Season 5, Episode 5 Recap: Birthday Suits

The first day of spring isn’t supposed to be until March 20, but tell that to the sweat on my brow. Honestly, this 75-degree weather in New York City is almost too much of a good thing. I’m considering joining the naturist movement.

Hey, speaking of people who would rather go naked than wear anything, this week the All Stars get up close and personal with some very exposed clients. Dressed like a glamorous extra from “Mad Men,” Alyssa meets the designers on the runway, button bag in hand and a gleam in her eye. She is joined by ten Young Naturists of America in all of their nude glory.

The Challenge: Create a comfortable but fashionable winter ensemble for a client who is used to wearing nothing at all. There are five men and five women who need clothing. After a consultation with their clients in the workroom, the designers will each have $250 to spend at Mood and one day to create their looks.

Mitchell is shaken to his core by the very idea of winter wear because growing up in Florida means he’s never seen snow. In contrast, Sam feels confident because of his upbringing in Boston. Apparently familiarity with seasons is entirely dependent on where you were raised and nothing else.

In their consultations, we learn that naturists don’t love being referred to as “nudists” because it’s more about a whole-life philosophy than just avoiding clothing. Zen (Sam’s client) and Dakota (Alexander’s client) are mother and son. Joey (Ken’s client) loves androgyny. Because all of these clients are so open and cool, I’m holding my breath for some amazing work. I might die but at least it’s for a good cause: FASHION.

While the designers work, we hear Kini being a Bitter Betty about Sam’s win. He’s clearly still annoyed with the team challenge runway show. Layana is totally egging him on and Kini is totally justified in being peeved, but at this point, it’s like, say something or let it go. Negativity is creators’ block.

When Zanna arrives in the workroom, there are some standouts, like Emily, who’s decided to let client Nicole show a little skin, Dom, who’s taking retired military vet Lloyd into an updated pea coat, and Ken, who has embraced Joey’s feminine side with a skirt.

Treading water, but not yet drowning, we have Kini, who must have forgotten that less is more, Valerie, who definitely forgot that less is more, and Sam, who just forgot.

Speaking of Sam, he realizes that his look is no good when his client Zen gags at the very sight of it. Zanna warned that his fabric choice was too much, and like some kind of Dickensian character Sam has to shuffle from designer to designer begging for fabric scraps.


Alyssa introduces our old pals Georgina Chapman and Isaac Mizrahi, plus this week’s guest judges: fashion blogger Aimee Song and (amazing) designer Naeem Khan.

The Top

Emily, the winner: It’s an above-the-knee fitted blue dress with three-quarter length sleeves, layered under a pixelated print blue vest/jacket. It has a high collar but very much fits the idea of a “California winter” look that Emily was going for. Georgina likes it because it feels expensive and Isaac loves the proportions.

Mitchell: It’s a V-neck grey and white striped sweater, a scarf of the same material and a long black trench coat with great buckles running down it. Everyone is surprised by how polished the look is, especially Mitchell. Alyssa says she’s glad the judges chose to keep him in the competition because this is the kind of look they were hoping to see from him.

Kini: A knee-length dark wash denim skirt, black top and black coat. Kini had Felicity wear the coat wrapped over her shoulders on the runway because it didn’t quite fit, which Georgina notices immediately. Isaac has him discard the coat entirely, though Georgina and Aimee both disagree, saying the coat would be great if it was properly fitted.

Dom: An updated black peacoat with black and grey striped detail on the collar and shoulders, camouflage shirt, and fitted black pants. Dom has made a removable flap that changes the whole look depending on how Lloyd feels at any given moment. Lloyd loves it and so do the judges.

The Bottom

Sam: It’s a deep red bulky knit sweater and long grey skirt. It’s kind of boring and sad. Naeem points out that the front of the skirt is longer than the back and Sam admits that he didn’t take Zen’s actual proportions (her booty) into consideration.

Valerie: In Valerie’s defense, Tammy did say she prefers to feel cozy, like she’s wrapped in a blanket. That’s exactly what Valerie gave her – a grey coat lined with lime green and a black and white checkered print, plus some grey-scale camouflage leggings. She looks very bulky and awkward.

Because the clients were comfortable in their outfits, the judges decide not to eliminate either designer. When Sam returns to the lounge the other designers are upset, to say the least. No one seems to notice poor Valerie, but they go straight for Sam’s throat, accusing him of being ungrateful, flirting with the judges, and generally being unworthy of the save. It’s mean, but it’s expected: This bullet train has been hurdling toward Sam since day one of the competition.

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