The designers split into teams, which is never a good thing. Elena goes absolutely nuts, and it's a beautiful sight

By Stephan Lee
August 17, 2012 at 05:30 AM EDT
Barbara Nitke
  • TV Show
  • Bravo

This episode was brilliant. Not so much for the challenge, which I found a bit all over the place, but for the ridiculousness of these characters. Pat yourself on the back, casting director. I was laughing out loud the whole time, which I guess is a better way to kill 90 minutes than watching Bachelor Pad (debatable).

I was going to skip past the beginning where all the designers reacted to the previous night’s runway, but did anyone else hear Melissa say, “I don’t want the next person [to leave] to me be”? I heard it very clearly — sounded as if she were channeling Yoda.

“Stickler” Nina Garcia struck fear into the designers’ hearts when she joined Heidi in explaining the next challenge. The words “team challenge” put the fiercely solitary and anti-social designers on high alert. Everyone had to split off into two groups; each group had to create a “fashion capsule collection” that would be part of an editorial photo shoot that they would direct themselves for Marie Claire at Work magazine. Instantly, I predicted that the two losers who’d be chosen last, dodgeball-style, would be Raul and Elena, so color me surprised when Sonjia chose Elena first. (“I’d rather eat dirt than work with Elena,” quipped Gunnar). And sure enough, Raul was the last one picked. So the teams ended up being:

Team 6: Sonjia, Elena, Melissa, Dmitry, Alicia, and Raul

Team 5: Nathan, Ven, Chris, Fabio, and Gunnar

Raul’s declaration of love for Chris was a little creepy: “I made this awesome connection with Chris, and I haven’t felt that way in a very long time.” It devastated him that Chris didn’t choose him for Team 5.

Of these two teams, I instantly had a better feeling about the Fab Five — they’re just like the Olympics women’s gymnastics team, only I doubt Ven can land a vault. The only person who wasn’t happy about the team’s vision was Gunnar, who hated the turquoise and “Barney purple” fabrics his teammates chose. And then Elena … oh, Elena.

Team 6 fell apart right from the beginning, mostly because Elena and Raul refused to be team players. Raul was thinking about defending himself in front of the judges even in the planning stages of the challenge — he insisted upon using lace (blegh) and expected the rest of his team to work around his fabric preference.

NEXT: According to her fellow designers, Elena is both an animal and a volcano. Watch her attack, then explode!Elena showed off her sparkling sense of Ukrainian humor when she called Team 5 the “Silk Chiffonzies” — the “generals” of which were Chris, Ven, and Nathan — because of their predilection for silk chiffon. Who knew Elena was so funny? I kept picturing the Fonz wearing a puffy wedding dress.

At the drop of a hat, Elena went from ribbing the Chiffonzies to attacking her own teammates one by one. Unprovoked, she launched in on Dmitry, the sallow-skinned former ballroom dancer: “I don’t know what woman wears navy blue anymore, Dmitry. We all hate the navy blue that you have.” Elena didn’t bring her color concerns up earlier, when there was still time to change things. “Everyone hates Elena,” droned Dmitry. “Even if they say they like her, they hate her.” If ballroom dancing and fashion-designing don’t work out, Dmitry should become a lawyer and make more impossible-to-disprove statements like that one. Side note: How is it that Elena is currently winning Fan Favorite?

If anyone should be winning Fan Favorite, it should be Dmitry for giving us this gem: “I think Ven is one-way monkey. Oh no, he’s one trick pony. He just does the same technique O, and O, and O again. His designs are O.” I think he actually meant “over” for the first three O’s and “old” for the last one. But I could be wrong, even if everyone else says I’m right.

Okay, so the Marie Claire at Work photo shoot was a disaster, mostly because Elena was ridiculously, hilariously awful to everyone. The Elena bomb went off, and no one was safe — models, hairdressers, photographers, and even sweet, innocent Melissa got hit by flying barbs like “I don’t like it!” “This vest looks like s—!” “That curtain looks hideous!” “It looks like she’s taking a s—!” and “Don’t f—ing talk to me like that!” Seriously, Elena completely lost control, and I liked it. A Project Runway meltdown for the ages? Perhaps.

NEXT: Marie Claire editor-in-chief and All Stars standout Joanna Coles guest-judges the runway show!



