Eight out of our original 16 designers remain, and Heidi presents them with a little surprise: The eight eliminated designers will return to team with them. Heidi declares that for this challenge each team will create an avant garde look. She sends the designers to meet me in the workroom where I place them in teams and explain that their design must be inspired by the zodiac sign of one of their team members.
The teams have 30 minutes to caucus, then we go shopping at MOOD where they have a budget of $150. They have two days for this challenge.
On the morning of Day Two, the designers receive an invitation from Heidi. She is hosting a party at the Rose Center for Earth and Space at the Museum of Natural History. There, the designers will present their avant garde looks to Project Runway alumni -- Daniel Vosovic, Kara Janx, Jay McCarroll, Christian Siriano, Carmen Weber, Allison Kelly, Robert Plotkin -- who in turn will determine the winner of this challenge. Two designers will be eliminated at the runway presentation at Parsons on the following day. Yes, two designers.
Francisco Costa, Women's Creative Director for Calvin Klein, is our guest judge. And I'll just add that this challenge could have been a two-hour show, because there was so much drama and intrigue demonstrated in the workroom, at the Rose Center, and on the runway. I never cease to stand in awe of the brilliance and deftness of the show's editors!
Jerell WINS! He is teamed with Jennifer and what a dynamic duo they were with Sagittarius as their point of departure. I applaud risk-taking and this design was risky: an exaggerated brown houndstooth check high-waisted pencil skirt with a hip treatment that was like a deflated pannier, a gold chain-mail camisole, and a space-dyed shrunken jacket with a cacophony of trims. This look could have been a riotous disaster, and in less talented hands it would have been, but they made it work. Congratulations, Jerell!
Blayne is OUT. He is teamed with Stella who couldn't have been sweeter and more supportive. Libra is the sign that they chose, but what a stretch of the imagination that was when it came to their look. And how to describe it: a nude onesy with an S&M leather harness, plus a frothy voluminous column of pink, ivory, and turquoise fabric from the shoulder to the ankle on the right side. It was an interesting concept (I think), but the execution was atrocious and, frankly, insulting to the judges. While teaching, the worst of my students' work was never quite this bad or quite this ridiculous. Blayne, what happened? Did you succumb to Stella-liciousness? We will sincerely miss you!
Terri is OUT. She is teamed with Keith and they choose his sign, Leo, as their inspiration. From the onset matters between them were incendiary. From my observations and engagement with them, both parties were entirely too passive-aggressive in their behavior. From Keith's point of view, he had no incentive to combat Terri's dismissive attitude towards him, either. But Terri needed a partner (two heads and four hands should be better than one and two) if she was going to present a design that represented her team's best efforts. But let me talk about the design: When it was presented at the Rose Center, the gown had a faux fur stole with a high collar. The fur looked like chewed up and spat out road kill. Then, there was an unflattering bustle on the dress. (Who wants to look like they have a big fat ass?) Terri thoughtfully utilized the feedback that she received to edit her design. So, what she presented on the runway -- no fur and no bustle -- was infinitely better. Still, the judges balked. Terri, I feel sick about losing you.
Joe is teamed with Daniel and, frankly, Daniel seemed to be in charge. With Aries as their muse, they created a fabulous tango dress in a dynamic brown and ivory print. The skirt was fitted to the hip where it cascaded out into a large volume of huge horizontal ruffles. This was paired with a well-proportioned bolero in gold. It certainly had dramatic impact and it received laudable scores from the judges.
Kenley is teamed with Wesley (poor Wesley) and they choose Aquarius for their inspiration. I didn't understand anything about this look. It was like a cartoon: a bold plaid top with a high collar and slim fitted bodice offset by hugely exaggerated shoulders (Joan Crawford never experienced anything so huge) and skinny extra-long sleeves. This was paired with a floral diaphanous bubble-skirt. What? She shrilly defended the entire look, but it was ridiculous in my view and those of the judges, too. Can we all be wrong?
Korto is teamed with Kelli and used Aquarius for inspiration. They designed a full-length gown in a beautiful grayish blue with a train of scalloped layers that fell from the shoulders. The design fell short of Korto's original plan, but Kelli fell ill and, consequently, poor Korto was solo for a good part of this challenge. I'm merely happy that she finished something!
Leanne is teamed with Emily and their pairing was marvelous. Scorpio was their point of departure and Scorpio their design was, albeit subtle. Using a black felted fabric, they created a moving sculpture: a sinuous, asymmetrical cyclone that even enveloped the head. This look was not for everyone, that's for certain, but it was very Leanne and very editorial. The silhouette was arresting, the proportions were divine, and the look said nothing if not "innovation." I was certain the Leanne would win. But, she's not the showman that Jerell is, and the Project Runway alumni were making the decision.
Suede is teamed with Jerry, and Jerry's arrogance and Suede's disdain for him were palpable throughout the challenge. Although you do not see this in the show, when I made one of my rounds, they had placed a yoke across the shoulders of their design and were going to hang fabric scales from it to represent Libra. Huh? I admit that I may have protested a bit too much (remember Carol Burnett's curtain-rod dress in the "Gone with the Wind" episode?), and then Jerry sold me out on the runway saying that he (not they) should never have listed to me. In any case, what was up with this navy palazzo pants suit? Huh? Isn't there a happy medium between a basic pajama pant and a Vegas float? Come on, guys, you couldn't figure this out?