Two Sides of NY

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

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

Two Sides of NY

Stefan loved how the houses presented completely different views of a NYC getaway.

As if using found items and having to create extra looks were not enough, this week had a house mate switch-a-roo (David leaves Dominique and Jeffrey reunites with Calvin) plus only 24 hours to sort it all out! But we are fashion people, and we are up for the task! Both houses surprised me this week, because they each used NEW YORK for their inspiration for resort or "get away" dress when they had every beautiful island in the world to choose from. But don't get me wrong I LOVE THIS ISLAND, even Long Island, home of the Hamptons.

For this week's shows, I believe I put my tremendous new art team, headed by a tireless dynamo named Elspeth Benoit (Elle for those in the know) through their paces. Not only did I want them to build a freestanding tunnel meets security x-ray booth for Nami, but I wanted a full wood planked catwalk with real sand and tall grass growing from it. They rose to the occasion.


Nami, now 50 percent Emerald with Calvin and Jeffrey back together again, wanted their collection to be about a fast and fabulous New York City week end filled with nights out at The Boom Boom Room and Sex in the City style lunches by day. Strangely for resort and vacation dressing Calvin was envisioning a rainy day, which funnily enough supported Dominique's concept of a trench and sheath dress combo made out of old umbrellas (sounds like he was trying to be a team player). The house also spoke of black, gold, and grey as a color palette for the collection paired with big, bold zippers to tie everything together.

After my consult with Nami, I turned the tables a bit. I came up with a fictional "WHY BE BORED AT THE RAINY BEACH WHEN YOU CAN PARTY IN THE SIZZLING CITY?!" story of a poor little rich girl who was trapped in the Hamptons on a rainy chilling weekend and planned her escape, via Islip airport and landing at JFK, on her private jet for a weekend of city fun with her friends. For the back screens, I pieced together a montage of that journey starting with a down pour of rain which led our muse to the nearest airport. After she passes through security and body scanning, the journey takes us from her take off to landing; then driving on the L.I.E. through the Midtown Tunnel, were she ends up in NYC for disco dancing and champagne cocktails. The journey ends with her driving over the Manhattan Bridge with NYC in the distant background fading from memory(perhaps with a guy that she met at the club). The runway was a combination of an airport tarmac and city street (the catwalk was actually the dingy brown carpet I rejected from the Housewives episode painted black with yellow divide lines), and the lighting was designed to mimic search lights meets nightclub lights. My favorite piece was the black wood and plexiglass tunnel meets xray machine, which could have been amazing if we actually built it the whole length of the catwalk.

This show was incredibly dark in tone and in spirit, especially for Calvin who ended up yet again for the 6th time in 6 weeks to defend his clothes to the wall of judges... plus not being appreciated by either house must be troubling. I mean Jeffrey was the newest member of he house, and he quickly inserted himself in the Nami energy and way of creating.


Emerald (mainly Cesar) wanted the Hamptons and the world of Ralph Lauren as inspiration for the collection and show. This was to be all about Americana and a fantasy ideal with crisp, easy breezy over tones. Because Cindy, being a West Coaster, had never been to the Hamptons (nor really heard of them) she was trusting in Cesar's vision of what that life entailed. 

The mood I wanted to create here was an adventurous lady of leisure, who travels the world (a nod to David's Safari look) but resides in South Hampton (a nod to Cesar’s three creations). The set would be a view of the ocean behind giant windows and a foyer with white blowing chiffon curtains (it's my fantasy to have a three side house on the beach of Costa Rica with draping white curtains), that leads to the a private beach from her private boardwalk. All the props, including the bike and luggage, which the team member received from Lost and Found, were painted stalk white along with the lifeguard chair that could fit a family of four (All the white paint I wanted ruined my new Paul Smith black summer suit. A true fashion tragedy!).

Though the set and scenery was Hamptons inspired, the clothes were not. Could you imagine any of those looks coming from Ralph Lauren? Though Cesar's sheet pants and bustier were well conceived (I would love to see a woman rocking that look minus the sweater), they felt more St. Tropez or Lamu than WASPY Hamptons.

I loved the contrast of the two shows and how each house interpretation of resort and getaway dressing for NY was so different. I only wish they would have had as much fun and sense of adventure with building the clothes as I did building the runway presentations with 24 hours notice. With "nutty" David gone, I don’t know if Dominique will be having as much fun but I'm sure she will gain some much needed focus. Look what happened with him simply being on another team for this challenge. Congratulations, Dominique, for your win this week! 

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!