There is a common adage in fashion that when getting dressed up to go out, you should remove one thing before heading out the door - the idea being to prevent over-accessorizing. Alas, the producers did not take this advice and heaped tons of extras on this episode. It's a red carpet gown challenge! It's a teams-of-two challenge! Plus you're designing for a client! And that client is a former Project Runway contestant! And she'll wear it to the Emmys! And the winning designer gets to go with her! Plus it's the Lexus challenge, so each team is assigned a car! And they have to use the color of the car in their dress!
The main takeaway for this episode is that apparently hemming a floor-length gown well is a nigh-impossible task, as nearly every team produces a dress with stiff, wonky, uneven hem skittering around their clients' feet.
Nathan and Sonija must design for Valerie. They are happy to be teamed up, seem to get along fine, and make a pretty, gold-sequined dress, but are deemed merely "safe" rather than making it in the top two.
Mellisa and Dmitry, the two "all-black" designers, are teamed with April, also famous for designing in all-black. They are also very happy to be teamed up and work together, make an interesting, artsy draped silver gown, but are also selected as "safe" in the judging.
Elena and Buffi are quite unhappy to be paired, but seem alright with their assignment to Laura. A large segment of the episode is devoted to their drama. Elena is dismissive of Buffi's skills and tries to do everything herself while leaving Buffi to painstakingly iron pleats into fabric. By the time Tim comes around for his usual visit, they are hopelessly behind, and Tim and Laura's gentle pointing-out of this fact sends Elena into a stress spiral, ending in her storming out of the work room to fume and smoke in solitude. When she comes back she finds a way to sew with the sewing machine angrily, so that it sounds like a buzzsaw. In the end, Elena likes Buffi even less and feels the whole thing is Buffi's fault for not being a good designer and taking too long to make pleats. Buffi ends up thinking it went rather well, on the whole, even though Elena is, and I quote, "a psycho." After all that, their rather stiff pleated translucent-black-over-pink gown is also called "safe."
The team with the next highest amount of screen time is Christopher and Andrea. They are designing for Anya. They are initially happy to work together but the collaboration quickly sours as Christopher becomes irritated with Andrea for cutting & sewing her part of the work so slowly. As the deadline nears, her speed seems to only decrease, with a number of setbacks and mistakes. She tries to make self-deprecating comments and jokes, but Christopher takes any non-serious statements as a sign she doesn't take the contest itself seriously and goes even further over the edge. Their brown dress is ultimately extremely basic and boring and lands them in the bottom two. Andrea makes the situation even worse when, in the green room where they all wait before filming the final judging, she remarks that getting eliminated would "probably be a relief, don't you think?" This elicits outrage from everyone else, and they all cry out at the things they have sacrificed to make it on the show.
Ven and Fabio are not thrilled to be teamed up, but they get along well enough to produce a dress for Kenley that gets them in the top two. They are helped by the fact that she already has very specific requirements for the look of the dress, so it's pretty much just a matter of them executing the silhouette she wants, in the navy color of their car, adding pleats that look very much like the geometric lines on the candy dress that won Ven the previous challenge.
Kooan and Gunnar must make a dress for Irina, who hilariously shoots down all of Gunnar's ideas. Black accents on white? "Don't make me look like a checkerboard!" Hand-beading? "Oh no...don't do that." Kooan gives up on the challenge completely and makes weird, sad faces while Gunnar makes a basic white column dress. At the final fitting before the runway show, they discover a big bulge of excess fabric over her rear. Irina is extremely dissatisfied that they don't seem sorry enough about this embarrassment. As they gather it up and sew it down, she says "make sure it's really straight and neat, ok???", and the camera pans down to show them tacking down a lumpy frown, front and center on her rump. Fortunately, the dress has a train/cape, which conceals it. To the surprise of all the contestants, especially Gunnar and Kooan, this effort gets them in the top two.
Finally, Alicia and Raul, who both hate the idea of red carpet wear, are matched up with Mila. They commit early on to a red and black print, which Mila and Tim then heartily disapprove of, so they have no choice but to scrap it. All they can do at that point is produce a very blah black dress with a red belt, that puts them in the bottom two.
Ven is declared the winner, since the dress he made with Fabio is more clearly Ven's aesthetic. Alicia and Raul attempt to close ranks and accept exactly equal blame. This causes an increasingly intense interrogation by the judges, who want them to declare whose design it really was. Well, jeez guys, isn't it a team competition? Is there no other possibility than one designer would get to be a designer, and the other must be demoted to just a dressmaker? In the end, they finally get Alicia to squeak out that Raul made the initial sketches the design was based on, so Raul is eliminated.
Before that elimination, though, Andrea and Christopher continue their falling out in front of the judges, with he claiming that she actually said she didn't want to be in the competition. She denies that's what she said or meant, but later essentially proves him right just a few hours later by sneaking out of the designer's apartment in the middle of the night, thus leaving the competition.