Rising to the Challenge

Mommy Dearest

Red Red Whine

The Creative Process

Hail the Virgin Queen

Doing It Big

Ultimate Dressmaker Collection

Let's Twist Again

Captain Planet

The Kids Are All Right

Accessories in the Attic

Beige is Boring

The Hungry Ruffle

More Is More

Blushing Brides

The Love Float

Finding Your Key Light

The End of the Affair

Two Sides of NY

Jersey Shore Moment

The Island of Lost Handbags

In A Nutshell

Attention Upper East Siders

The Greatest Show in the World!

Banana Drama

Life Finds A Way

Shrinking Violets

Plaid in Space

Message in a Bottle

Sad for Plaid

Color Coordinated

Suffocate with Love

In Noir and White

Welcome to the Fun Haus

Lethal Women

It's a Camp-tastrophe

Disappointing Duplicity

Inside Out Man

I'm Still In Love

Peace Out


We reflect on this week's wedding outfits, and the limits of our love for seersucker.

Can you feel it Fashion Show fans? Love is in the air. Not David and Dominique's yoga love. Not Iman's love for zingers. But love, love! Gay civil union love.

This week's episode had the designers playing host to same-sex brides and grooms, judged by the very definitions of fabulocity, Rachel Zoe and Johnny Weir.

I was ready for band of bridezillas to have their way with our gentle designers. Steam-rolling them into chiffon catastrophes and screams stifled with sequins.

But these blissfully in love couples shamed the diva nature of their hetero counterparts, keeping their cool even when Calvin went banseeh about his anti-seamstress stance and love of pandas. Some one hire Paul and Eric in crisis management roles, because those gents were as cool as cucumbers.

The houses were broken into couples arranged marriage style, with the designers pulling bands of gold, platinum, or diamond from a small ring bearer's bag. No one wanted to be wedded to Calvin, but like a shotgun wedding, it had to be done.

And so Cindy was saddled with Calvin, and his hatred for his more portly pair.

Things went about as well as you could imagine.

Here was this smadorable bear couple, with their big bones and their ruddy cheeks, looking for something that reflected Paul's Korean heritage, without making dear Eric look like he was auditioning to be in Memoirs of a Geisha. Or making Paul look like he was working at a hibachi grill.

Calvin, being not the most understanding person, surprisingly does not latch on to the Korean traditions. Instead creating a kimono, refrencing kung fu movies, and calling his couple pandas, though he meant that last one not as an insult. And should it be? Methinks no, look at how adorable loved up pandas are: exhibit A.

I hope one day that when I'm wedded, people say we look like two pandas in love. 

We also learn a lot about Jeffrey this week. We learn that he has another pajama dress (we haven't seen the pink one from judging before have we?). We learn he's a virgin (can someone remake Easy A with him as the Emma Stone role, because I'd Netflix it). We learn he has the same haircut as sweet Bridgette (and possibly many other fashionable lesbians and piano icons). Most of all we learn the boy can make a seersucker suit like no one's business.

But isn't seersucker a bit tired? I might have mentioned I'm from the South, and I can't tell you how times I've seen a slew of frat dads trot out in the stuff, feeling superior to their simple suited friends.

Sure Bridgette and Christina were having a beachy wedding, so it was appropriate, but can we make a promise that unless you're on the beach, boat, some other form of outdoors or literally on a Kentucky bourbon trail we'll take a break?

Also, I'm with the Weir on this one (and when am I not), I thought Dominique's dress was a touch wrinkled. If she had pressed it could have been very Carolyn Bessette (which will inspiration for my Brooklyn wedding, which is happening whenever I get around to meeting someone), but instead a looked a little Rumpelstiltskin.

I personally loved what Eduardo/Cesar did in their cocktails and Quaaludes housewife matrimony.

Let us imagine for a moment Johnny Weir running through fields of Eduardo-produced flowers. Imagine if you will endless beds of blooms, and Johnny tumbling down in the mid-day sun and rolling around, just delighting in the Dijon-ness of their glory.

That's a dream that I can get behind.

Eduardo's dress in its Grey Pupon-Grey Gardens-valiums and nannies glory was a delight. If I wanted to get married as a '60s housewife on acid, this would be the first, nay the only dress I'd try on. Sold.

Meanwhile, Cesar attempted to channel Grace Jones for Andrea. I see it in the cut, but I don't really see Grace Jones in this outfit. Simon Doonan (next week's judge, who I adore one thousand times over, yay) or, perhaps, an eager and daper golfer maybe, but not Grace Jones. I dug it though, and it was the exactly outfit what Andrea wanted down to the paisley pants (which, is one of those things that when you have a hankering for, it cannot be stopped despite all logic and reason. See: my bedspread from my sophomore year of high school). The jacket did look some fierce, as did the detail that her pumps matched her glasses, Cesar you sly dog you.

But Cindy's inability to dress a man had to be punished. I'm with Iman: have you made sleeves before? Why, why, dearest Cindy, did you feel that the answer to a decently-fitted outfit was to just take it in more? If you had left it alone, Calvin might have been forced to take his woven obi and sushi kimono back home, to live a life as a cruel cater-waiter instead of spending another week with us. But next week is Doonan week, so it will be worth seeing their interaction.

But what did you kids think? Would you be wedded in any of these outfits?

