Approximately one metric ton of glitter and other sparkly stuff was used on these Rockettes costumes.

By Stephan Lee
Updated September 21, 2012 at 07:33 AM EDT

I’m away for two weeks and everything falls apart! I recently got back from a trip to Berlin, which I took in order to better understand Heidi and the country she hails from. (EW should really pick up the tab since my travels will enrich all future Runway recaps — I’d even settle for just flight, meals, lodging, and entertainment). Breia Brissey did a brilliant job filling in for me with episode 8, but then another colleague was unable to fill in last week. We messed up. Genuine apologies all around, especially since it was a pretty heady episode in which Dmitry finally won, Ven got smacked down, and Gunnar left — I can’t believe I’m sad about that!

But no one could ever stay sad for long in the presence of the Rockettes. Thirty-six high-kicking ladies in red and one Heidi Klum in green pranced onto the stage at Radio City Music Hall. I’m really impressed by Heidi’s ability to raise those legs! Plus, her green-sequined getup wasn’t any more ridiculous than most of the things she’s worn to the runway this season.

So the challenge was to create a costume for the Rockettes that the ladies would wear for a special performance. Dmitry immediately grasped this challenge; as a former ballroom dancer, he’s well versed in the art of fringe. As has been the case all season, Melissa, Sonjia, and Elena found the challenge overwhelmingly daunting and they each peed a little bit at the thought of not making something black and shoulder-padded and weird-necklined.

Determined to prove the judges wrong, Elena went (temporarily?) insane at Mood. She apparently had it in her head that she was designing for Honey Boo Boo and ended up going $150 over budget on sequins. Those sequins could have vajazzled an entire village. Back in the workroom, she blamed Dmitry for somehow forcing her to choose a terrible blue fabric since Dmitry is responsible for all the blue/evil in the world. Dmitry wondered, “Why are you making something you hate?” Thank you, Dmitry. But did you ever think that Elena might just hate everything?

NEXT: A peaceful candlelight dinner before the storm…

Tim Gunn entered the workroom with a terrifying twist: The designers had to go to a restaurant and have a lovely dinner together! Sonjia reacted as if he’d said she had to sleep face-to-feet with Ven that night, or even worse, work in teams. I kept waiting for Nina Garcia to pop out from under the table and order the designers to make a second look using only the tablecloth and stains from the food they’d ordered. But no, it was an enjoyable evening of food, wine, and conversation.

As the designers broke bread together, foes became friends (Boris and Natasha forever!) and Ven opened up about his solitary childhood. That’s all humanizing and whatnot, but cue the record scratch. Ven is only 28??? I think I knew that once, but at some point all the evidence — visual, behavioral, spiritual, but mostly visual — erased that fact from my brain. If Ven is only two years older than I am, then Chelsea Handler is the age she says she is.

Leading up to the runway, a lot of other crazy stuff happened in the workroom. The ladies all melted down, Ven ignored some good advice, Tim uttered the words “Bitch slap that bitch,” and Elena took advantage of a second trip to Mood by buying even more sparkly stuff. Baby girl has a problem. Oh, and Melissa stepped up as the Anya of season 10 by receiving an extraordinary amount of help from her fellow designers.

On to the runway show! The presence of Will & Grace star Debra Messing nearly brings Chris to tears.

Fabio – SAFE

Ewww, this was safe? “Joan of Arc” has been thrown around a lot this season to describe some of the designs, but this look, from the skirt made of sword blades to the girl-pretending-to-be-a-boy-so-she-can-do-something-only-boys-can-do haircut, was downright Hero and the Crown.

NEXT: Melissa’s costume might have had a giant No. 1 on it, but Dmitry and Chris fought it out for the top spot.

Melissa – TOP?

So did the judges like this look or not? Heidi called it a “showstopper,” but said “the longer I look at it, the more I see things swrong with it.” Nina called it a “real miss,” and Debra correctly took issue with the odd neckline. Melissa has a thing for odd necklines. Everyone noted the glaring No. “1” on the front of the costume — it’s funny that Melissa was so hysterical throughout the challenge that she didn’t notice.

Dmitry – TOP

I wasn’t sure if I was going to like Dmitry’s garment when I saw it in the workroom, but it definitely made the biggest statement on the runway. Beautiful, shimmering, sleek. All the judges agreed that Dmitry’s costume would put the Rockettes in a new, modern, fashion-forward direction. Personally, I thought this should have been Dmitry’s second win in a row.

Chris – WINNER

Don’t get me wrong, Chris’ New York skyline-inspired garment was gorgeous, tasteful, and impeccably made. The judges kept bestowing wild words of praise upon it like “iconic” and “magnificent” and “New York at its best.” Even though the cityscape motif was executed beautifully, I kind of thought designing a Manhattan-inspired costume for the Rockettes was like singing “God Bless America” on American Idol — not as “revolutionary” as the judges thought and actually a bit safe. The color doesn’t scream “Rockettes” to me, and how are you supposed to see the details from far back? Also, a note to Chris’ model: That wasn’t the walk we planned! What was that?

NEXT: As so often happens on Runway, it was a battle between boring and hideous.

Sonjia — BOTTOM

Sonjia’s fears about the judges making bird comparisons were realized. They all pointed out that the high kicks would knock the feathers off the dress. It’d be like if Big Bird and Barney had had wild romp all over the stage.

Elena – BOTTOM

Soooooo shiny! Debra was feeling really charitable when she called it a “beautiful costume for the circus.” Seriously, I don’t buy that Elena took this challenge seriously — or if she did, she has a huge taste problem on her hands. She continues to be the only designer left not to have won a challenge.

Ven – OUT

As atrocious as Elena’s deranged band uniform was, I thought sending Ven home was the right choice. This dress never transcended the material it’s made of. It really just looked like fabric that was lopped off in a few semi-strategic places, and of course, Ven displayed a typical lack of humility when he couldn’t see the failings of his costume. Did you notice that his send-off from Tim was quite chilly?

Did Ven deserve to go, or was Elena’s ridiculous costume more offensive?

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