewing assistant" eliminated contestant (!) will be going to a different European city as inspiration for the "luxe look" they are to design...except Michelle, who will have to stay in New York and escape packing, jetlag, overly expensive fabrics and excessive sleep deprivation. Poor thing, she doesnʼt get to be rushed through Paris, half awake.

Talk about getting a second chance: Patricia must be incredibly relieved to have Kate helping her instead of Richard. She also gets one of the most inspirational cities: Paris...and she gravitates towards graffiti, of all things. I understand *why* Patricia, in particular, is so drawn to it, but there is graffiti everywhere in the US, and it is a bit shocking that it trumps all the other amazing and inspiring sights in Paris. Meanwhile, Richard is assigned to Stanley, and the two of them jet off to London. Stanley is intrigued by Big Ben of all things, but romanticizes it with his own sort of back story and wants to channel his inner goth. Daniel is sent to Berlin (jealous!) with Amanda, who is determined to inspire him to inject a more youthful point of view into his design this time. After visiting the Berlin Wall (where he had "never felt happier in his life") and the modern Berlin Hotel, his holy grail ends up being the hypergraphic Bürohaus, a super cool white, futuristic structure, which is not what I would have expected he would gravitate towards. Over in passionate Barcelona, Layana finds inspiration everywhere she looks, in the architecture, tile and patterns, with Samantha as her sidekick.

Last, but not least, and also getting a second chance, Michelle, who is feeling worn down, lonely and defeated, rides around Manhattan with Tu atop a sightseeing bus, and sees New York from a new, yet very real, perspective. I feel for Michelle, because when you think youʼve really done a great job, and youʼve made it that far, itʼs a real punch in the gut to be on the chopping block. Of course we viewers can see how problematic it is that she completely ignored (or perhaps didnʼt fully understand) one of Ninaʼs important rules in the last challenge, but the bottom line is her design was far better and more fashion forward than at least two of her peersʼ...and the judges knew it. Still, Michelle is in the eye of the cyclone and she canʼt see straight and itʼs taken a beating on her.

What is it with everyone wanting to use leather? I like it! The designers in Europe each have their own challenges with limited fabric selections and/or exchange rates. Fortunately, they have a substantial ($1K) budget; nevertheless, there is no place like Mood. Michelle gets to go to town with cashmere and exotic leather with her budget. Whoʼs got the disadvantage here? I know he had his heart set on leather, but it does seem tragic that Moustache went all the way to Berlin and bought white vinyl. Meanwhile, Patricia is like a kid in a candy store and canʼt seem to focus so she buys a little of everything.

Who knew John Legend would be such a thoughtful judge? Who knew there would only be one designer eliminated? Who knew Michelle would pull through? Oh come on, we all saw that coming.

Layana tortured that beautiful lace. I thought she had great promise with her textile selection when I saw it in the fabric store...and then she just overworked it and it became this weird retro coat ensemble, devoid of any sex appeal or passion, which one naturally would equate with both lace AND Barcelona. The sleeves on the blouse further ruined the look, both in color (peach with black?) and style (Austin Powers meets Stevie Nicks). Layana didnʼt see that there was any problem, however, and for that, she gets sent to clean up her workspace.

Michelle wonderfully captured New York in this gritty yet luxe ensemble. This is my favorite look this week, so brava to her for rising from the ashes with her inspiration of soot. It so perfectly reflects manhattan: the contrast of gritty and dirty with sleek luxury (Even seen in the styling, which could be a socialite whoʼs gone on a bender). The lines of the dress are modern and expensive, yet the hard edge of the breastplate and strapping exemplify the tough exterior we all need to get through daily existence in the city. I only wish the wonderful hand painted ombre "soot" had shown up better.

Stanley created a dramatic, gothic look which was well-executed. I love the simplicity of this and I am always a sucker for a cape of any scale. The modest front reveals a sexy back which is a great balance. His styling is spot on and the veil is a nice touch, adding to the mystery and "darkness." I like subtlety, but I do wish he had used those wonderful leather paillettes in a more visible place, like inside the capelet, or lining the skirt as a cutaway from the front rather than the back, which seems like a throwaway. Nonetheless, this was a fine entry from Stanley and hands-down he is the first to be chosen to proceed into the finals and make a collection for NYFW.

Moustache surprises everyone this week with a modern black and white look which has a slightly softer hand than he has shown in the past (thank God). Iʼm not a fan of the jacket, which may have worked better in leather as he originally wanted, and also on TV it doesnʼt show much of the seaming detail he speaks of; however as Zac pointed out, I really could see a German woman (like Heidi!) wearing this complete ensemble. I was scared when I saw the beginnings of stripper-boots in the making in the workroom, but actually they really pull together the look, and so does the asymmetric draped skirt. Hope Daniel sent Amanda some flowers for that one!

Patricia seems to have nine lives. The decoupage-looking structured jacket she made was cool in theory, and I respect her technique in making the textile. However, the pant which accompanied it felt clumsy, heavy, and like an afterthought. Itʼs a shame she didnʼt make a dress out if this textile. Overall it seems that while she is a great artisan, she does not quite have a grasp on pulling together looks as a fashion designer. Iʼm surprised she was not eliminated alongside Layana....but the Kluminator wants to see more. (And there has to be sudden death in the next episode, right?)