Next, we have one of the most charming segments of each season - the mid-collection home checkup from Tim Gunn. First, a visit to Patricia in Taos, NM. He gets a lovely home-cooked feast with her family in their traditional adobe home, and gets to see her huge amazing studio. As usual with her, she has a ton of different techniques going on. Tim steers her away from the most literal and crafty of the things she shows him - a bunch of little paintings she was going to piece together.
Next, he goes to Michelle in Portland. He likes her lone wolf/huntress/final kill collection, but warns her from over-designing. In particular he is not so sure about a sweater with a literal bleeding heart image knit into it. Michelle puts up a confident face for Tim, but confides to the camera that she is way behind where she wants to be.
Next, we're off to see Daniel in Austin, where he's grown Neil Gaiman hair. (Or as Tim Gunn describes it, "you look like a chia pet!") Daniel's inspirations are the cosmos (i.e. astronomical images), Berlin, and Salvador Dali. Tim likes it, but warns him off one light blue cashmere jacket that he can't heap enough insults on - it's simply horrible, brings down the collection, get rid of it!!
With Stanley, the item Tim gets him to edit out is an orange dress. His inspirations are the sixties and Renaissance Spain, and he has "so much fab, he has to edit it down," to which Tim replies "It's a high-class problem!" Tim also lets Stanley know that, to each of the other three designers, HE is the number one competition.
Fast forward to just a few days before the final show, and the designers are summoned to a penthouse in New York. It turns out Daniel is still holding a bit of a grudge with Michelle about their time together (i.e. the whole "21-year-old" rant), and they have to have a very awkward conversation about leaving the past in the past before it gets smoothed over again. Next, it's off to the workroom so everyone can peek at what everyone else has done so far. It's immediately apparent that Stanley has a ton of work to do. Patricia thinks Daniel's is too safe. Daniel thinks Michelle's is trying too hard. Stanley simply notes that Patricia's is "not [his] style." Michelle thinks Stanley has set himself up for failure, since the producers are sure to spring something on them that will interfere with all his remaining sewing.
The task before them now is to pick three looks to send out as a mini collection, which will be the basis of the judges deciding the final three. And once again they get other designers as sewing helpers. Stanley is happy to get Richard again - apparently Richard's supposedly limited skill set is still what Richard needs even though Patricia found it utterly lacking for her purposes. Daniel is pleased to work with Samantha, and hopes she will help youthen up his work. Michelle is happy with Amanda, and Patricia is also happy with the (very pregnant!) Layana, and is ready to have her plunge right in and sew on sequins.
Tim warns of Michelle from including ALL of the clip-on bags that go on one of her coats. She decides to ignore that advice, however, since she can always remove them during the judging if the judges think it's too much. She sees that Stanley's collection has that Old Hollywood glamour but "the volume is not turned up." Tim has tried to advise Stanley to show a little more skin (on his models, that is, not himself...) but Stanley isn't buying it since it is, after all, a collection for fall.
Patricia shows off her amazing horsehair headpieces. Tim Gunn looks at them silently, blank-faced, for a long moment. Finally, he says, "I'm having a positive response." Well, I guess most people would have smiled and said "I like it!" Her clothes, however, are not quite coalescing. She still has a lot in progress, so her options for the first three looks are limited. Tim does convince her to not use the plaid leather shirt, as it doesn't seem to go with her other two and looks "lumberjack-y."
Daniel is not seeming worried even though he's having lots of fit issues with heavy fabrics that can't be let out. Michelle also wishes she had left more seam allowance in some of her pants. Layana is very concerned about Patricia's stuff and has whispered conferences with Samantha while Patricia is in the sewing room. Stanley is getting very stressed about finishing his garments, so he's getting in barking mode again with Richard, causing the other designers to roll their eyes.
But, as always, they do all get their stuff walking down the runway.
- A lace jacket, bronze shirt, and shiny pants
- A gold dress with black beading around the neckline - this was by far my favorite of this three.
- A black leather coat over a top and skirt with huge rhinestones
- A dress with a leather bodice and feather-printed skirt, with a floaty feather-printed scarf
- The knockout look - black leather pants and cape, with horse-hair tufts
- A blue chiffon dress covered in square petals all over, and both large and small sequins - with that head piece. It had some good bounce when the model walked!
- A plunging peplum jacket and leather capri pants - styled with a fedora that somehow makes it all look like a very luxe Raiden from Mortal Kombat.
- A very blah black knit sweater with tuxedo pants with a stingray-skin stripe down the side
- A black apron dress with more stingray on the T-back
- A sweater knit with a geometric wolf pattern, with a slinky blouse, jeans, and leather CHAPS!
- A silk dress with a quilted breastplate and neoprene skirt
- The black coat with built-in hardware allowing three (or four?) different bags to be clipped on, with quilted pants
Patricia's collection was definitely the most like clothes I would ever want to wear. Michelle's had a very strong steampunk/Firefly vibe going on. Daniel's and Stanley's were much more conventional - the shiny black clothes you see in magazines all the time.
The judges are pretty happy with Michelle's. They wish for more color, and do indeed think all the bags together on the coat is too much, but like the range (casual to dressy) and love the wolf sweater. Overall their comments sound like advice on how to style it (like putting a shirt underneath the jacket!) than criticisms that could lead to an elimination.
Daniel included stingray skin on all of his outfits, which is apparently expensive and very hard to deal with. The judges appreciate that he took on that challenge, but are underwhelmed. They've seen that dress many times and the sweater has no shape or drama. They deem his effort the most disappointing.
Their issues with Stanley are much the same as with Daniel. Not enough ideas, too little wow, proportions not quite sexy or modern, not young or hip. Some elements, like the zipper up the back of the skirt, are passé. With Stanley though, they feel the styling is a large part of the issue, and they do like the cohesiveness and luxuriousness.
For Patricia, as usual Heidi loves her (especially that cape!) and Nina can barely contain her rage that such a person is still on the show. The blue dress (with headpiece) is described as a Tina Turner Smurf, or something out of Dr Seuss. They aren't fond of her styling and get the sense from this three-look sample that there's no way her full collection could be cohesive. There are special details, but they get overshadowed. Nina is just not buying it, but Heidi says she'd rather see Patricia's show than "one of the snooze boys!"
Backstage, Michelle has convinced herself that they're not going to eliminate anyone - that all four will get to show their collections and be considered. Which brings up the question - what was the plan with the eliminations? If Michelle hadn't been given her second chance and had been eliminated for her so-called "t-shirt and pants", then we would have been down to three at this point already. So were they already planning on leaving one designer behind in New York for the "whirlwind European tour" episode? Or was it really an unplanned reprieve they way they would have us believe?
Michelle is in. Patricia is in. (Apparently Heidi carried the point!) Stanley is in. And, alas, Michelle is wrong - Daniel is out. The previews for part two of the finale would have us believe that Stanley still has a TON of work left to do on the rest of his collection. Plus, Michael Kors will be back to judge the finale! In celebration, go watch his most iconic quips.