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The Duck-iest Girl at the Prom

By laurareineke Fri., Mar. 8, 2013 ,4:50 am EST

This recap is brought to you by Fred the Duck, who hit all his marks and looked great while doing it. Did you catch him waggling his little duck butt? You'll go far, Fred, I can tell.

Time for a second unconventional challenge! Bill Kahl stops by the workroom to introduce Duck brand duct tape as the medium for this week's challenge: Prom dresses. The designers don't appear to be phased by the weird material, but they're understandably alarmed by the abbreviated time allowance (less than a day) and the fact that their looks will be judged by a group of high schoolers before the official runway show. I can't blame them for their apprehension because high schoolers scare the crap out of me.

We also get a bit of a team switch-up. Kate chooses to work with Tu again, which is a smart move. They clearly get along, but the partnership works primarily because Tu is willing to be the seamstress second-in-command to Kate's bossy, in-charge designer/leader. That leaves Michelle and Amanda, Richard and Daniel, and paired together by default, Samantha and Patricia.

Let's talk final products:

Amanda/Michelle - Michelle's pattern-building is perfect, especially considering the folds of the skirt and the cross-over bodice. Chris likes that it's modern and fun, and I'm with him in loving the cut of the skirt. Michelle gets her long-awaited win with this dress, and Amanda is partially redeemed after her mess of a look last week.

Patricia/Samantha - I really am not connecting with this dress. Patricia's intricate textile work is well done and Nina compliments Samantha's work with the closure on the back, and the dress got the highest number of votes from the high school set, but I don't dig the robotic-looking color scheme of blue and silver.

Layana/Stanley - This strikes me as Hot Topic chic, as any garment combining hot pink, black, and zebra print is likely to do. But the skirt has great movement and the judges love the pop of pink in the bow.

Richard/Daniel - A well-constructed piece that unfortunately would not have been out of place on a Texas pageant princess in 1995. Gold, short, ruffles, and strong but misplaced detailing has the judges crying "Dated!" and lands the pair on the bottom.

Kate/Tu - The construction and fit of this gown might have landed them in the Safe Zone in any other challenge, but Nina and Heidi take issue with the length ("So old!" Nina yells) and everyone bemoans the use of denim-patterened Duck Tape instead of something more colorful and interesting. (Also the piece at the top of the bust looks like a fancy cracker garnish that I was served at a steak place once.) This dress gets Tu the auf, and surprisingly, Kate gets the boot, too, in the season's first double elimination.

Preferred prom dress styles vary by year, region, even school. I went to a Catholic high school in Ohio in the mid-aughts, where above-the-knee dresses were reserved exclusively for the fall homecoming dance; long, elegant, expensive-looking gowns were saved for prom, and 90% of them were strapless and solid-colored. The goal was to look good but not to draw negative attention by looking too different from everyone else. (Ah, youth.) Kate is my age and she's from Chicago, so everything about her design made sense for the style of prom with which I'm familiar. That said, it's 2013 and this challenge was built with fashion-forward NYC teens in mind, so I get why the judges gravitated as far away from Kate/Tu's design as possible.

I'll leave it to y'all in the comments to debate whether the double elimination was necessary. While you're at it, tell me about your prom experiences! What dresses were popular when you were in school? How would you have judged this set of looks? Who do you think handled the Duck Tape best? And if you were to go to prom tomorrow, which would you pick to wear?

Next week: Buff men means buff menswear, right? Plus, guest judge Emmy Rossum!