The suspense is killing me: will the remaining designers carry on the longstanding tradition of producing crap in the next-to-last challenge?
The combatants are: Michael and Austin, who just missed the finals in their seasons, and Kenley and Mondo. But Mondo sees it differently: it’s Team M&M (him and Michael) and Team KA (Kenley and Austin). I’d call it the Misfits vs the Cool Kids, but they’re all pretty much misfits. How about, Misfits and More Misfits?
Angela tells them they’re doing ready-to-wear that’s modern, feminine, romantic, and affordable. And of course it makes me laugh that a $350 “everyday” dress is considered affordable. They’ll be working with Nanette Lepore to produce a garment within a budget; they’ll present her with sketches and she and a coster will figure out the retail price, the cost of labor for the particular design, and the designers will have X dollars left for fabric, which they’ll choose from her storeroom. I’m assuming her fabric is at wholesale prices, since no one freaks out about being limited to under $50. I wish we saw more of what went into the coster’s job – determining a price for the dress and figuring the cost of production. But I wish a lot of things.
The winning design will be sold in her stores, and profits will go to savethegarmentcenter.org which is apparently Nanette’s cause celebre. That’s a step above putting the money into Heidi’s pockets, I guess.
Right off the bat, Mondo freaks, because he sketches like an eight-year-old. When they’re given sketch time, he draws hearts and stars, which is so cute. But I have to say, that seems like a huge disadvantage to a designer; it’s like a composer not being able to play an instrument, isn’t it? Other designers have done the “I don’t sketch” thing (Angela of the Granny Fleurchons, and the one who made the Buckminster Fuller Silver Soccer Ball Dress; she stood on her head instead of sketching and went home in the first episode) but they aren’t around long. There’s a little mini-drama in which Kenley tells Michael he should teach Mondo to sketch, and Mondo takes great offense when he overhears – though I’m not sure why; who the hell cares what Kenley thinks, and by the way, she’s right, which he realizes himself, since he’s worried Nanette won’t think he’s a real designer. Maybe he can buy sketching lessons with the prize money.
Kenley: She’s designed for a mass market before so she’s very comfy with this challenge. She sketches a dress with a keyhole cutout; Nanette advises her to sex it up. They decide the price will be $350, and after all other costs, she has $41 for fabric, which she claims is right on target per her expectations. She finds a peacock feather print and another fabric for piping, but goes a little over so cuts down the piping fabric. Back in the workroom she decides the keyhole won’t work with the print, so leaves it out.
Michael: He wants to do a really gay dress. I have no idea what that is, but apparently it means a caftan. He plans to use jersey. They tell him the armhole he’s using is a fabric eater, and he’s not using seam lines, so his price point is set at $380 and his budget for fabric is $48. He can only get three yards; turns out he thought it was 60 inch fabric, but there’s a border so it’s really 47 inches of print (this seems really strange to me, but what do I know) so there go the sleeves. But he’s glad it’ll push him out of his comfort zone. Wait – a caftan IS his comfort zone. I think he means he can’t make four different dresses this time, he has to get it right the first time.
Austin: He plans a glamorous swing coat that can be worn over anything from a cocktail dress to jeans. Nanette says he could use a crispy taffeta for fullness. He gets a price point of $500 and has $65 for fabric and trim. He says something about the fabric being $15 a yard, so it’s definitely cheaper than Mood. He’s right on target for cost.
Mondo: He’s doing a dress in five fabrics set in stripes. He explains his sketch problems to Nanette; she says it looks like a tin can with strings hanging out. The price is set at $300, with $32 for fabrics. He’s already feeling defeated, but he ends up under budget. He’s feeling loss of control, and is very scared of failing. Again. He feels like something he loves is pushing him away. I can sympathize; I get that way a lot with writing. Except he’s a lot better at designing than I am at writing. Michael’s a little pissed off that he’s working so hard to be here and Mondo isn’t feeling it. Yeah, Michael, I’m sure he’s doing it just to annoy you.
Joanna and Nanette walk through and critique. Joanna gives a little talk about the intersection of art and commerce; Kenley pretty much ignores her and keeps working. Joanna calls her out: “Kenley, I’m talking to you” to get her to pay attention. I’m liking Joanna more and more. Except (obligatory shout-out) I still miss Tim Gunn.
Kenley: she’s doing a tulip sleeve. Nanette thinks it looks different from the sketch; it needs to be more fitted to the body. Kenley says it’s gorgeous the way it is. Michael interviews she’s doing the same thing she always does, high neckline and short sleeves. Kenley says the dress will be about the print. The print isn’t all that great, not for a whole dress. It looks kind of nightie-ish somehow, too much white. But of course Kenley does what she wants, and Joanna and Nanette wander away to visit with someone who wants their advice.