I was a little surprised that Nina hated this look, because everybody knows that Nina loves Weird Pants. But she couldn’t get past the fact that only a former 70s bombshell would wear this pantsuit. Suzanne Somers? Yes. A young, modern woman of today? No, unless her first job out of college is selling houses in West Palm Beach, Florida.


Everyone loved that Chris younged up a matronly looking print by shredding the hell out of it. It was a really strong look, and I loved the clean line of the waist. Speaking of the waist, Chris’ Hamlet quote — “To belt or not to belt” — was the most adorable moment of the night.


I didn’t get this look at all. Why did the judges love it so much? I thought the whole thing was plain and a bit frumpy, and I didn’t appreciate the bunching in the front. Oh, and the headwrap was so ill-conceived — it was probably Fabio’s attempt to put his own personal style into the look, upon Michael’s advice last week.


As Gunnar predicted, the judges despised this look and found it inappropriate for the workplace. Heidi repeatedly compared the girl’s boobs to a fallen soufflé.

NEXT: What’s worse, Elena’s Joan of Arc shoulders or Raul’s uneven flappety-flap-flaps?


The judges will keep letting Ven float by as long as there are still notably bad designers in the running, but soon enough they’ll start putting him in the bottom for repeating himself over and over again. (Just like Dmitry said!) That said, I agree with Joanna that this was a good play on the suit jacket — even if the hardcore camel toe ruined it a bit for me.


Melissa – WINNER

I’m not sure I agreed with the judges that Melissa’s dress was a clear winner. The fabric didn’t look completely appropriate for the workplace, unless you fight crime in the rain.


I thought the jacket was great, but why did the model look so dour and unhappy? I wouldn’t be surprised if Elena told her to scowl the whole time.


In theory, I liked Team 6’s idea of individual designers contributing separates instead of entire looks, but sometimes the ensembles came out looking schizophrenic. I loved Sonjia’s blue skirt, but Raul’s ruffle bib was a disaster. Raul apparently loves attaching uneven flaps of fabrics to the front of his designs.


There we go with the Elena shoulders, which look horrendous and wildly inappropriate for the workplace. She couldn’t help herself. We could psychoanalyze Elena here — she makes clothes that look like armor because she constantly believes she’s in combat — but that’s a dangerous game.

NEXT: The losing designer imparts one last parting shot.


In spite of Elena’s vicious attacks, Dmitry’s navy and black color-blocked dress turned out well. He clearly has a flair for geometric, simple designs that are clean and sleek.


This Raul-Sonjia creation came together much better, I thought. If the girl wearing this worked at an orchard, she could use the draped skirt as a pouch to put peaches in.

After a peek at each individual look, Heidi played that perverse game of asking each designer which teammate deserved to go home. On Team 5, the only designer to cop out was Fabio — he named Ven simply because he thought the judges would never eliminate him. As Heidi said, “That’s just silly.” Gunnar surprised us all by saying that his own look was the worst from his team. Was that humility, or just not giving a crap?

Team 6 was much more contentious. Raul and Dmitry both ripped into Elena — you could see Elena twitch as she waited for her turn to speak. Everyone else thought Raul deserved to go home. Elena said, “I think Raul should go home because he doesn’t even know how to put darts into a shirt, and his construction is horrible.” Youch!

In the end, the teams tied in terms of scoring, but Team 6 had the better photo shoot, so Team 6 gets their designs in Marie Claire at Work! Gunnar and Raul were in the bottom two, with Raul getting eliminated. Raul displayed an unsurprising lack of grace by throwing one last parting jab at Elena: “I hate your ass.” As much as I think Elena was wildly out of line this episode, I’d still rather see her on my TV screen than untalented, whiny Raul. Good riddance, and stay away this time!

Did either team deserve to win this week? Whose behavior horrified you more, Elena’s or Raul’s? Is anyone standing out to you as a clear frontrunner this season? Did you shed a tear when you saw Kooan’s big-toothed comb / afro-pick? Lastly, is anyone else starting to not-despise Gunnar? He’s clearly no Josh McKinley, even if he sometimes tries to be.

By the way, I’m kind of dreading next week’s episode. I can’t stand how terribly designers behave when they have to work with “real people” models. If the teaser for the next episode is to be trusted, I think we might have a reason to not like Ven next week.

Follow @EWStephanLee on Twitter.

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Karlie Kloss and Christian Siriano guide undiscovered designers through the harrowing rites of fashion.
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