Previously on: The designers made outfits to complement a series of dramatic hats by milliner-to-the-stars Philip Treacy. April, faced with Dr. Seuss' answer to rice paddy headwear, made a giant diaper, while Kristin, grappling with the literal orchid that was her assigned hat, crafted a colostomy bag out of black satin -- which got her sent home. Michael Costello won the challenge with an underwhelming dress, and no one was happy for him. Sad face!
At Atlas the morning after the Mad Tea Party, everyone is still hating on Michael C., who totally knows they are all hating on him. "I feel great about winning," he interviews, "But it would have felt better if people said, 'Good job.'" Valerie tells her roommates that she thinks April "really lucked out." And over in the Golden Girls-Laguna Beach mashup that is Peach and April's apartment, April strikes back: "Fuck that," she says, "No one understood my diaper!" April is growing on me.
Heidi is holding my favorite bag again when she appears on the Parsons runway! (I don't know what is wrong with me, but I think I would watch a show comprised solely of people picking names out of sacks. The lottery is really the closest thing we have -- the real lottery, I mean, NOT the Shirley Jackson lottery, which involves people picking names out of sacks but lacks a certain whimsy due in no small part to the fact that at the end someone gets stoned to death. Moving on.) Heidi announces that the contestants will work in two teams of six, which is met with a waterfall of Holyfuckingshit faces. Since Michael C. won the last challenge he gets to choose his first teammate. He immediately picks Gretchen. "Michael C. is such a dumbass," April interviews. "Do you want to hire Hitler?" Ooooooh-kay, so I guess everybody still hates Gretchen.
The bag of names, it turns out, is a total cocktease, because Heidi only uses it to select one person -- April -- who will choose first for the second team (she picks Mondo). After that it's a round-robin selection process in which each designer, after being selected, chooses the next member of his or her team. It breaks down like so:
Peach takes being the last pick in stride, and observes that the other team is made up of "self-proclaimed superstars," while her team is full of underdogs*. Val doesn't mince words: "There is a clusterfuck of egos on the other side," she says. To drive this point home, the editors show us Michael C., who says that he feels good since his team is "the best of the best." Hey, what has two thumbs and can't wait to see Gretchen and Co. get their asses handed to them like when the Mighty Ducks put the smackdown on that hockey team from Iceland in D2: The Might Ducks? THIS GIRL.**
*I will now spend the rest of this recap making pop culture references to underdog teams and their villainous counterparts from various TV series and movies. This opportunity fills me with joy, much like the joy felt by the Ladybugs when they won the championship game despite the fact that their best player was a boy in drag and their coach was Rodney Dangerfield.
**I have to make at least one "two thumbs" joke per season. It's in my contract.***
***I'm lying. I don't have a contract. I don't even get paid for this. What has two thumbs and can write pretty much whatever the fuck she wants?
Tim meets everyone in the workroom with a consulting stylist for Garnier, who is here to talk about hair for the 5 minutes of airtime that is part of Garnier's sponsorship deal, even though the judges will not mention the models' hair at any point. I've said it before and I'll say it again: the Garnier challenge should be to make clothes out of human hair. It's almost as if Lifetime is not writing these down.
More importantly, this week's challenge is to create a six-look mini collection that is on-trend for Fall 2010. Each team gets to pick one theme and one textile to work with (for instance, in my fantasy this might be "sweatpants" and "cashmere"). Team Ego decides on menswear-inspired womenswear in a palette of camel, while the Loser's Club selects military and lace. It is so on, you guys. It's going to be like Annie Hall fighting a gay soldier to the death.
At their first team meeting, Michael D. says that first and foremost they need to respect each other and be kind. Awww. They decide that they'll each create their own look but coordinate the details so as to keep it cohesive. Peach, however, is pessimistic. "No one has taken on a leadership role," she interviews. "Everyone assumes we're going to be on the bottom and doesn't want to take responsibility." Down in Hades, of course, Gretchen has crowned herself the Goblin Queen, assigning projects to her teammates. The idea, which isn't a terrible one, is to have people specialize and do what they do best rather than creating an entire look. But it can clearly go wrong: "We could do maybe a winter short that could relate to the palazzo pant," says Gretchen. Oh no, no, no. I want no part of that family. And a winter short? Seriously, shut your face. You can make a winter short when people start wearing down jackets in August. "The other team has cuckoo drama," Gretchen says, referring to Team Scrappy's aesthetics. "We need tailored and clean." Andy tells us that their team has named itself Team Luxe. More like Team Sucks! I mean, amirite? There's a two-drink minimum for these recaps; please remember to tip your waitress.
