Only six designers remain, and they are eager to get to the end. But it may be even sooner than they all think: When the designers meet Heidi on the runway, she tells them there are only two challenges left — which means either four designers are going to NYFW or there’s going to be another double elimination. We’ll have to wait and see!
Heidi then sends the designers to a warehouse in who knows where. There’s apparently barbed wire and a guard dog around the structure (I’m dubious). Inside the warehouse they see Tim Gunn and a man from Lexus standing by a couple Lexuses and a few on-fire trash cans. It’s…odd. “I feel like I should be doing cartwheels and pulling out machine guns,” Mah-Jing says in possibly the best quote all season.
They learn that, obviously, this is the Lexus challenge, which means they need to be bold and innovate. Can you guess it’s avant garde? Because it is. But that’s not all, Tim tells them. This is an unconventional materials avant-garde challenge. Mind = blown.
After scrambling around the warehouse to get all kinds of metal — except for Laurence, who likes to not run and take her time — they all jump into the Lexuses to drive to Mood, where they buy fabrics while Swatch barks at nothing and tricks Tim Gunn into getting on his hands and knees to help him. I really appreciate Tim’s love for Swatch, y’all.
Back in the workroom, they all start working on their visions. Mah-Jing is using denim to create a mermaid in space/galaxy queen/fairy/space goddess/something he can’t quite put his finger on. Cornelius is doing a butterfly with metal tubes, and Erin is doing a paper-doll-style dress because of course she is. Then there’s poor Rik, who has never done avant garde and seems quite lost. Luckily, this is a two-day challenge, so they all can take the time to suss out their ideas.
Tim comes ‘round for his critiques and is into Erin’s mesh-chic look but is worried she’s going to hurt the model. Erin swears to not harm her and says she just wants to do something risky.
Rik is doing the opposite of risky, but Tim doesn’t hate it — he just wants it to have more refinement. Meanwhile, Mah-Jing is warned not to go too costume-y, and Tim doesn’t have much to say about Roberi and Laurence’s looks.
But Tim has literally nothing to say to Cornelius. He’s speechless until Cornelius asks him to talk. Tim says the circle in the front says “put baby bump here.” Obviously, not the look Cornelius was going for, so he scraps the butterfly idea and goes to “parasite” — which doesn’t seem like much of an improvement to me, but what do I know?
Mah-Jing is really confused by the costume comment because he thinks everyone’s looks are costume-y: After all, he’s got Robocop to his left with Roberi’s look and a paper doll come to life over at Erin’s station. But he continues working toward his vision, and when the model comes in, he figures out how to tailor the dress to his model’s body so she can hold the weight of the copper.
NEXT: Be bold or be gone
The next morning everyone is glue-gunning as much as possible, burning their poor models in the process. But they make it down to the runway without any major injuries.
Heidi introduces guest judge Shiri Appleby, star of Lifetime’s UnREAL. Because we’re down to just six, all the designers get critiques this week.
Roberi wanted to create something aerodynamic and used a mixture of metal and fabric to achieve a sculpted version of that. Heidi loves it and appreciates the combination of materials — she likes the shape in a weird, futuristic way. Zac says it has a nice Cubist quality. Shiri says she’s impressed but wishes there was a bit more surprise in the form; Nina says from the top up it’s a bit too Robocop for her tastes. (Mah-Jing was right!)
Mah-Jing says he was going for a coral-reef effect with his copper overlays — which the judges like, but not enough. Shiri says he needed to bump the concept all the way up. Zac says he didn’t incorporate the avant-garde part of the look into the denim dress and there’s also a fit issue. Heidi says the pieces look stuck on, and Nina agrees it just looks like decoration.
Rik didn’t go big with his look, but he tried to achieve boldness in his textures. Zac loves it; he says it’s a great medley. Shiri says it’s not as exciting as she would expect an avant-garde look to be, but she appreciates how he incorporated everything. Nina says it makes her curious and she loves the styling. Heidi is a fan of the tile integration and wearability.
Smartly avoiding the “host v. parasite” phrasing, Cornelius tells the judges he was inspired by a living organism. Nina says for something futuristic, the look is a bit cliché, but it does disturb her, which she knows is what Cornelius was going for. She is bothered by the tube coming out of the model’s uterus after all. Shiri likes the tube on the shoulder, but the rest of the tubes’ placements are “unfortunate.”
“Crazy little black dress” is about all Laurence can say about her look before Heidi pushes her to explain in French, which she does much more elegantly. Heidi likes the dress, but doesn’t like that it’s black. Shiri agrees, saying black isn’t much of a fashion risk. Although Zac loves the dress and how she played with texture, he does agree she needs to take risks. Nina says Laurence is staying too much in her safe zone and not being bold…which kind of was the point of the challenge.
I had my doubts about Erin’s paper-doll look, but the end result is quite stunning — much like the early-season looks we saw from her. Zac likes it, Shiri loves it, and Heidi really, really loves it. Nina says the effect is bold and it would photograph well. Zac isn’t a fan of how you can see the glue on the backside when the model turns, but that’s a small quibble.
Out: Mah-Jing, who gives the sweetest speech about how he’s staying positive and appreciative of where he is. I’m going to miss this guy.
What did you guys think of this week’s challenge? Any predictions on how many people will show at NYFW? Or who those people will be? Throw your thoughts below or find me on Twitter @realdalener.