The Challenge: In teams of two, create prom dresses out of duct tape. There was some nonsense about high school kids voting on their favorite look, and how that would count as 20% of the judges’ choice for the winner – as if it’s a mathematical equation and not a haze of crack smoke that decides who wins and goes home each week. And of course, the high school kids’ favorite didn’t end up getting the win anyway, so why we had to sit through two runway shows of the same exact garments is beyond me.
Guest Judge: Designer Chris Benz, in all his pink-haired glory.
MICHELLE LESNIAK FRANKLIN, Winner
AMANDA VALENTINE, Top 4
Though it didn’t strike me as particularly prom-esque, I agreed that this was the clear winner of the challenge. “Prom” is such a vague conceit, particularly when the judges and contestants had such differing views of the definition amongst and between them. But if there was an awesome scenester riot grrl at my high school, I think she’d have loved to wear this dress to prom. The houndstooth print they created came out beautifully, and the black and white trim at the top and bottom was also used expertly. I’m not sure why Michelle got the win over Amanda – they swore it was 50/50, though Michelle bragged about “choosing” Amanda – but it does look more like Michelle’s aesthetic. Embarrassing hair bow aside, this was an excellent look.
PATRICIA MICHAELS, Top 4
SAMANTHA BLACK, Top 4
This dress won the most favor with the high school students, which came as a bit of a surprise to me. It was interesting and attention-grabbing, but this seemed like a challenge they threw in because they knew Patricia’s craftsy shtick would work and they’d be able to justify keeping her around another week. I think this looked less like a prom dress than any of the others, and I hate mullet hems almost as much as I hate dresses that appear to have been made out of tin foil. So I’m not sure why this got so much praise except for the fact that the high school kids like it, so the judges had to at least pretend to consider it.
DANIEL ESQUIVEL, Bottom 4
RICHARD HALLMARQ, Bottom 4
By far the worst of the bunch. Daniel and Richard both need to kiss the judges’ crackpipes for saving them from the auf, because this is straight out of the 80s and not in a good way.
Nicely constructed, but it walks the line between adorable and aggressively tacky, and I think it trips and falls on the side of tacky more than once.
KATE PANKOKE, Eliminated
TU SUTHIWAT NAKCHAT, Eliminated
I still can’t quite believe this got the auf. I won’t pretend this photo does the dress any favors, but up close, you could see the interwoven denim duct tape design and it looked really interesting, textured, and lovely. This was also one of the only dresses I could actually imagine someone wearing to a prom. And Tu was the only person left on the show whose personality I actually enjoyed, so to lose him in a double-elimination for a pretty decent garment added insult to injury.
Judges’ Top 4: Michelle, Amanda, Patricia, Samantha
Diva’s Top 4: Michelle, Amanda, Kate, Tu
Judges’ Bottom 4: Richard, Daniel, Kate and Tu
Diva’s Bottom 4: Layana, Stanley, Richard and Daniel