Tim comes in and whisks the gang off to Mood, which is notable only because it features a short dance performance by AJ and Gretchen:
Back at Parsons, Team Hitler is already beginning to come apart at the seams. Despite their earlier strategy, Ivy is doing a complete look, and Gretchen is worried about AJ. ("His craftsmanship is not up to par.") There's trouble brewing for the Sandlot kids as well -- April says she still doesn't trust Valerie. Wait, still? Did some dramz go down that I didn't catch? Trustworthy or no, Val still has the best zingers. "A little birdie told me that the other team is doing piece by piece," she says. "I think it's a recipe for disaster. It's kind of like when you have diarrhea and vomiting at the same time -- you're screwed!" (And also, dehydrated.)
By the by, this is neither here nor there, but Casanova is wearing what looks to be a satin turban -- and sporting some serious man-cleave -- in every single talking head so far. Just thought you'd want to know.
Meanwhile, Michael C. has immunity from being kicked off the show, but not from being his team's scapegoat. Ivy snaps that she doesn't have time to explain how a cowl neck should be constructed, and Gretchen interviews that MC is "a total time-suck" and "the weakest link."
After an extended Garnier hair consultation in which a very wise stylist talks April and Valerie out of a mohawk made of braids, Tim comes to check in, starting with Team Military & Lace. Mondo is working on shorts with pleated pockets and a halter top ("I'm crazy about the neckline," says TG). Peach has a blue pencil skirt and is debating how to add color to her top. Valerie has yet to add zippers and chains to her jacket to make it edgy, but it's looking good. April needs to work on her seams. And last but not least is the long-suffering
Norma Desmond Casanova. "Tim Gumms always come to the workshop and say something bad," he says glumly. It's amazing how much a consonant swap can do. Tim Gumms sounds like a greasy juvenile delinquent who hangs out with guys named Joey Nickels and Moose, or maybe a thirties-style bandleader: Timmy Gumms and the Go-Go-Gos.
Anyway, Tim Gumms indeed has bad news for Casanova, comparing his lace top to "the mother of these other women." Casanova translates: "Once again," he sighs, "[I] make another senior citizen garment." Wounded from the critique, Casanova proceeds to have what Valerie calls "a major diva moment," collapsing on a couch as his teammates line up to stroke his ego.
Team Luxe is ready for inspection, sir! Ivy assures Tim that they have the concept down pat. Gretchen goes on to describe the team's "authentic collaboration," showing off pieces like a circle skirt and a "Grandpa sweater." Now, I have nothing against grandpa clothes -- I still have a threadbare sweatshirt belonging to my grandfather that has an obscure regional cartoon on the front, and when I wear it I look semi-homeless and confuse everyone I meet -- but couldn't they have called this the "slouchy sweater" or "oversize sweater"? I love grandpas, but there's a reason the parachute pant is not, in fashion circles, referred to as "the Hammer pant." Some things just don't sound chic.
After studying the unbearable luxeness, Tim delivers his verdict. "You are all really ambitious," he says. "But I've seen what the other team is doing, and by comparison, this is looking very ho-hum." I know Tim is just being honest and helpful, but I like to think this was also a covert attempt at psyching out Team Manifest Destiny*. They are suitably horrified.
*Not a villainous movie team but rather the 19th century American belief that the United States was destined to expand across the North American continent, from the Atlantic seaboard to the Pacific Ocean. It was used by Democrats in the 1840s to justify the war with Mexico; the concept was denounced by Whigs, and fell into disuse after the mid 1850s.**
**I just totally plagiarized Wikipedia. But it was for education.
The models come in to get fitted, and Casanova's model is swiftly dispatched to retrieve him from his tantrum. "I needed to make it work, and finally I did," he interviews, although moments later he tells his team, "Maybe I am too old-fashioned for this show. I just cannot work with sluts." HA. In other news, Chris and Ivy worry that AJ has nothing ready for his model to try on, and Michael C's top is ill-fitting. Too bad the weakest link has immunity, suckas!