Mommy Dearest

Stefan explains his process for creating the final fashion shows, including an inspiration that almost didn't happen.

So at the end of it all, two designers from The House of Emerald Syx are left standing, with dueling red "tribute" gowns, for the win! With the chaos, twist, and turns thrown at these designers, the message from Calvin, Dominique, and our winner Jeffrey was peace, calm, and self-reflective.

Fashion Show #1: Enchanted Forest

My consult with Calvin was very touching because he spoke very deeply and passionately about his dying lover of ten years. While showing me his collection and mood boards (which only had one beautiful picture of a misty forest), he told me that his finale gown would be a tribute to his partner and to the Gay Men's Health Crisis, hence the color red.

Speaking calmly, he said he wanted his fashion show to reflect his journey through this competition from being an angry person to someone more agreeable (though most would beg to differ). I truthfully never saw Calvin as angry…he's just direct and brutally honest (which can feel borderline abusive at times) in his want for things to be as amazing as possible (though that yellow dress from the first day was questionable). At this moment, Calvin became very childlike to me so I thought to make his show into a fairytale of sorts set in the woods.

Using his personal journey and single misty forest image, I created a montage of woods imagery that started with a dark, foggy, moody, leafless forest and end with a lush, sundrenched, green jungle of life that became the perfect backdrop for his red gown (the back of which was gorgeous). I had the models walk through a path of Kara Walker-inspired trees and low looming fog to the sounds of pianos and music box tunes. For a humbling feel, I had the runway covered completely in burlap, which the art team hand sewed together with thick black yarn…it was well worth it! The details of the runway were beautiful and matched the dreamy elegance of Calvin’s final collection.

He and I agreed that the staging should not be as antagonizing as the zombie, barefoot show from the challenge before, though Calvin may have wanted to do something slightly more aggressive if given another chance. I'm glad we stuck with this tone because I believed it charmed the judges and almost got Calvin the win. Fashion Show #2: City Slicker

Dominique, the last surviving member of Nami, was also self-reflective during my consult with her. But unlike Calvin, her journey ends in chaos. She wanted her show to be all about her a naive, innocent arriving in NYC and entering this competition with beautiful jazz-style music in her head (well, iPod) and leaving with static, noise, and confliction (could David have had anything to do with this?).

I was impressed with Dominique’s ambitious ways during the whole competition and her willingness to try new things, like making her own plaid and deconstructing those umbrellas to create a chic sheath dress. One of the pieces Dominique made that she edited out of her final collection was a tangled wired bustier and ankle cuffs that were a cool, modern touch to her slouchy chic (which I love) silhouette.

Dominique show was the most fun to build because I focused on NYC and the fast-paced vibe here. I opened her show with city sounds set to jazz, which then exploded into techno rhythms. The models were lined up in a power stance behind the LED screen as footage of the subway whizzed by (Glenda Bailey loved this). I then had imagery similar to the of old-fashioned TV static sliced into the all the footage, with the final shot of the TV (and noise) being shut off as the model exited. Her runway was a city sidewalk with grates built in (the choreography was vital here, so the models heels would not get stuck in the grates…kind of like real city life). At the model entrance I designed a wire-filled structure that was inspired by her wire bustier (which never saw the light of day). My favorite moment in her staging was the night surveillance images I sourced with the guy shadowing the model on the catwalk…so eerie, so New York!

Fashion Show #3: Mommy Dearest

Jeffrey's fashion show was the toughest of them all because his journey was inspired by his late Mother’s presence, and I had to be respectful of that. He showed me mood boards of doves and red stains the resembled blood. Then he told me the story of his now famous red gown that was designed with his Mom in mind. After my first consult with Jeffrey, I left with thoughts of heaven in my mind…would it be about angels on clouds and golden gates?

But Bravo exec (and mega sounding board) Lara Spotts, made me examine closely what heaven would truly represent to our Jeffrey. So for my second consult with him (I always had two consult with the designers before the big show), I questioned Jeffrey about his show again (he loves a chic power woman) and what heaven represented to him. While he was talking I noticed a whole other board that he never shared with me with imagery of Buddhist monks and temples. I grabbed the board, and told Jeffrey that his show would be inspired by Buddhism...freedom from suffering, Nirvana. He agreed and went back to sewing (his collection was so far behind to the point that I was worried for him).

I fine tuned Jeffrey’s presentation up to the last minute as to capture the perfect mood for his collection, because I did not see the clothes till the models were dressed. Everything looked stunning on the girls! Once I saw the hair and makeup (Mally did a stellar job) complete I thought his show needed air, so I simplified everything and had the models trot through a grey ash filled catwalk (which captured a smoky, saintly atmosphere) as if they were entering a temple. The ash would also give a more deconstructed look to his pure clothes especially on the clothes with longer hemlines (some still with raw edges). Plus Jeffrey patiently handed painted all the models shoes with white paint (as if he did not already have enough to do) so the chalky ash looked great and modern (very Rick Owens meets Donna Karan).

I had the art team paint the symbol for the word PEACE on the runway and we built a candle filled alter at the bottom of the catwalk for an OM SHANTI feel. As I had the model posed on the stage for a final tableau, I asked our lighting guy to shine one perfectly bright beam of light on the group of girls for a heavenly glow.

And it all worked! Guest powerhouse judge Mary J. Blige could not stay in her seat… she loved it so much. And Jeffrey won!