Michael: Nanette tells him the dress can’t plunge to the navel; he suggests a hook and eye closure which can be left open or closed, and she says that works. Joanna starts in with the bra things again, and he offers to put a hook and eye in the back. She asks about accessories, and he tells her about a peacock necklace and gladiator wedges. These questions make me think he’s still being interviewed for the guest editor job. Austin interviews it’s hard to wear Michael’s clothes unless you’re a model. Honey, it’s hard to wear any of this stuff unless you’re a model, and live in New York, and don’t expect to actually do anything but stand around looking nice.
Austin: Nanette responds to the bright color of his coat. She thinks it comes out beautiful it could be an entrance-making coat. Joanna thinks it’s on the line again, is it hideous or fabulous? He’s excited at the level of luxury he’s been able to achieve, since not all the dresses in the workroom look expensive. He’s right, they don’t, but his coat is kind of a mess, too. Michael doesn’t get what they see in Austin’s work.
Mondo: Joanna notices all the fabrics, which he’s stitched together. He explains again about his sketch problem, and Nanette repeats the tin can with string remark. They ask where someone would wear it, and he says a date, cocktail party, or the park. Nanette says it’s more like playwear. He suggests flip flops to go to the flea market, or heels to go to dinner. He’s pretty depressed and withdrawn (again, I sympathize) but at least he’s not snippy with them.
There’s more fussing and sniping. Mondo thinks Michael’s dress is the dress they’ve all seen before, like the gelato challenge. Mondo thinks his own dress is like a pit bull, it’s so ugly it’s cute. I wonder if he meant a bulldog. A pit bull isn’t ugly. A pit bull is just mean looking. Not cute at all. He’s having problems, never felt so wishy washy. Except last week, and the week before, and the week before that, Mondo. He doesn’t like the color of Austin’s raincoat, thinks it’s old looking, and unfinished. And Kenley didn’t match her pattern (again! she already got dinged for that).
Austin’s taffeta is rumpling; he frets that he should’ve lined it. He thinks Michael’s dress is inappropriate and bargain basement. I can’t disagree with him. He interviews it should be him, Mondo, and Kenley as the final three.
Kenley’s really happy with her dress, of course. She asks who’s the bigger diva, her or Austin, and Mondo votes for Austin. She thinks her dress can be dressed up or down.
Michael thinks his dress feels like him. Yes, it does, but I’m not sure that’s a good thing. While his model is dressing he says something about “not using tape today” which kind of freaks me out – are they allowed to use tape this season? Are we revisiting the whole illegal tape issue? He’d be crushed if he was eliminated now; they replay clips from that awful episode, the one I still can’t watch.
From what I’m seeing in the workroom, they’ve all followed the long-standing tradition of making a mess of the next-to-last challenge. Nothing looks good. Michael and Kenley are both using ugly prints, I don’t like Austin’s fabric, and Mondo’s made beachwear.
Nanette is the guest judge.
Austin: Pink raincoat with self-belt; he says it can be worn with the “watteau” back (aha, I finally know the word to describe that half-belted effect I seem to be drawn to), loose and fully swinging, or completely belted. I don’t like the fabric any better here than I did in the workroom/ the color is ok but it just looks, I’m not sure, awkward. And there’s something odd about the collar, but I can’t see it well enough to figure it out. He says he was inspired by the challenge of keeping to a budget. Isaac didn’t know it was a coat, and now that he does he forgives some of the things that would be unforgivable in a dress, but it’s still a little wrinkly, and even a raincoat needs to be pressed. Nanette agrees; not every fabric looks great on the runway, but she thinks it might do well in retail. Angela loves the cut. Privately, they admire his love for youth; Georgina and Nanette feel his choice of fabric didn’t live up to the design; it wasn’t Nanette’s top choice, but they put it in the success category.
Michael: Green print caftan. I like it slightly better than in the workroom, but I think I’ve just gotten used to it. I really hate the color and the print. It looks like something that would be considered loungewear, something you lie around in to watch TV when you’ve had a hard day at work but it’s too early to get into your pjs. He says he heard the words “timeless” and “feminine” and went with draping, but used a full print this time. Nanette says right off the bat, “I love this, I’ want to put it in my suitcase and take it away.” I’d love her to put it in her suitcase so I don’t have to look at it any more. But why is she carrying a suitcase if she’s a New York designer? Georgina says something about sensual; Isaac says something about objectifying women but I don’t catch it, if he’s approving or disapproving. Angela questions the length; it’s kind of pooled on the runway. Michael says it could be translated into something shorter. Georgina wants some tweaks. Isaac doesn’t like the strap across the back, it’s too Canal Street. I don’t know what Canal Street is, but it doesn’t sound good. Nanette doesn’t like the open back because without the option to wear a bra, it won’t sell. Wasn’t he going to put a closure there? Why didn’t he? In their private chat, Georgina points out that without the print, it’s a simple caftan. Hey, with the print, it’s a simple caftan in an ugly print. Isaac defends it as really pretty. Nanette is pleasantly surprised it exceeded the sketch. Angela says he has potential but is hit or miss; Georgina wants him to have confidence in his point of view and be unapologetic. Oh, yeah? Hey, he sent out his point of view – too long and without the back closure, and you dinged him for it. Make up your minds what you want.
