This week begins with the infamous button bag - the teams are dissolved and the contestants are put into pairs instead. Samantha, coming off the win, gets to pick her partner first. She chooses Daniel, and by way of explaining that she picked him due to their similar aesthetics, says that they both "like shapes." I picture them drawing triangles together and giggling. In any case, from then on names are picked from the button bag, and each person selected gets to pick his or her partner. Richard chooses Stanley - after which Richard rhapsodizes over Stanley in the interview room, but curiously we are shown no reaction on Stanley's part whatsoever. Patricia chooses Layana, who is skeptical. Matthew chooses Michelle, who is skeptical. Kate chooses Tu. This leaves Amanda and Benjamin, who turn and make identical prissy faces at each other.
The challenge is revealed - each pair is to make outfits (for stage and for the red carpet) for country musician Miranda Lambert, whose name sounds familiar but is otherwise utterly unknown. The performance outfit doesn't have to match the red carpet outfit within each pair. The performance outfit seems like a MUCH harder challenge to me - dresses for the red carpet can safely fall into a pretty well known range and work for the majority of stars, whereas what somebody would wear on stage seems like something deeply personal and it would require a really outstanding understanding of her personality and persona to really nail it.
In the initial planning, Patricia wants to pull upon her Native American roots and have lots of traditional fringework. Kate and Tu are using A LOT of hand gestures to communicate. In Mood, everyone, and I mean everyone, wants to get navy leather. (Plus we are treated to another plug for the Mood T-shirts when some of the designers by them - and I'm a medium, by the way.) Amanda and Benjamin are embarrassed to discover they failed to spend $130 of their budget. Oops.
However, in the workroom, they seem to be doing fine and don't have any "oh, if only we had bought..." moments. Tu, on the other hand, is struggling, and gets a rough critique from Tim. He says he wishes he had more time, but due to his accent it sounds more like he was wishing for "more Tim." Either one could have helped! Matthew is also struggling, in a sitting around moping kind of way. Richard creates a highly transparent dress, and by the time he accepts that it HAS to be lined, there is no fabric on hand to do it. Mood t-shirt to the rescue! Richard chops off the lower halves of two just below the logo and makes a little tube dress - no problem.
Amanda's stage outfit is navy, fringed, and moves really well. Benjamin's red carpet gown is also navy and heavily corseted.
Tu's performance look has a peplum and Kate has made a red leather dress for the red carpet.
For the stage, Samantha made a leather vest and a fringe skirt. Daniel's red carpet outfit is overworked separates that look like an overworked dress.
Matthew sends out a oddly flappy LBD for a performance look, and Michelle has produced a skirt, leather vest, and giant leather necklace.
Patricia didn't manage to get as much fringe as she hoped on her stage outfit, and Layana sends out a serviceable pretty blue dress for the red carpet.
Richard's performance dress is pretty cool, but I think it's odd that it only has the straps and sparkles on the front. Stanley makes a nice black red carpet gown, but it has some weird fit issue with the plunging neckline, causing a bump.
Tu and Kate, and Patricia and Layana, are all safe. Amanda and Benjamin are in the top - Nina loves Benjamin's dress. Richard and Stanley are also in the top - Miranda Lambert (who gets to show up to judge, of course) loves Richard's.
In the bottom are Samantha, Daniel, Matthew, and Michelle. Miranda says she'd rather wear the outfit Samantha is wearing herself than the one Samantha cooked up for her. And she proclaims that Daniel's isn't red carpet at all, and even though it's separates, she'd never wear any part of it even with something else. Michelle's is called out as being too dated and AC/DC, and Michelle mounts a spirited defense that that's actually what she was going for. Matthew, on the other hand, has no defense, agrees with the judges that his is bad, and has nothing to say even after Miranda tries to pep him up.
Richard is named the winner! Matthew is out. In a classic Tim Gunn move, when he comes to collect Matthew he tells him (in front of everybody) that he essentially eliminated himself via self-sabotage.
Next time, it's the latest iteration on the "real woman" challenge - this time with senior citizens. I have a feeling there will be none of the horror shows we've had before of designers trampling over the clients' feelings - these ladies look pretty sassy.