It's the day of the runway. Gretchen tossed and turned all night and ended up writing a to-do list in her own
blood feces lipstick. "The other side, they are cray-cray!" Val interviews. "There's no way I would want to be in that clusterfuck mess," April agrees. As if to prove their point, Team Luxe starts enlisting its models to help sew... while remaining as cocky as ever. "We've taken on a more ambitious project, so it doesn't surprise me that we've got the winning collection," AJ sneers. "I don't know if the other team stands a chance," says Ivy. But the editors don't give them the last word. "I think the Bad News Bears are gonna pull it out!" Val decides, with a sassy head swerve. "They have a sweater called the grandpa sweater," Michael D. laughs. "What the fuck?!" I paused iTunes to write that down just now and this is the screen shot I captured:
What the fuck, indeed. It looks like Tim just walked in on a pair of palazzo pants being sewn out of molten farts.
ANYWAY. Out on the runway, Heidi introduces the judging panel, which this week includes Marchesa designer -- and somewhat incongruous Harvey Weinstein spouse -- Georgina Chapman. Let's start the show!
If this photo were used on a missing persons flyer it would read DESPERATELY SEEKING SUSAN! Last seen: Entering H&M. I don't get a huge military vibe from this but it's kicky; I like it.
This top is so gorgeous I'm not even going to fault it for potential nip slips. Is she wearing a bra? Don't ask, don't tell. The pants are a tad too bunched for my liking, but then I've avoided white pants like the plague since the age of five. And the grommets up the sides are supercute.
3. MICHAEL D.
This is actually my favorite look from the collection. Yes, it's a little scary, and the model looks like she might pretend not to hear your safe-word, but it manages to be both unexpected (what is going on with those shoulders?!) and beautifully tailored. It's like some Edward Gorey wraith came to life, got a Bump-It, and joined The Craft, which is totally a compliment coming from me.
Ooooh, looks like everyone got a Bump-It! I'm just going to focus on that glorious pompadour so that I don't have to look down at what appears to be a see-through faux-romper, mustard-colored capri leggings, and toeless booties the color of New York snow. Together, I'll admit, they look cohesive -- the styling is good. But I just can't get behind an American Apparel version of Sargeant Pepper's Lonelyhearts Club Band.
This is cute. But hasn't Peach made a cute little dress for every single challenge so far? I'm afraid she doesn't know how to do anything else, and that the judges are going to notice -- soon.
I like the top half of this, even though the jacket looks exactly like the one my Donnie Wahlberg NKOTB doll (SHUT UP AND STOP BEING JEALOUS) came with circa 1991. The top seems interesting. The skirt and the leggings are well-made but don't seem to fit with the rest of the look.
Equestrian by day, airline stewardess by night, this little lady's turn-ons include two-tone leggings, Tagalongs, and giant cravats. Turn-offs? Ironing; Trefoils.
I wonder if the 80s vibe is intentional. Unfortunately, I suspect not. I can't see the top and skirt too well, but the jacket looks to be very... shiny. All in all this is a page straight from the J.C. Penney catalog archives. At least if the public ever clamors for a prequel to Working Girl, Gretchen can get a job in the wardrobe dept.
Now this is more like it. It's like the second coming of Lauren Hutton, and her legs in those pants make me want to weep. While I can't see the full shape, I want to love the jacket, and even the chevron graph paper-print blouse doesn't irk me because this
grandpa model is owning it.
Aw, this model makes me nostalgic for Bitchface from season 6! I like the pants and the sweater here, but the top looks cheap, not to mention see-through.
Oh, good holy God. Looks like the winter short made it to the family reunion after all, three sheets to the wind. No, literally, that top is made of bed sheets. Ugly bed sheets. Airport HoJos bed sheets. And the... cape?... is one of those suspicious nylon blankets that always -- always! -- has a cigarette burn and at least three troubling stains of unknown origin.
So, my elementary school colors were maroon and gold, which sounds okay on paper but which can look like dried blood and concentrated urine if you're not careful, as you can see here. However, Winona Ryder circa Reality Bites looks supercute and happy, and I like the dress from what I can see. (The collar of the jacket is a little twee.)
