Time to pimp makeup. And absurdly extravagant wedding venues.
The designers meet Tim and the Big Cheese makeup guy at a fancy Long Island estate frequently used for weddings. The place has nothing to do with the challenge, but sometimes the makeup sponsorship isn’t sufficiently profitable.
They have to design an avant-garde outfit inspired by one of four makeup collections; out comes the Velvet Bag (I wonder if Heidi makes them use the same bag over and over every season):
Fabio designs for the Enchanted Queen, powerful and bewitching in black and berry.
Sonjia gets the Seductive Temptress, charming in gold and Bordeaux.
Dmitry uses the Wise Mystic, mesmerizing with violets and blues.
Melissa draws the Artsy Muse, in alluring pastels and coral.
Christopher is sent home since there’s no more cutely-named makeup. No, no, of course not, he gets to pick, and he goes for the Enchanted Queen because he can work with black.
Tim defines avant-garde as new and experimental. Just in case nobody knows, since last season, they didn’t. They get a bundle of money – $400 – and two days, but the judges are expecting two months of work so they’d better be ambitious. I think the whole time everyone’s looking over his shoulder for the twist. Turns out, there isn’t one. Tim does two walk-throughs, ostensibly to give feedback early enough to allow for course corrections, but the way things have been going, I’m thinking it’s so he can tell if anyone they’ve already decided should go to the finals needs a second challenge or to go back for more fabric. Sonjia does need more fabric since she left five yards of gold lamé at Mood – I seem to recall Kenley got to go back for some black tulle once upon a time, but seems Sonjia doesn’t count. Or maybe it wasn’t on her receipt, I don’t know.
Mood is rich with Swatch sightings; my favorite is him on the stairs.
Zoe Saldana is guest judge. And each designer is asked why they deserve to go to Fashion Week (most give the usual “I’ve worked so hard to get here” speech which has nothing to do with deserving it) and which two designers they’d bring. Heidi keeps saying, “One or more of you will be out.” I always wonder if the “who would you pick” question is designed to see who they think is the weakest competition, or who they like best. Or just more dramatic pot-stirring.
Here’s what happened:
Christopher (Enchanted Queen in black and berry) sees an evil villain with a structured hip for an evil hourglass shape. Hey, since when is an hourglass shape evil? I kept thinking of the dress Leeanne made out of car parts in Season 5 (which, as it turns out, wasn’t anywhere near as pretty but was a lot more avant-garde). Tim says it’s beautifully constructed, but sees a 1890s dress. Christopher points out the hips, and “nobody wants their hips to be bigger.” “Does that make it avant-garde or a mistake?” queries Gentleman Tim.
When I see it on the runway, I think of Chris March and the black dress so criticized for the circles on the hips. Except that one was a lot cooler, I think. Tim was right; this is a very nice period costume for some Masterpiece Theater episode.
Michael starts by praising the makeup, always a bad sign. Then again, they probably owe the makeup company one mention per segment. Michael gets goth Victorian; the feathers make her arms look hairy. Christopher thinks it’s cool; Michael thinks it’s crazy. While the hip is fine, he worries about the bust looking deflated, because there’s no construction at all. I didn’t notice until he said it, but he’s right, she looks like someone really let some air out of her tires. Heidi agrees, there’s too much fabric at the bust. Zoe pipes in: “Besides the face, that’s what people look at first, whether you’re flat-chested or not.” That gave me the giggles. That is not a world I want to live in. Nina sees too many ideas in one dress. Michael calls it a first try; but that’s the case for most of the stuff on this show. After all, we see the changes made when things go into production.
RE: Fashion Week: it’s his dream blah blah; Fabio and Dmitry should join him because they have very specific points of view and are consistent.
Sonjia (Seductive Temptress in gold and Bordeaux) never really recovers from losing her gold fabric; she ends up working with bright green. On Tim.1, she seems “not stuck but something.” Tim gives her a lecture: she hasn’t been working up to her potential and has more in her, she has to let it out. I’m confused. She started out really strong; she’s been fading a little, but that isn’t the same thing. By the second day she’s using illusion fabric so the green appears to be floating; Tim.2 sees avant-garde but her challenge is to keep it from looking like a student project. As soon as she said “illusion” I knew who Michael’s “it looks like a figure skating costume” promo tease was going to apply to; he hates illusion fabrics (so do I, especially on figure skating costumes), and he always uses that line.
