Barbara Nitke/Lifetime

Baubles and bling help inspire the designers in a couture challenge.

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September 05, 2014 at 02:30 AM EDT

The sun is out; bees are pollinating flowers; designers are discussing their feelings; and Tim Gunn is waking up somewhere in Manhattan with a guilty conscience.

He holds it together as he introduces this week’s guest judge, Caroline Scheufele, creative director for Chopard. The luxury jewelry brand is this week’s sponsor/inspiration—quite the step up from Red Robin with burgers and bottomless fries. Tim continues to keep it together as he explains the challenge: Each designer must design an extravagant eveningwear look based on the jewel that they choose.

(Tangent: Yes, this is likely a money-saving production issue, but how are designers supposed to “pull out all the stops” when they have only 24 hours to complete a look? There’s a reason people say Rome wasn’t built in a day. It’s because something that is thoughtful, beautiful, and extravagant takes time. Anyway, moving on.)

All the designers pick their gems of choice, and Tim keeps his cool, but the crack in the mentor’s otherwise steely demeanor starts to show as the designer’s leave the runway. Although this is “reality” television, Tim Gunn isn’t one to play up for the cameras—that forlorn look seemed real.

As the designers begin their sketches in the workroom, a now full-on distraught Tim sneaks in and enacts The Tim Gunn Save™ to the delight of the room. With a catch in his voice, he says: “When I presented the challenge to the designers, I realized that there was a big void among them—and that void is you.” Runway fans, if the sight of Tim getting choked up didn’t choke YOU up, we need to talk. But after everyone had dried their eyes and cheered, the truth set in. For the designers it was the “Wait, my one chance of redemption is gone” moment. For the audience it was the, “Wait, what exactly did Tim see in Char that warranted saving?” moment. She’s a great lady, but her designs were never in the top… or memorable. I guess you just can’t keep Detroit down.

But dry up those tears Char—it’s time to select your incredibly expensive jewelry. The pressure is on for her to prove that she’s worthy of the save.

NEXT: The first couturier, which is a word, inspires the designers

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