The designers reassemble on the runway, and Heidi calls Mondo, Peach, April, Valerie, Casanova, and Michael D. They are... the winning team! YES! Thanks to the editors and a general sense of inherent justice we knew this was coming, but it's still just as satisfying. I actually kind of choked up during the celebratory group hug, but then again I also cried when Zack and Kelly broke up on Saved By the Bell, so it doesn't take much.
The losing team -- oh, how the mighty have fallen! -- slinks back to the green room. Everyone is in shock, and Ivy looks like she's been crying. They did work really hard and it must suck, but it's hard to feel too bad for them after all the smack they talked.
Out on the runway, the judges praise the winning collection. Heidi says it's young and fun, while Georgina Chapman thinks it's cohesive, "but each look has its own attitude and each piece comes from a different person, which makes it interesting." Michael Kors acknowledges that it's trick to balance military with lace and not make things costumey. Nina Garcia loves the versatility factor. And -- surprise! -- Heidi and MK actually mention the hair, for the first time ever in a hair challenge! OMG, I bet Garnier is flipping its shit right now. The judges single out Casanova and Peach for special praise, but need time to deliberate and choose a winner.
"The only thing that made it a 'collection', if it was one" Gretchen whines while making obnoxious air quotes, "is the lace." Ivy agrees that Team Luxe's looks were more cohesive. "Ours told a story," she says. Yes, the story of a girl with one ugly shirt and a geriatric grandpa from whom she steals sweaters.
Gretchen says she thinks they need to decide as a team whether to throw someone under the bus or take the rap collectively. Obviously everyone chooses option B, although AJ says forebodingly, "I hope you're not just saying that now and then out on the runway you'll flip a switch."
Okay, I feel like I just need to transcribe the next few minutes, because you have to see exactly how it went down (some segments have been edited so that this isn't interminably long):
Team Luxe assembles on runway...
Heidi: In your group, who would like to tell us about your collection?
Gretchen (of course): It was really important for us to thoroughly an truly collaborate, rather than create designs individually. What we felt like that would allow us to do is enable everybody's strengths to come out and be supported where our weaknesses were, so rather than have six looks that maybe referenced the same thing came out, we could have six looks that were, to us, at least, cohesive.
Heidi: You said you didn't want to show some of the weaknesses. So, who's the weakest designer in your group?
Gretchen: See, that's the hard thing is that we all have such different processes, and I hope you can be mindful of that when you make the decision that you have to make, because we worked really hard [starts to cry, which makes Michael C. start to cry]... and I don't think there was a weak link. We all tried really hard. And I just want you all to think about that, that we did the best we could for each other and for ourselves individually, and for you.
Ivy: It's like having a baby and someone saying it's ugly! [Ed. note: HA.] I think it's beautiful, I really do. [Ed. note: NO.]
Heidi: Six designers, one of you has immunity this week, and that is Michael. So one of you five will be out.
Gretchen: Can I say one more thing about that? I ask for you to be mindful of who you want to see more from [Ed. note: Damn, bitch, what else do you think they judge on? Public speaking? Orthodonture?] We think that's the fairest way for you to choose because we're not going to choose. We stand united, and we think that's the best way that you can walk away from this feeling as confident as we are, regardless of who has to go home, that that was the right person.
Michael Kors: Quite frankly, fashion is a tough, competitive business. So it's very commendable that you guys have this team effort, you know, going on, but I don't know if it's going to work for you because I think it took some of you down a notch, and probably raised a few of you up a notch, too, but you just ended up with vanilla boring.
Gretchen: We very late in the game realized that grandma had arrived.
MK: That's not how you felt when you came out here.
Michael Costello: No, it wasn't.
Gretchen: Well, we were tryin'...
Nina: So who styled this?
Gretchen: I'll take responsibility for styling, but I also feel that I had to style, maybe, a crappy collection, where I was, like, trying to save it.
Heidi: What do you mean you're trying to save it? Before you loved it.
MK: Gretchen, you are a sportswear-head. Since this is so your world, who had the hardest time where it isn't their world?
