The Challenge: Everyone except Michelle gets to travel to a different fabulous European city (with a formerly-eliminated sewing assistant) for the inspiration for their look. (And then rush back to NYC to actually construct them, for maximum drama. And because Lifetime was already over-budget and wasn’t about to spring for hotels.) Apparently, Michelle has to lock herself in a dungeon while the others traipse across Europe, because God forbid Lifetime show her actually appreciating the fact that she, too, is in one of the greatest fashion capitols of the world. It was a mean thing for the producers to do, particularly since people eliminated several challenges ago got a free trip out of the deal. But it was probably more of a blessing to Michelle than a curse, since the budget of $1,000 American went way further at Mood than it did after converting it to Euros. And unlike the rest of the designers, Michelle knew ahead of time what the selection of materials at the fabric store would be like and how much they would cost. She also got to sleep in a bed instead of a plane, which probably helped her more than anything else.
Guest Judge: John Legend, who not only was dashing and dapper as hell, but gave thoughtful, insightful critiques. Bring him back, producers!
STANLEY HUDSON, Winner
City: London; Sewing Assistant: Richard Hallmarq
Yes, it was beautiful and elegant and chic, but I can’t believe neither Zac nor Nina brought up how incredibly derivative it is. My first thoughts were Stella McCartney and Prabal Gurung, though other recappers called it more Calvin Klein – regardless, this didn’t have the originality that I think should be required to take the win. Also, maybe those are sequins in back and not an exposed zipper, but the effect is the same, and I cannot believe how many seasons of exposed zippers we’ve sat through at this point. It’s absolutely killing me.
DANIEL ESQUIVEL, Top 3
City: Berlin; Sewing Assistant: Amanda Valentine
This was good, and surprisingly youthful coming from Daniel, but it was a bit overpraised. The jacket looks sloppy from the back, and the boots looked like thick trash bags wrapped around the poor girl’s legs. But you could feel the Berlin inspiration and that Daniel had really pushed himself, so of course the judges fawned over it.
MICHELLE LESNIAK FRANKLIN, Top 3
City: New York; Sewing Assistant: Tu Suthiwat Nakchat
I loved this look. The breastplate is incredible – the shiny, leather-but-armor-like texture is absolutely incredible, as are the harness belts in the back. I for one liked the painted-ombre effect in the skirt, though she should have gone a little more obvious with it so we could see it a little better on the runway. But the pockets are brilliant, the shape is perfect, and I thought this was one of the most modern and chic looks I’ve seen on the show in a long time.
PATRICIA MICHAELS, Bottom 2
City: Paris; Sewing Assistant: Kate Pankoke
I think we can all agree that Patricia can do things to textiles that a lot of us haven’t seen before. Here’s a close-up of the textile she created to reflect the layers of graffiti in the streets of Paris:
But I think we can all also agree that no matter how interesting her textiles are, that doesn’t make her a good designer. Because this textile, while fascinating, made that top positively offensive to the eye, it was so lumpy and papier-mache-like. And the pants were a total throwaway. But listening to the judges trying to justify their decision to let her show at fashion week was a complete joke. The lady can make a textile, but there’s no way she’s capable of designing a collection. She’s only made one or two things this entire season that I didn’t find completely atrocious, and now she gets to go to the finals? Ugh.
Oh, and was anyone able to tell that this hot mess was inspired by Paris? Yeah, I didn’t think so either.
LAYANA AGUILAR, Eliminated
City: Barcelona; Sewing Assistant: Samantha Black
Yes, the sleeves were terrible and there was something kind of frumpy and dated about that housecoat, and I’m no fan of Layana’s, but I’d rather see her design a collection than Patricia, any day of the week. And I thought they were unreasonably hard on that coat – what made it problematic was the neckline and possibly the sleeves, but I thought the geometric pattern she created with that print was quite lovely and interesting, and reflected the tiles of Barcelona that inspired her.
Judges’ Top 3: Stanley, Daniel, Michelle
Diva’s Top 3: Michelle, Stanley, Daniel
Judges’ Bottom 2: Patricia and Layana
Diva’s Bottom 2: Layana and Patricia