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Paris High Fashion or the Miss Guatemala Pageant?

By CaitlinBergmann Fri., Sep. 24, 2010 ,5:00 am EDT

OK, let me just get this out of the way: I am still NOT over those nasty pants from I'm-the-new-Alexander-Wang Andy South's "Jackie Kennedy American Sportswear" ensemble. I actually had draping nightmares over it. Before last Thursday, I remembered Jackie O as an oversized-sunglasses-and-Oleg Cassini-wearing DIVA who loved the Greek Isles (and a few other things, thanks to my fellow recap blogger Laura Bennett!). Now, I can only think of BAD-pants-Jackie O: from Camelot to Cameltoe in one hot minute. Darn you, Miss Andy! Oh well, let's progress to nicer thoughts: A New Roommate Situation (no, not that loser with two left feet from "Dancing with the Stars"!) and a New Challenge.

Chain-smoking Grandma Goes to Vegas
When the episode opens, we find Cutie Christopher (the official "Floater" of Season 8) and Mondo — dressed like a loopy, chain-smoking, slot-machine-playing grandma in Vegas — getting ready to change rooms at the Atlas. They will be joining Andy and Michael Costello. Andy is happy, saying that "it's nice to have people that I can trust" (a slam on Michael C., I presume?).

View behind-the-scenes photos from this episodeMake the Sponsors Happy
Afterward, all the contestants meet up with Tim at the Parsons Workroom for their next Challenge. Joining him is L'Oreal Makeup Consulting Expert Collier Strong, who tells them that it's the "L'Oreal Paris Challenge," where they are to create a high-fashion look worthy of Paris Couture Week. And the winner will get $20,000 (Hello!!), and they — and their winning look — will appear in an advertorial in Marie Claire. In addition (sit down, there's more!), they need to incorporate one of the eye shadows in the L'Oreal Studio Secrets makeup line. The designers then choose from a "preselected" theme: Crystal, Metallic, Velvet, Bright or Matte. Tim tells the designers that unless they are adept at working with Velvet, they shouldn't! Miss Gretchen chooses Velvet, of course. Something tells me she'll do just fine (I am so old-hat now with predicting the editing!).

Drinkin' Money for Mondo Lohan
They get two full days and $300, which leads Nicole Bobek April to use her "loud voice" and talk about how many designers will waste their time away. The designers get to work on their creations and during their "breaks" ponder the fact that they are all BROKE and really would D.I.E. if they had an extra $20,000 in their Non-Sufficient Funds–engulfed checking accounts — and in Mondo's case, he would LOVE the "drinkin' money." Ummm, OK, hunny. This just in: Latin Urkel just turned into Mondo Lohan.

Oh No, Not Another Twist
After a full day of design and sewing in which several designers have worries about biting off a bit more than they can chew, the kids have returned to the workroom, and Tim is BAAACK! And yes, there's a twist: They have to create a second, more Ready-to-Wear Look, to accompany their "Paris High Fashion" design. Haven't they done this challenge before … in several seasons? Come on, can't we come up with more original challenges? Because of this new "twist," the designers are stressed but making it work — all except for poor Valerie. Girl has done gone and lost her way! After a bathroom breakdown in which Ivy and Gretchen (of course!) give her a very half-hearted pep talk, Valerie is back to work, and in the end she states that she is just happy to have completed garments walking down the runway. Yikes, not a good sign!

My Runway Day Two Cents
Mumbai-born American designer Naeem Khan, who's famous for creating Michelle Obama's First State Dinner Dress, is the Guest Judge on Runway Day and is ready to offer his expertise on Haute Couture creations and their Ready-to-Wear counterparts. Here's what I thought: "Floater" Christopher's was a mess! After seeing his designs at the L.A. castings, Tim turned to me and said, "We have our Season 8 winner!" Not after seeing this dress. I didn't like Gretchen's and therefore was surprised to see her in the "Top." This was not "Paris High Fashion," and the accompanying lowbrow design was something I wouldn't pick up at Macy's! I totally disagreed with the judges about the makeup: It was so boring. If I was a makeup rep, nothing about that look would make me stop the boardroom meeting and declare that this is the one for our new advertorial. It was sooo 2 pm in the mall.

Likey-Likey, and the BevMo Gift Certificate Goes To …
I LOVED Andy's twosome. From the out-there makeup (you'd think L'Oreal would like that!) to the all-in-one pants-and-shoes creation, it was very editorial. But was it ad-worthy? Nope. Hawaiian homeboy needed COLOR! Well, let's turn to Mondo for that! Latin Urkel delivered color in spades, and the judges awarded him the unparalleled $20,000 prize! Time to go to BevMo and get you some drinks on!

Judge the runway designs for yourself here!Ouch, That Train Just Hit Me in the Face!
The least favorites — in the judges' minds and mine — were Michael C., Ivy and Valerie. Michael Costello's Bordeaux-colored gown was too over-the-top. I think that train almost hit poor Naeem! As Michael Kors said, "She's got all the curtains from Tara ripped off the wall and put on one dress." Yep, that pretty much sums it up. And his "mini me" was REALLY mini — Heidi Mini!

Miss Guatemala Gown Competition
Valerie's white one-shoulder concoction wasn't so bad, but Nina HATED IT. She compared it to a gown for Miss Guatemala. Oh no she didn't! Now, may I just say, I made one little comment about "looking like a pre–Cold War Polish secretary" back in Season 6 when I was a guest judge and got about 10,000 e-mails from everyone and their Polish grandma. I sure hope that every Guatemalan e-mails Miss Nina and is as mean to her as those people of Polish descent were to me. Just sayin'. In the end, it was Ivy and her turquoise blue "High Fashion" Bridesmaid-Pageant Gown catastrophe as well as her strapless "Ready-to-Wear" cocktail dress for a "Mean Girl" at her 10-year high school reunion, who was sent home. Now, I'll let you get back to that Nina hate mail …