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The Project Runway Blog

Season 12, Episode 12: Butterfly Effect

By laurareineke Fri., Oct. 4, 2013 ,4:48 am EDT

It's the final countdown! We're down to Dom, Alexandria, Justin, Bradon, and Helen, who are whisked away by Tim to Sweetbriar Nature Center. Surrounded by butterflies, they learn about their next challenge from Billy B., L'Oreal's consulting makeup artist. Their task is to create an avant-garde look -- experimental, daring, cutting-edge fashion -- completed by hair and makeup by L'Oreal. Suggested budget: $500. 30 minutes to shop at Mood.

Midway through their workroom time, the designers are presented with an additional challenge. They have to choose one of the looks that got their fellow designers eliminated and rework it. "When the judges look at the transformed look," Tim says, "they have to believe that it came from this point of departure." The gang snaps up the looks they want. In a bold move, Justin decides to reinvent the look that got him eliminated originally. Helen grabs Kate's awful mess from last week and Dom picks Jeremy's misguided jacket-and-dress combo from the Belk challenge. Alexandria uses Miranda's plaid pegged pants and blouse. Meanwhile, Bradon picks Sue's unconventional-materials dress, then balks when he realizes how little fabric was actually involved in the original look.

Off to the runway, featuring guest judge Emmy Rossum:

Top Two
Bradon - He wanted to capture "the frantic energy of the silent but energetic butterflies" (okay) with ">this buttery soft midriff-baring white sculpted gown. The avant-garde look is totally up Nina's alley. "Every angle is an interesting angle!" she exclaims, clearly thrilled that someone remembered to make their garment editorial. Zac: "I went gaga for it, and I think Gaga would probably wear it." They're impressed by the level of detail. They love that it's a bit outlandish without being silly. The judges gush over the reworked dress, too. He wins the challenge, which automatically gives him a spot at Fashion Week.

Dom - This season's queen of patterns chose to mix a few different ones in tribute to the cross-breeding butterflies they encountered. The judges adore Dom's avant-garde look, and are even more excited when Dom reveals a low-backed jumpsuit underneath her structured jacket. "The World of Dom. I see a brand," Zac says before complimenting the way Dom breaks up prints. Emmy's so excited about the coat that she tries it on. Remembering how much they hated Jeremy's losing look gets the judges pumped about the changes Dom made to it. Dom's easily safe and through to NYFW.

Bottom Three
Alexandria - Her reworking of Miranda's losing pants-and-blouse combo gets mixed reviews. Surprisingly, Nina digs this one, specifically praising Alexandria's decision to lower the waistline of the pants. Heidi doesn't like that it seems like a punk costume. As for the avant-garde look? Heidi loves it, calling it goth and sexy, and Emmy appreciates the hand work and the intricate details. Nina's not a fan ("It's like the butterfly that got stuck in a spider's web") and Zac is pretty much over Alexandria altogether: "I can appreicate the different techniques that you work in; however, I don't find it that transporting or that magical or that beautiful. I think you're very talented but the looks were not successful for me today." I get the vibe that Heidi is the only judge keeping Alexandria around at this point. Your mileage may vary.

Justin - Justin was inspired by an albino butterfly for his avant-garde look, a black jacket over an intricate white dress. Nina says it's the best work she's seen from him all season. Zac is impressed by the "penne velvet cording" on the jacket, though he and Heidi both agree with Nina's earlier assessment that the details and finishes are a little on the messy side. They're also pleased with his reworking of the dress that got him eliminated originally. "It was hideous before," Heidi says, "but you've made this so sophisticated."

Helen - Based off a butterfly's fluttering wings, Helen's avant-garde look is a form-fitting orange gown. We've seen this shredded effect from Helen before, but not in a bright color like this. Zac: "It sort of felt like a carrot in the grater." Nina and Emmy also think the color is too much. The reaction is really sort of like a group shrug. But Helen remade Kate's losing look and the judges are really into it, way more so than the avant garde. They dig the simplicity and cleanliness of it. "Chic," "elegant," and "modern" are other adjectives thrown around.

It's that time again for our remaining designers to wax poetic to the judges about why they should move on to Fashion Week. There are a lot of tears! We've whittled the season down to a bunch of softies. Interestingly, none of the designers picks Alexandria as someone they feel should accompany them to the final round. (Dom, meanwhile, had everyone's vote.) During the judges' follow-up chat it's clear that my earlier vibe was right and that Heidi is really the only one on the panel still invested in Alexandria. It's sort of inevitable, then, that no one is eliminated this week. Dom and Bradon move through to Fashion Week, and Alexandria, Justin, and Helen are moved into a bit of a holding pen: They'll return home and build out collections as usual, but will then compete against each other for the remaining spot(s) alongside Bradon and Dom.

How do you feel about this week's looks? Whose reworked look most impressed you? How do you feel about the lack of an elimination? Which of our bottom three do you think will move forward? Let me know in the comments.