It was sad to see Markus go. He was a fun person to have in the competition. Given the construction of his garment, however, it was the right choice by the judges. He has a great eye and a warm personality, so I know he’ll be fine doing whatever he pursues afterwards. I can see him with a career as a TV host. This outerwear innovation challenge was the hardest one so far. For me, the innovation was the easy part. It’s how I think everyday as a designer for my own line. The challenging part was constructing the coat within the 14-hour period. The last time I actually sewed a coast was eight years ago when I was in school ... and that took me two weeks to make! If I were to send it out to a professional tailor on Friday, it would take them at least two days of non-stop working and that’s just the sewing, not even making the pattern (which could take another couple of days). On top of the sewing, we had to come up with the design, color palette, fabric … all within an hour time frame before the 14-hour sew fest. Everyone keeps joking that this isn’t America’s Next Top Seamstress. We are all designers and know how a garment should look in the end, but to have to construct it is something else entirely. We are designers, not tailors! Maybe the public doesn’t really understand what a fashion designer does. The profession is so stranded in mystery, it seems. Well, to be a fashion designer means knowing what the current trends are, designing for a client so she can feel like she fits into those trends, being able to communicate the designs to the public, and distributing the product to stores so the public can purchase the design. There is so much researching that goes into every stage of the design and we have no time to do any research in this competition. In the next challenge, I’m going to make it a point to spend half of the allotted time in the design and keep construction to a minimum. There are so many techniques and design approaches that I’ve been working on for the past year and this will be a great opportunity to get others feedback on it. Yes, I feel like I’m back in school … or, rather, that we are in finals week of the school life. It is so empowering for me to discover how much I’ve learned since I started working in the fashion industry. We are only one and a half weeks in the competition but I already feel like I’ve accomplished so much during that time. It’s amazing what people are capable of if they’re given the right tool and context to perform at their best. I can’t believe I made a fully-lined jacket on Day 1 or an expandable trench coat today. I honestly didn’t know I had it in me. In my training as a fashion designer, I’ve learned how to move mountains and make the impossible possible. But it was always directed at making others finish things in time with a factory or in the shipments. After these last three design challenges, I am starting to realize that I have the strength in myself to do anything that I put my mind to … that it all starts with believing in myself.