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Season 12, Episode 7: Best Foot Forward
It's time for a pulse-taking. The designers chat about the fact that the stakes are higher, both because the competition is now halfway over and because Tim's sole designer-rescue card was put in play last week to keep Justin around. Better step it up, make it work, etc.
The gang heads to the Marie Claire offices at Hearst to peek in on the mag's epic shoe closet. Editor-in-chief Anne Fulenwider is there to help introduce the challenge: Design a look inspired by a pair of shoes. The models will be wearing those shoes on the runway, so the looks have to complement and show off the footwear, too. The suggested budget is $250, and the designers have 30 minutes to shop.
Alexandria gets first dibs in the shoe-picking game thanks to her win last week. She grabs a pair of intimidating thigh-high gladiator sandals. In order to determine who'll pick next, the designers are quizzed on fashion history by Tim and Anne. They're asked about the inspiration for Christian Louboutin's famous red-soled heels, the creator of the Little Black Dress, Dior, McQueen, Marc Jacobs, and the famous ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz, until finally Miranda, last to choose, nabs a pair of red leather loafers.
At Mood, Alexander and Miranda gravitate toward very similar wool plaids, and in the workroom they realize they're creating nearly the same outfit: White tops and fitted, high-waisted plaid pants. Both designers acknowledge the coincidence, but neither backs down from continuing to make their garments. I think there's an interesting challenge idea in there somewhere -- it would really test the creativity and construction abilities of the group if they were all required to make the same basic outfit, no? I can't be the only one who'd love a jeans-and-white-tees challenge -- but, as Ken points out, when two people create nearly identical looks, it's going to benefit one of them and leave the other in the dust.
For the runway show, Anne Fulenwider steps in as a guest judge, along with The Big Bang Theory star Kaley Cuoco. Onward:
Shoes: Black stiletto booties with silver studded toe embellishments
A tailored sleeveless knee-length dress with a black shrug cape. Nina fawns that it's minimal and classic and sophisticated and fashionable (enough adjectives to prove she really likes it), and Zac digs the simplicity of it. Heidi compliments the young, modern hair and makeup. Faced with three solid, chic black dresses, the judges pick this one for the win.
Shoes: Thigh-high black gladiator sandals with knee pads
An understated black shift dress with lace cutouts at the clavicle and an asymmetrical hemline also trimmed with lace. Heidi loves that its femininity contrasts with the hardness of the shoes. Nina likes that it has an editorial attitude. Zac doesn't love the shoes or the dress nearly as much as the ladies on the panel, and even goes so far as to call the look "pedestrian," but he's easily outvoted.
Shoes: Lace-up black sandal heels
"My interpretation of a maneater for the new milennium," Ken says of this black peplum cap-sleeve minidress. The judges are impressed by the fabric choice and the garment's edginess, especially since Ken has struggled to keep his looks youthful. This one fares even better once the panel gets a closer look at it.
Shoes: Black velvet knee-high stiletto boots with gold buttons along the outside length
A tube miniskirt and shimmery gold tank paired with a cream-colored silk chiffon mock-argyle sweater. Like many of Jeremy's previous designs, this one veers too old and too trampy for the tastes of our judges. Zac gets real: "I'm starting to question who you are as a designer. [...] I really need to see [your techniques and skills] come together so we can properly assess you." That's an official warning, Jeremy!
Shoes: Gold tuxedo loafers with gold beading decoration
A halter-necked silk top draped and sewed to resemble water paired with a brown silk circle skirt. There's no love in the room for this garment, but the judging panel likes Bradon a lot so they offer a lot of suggestions for what they would've liked to see with those shoes instead, like a suit or a brocade t-shirt dress. He's in the bottom two, but let's be real: It's too early for him to go home.
Shoes: Red patent leather tuxedo loafers
Plaid pegged pants with a white polka-dot top and a white leather bolero jacket. This is not offensely bad, in my opinion, but the judges have no residual affection for Miranda's work so they tear into it a bit. Zac admits that he likes its inherent "nerd alert"-ness, but Nina says it's too Christmas-y and too obvious. It's also way too similar to many of Miranda's earlier works. Miranda gets the auf.
What say you, commentariat? Was Miranda's look that much worse than Alexander's? Was Helen's dress that much better than Alexandria's or Ken's? Do you think this is the beginning of the end for Bradon? Which pair of shoes appealed to you the most? (I loved those studded black booties. Gimme.) Holler at me in the comments.