On the runway, I see falling leaves. Then she explains her inspiration was Eve of Adam and Eve fame, and I suddenly see what she was going for (in the extended judging video, Nina sees of poison ivy, which makes me wonder about Nina). But… it misses. Heidi loves it, the color’s great, only the mesh bothers her because it’s too light for the model’s skin. Nina has a few problems: green is the color of envy, not seduction. Heidi calls it “unexpected.” Michael sees Nancy Kerrigan skating through a banquet hall; Zoe thinks napkins fell on her; Michael runs with that: “the banquet hall blew up all over her, there’s a tablecloth and napkins.” And there’s way too much Spanxy-stuff on the back, it’s the old lady’s answer to a bare back. Heidi gets the idea, to show she’s not wearing anything. I think everyone gets it, it’s not a bad idea, it’s just not done well. My biggest complaint is the straight line across the back at the waist; it completely ruins the leaf effect. Sonjia disagrees (with Michael, but probably with me as well) politely but strenuously.
RE: Fashion week: She tears up because Mom taught her and designing is everything blah blah, with Melissa because she appreciates her aesthetic, and Dmitry for his construction skills.
Dmitry (Wise Mystic in violets and blues) is inspired by the architecture of the castle (it looks like a really big mansion to me) to do a suit. He explains his triangular sleeve to Tim on Walkthrough One; Tim’s concerned that all the avant-garde is hanging on that sleeve, and it isn’t enough. Tim still doesn’t get the avant-garde on Day Two. Dmitry explains he’s never made this before, which makes me want to bat my head against a wall. “But have the judges ever seen it before?” Tim asks, more gently than I would have. It’s great ready-to-wear but there’s nothing new, and the judges have seen the same silhouettes from him all along.
I have to agree; lose the collar and it would’ve been perfect for the Work challenge. Heidi thinks it’s amazing; it’s got angles she hasn’t seen before (really? Where?) and she likes the peek-a-boo stripe on the side. Michael thinks the collar is a little Vampira; Zoe calls it Chippendales, it cheapens the look, but she loves the sleeve. They aren’t crazy about the shoulders sticking out as far as they do. In other words – other than the sleeve, everything he did to make it more avant-garde was a fail. Nina: “When in doubt, don’t go there.” That sounds like terrible advice for an avant-garde challenge. But they agree the details are incredible and he has magical tailoring skills.
RE: Fashion Week: his dream blah blah, he’d bring Fabio and Christopher because they’re different and have strong aesthetics.
Fabio (Enchanted Queen, black and berry) has been dying to make avant-garde; that surprises me. He’s thinking of his Queen as strong on the outside but frail on the inside. Hey – I worry about his view of women; I was a little concerned when he said his “real woman” “really just wanted a dress inside” in spite of her prohibitions outside against anything feminine, and this feels like more of the need to see women as weak no matter how strong they are or wish to seem. I’m concerned, Fabio. He’s going with a structured coat and sheer dress; it’s going to take a lot of inner building. Sounds like a plan. On first walkthrough, he says something about boy shorts. Tim looks dubious. Fabio’s hilarious in his interview: “When Tim has nothing to say, he goes through stages of silence: first, hand on face, then crossed arms, then he does a squint with a tilt, and if you get all those, nothing good’s going to come out of his mouth.” Tim thinks the coat is borderline costume and is flat. Now Fabio’s concerned. But by Day Two, he’s had an inspiration: he used to wear button-down shirts upside-down as pants, so he turns the coat upside down. Tim is stunned on second walkthrough; he’s crazy about the coat. Sonjia wonders what the hell is wrong with Tim; she doesn’t see it at all. Melissa sees it; she sees Fabio as her competition.