Mondo: Horizontal striped multi-fabric dress with pockets and a ruffly skirt. I think he’s going to get hit with the “junior” label. I worry about the placement of the pockets, because they bulge at the hip, and they usually snipe at that. But it’s not bad. Maybe I’m getting used to it, too. In fact, the more I look at it, the more I like it, which shocks me because it kind of reminds me of Sweet Pea’s dishtowel dress from Episode 1, but a lot cuter. Yeah, I’m talking myself into this. I’m not sure if it’s because it’s Mondo. He tells them about the dark place he goes to, and how he did what he loves, mixing colors and prints, to come up with a fun, flirty dress that can be dressed up or down. Isaac loves it; the balance of colors is masterful. He wishes it was a little slimmer at the waist, not so potato-shaped. Oh, wow. Who doesn’t love a potato shaped dress? Nanette thinks it’s cute, but someone with curves might have trouble with it. Angela hates the heels he paired it with, she would’ve preferred sandals. Georgina thinks it’s not the most exciting dress he’s ever come up with but she likes the use of fabrics and that’s where his strength lies. When they’re by themselves, they all praise him; Georgina and Nanette love the mix of fabrics, Isaac gives him props for really studying them and putting them together correctly. Angela says it’s her least favorite of Mondo’s looks because it’s boxy and not flattering.
Kenley: Peacock feather print dress with tulip sleeves edged in purple. I’ve loved some of Kenley’s work, but not this. Maybe the fabric is too thin? It looks like a nightie. The print doesn’t work, it’s too big or something. However, for all the talk about her not matching the print, I like how the print mismatches in back; it creates an interesting new pattern in the center of the back. Kenley thinks it’s flattering and loves the print. Georgina loves her vintage quirkiness, but the print here is problematic. Angela says the seams throw off the eye because of the print. Nanette says it’s nice and it’s wearable, but it’s missing the keyhole detail that would’ve given it real marketability, a special element that would have made it sell. In private, Georgina thinks the design fought the print. Angela’s disappointed, because Kenley has the ability to design prints but didn’t this time. Isaac finds it frumpy. Nanette points out she won’t take advice (but neglects to mention she is unapologetic for her point of view – see what I mean? You can’t please these guys). But they overall think she makes fun clothes.
The suspense is over. It’s definitely a next-to-last-challenge meltdown across the board.
The judges caucus, and it seems to come down to Michael (sophisticated) or Kenley (young and contemporary) going home.
And the winner is… Mondo! He’s shocked; he was sure he was going home.
Austin is relieved to be safe, since he never made the finals in the first season.
And the loser is… Kenley. She gets a little stony and interviews about her vision, but she’s ok about it. Michael is in, and he’s happy, duh.
I continue to be perplexed by reality tv, and while the beginning of the season seemed to actually base decisions and comments on what was on the runway, they’ve gone back to some unseen force at work determining who wins and who goes home. Michael should’ve gone, for the second week in a row. Maybe it’s the We’re-making-up-for-forcing-two-mediocre-women-down-your-throats season, so they’re forcing The Men Who Got Screwed Last Time into the final spots.
After the Runway
A model shows up wearing Mondo’s dress, which is available for sale on Nanette Lapore’s website (even if it is sold out and won’t ship until May 15; hey, it’s a summer dress anyway). If I had $300 sitting around, and if I was willing to spend $300 on clothes, and if I was 22 and weighed 103 pounds, I might just buy it. They did make it more fitted with a tie in the back. I kind of liked it better before. It was more Mondo.
Two other things of interest: Mondo is wearing a pink shirt and yellow boots. And Anthony visits. He holds Mondo’s hand and tries to get him to be less depressed. He’s very sweet about it, so Mondo doesn’t tell him to f-off, which is what most depressed people do when someone pulls that “just be happy” crap.
Oh, wait, three things. Michael does his impressions of Austin and Isaac. I’m not so sure about Austin, but he does a really good Isaac. He did a great Michael Kors, too. I’m not sure if it’s a career, but he could pick up spare change doing those at parties.
Of less interest is the fashion jab of the week, which goes to Mondo jabbing himself for making a dress that, like a pit bull, is so ugly it’s cute.
And both Kenley and Anthony are hoping Austin wins, which makes Mondo feel a lot less depressed, I’m sure. That’s ok, Mondo, I’m on your side. Yeah, a lot of people on are bitching about how they don’t like the glum moody Mondo, but I get it, and I still love you.