The Island of Lost Handbags

From Lost Boys to lost loves, we hit the highlights of this week's misplaced metaphor-filled episode.

If a train covered in leopard and paisley is heading from New York City to the Hamptons at a speed of 50, while an umbrella-shrouded train is heading toward New York City from upstate NY at 60 miles per hour, at what point will they collide?

Well since I didn't take the SAT (Southerners love the ACT), I only learned the answer in this week's episode. The solution: about they time they hit the Hoboken train station.

This week's Lost and Found-themed episode was a doozie. Lost and found in public transit conjures up such a ridiculous treasure trove of finds. I was thinking of items similar to the ones depicted in this NYC subway ad.

So I was really looking forward to designs that incorporated dentures, and snakes, and canes, and leftover sammies and such.

Instead the designers managed to lay their hands on what was practically a recently restocked T.J.Maxx's worth of goods. People leave the strangest things in the New Jersey train station! I'm thinking these items were from whole lost suitcases, as opposed to travelers that just casually left a pair of leather pants in the seat next to them while they were reading the paper and waiting on the 5:40 to Secaucus. But the materials never matter as much as the message, and this week's message was lost in translation. Lost at Sea. Land of the Lost. Lost Boys! Really, really, not good.

Iman was displeased for real. She refused to even use the word winner. As though saying winner was like speaking the name that shalln't be named in Harry Potter.

The outfits sort of looked like the designers went from forgetful travelers to Hoarders in no time. Clutching tightly to any hat, scarf, handbag or other piece of ephemera they could get their grubby paws on.

"Here take this hat to protect you from the cruel North Hampton sun and the dangerous wildlife."

"Shield your body from the rhinos with this peplum vest."

It did seem a bit like the House of Emerald really thought the Hamptons were a lot more similar to the plains of Africa than White Plains, New York. Cesar says she often goes to the Hamptons in this clip, but I'm not sure where he's staying. Perhaps in a tent with Meryl Streep and that's why he got confused, because this was some Out of Africa business.

However, Dominique really nailed it with her reverse-maneuver, inside-out trench and then, of course the umbrella dress. Dominique pulled her best Rihanna, while everyone else was desperately trying to cover all manner of sins with lost handbags.

Aside: next time you're in a car. I challenge you to play an instrumental version of the song as you cruise around. It makes everything happening on the street look so much more quaint and Rockwellian. Pedestrians appears instantly precious.

Calvin was not in his Fred Astaire happy place though, and claimed he was a little miffed that Dominique keeps doing the same dress. Calvin sort of has a point, but even though she's always doing a shift dress with a kicky coat, it's always a different feeling shift dress with a kicky coat. It's like saying, "Picasso, you used canvas again, I'm tired of you." Maybe I'm just saying this because I love a shift dress and a kicky coat (one of my secret reasons for moving to NYC was so I could copious coats without shame), but Dominique has consistently done more than I thought she could have.

Cesar is slowly turning into his tyrannt namesake. Not only is he ruling Cindy with an iron fist, he kept talking about how making swimsuits was like taking a dump. I have to say, while there is no item of clothing that I think should be referred to as "dump-similar" or "dump-esque," swimsuits might be actually the grossest. It conjures imagery of pools and floaters, and all sorts just awful, awful things. Shield your imagaination's eyes, I say.

But at the end of the day, his swimsuits managed to flounder to safety, and it was David's fully outfitted outfit that was left unclaimed. As he expounded on pecans, and told Dominique to give him a call post-show, we wondered what could have been. If he had fully realized such previous grievances as his Peter Pan dress and MJ's Grandmother's jumpsuit had been as realized as David's own duds. Was it the chains of love that held him back? We'll never know.

But I hope that we do know what shakes out with those two. Are they still together, sewing adorable outfits and playing the harmonica? Baking pecans into a pie filled with love? Wearing the plaid jumpsuit and forcing themselves to make clothes worthy of Iman.

A girl can dream, can't she?

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!