On the runway, to me it looks like something out of a Jack the Ripper movie to me, but I admire the cleverness of the jacket, and I love how he describes the “cage” of the bodice and seeing through to her. Michael’s crazy about the jacket, but the pallazo pants are momish. Heidi thinks she’s going to a funeral; it looks sad. Nina agrees with Michael on the jacket, but the clothes don’t define her curvature; you can’t see her, just the clothes. That’s a really good point. Fabio’s such a sweetie: “I appreciate you guys taking a look at it.” He’s wearing a halo thing. His model was wearing it in the workroom, but now he’s wearing it. I love everything he says; I so wish I loved the clothes he makes.
RE: Fashion Week: “The show has made me sure of how loud I want to speak, and I think at the fashion show I’d just scream.” Now that’s an answer. He’d like to share this experience with Melissa because he loves her aesthetic, and Christopher who’d complement the two of them.
Melissa (Artsy Muse in pastels and coral) is happy about an avant-garde challenge, but sulks a few times that she didn’t get the Enchanted Queen but has to use pastels. Those serrated edges playing tricks again? She’s doing a high collar. What were the odds? On Day Two, Tim is worried about all the work she has to do, and as usual, she’s still sewing as they head out to the runway, but it looks done to me. She’s worried about the color scheme: “It takes an eye to get it.” Darlin’, the judges have two eyes each, I don’t think you need to worry they aren’t sophisticated enough for you.
On the runway she explains she drew her look from Edie Sedgewick, artistic muse to Andy Warhol. That’s a good idea. She manages to make a mostly-black look anyway, adding a bright blue leather vest (with a high collar) and bright orange accents (is she a Miami Dolphins fan?). There’s no pastel, but it’s very Melissa and quite artsy. I’m not sure it’s avant-garde, and there are a few things I’m not crazy about (the blousiness of the black top, the straight line of the waist) but it’s ok. Michael loves the color combo; the separates are “thrilling,” (oh, get a grip, Michael) and the skirt shape is interesting and flattering. Nina loves the vest and collar but not the overly long skirt, though the slit works. Heidi doesn’t know which outfit is uglier, this one or Fabio’s (well, Melissa did say Fabio was her competition), and she’s shocked the others all love it. Heidi, you greeted the designers two days ago looking like Nebuchadnezzar’s sixty-third concubine, and now you’re dressed as Strawberry Shortcake, I’m not sure you should be calling anything ugly.
RE: Fashion week: it’s her dream blah bah, she wants to do leather, “old me” and “new me.” She wants Sonjia, with her fantastic hand for draping and tailoring, and Fabio, with his distinct style, to come with her.
I kind of like everything and kind of don’t like everything; I don’t see much I’d call avant-garde, but it’s not bad; usually the final challenge is a disaster. Or maybe they just make it sound that way.
In Chat, they do a retrospective of everyone’s work, which is cool. Nina worries about Melissa being one-note, but doesn’t think so; Sonjia has the ever-popular understanding of a woman’s body, but Nina can’t pinpoint her aesthetic; Michael wonders if she’s a storyteller; Zoe asks if she’d give good show. They seem to agree that Christopher’s in. Nina worries that Dmitry is a one-trick pony, which is great irony. I wonder what she’s talking about. Ok, he does fitted clothes, but he started doing separates as soon as they called him on it. Michael gives him credit for fantastic tailoring. Fabio’s the oddball, playing with proportion and gender roles; Nina gives him conceptual, androgynous, and articulate. Heidi complains his avant-garde is too weird and his classics tilt to basic; Michael points out how absurd that observation is. I know she’s always been hung up on the sexy, but has Heidi been this much of an idiot all season and I just noticed it now?
Dmitry wins. Christopher and Melissa are also in.
That leaves Fabio and Sonjia on the runway. I get it now. “One or more of you.” It was going to be more, but someone said, “Good lord, we can’t get rid of all the non-caucasians in one fell swoop!”
The auf falls on Sonjia.
So they’re all finalists… or are they? Not according to the promo: Heidi lines them up and says., “You’re not guaranteed a spot.” They are fond of last-minute surprises; what are they pulling this year?