This is the designers' final challenge, and it will determine which of them will move forward and present collections at New York Fashion Week. Heidi announces that I'm taking the designers on a field trip. Indeed, I am. In another celebration of New York City, we visit the New York Botanical Garden. There, the designers meet Collier Strong, consulting makeup artist for L'Oreal Paris, who explains that this is the L'Oreal Paris challenge. Collier instructs the designers to use the Garden as the source of their inspiration for an evening gown design (which, coincidentally, is what they declared that they wanted to do when we were in the van driving to the Bronx). They are given cameras and have one hour to explore the garden and take pictures to record their inspiration.
Back in the workroom, they have 30 minutes to choose one photograph to serve as the inspiration for their evening gown. Then, we go shopping at MOOD with a budget of $250. They have two days for this challenge.
Our guest judge is the stunning Georgina Chapman, co-founder of and designer for Marchesa.
Jerell WINS! And he couldn't have been more Jerell in this design: a fitted bustier and a full, layered skirt with a slight train. The brownish purple duchesse satin body of the dress was gorgeous, and the under-layers of crimson followed by a dark green sequined panel were gorgeous in my opinion. Still, when I called "time," he still had a lot of work to do, including resolving the fit of the skirt in the back. No one is OUT. All four designers move forward to create collections and compete for three spots at New York Fashion Week. In spite of Jerell's win, he will compete, too.
Kenley used a python print in shades of fuchsia and purple to make a mermaid-like gown with a high neck and a racer back. From the knees down there are multi-tiered layers of gradated "leaves" in the same python fabric, each of which is piped in a different shade of purple or fuchsia charmeuse. The leaves look more like fish scales, ergo the mermaid association of this look. Thankfully, Kenley removed the leaves from the shoulder. But, still, her design looked very costumey in my humble opinion, and her technical treatment of the gradated leaves did not have her usual polish. In the end, the look was very Kenley and she's moving forward.
Korto was inspired by a dramatic flower in shades ranging from orange to yellow. She chose creamsicle and ochre textiles in charmeuse and created a gown with a deep, plunging neckline and a train with a vent with an inserted panel. A tired-looking ivory lace with beading embellishments was used in two side panels and as trim along the back. Thankfully, she edited the lace down to a more diminutive use, because she had originally intended to cover most of the back with this problematic textile. I had difficulty seeing Korto's point of view in this gown, but she was confident that it was there. Thankfully, she's moving forward!
Leanne designed a stunning gown in lavender charmeuse, and while she retained her signature details and structural embellishments, this was a "softer" Leanne. The pleating in the one-shoulder top cascaded into a symmetrical flourish that hugged the hips. The judges questioned the efficacy of the darker blue panel in the train of the gown, but isn't that a matter of taste? In fact, with the exception of poor construction, isn't it all a matter of taste?
Chacun a son gout!