The Challenge: In one day, and with $350, create an evening gown for a night at the opera.
Guest Judges: The fabulous Mark Badgley and James Mischka, of Badgley Mischka
I was pleasantly surprised with Anthony’s entry – it wasn’t a cocktail dress, for one thing, so that was refreshing. I thought the accessories he chose were bold and sexy, and kept the white gown from becoming bridal. The draping in the front is lovely, but I’m not necessarily convinced this is a gown for the opera.
The back is the reason I wouldn’t have given it a place in the top three. First of all, the construction isn’t great. Second, it’s much more bridal than the front, because it’s so much more demure. So it looks kind of like the back to a different dress, and the black shoes and gloves don’t look interesting or fashion-forward, just out of place. And the hair? No.
APRIL JOHNSTON, Bottom 3
April. Sweetheart. I love you so much, but this was a big old disaster. I love your corpse bride aesthetic, but this was a poorly-constructed, badly-designed mess. The bodice is a mess, the draping doesn’t work, the dying came out terribly, and the styling just makes it all worse.
It works better from the back than the front, but that’s not saying much. April was lucky Sweet P was in the bottom last week too, otherwise it easily could have been my favorite potty-mouthed badass who got the auf.
AUSTIN SCARLETT, Winner
Will every episode be spent talking about how this challenge is Austin’s specialty? I know it’s only been two episodes, but after all the “Austin’s corn husk dress is God’s gift to the unconventional challenge” business of last week, and Austin’s disappointing creation, this week’s praise felt exhausting, if not undeserving. And though I never thought I’d hear myself say this words – or see myself type them – I would have picked Michael over Austin for the win. I thought this was lovely, but not particularly well-made, and not as original as the judges seemed to think.
The back is certainly ordinary. It fits her body well, but the seam down the middle is a bit crooked. I like the black and gold, but I think it’s a basic silhouette and design. Beautiful, event-appropriate, but unsurprising, and not exquisitely-made. Worthy of the top three, sure, but the win?
I loved the beading and handiwork on the bodice, but the skirt destroys this look completely. From the waist up, it’s all fabulous flapper, but the bottom half looks like a cross between gaucho pants and an ice skating outfit. And the lavender-on-lavender is kind of awful.
And this was a big old mess. Pulling and stretching in every direction, the skirt looks like it’s fighting with itself. The fit is terrible and doesn’t even remotely take a woman’s body into consideration. For me, that’s two disappointing showings from Gordana in two consecutive episodes. You’re on my list, girl.
It just looks too much like maternity wear for me to take it seriously as anything but. Seriously, is there a woman wearing a tent like this to the opera? I really don’t think so. And it’s a shame, because if it came close to fitting her body and didn’t have that furry madness all over the tits, it might be something.
The back is closer to success, but it doesn’t quite achieve it. Again, that black trim is detracting from the look, because it’s not applied particularly well. The skirt is clearly uneven on the left and right sides, and the train is a bit too long. But I love the sheer back, and if that black strap were constructed better, it would look really sharp. I see some good ideas here – but as usually, Jerell needed to add more crap to it, and that failed him.
KARA JANX, Bottom 3
I can’t think of much to say about this, and I think that says it all. It’s not that this was a bad entry, because it wasn’t. But it’s simple in a way that lacks innovation, intrigue, and a point of view. Minimalism can be powerful, but I feel that you don’t really feel Kara’s voice coming through this piece, and I think that’s a problem. I agree with the judges that there are some proportion issues with the placement of the black sash.
Sugary-sweet to the point of distraction, but I still really loved something about this dress. It moved beautifully, and she didn’t overuse the print, which is rare for Kenley. It also didn’t suffer from her desperate need to make every model look like a 1950s pinup girl. The styling was simple and chic; for me, this simplicity still felt like Kenley, but in a romantic and low-key sort of way.
The back was a little too ordinary, but very well-made. Too simple to get the win, but it was definitely one of the more aesthetically pleasing and event-appropriate looks on the runway.
MICHAEL COSTELLO, Top 3
I didn’t think he had it in him, but holy CRAP do I love this dress. And I hate Michael with a fiery passion, so it’s a struggle for me to even admit that. But the draping is stunning, the belt is fabulous, and the feathered/bedazzled shrug? I thought it was truly perfect. And I didn’t feel that this gown was more red carpet than opera appropriate, as some of the judges and contestants believed – I thought the feathers and glam of it all was the kind of drama that a woman would love to bring to the opera.
The back is a lot more skin than I’d show, and probably more than most opera-going women would show, but I still think it’s pretty beautiful. It supports the argument that this might not have been the most event-appropriate gown, but fuck it. I think there are plenty of slutty opera fans out there who’d kill to wear this gown.
I feel like I’ve seen this dress a hundred times before, and I’m still not impressed. The hair, makeup and earrings are really not working for me. I think I’m just so bored by Mila that I can’t get really jazzed about anything she creates. If it’s got black and mixed prints in a zig-zag, diagonal or cut-out pattern, I’m fucking over it.
Killer shoes and purse, though, I have to say. And I think the gown is a little more interesting from the back, because of the way the shoulder strap meets the bodice in the middle.
I’m still torn on this look. On one hand, Mondo isn’t really the designer you turn to for an evening gown for the opera, so he was smart to pull out something unconventional instead of trying a traditional opera gown that would have lost his voice. I think I want to hate it, because a dress that’s cocktail from the front and gown from the back is against my principles, but in all honesty, this was kind of cool. I think the gloves might have been a mistake, though – they do make the dress more formal, but I think they make the look a lot heavier. There’s only so much white shiny fabric a woman can wear at once.
I’ve come to love this weird-ass bustle, because whether you think it’s a good idea or not, it’s definitely unique and impeccably executed. And the drama moment of her turning around with that beautiful cut-out back and the long but not excessive skirt – it worked, I must say. The fabric is just a little too much like a bedsheet for me to really be a fan of this, but I see what Mondo was trying to do here, and I applaud him for it.
I think this color is obnoxious, and obscures the detailing that went into this dress. There’s a lot of construction and hard work in that bodice, but everything just kind of looks like a shiny satin mess. That’s due more to poor fabric choice than a lack of construction skills, I think. And aside from the detailing on the bodice, there was nothing original about this silhouette.
And from the back, she looks sort of haphazardly wrapped in fabric, doesn’t she? I know Rami wants to show he’s more than a draper, but he needs to pick a fabric and color that will show off his construction skills rather than hide them.
SWEET P VAUGHN, Eliminated
Uh, yeah. This deserved to go home. I wouldn’t by any stretch of the imagination consider this an evening gown for any reason other than its length. It’s a poorly made swimsuit top with a big-ass prairie skirt. It’s got no design, it’s poorly made, the styling doesn’t work, and I can’t even imagine the woman who would be caught dead anywhere near an opera house in this dress.
I don’t hate the back – the overlapping pieces actually look quite nice. But unfortunately, nothing could save Sweet P from her own bad taste.
Judges’ Top 3: Austin (Winner), Michael, Anthony
Diva’s Top 3: Michael, Austin, Kenley
Judges’ Bottom 3: Kara, April, Sweet P (Eliminated)
Diva’s Bottom 3: Kara, April, Sweet P