Barbara Nitke

The designers must make a luxurious cocktail dress -- and it proves too much for many of them

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October 21, 2016 at 01:50 AM EDT

Cocktail dresses are fun — but apparently, making them isn’t.

After hanging out with the judges, Tim, and random “bloggers,” the designers learn they’ll have $300 and one day to make a luxurious cocktail dress. Because there are an unusual amount of street and ready-to-wear designers this season, that means trouble is ahead.

The inspiration comes from the Absolut Elyx house — a thing which exists — so we see all sorts of speakeasy-, leather-, chandelier -, apron-, flamingo-wallpaper-inspired looks. When Tim comes around for critiques a few hours into designing, he says at least half of them aren’t understanding the challenge.

Mah-Jing is doing a weird dripping red dress; Roberi has a “Missoni meets Navajo blanket” mash-up; Cornelius’ look reminds Tim of a picnic (which prompts Cornelius to say “fudge muffins”); and Nathalia’s look reminds him of an ice skater. A good amount of the room starts from scratch once their mentor leaves.

But not Erin and Dexter. They’re best buds now and yucking it up, which makes Nathalia and Jenni very annoyed. Speaking of Jenni… She’s hand-stitching an embroidery print onto her dress; it’s a technique that looks a lot like what Erin’s been doing, but the designers this season are too nice to call her out about it.

The good camaraderie from last episode continues as Jenni shares fabric with both Nathalia and Tasha, who started their looks over and didn’t have enough of their own materials to work with. With only four hours left in the day, it’s a mad scramble to get looks done on time. But, as always, they do.

Once on the runway, Heidi introduces guest judge Emily Ratajkowski. Following the runway show, Heidi sends Dexter, Cornelius, Brik, Mah-Jing, and Roberi away from the runway — but not before calling out Dexter for his “hoochie mama” cocktail dress. Zac says it was a bad moment and down market, so he should be thankful for that immunity. Here is what the judges say about the rest of the looks:

Nathalia drew inspiration from the chandeliers in the Elyx house, but unfortunately the judges don’t get luxury from her look. Heidi says it reminds her of a teen prom dress “from the mall” (I got all my prom dresses from the mall, am I trash?). Nina agrees it looks cheap, but Emily disagrees. She obviously can see it was rushed, but she appreciates it was at least creative. And Zac sides with Emily; he likes Nathalia’s choice of textile and approach to transparency.

Trying to step onto Laurence’s leather turf, Rik drew his inspiration from the leather apron the bartenders were wearing. It created a more masculine look the judges love. Emily says she’d wear it on a red carpet or out with friends; Nina says it’s out of the box; Heidi says it’s an “eye-catcher” and different from what a lot of women already own; and Zac says it’s smart, although he doesn’t love the zipper up the back.

NEXT: Designer “inspiration”

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