For the final challenge of this season, they blow the minds of the contestants by telling them they will each go to a different European country to find inspiration. Start the squee-ing now! Daniel in particular is about to vibrate himself into an alternate dimension. Michelle, being on double not-secret probation, isn't going anywhere - they only have tickets for four contestants, not five. So she'll just have to be inspired by New York.
Layana is going to Barcelona, Patricia is going to Paris, Daniel to Berlin, and Stanley to London. And inevitably, they must each have another contestant go with them. At least here the producers have been kind, and have come up with pairs who are genuinely friendly with each other. Layana will be accompanied by Samantha, Patricia by Kate, Daniel by Amanda, Stanley by Richard, and Michelle by Tu. Tu messes up his own reveal by popping out to the runway too early, cracking everyone up.
The specific challenge is to make a high-end runway look, using $1000 worth of fabric bought at their foreign destinations. (Watch out for those exchange rates!) The editing is deliberately vague on how long they're on their little trips, but it's clearly as short as possible. Each pair gets a little bus tour of the main attractions of the city and then a visit to a fabric store. The incredibly cliched music choices for the "oh, look, it's City X!" montages were cracking me up, though. Berlin got "oompa oompa" polka-like music, Barcelona got classical guitar, and Paris some cartoony accordion music. London, however - was Papageno's song from The Magic Flute? Random.
Meanwhile, Michelle has time to sit alone in her room and think herself into a funk, and then goes on a little bus tour with Tu and buys fabric at Mood - leather and cashmere, specifically. She gets inspiration from the mix of old and new skyscrapers - brick vs. glass and all that. Patricia is inspired by the street art, and everyone else is just going with "architectural details" from the well-known buildings and monuments in their cities.
While buying fabric, Stanley is having some issues calculating exchange rates in his head. Daniel can't find any of the leather or silk he was planning on so has to make do with what that particular store has. Patricia is very unfocused and is buying a ton of different fabrics - and having issues with the language barrier when trying to return some to get under budget. Samantha, trying to help Layana move some bolts around, accidentally hits a clerk in the face. Whoops!
Finally, we get some shots of each pair in turn, having a beverage in a scenic spot, reflecting on how lucky they feel. They head back to the workroom on clouds of bliss, cooing and laughing at each other nearly incoherently. Michelle now faces the worst point of her not-quite-eliminated punishment, as she has to listen to all of it in stony silence. Happily, she's able to recover as the work progresses and she feels better about her garment.
The companion designers stick around as sewing helpers for the remainder of the challenge. Patricia is making a jacket of dozens of different fabrics all bunched up together, to emulate the layers of street art. Daniel is making thigh-high leather boots to go with his look, which Michelle thinks look like a costume hooker. Tim likes how Stanley is making a dress that looks monastic from the front, but has the surprise of a mostly-bare back. Michelle is debating whether to give her (very expensive!) cashmere a painted treatment to echo a soot-stained building, and Tim encourages her to go for it. Tim (and everyone else) is worried that Layana has too much work left. At the end of the day, we're treated to many shots of concerned faces over Layana's shoulder.
But, she does manage to finish. She sends out a black and white lace jacket over black pants and a peachy pink blouse with loooooong sleeves. Michelle has made a cashmere dress (though the dying technique ended up being a little too timidly applied, so she is worried it looks merely dirty) with a quilted leather breastplate. Stanley's look is a black dress with a cape, which he oddly hasn't told his model to remove, so the back detail of the dress isn't very apparent. Patricia sends out a poofy layered jacket and black pants. Daniel's high boots are shown under a dress with the skirt long on one side and short on the other, and a white vinyl jacket.
To Michelle's great relief, the judges really like hers and call it a comeback. Heidi, however, doesn't like the "dirty horseblanket" effect of the painting technique. They also like Stanley's - the glimpse of luxury from the leather sequin lining, the elegant front, the surprise back. Even the styling is good. The praise is enough that he actually smiles! Daniel's also gets a good reception - they like that the white vinyl jacket and tall boots make it look younger and hipper than what he usual produces.
The panel is not fond of Patricia's or Layana's. Patricia's is lumpy, dumpy, messy, and collapsed-looking, and her pants are hemmed unevenly. It's trash couture, but not in a good way, and they are underwhelmed. Layana's sleeves are an eyesore, the jacket looks like an old lady's housecoat, and it doesn't have any of the color, passion, or heritage of Barcelona. The model looks like she could be Layana's mother. The judges actually like just the pants and blouse better without the jacket there at all, even though Layana meant the blouse as a throwaway. Layana doesn't really have anything to say back and just stands there with an embarrassed smile. After they're backstage, she cries about it, and says she'd rather let it stand on its own than try to argue with them.
Next, everyone has to name the two other designers besides themselves they want to see in the finale. Patricia, Layana, and Daniel all name Stanley and Michelle. Stanley says Daniel and Michelle, and Michelle says Stanley and Layana. So everyone thinks Stanley and Michelle should go!
Heidi continues to be Patricia's main supporter, and horrifies Nina by suggesting she'd wear Patricia's jacket on the cover of Marie Claire. ACK! Nina accuses Layana of being too commercial and getting lost in high fashion, and then criticizes Patricia for not realizing that clothes are for buying, not looking. Huh? As usual, Nina's real-clothes-but-not-too-real "strike zone" is reeeeeeeally hard to to hit.
No surprise, Stanley, Daniel, and Michelle are safe and through to the finale. Patricia is also in! Layana is eliminated. Now, it's time to send everybody home to make their finale collections.