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TV Show
S9 E11
October 07, 2011 at 05:30 AM EDT

When Heidi cryptically told the designers that they’d have to “spread [their] wings” in the next challenge, they assumed it might have something to do with skydiving. Okay, we might have had a stilts challenge this season, but I don’t think we’re down to the gimmicky lows of America’s Next Top Model just yet. Instead, Tim announces that the challenge involves something much scarier: pairing up in twos. And even scarier: birds. (By the way, did anyone else think fondly of Anthony Ryan’s shiny birdseed dress from the pet store challenge? I’m still mad about that — it totally should have beaten Olivier’s bathroom rug outfit).

What a horrifying challenge. Let me just say it: Birds are freaking creepy. There’s something about their soulless eyes, sharp beaks, cold feathers, and relation to dinosaurs. The pairs are each assigned a bird that’s supposed to inspire their designs and color palettes. Viktor and Kimberly get the cockatoo, which has soft, romantic coloring. (I’ve been weirded out by cockatoos ever since the very freaky and irritating Talkatoo from Zoobilee Zoo). Anya and Laura get the “seductive, stoic” raven, which is really nothing other than a harbinger of death. Lastly, the green Amazonian parrot goes to Joshua and Bert, who totally talks smack about his bird’s outfit. Bert doesn’t see “high fashion” in the parrot’s garish plumage — instead, he sees “dime store” and “carnivale” — and I have to agree. Seriously, who styled this bird? Other than God, evolution, or intelligent design. There, I offended nobody and everybody.

Another twist to the challenge: The pairs will not be working as teams; rather, they’ll be going head-to-head on the runway. One from each duo will be in the top, the other in the bottom. This brings out the claws — or, given the challenge, the hooked, raptor-like talons — in all of these highly competitive designers. Of course, this new development makes Viktor’s bitchiness kick into overdrive. He’s become the self-appointed sassy quip generator, and the results are a mixed, stereotypical bag: “My wings are spread, girl, oh-kerrrrr?” “The effect is going to GLAM-azing!” “This is like saying hello-sexy-dot-com.”

Viktor’s incredible confidence seems to have successfully intimidated Kimberly. She has a bit of a meltdown: She stains her fabric with dye; stabs her thumb with a needle; runs sobbing into the bathroom; burns a hole in her dress; and starts jumping up and down on a table when a roach enters the workroom. When the pre-commercial teaser previewed Kimberly’s roach freakout, I thought this challenge was stressing her out so much she was going all Black Swan and thinking she was a bird. All this is too much for her — until Uncle Tim comes to the rescue. Is there any situation a hug from Tim Gunn can’t fix?

NEXT: With $20,000 and an advertorial in Marie Claire on the line, the desperation comes out in full force. Oh, and Collier Strong is back. Plus, Anya’s roach-killing skills rival Lara Croft’s.

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Make it work! Please use the accessories wall thoughtfully! Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum guide undiscovered designers through the harrowing rites of fashion.
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