Longtime PR watchers know that the unconventional materials challenges are often the most entertaining, giving the designers the opportunity to shine bright or bomb big. Heidi gives the group a clue, saying that this week they will "unleash their creativity." Joshua McKinley's word association immediately has him musing about the possibility of this challenge revolving around S&M. Yep, you guessed it, Josh M. -- Tim Gunn is going to take you to a fetish boutique this week.
Of course the "unleash" reference is a clue to where the designers will find their source materials this week: Petland Discounts. Tim unleashes the designers in the pet outlet, giving them a budget of $300 each and a warning that the judges do not like it when designers rely on fabrics for the unconventional design challenges.
Fallene thinks she has an advantage in this challenge, saying, "I love playful, whimsical, humorous; I don't take fashion too seriously." Bert hates this challenge immediately and lets us know that he considers his immunity carte blanche to phone this one in.
The general consensus as the designers head to the workroom: No one is excited to design, but they are excited to see what everyone else designs. Let the pet puns and design fun begin!
The unconventional challenge makes it more difficult to judge what exactly is happening in the workroom. Everything looks pretty arts-and-crafts, because it is. Several designers are dyeing pee-pee pads (Bryce, Viktor) in hopes of manipulating them into fabric, while others are trying to wrestle dog food bags (Julie) into submission. Laura Kathleen -- who I always call "Minnesota Barbie" in my notes--is making a skirt out of a cone-shaped dog collar. Anthony Ryan has a cool thing going on with birdseed, but I have doubts about his using grass for a skirt.
Olivier says he is "the opposite of craft things" as he uses dog bedding and hamster shavings to create a top and a skirt with an ombré effect. I'm curious about Olivier's accent: He is 22, and he left Ohio at 16 to explore the world, going to school in London and Milan. That leaves 6 years to end up with his British/Italian/something unidentifiable hybrid accent. I want to know more about him in general.
Everyone looks like they are making a school project, but the best so far are Anthony Ryan and Olivier, mostly because theirs are the only ones that look like clothes.
Minnesota Barbie scraps her dog collar skirt after noticing serious amounts of model ass-cheek hanging out. She starts sewing together corrugated cardboard strips at the last hour. Anthony Ryan scraps the grass skirt but continues making his birdseed dress, eventually making the inevitable "this is for the birds" joke.
The workroom is a mess of gross pet store materials, and the glue guns are out in force. Bert's dress looks like a fancy towel with ruffles, and when the styling begins and Bert says he wants "casual and elegant" -- problem solved, Bert! You're young, fresh and modern, just like that.
Minnesota Barbie turned me off earlier with a speech about how she's been shopping at Neiman Marcus since she was "in single digits," her way of saying "young." I can't argue with Laura Kathleen when she says, "Hasn't Bryce learned the judges don't do hankies in a wind tunnel?" because his pee-pee pad napkin skirt is hideous. Before the models hit the runway, Cecelia comments, "I just don't want to look like the dog on the catwalk." Punny!
This week's guest judge is Stacey Bendet of Alice + Olivia. Watching all the looks come down the runway, it's easy to see what looks great -- Olivier, Anthony Ryan, Viktor and Anya all send down beautiful garments. It's also easy to see what doesn't look great -- Bert, but he has immunity so who cares, Josh C.'s look is boring, and Bryce's aqua-blue pee-pee pad dress will definitely be in the bottom.
Before dismissing the safe designers, Heidi warns Bert that he is lucky he has immunity, but doesn't call him out as much as I thought she would for his lazy-ass design.
Top and Bottom 3: Judges' Feedback
Anthony Ryan: Heidi likes the silhouette, calling it strong and modern, and she liked the way the seeds look beaded/embroidered. Stacey Bendet says, "I love this. It's interesting, has a chicness to it." Kors says the model could walk into a party in that dress. Nina loves the dramatic collar and the styling.
Olivier: Nina loves this look, the way he combined texture with simple and dramatic shape, and calls it editorial, her highest compliment. Kors loves the silhouette & the ombré and says it has a sense of tailoring. Heidi calls it sophisticated, and Stacey Bendet loves it.
Joshua M: Nina loves it, Heidi loves it but hates the crazy-bright makeup. Stacey Bendet loves the use of the aquarium rock top. Kors says it's fabulous, criticizes the accessories and says the model looks like "Sea Vixen Barbie."
Bryce: Kors notes that "we have seen more ugly napkin clothes over the years, it never looks right. The styling is making it even worse." Nina says the model looks like she's from the Blue Man Group, and that the texture on top plus the volume on bottom is an explosion without balance. Heidi asks: Who is this girl, where is she going? Bryce doesn't know, which doesn't bode well. His look is universally hated.
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Joshua C: Heidi thinks he used too much normal material (umbrella materials). Kors says he used conventional materials in conventional ways. Stacey Bendet says the dress is "'90s bar scene." Ouch.
Fallene: Heidi says the silhouette is too simple. Nina thinks the color combination looks dated. Kors says there is nothing interesting about the materials, she looks like she's at an autumn harvest festival.
The winner: Olivier, although Heidi makes a point of telling Anthony Ryan his look was her favorite.
Out: Joshua C., who looks devastated, if not surprised.