Gretchen: Um, I think Michael did. So I helped him a lot. I do have to say that out of the group Michael's technical skills were the weakest. So I had to work with him so much that I had no time to focus on what makes me strong. So the things I made I had to make at the last minute, and I'm not proud of them. [Ed. note: In fairness, Andy and Christopher appear to be nodding in agreement while she says this.]
Heidi: It's amazing how your tune has changed from when we started this conversation.
Gretchen: Well I feel like we all tried out hardest. And we don't know who to pick because nobody was on their game. It was like... everybody sucked.
DUDES. Is Gretchen a manipulative liar or just an overbearing narcissist who doesn't know when to shut up? Is she a true villain or an accidental one? I can't tell.
Anyway, Heidi asks each designer who was the weakest link. Ivy points to Michael, but Heidi makes her choose one of the non-immune designers, so she says "no one." Christopher and Andy also finger Michael (um, not that way. Ew.) AJ diplomatically says that he can only speak to his own weaknesses and wishes he had brought his sense of fun into the collection. Oops, Gretchen hasn't spoken for approximately five seconds. Listen up, people:
Gretchen: I feel like you're looking for a martyr.
MK: Gretchen, someone's going down.
Gretchen: I don't want to go home. I don't think it's my time. I've shown you what I can do and the direction I'd like to show you more, and... I really feel like Michael was our weakest link. [Ed. note: 2 minutes ago: "I don't think there was a weak link."]
The judges, by this point, are tired of the pointless Michael-bashing, and ask the team to just offer someone up for sacrifice already. When they won't, they make each designer point out exactly which pieces he or she made and then, FINALLY, send them backstage, where they continue picking on Michael, who sits glumly to the side like Eeyore after a particularly brutal Comedy Central roast.
All of the designers return to the runway. There can only be one winner, and it's... Casanova! Everyone seems genuinely happy for him so he can't be as annoying in real life as he seems on TV. The Mighty Ducks are all in, of course, and head backstage to relax.
Michael C. has immunity, so is in. "Good luck," he says pointedly to Gretchen as he leaves. I'm not a fan of Michael C., but it was a shitty, shitty game they played on him. He clearly wasn't going home, so the other designers knew they were trash-talking him for nothing. I think just made them look bad. Michael comes backstage and starts to cry, saying how much it hurts. (And while it kind of looks like he's faking it, I think that's just how his face is.)
Christopher is in. Ivy is in. Andy is in. Which leaves Gretchen and AJ. Obviously in this scenario AJ is out. And...
"I would have felt better going if I left for something that was my point of view," AJ interviews. He is in the midst of saying as much to the other contestants when Tim comes backstage. "Sit for a minute, AJ," he says gravely. Uh-oh. Something tells me Timmy Gumms is about to get out the brass knuckles.
"I have a few words for Team Luxe," he says. "I fully do not understand your behavior and demeanor and affect on the runway. I don't get it! I don't know why you allowed Gretchen to manipulate and control and bully you. I don't understand it. And AJ, you've taken the bullet, and now I have to send you up to the work room to clean up your space!"
Um, wow. Remember when I had that idea for a musical version of Tim's life called Annie Get Your Gunn? Well, this outburst opens up a whole new possibility: a DVD series called Gunn Gone Wild, in which Tim gets upset and drops realness on unsuspecting passersby.
Of course, "outburst" is relative; Tim hardly raised his voice. But after last season's barely-contained rage towards Emilio and now this, I think we have reason to believe that Tim Gunn is mad as hell and he's not going to take it anymore. I for one am pumped to see what an unhinged Tim will bring to the table -- perhaps a "Make it work... or I will kill your entire family" or a "Go go go fuck yourself"? A girl can dream.
Ivy says that Tim was "kind of right in what he said" and that it made the other designers have an "aha moment" (otherwise known as an "Oprah orgasm"). Gretchen, meanwhile, has hurt feelings. Karma, baby. It's a bitch -- or at least a farty palazzo pant.
Next time: There are mysterious new models and someone makes a "great big oversize bra" that causes Tim to motorboat a set of invisible breasts. I'll try to get it up by Tuesday morning again. (Say it with me, now -- that's what he said.)
Follow Una LaMarche on Twitter: www.twitter.com/sassycurmudgeon