Heidi announces that the designers are to meet me for a field trip, and we hear audible groans in response. The designers have grown weary of surprises, and what a surprise we have for them. For our field trip, I bring the six remaining designers to the lobby outside of the auditorium at Parsons where we have the runway show and the judging. We can hear shouts and grunts and shrieks emitting from behind the doors. The designers look extremely apprehensive, even a little panicked. What's going on? I open one of the four doors to reveal a regulation wrestling ring in which six Divas of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) are engaged in combat. It's quite a sight -- and sound!
We meet the Divas who introduce themselves and provide a few words to describe their "character." Then, I invite the designers into the ring to select a Diva to be their client. Their challenge: to create an outfit for the Divas to wear in the ring. They have 30 minutes to consult with their clients, after which we go shopping at Spandex House (I didn't make it up; it's a real place) with a budget of $100. The designers have two days to complete the challenge.
We are fortunate to have the perfect guest judges: Richie Rich and Traver Rains, who are Heatherette. If anyone would understand this challenge, they would!
Chris wins! Chris enthusiastically embraced this challenge from the beginning. He has experience facilitating design challenges that are tongue-in-cheek. His personal challenge throughout the season has been to tame the over-the-top costume designer in him and create designs that can navigate the real world. This challenge involved a different iteration of "real world," and one that was his cup of metaphorical tea. Compared to the other designers, Chris worked stealth-like at Spandex House. I could sense his confidence from that very moment. His client was Maria, a self-described "glam rock" Diva. Chris created a shrunken hoodie in green leopard velour with a dark green glittery lining. The hoodie was over a leopard print bikini top with S&M strapping over a bikini bottom in the dark glittery fabric. And there were matching elbow-high gloves. The effect was jungle disco: Rousseau does Vegas. It was an appropriate look for the challenge, absolutely believable, and Maria looked fabulous. Congratulations, Chris!
Ricky is out. Had the challenge been to design swimwear for the Caribbean, then Ricky may have won. Alas, not so. His tangerine bikini with gold hardware trim was well done, although derivative, but it wasn't even remotely appropriate for the WWE ring. He thought he could mitigate the look through use of a cover-up, but the cover-up -- a gold lame front and back -- merely looked like he was grasping for something, anything. He was. His client, Layla, wore the outfit like the professional that she is, but even she wasn't believing the look. Ricky, we will all sincerely miss you.
Christian designed the most high fashion of the looks. Frankly, it was "fierce and fabulous," to borrow two of his pet words. When his client Kristal declared that she loves leather and lace, I knew that we had a match made in heaven. However, initially I was also concerned: Chaps? I feared that this was going to be a silly biker bar costume, but I was wrong. The faux leather chaps with the lace inserts, the sleeveless lace top with the high waistband in faux leather, and the faux leather shrunken jacket were sleek, elegant, and even sophisticated. Kristal looked like she was going to the WWE in Paris. I swooned and thought that Christian's work was a strong contender for the win.
Jillian was another strong contender for the win, at least in my view. Her client Michelle personifies the "girl next door," and Jillian's design for her exuded an all-American sensibility. She designed a royal blue top with white engineered stripes and matching short shorts with a white waistband. She styled the look with white mid-thigh tights. he look was clean and athletic with a nod to preppy. Excellent, Jillian.
Rami was as close to crashing and burning on this challenge as I've ever seen him. The context of this challenge eluded him and took him too far away from his comfort zone. But that's precisely why we presented this challenge in the first place. At Spandex House, he chose a vibrant (that's an understatement) pink fabric that needed to either be fully embraced or rejected. Once it was back in the workroom, it was clear that it needed to be reckoned with. Rami battled with ambivalence. In the end, his client Torrie, another all-American girl, looked dowdy, if that's possible. The top looked voluminous, even accepting Torrie's ample breasts. The bottom, shorts with a removable over-skirt, looked like a diaper. Torrie looked like she was going to the WWE retirement home. Rami was way off his mark.
Sweet P was almost as debilitated as Rami. Although she certainly understood the challenge, she had difficulty embracing her client's desire for wretched excess. Candice is the current WWE women's champion and she's not called the "sex kitten" for nothing. Her signature is "robe and reveal;" that is, entering the ring looking grand, but demure, then removing the robe with a flourish and revealing a sexy next-to-nothing costume. Sweet P just couldn't find the right path to go there. Furthermore, and now becoming characteristic of her, she was filled with self-doubts. She builds up good momentum, and then she stalls. Candice looked lackluster on the runway in Sweet P's sleeveless robe and very basic modified bikini. Lackluster. Sweet P, I'm just happy that you're still with us!