Following her lead in the "noticeable personal characteristics" group, we meet Alexander, a ginger with crazy little plucked eyebrows, Ken, who has a bowtie tattooed on his neck right where a bowtie would go, and Sue, who with her lady dreds and draped earth-tone wardrobe is missing only some ridges on her forehead to be a representative of a pre-contact Star Trek: The Next Generation alien.
There is also a group of designers who emphasize their painstaking fabrication - hundreds of hours of embroidery, etc etc. I predict over-ambitious designs and time management issues. This includes Timothy, who is big into reclaimed materials, Bradon, a former dancer with an impressive beard, and Justin, who is deaf (but has a cochlear implant so doesn't need an interpreter most of the time). He points out how this is an advantage, since he can just turn it off if anyone gets annoying in the work room.
Then there are the ones with "big attitude." The very tattooed Helen spends more time talking about her competitiveness than her clothes. Dom boasts about how she's going to do so much better than all those previous contestants who have dropped out or otherwise found it more difficult than they thought - and all I can think of is Deadliest Catch, where any greenhorn who says that is destined for an early, humiliating comeuppance. Hopefully things go better for her! Sandro is from Russia and seems to be the sort who likes to stir up trouble, oh sorry, I mean "be a truth teller," just because he can.
Rounding out the group are Angela, who has a cute blonde pixie cut, Miranda, who was an army mechanic for 8 years, Alexandria, whose Swedish origins have resulted not in an accent, per se, but merely sounding muffled all the time, Karen, a red-head whom the editors would have us believe is a cat lady, Kahindo, whose habit of making up nonsense French songs will probably lead to Justin turning off his implant as threatened, and Jeremy, who mostly does bridal gowns.
And the sixteenth designer is Kate, who was eliminated halfway through last season. They introduce her saying that's she's a really nice person, followed up by a "greatest hits" montage of her bitchiest comments from the interview room. Nice, editors!
The first challenge is to make a look out of a parachute - after they all stand on a runway, watch skydivers parachute down, and then run and scramble to get the discarded chutes, of course. The editors, in a 1-2 punch, then show, in slo-mo, over and over, Kate falling on her face to get the yellow one. I wonder what she did behind the scenes to get this treatment!
The time in the workroom flies by, since with sixteen people to follow nobody gets much individual time yet. It's clear, however, that everyone thinks Timothy is full of crap. He tries to live a completely "sustainable" life, which is a worthy goal, but he goes about it in that very navel-gazing, preachy way that ignores the impacts on others around him. (Like, he thinks a wood-burning stove is more sustainable than using electricity? And if everyone were living sustainable lifestyles, who would ever buy his clothes at a rate that would allow him to support himself?) Case in point: he reduces his poor model to tears by making her go down the runway with no makeup, no hairstyle, and no shoes. (Though he himself wears sparkly stilettos, of course!) He has some "story" cooked up for his garment and tries to make his model do this really elaborate choreography down the runway, which she of course skips without telling him first.
But before that happens, we have to get to the start of the runway. Tweaks to this season's judging: though Tim Gunn has always been at the judgings, he will now be permitted to speak and clear anything up that he wants to, and at ONE point during the season, he will be able to override the judges and prevent an elimination. Also, now the judges won't be informed which look is which designers until after they've seen them all, potentially allowing them to make their initial impressions without being clouded by liking or disliking the designers as people. And finally, they will get to come see the top and bottom garments up close before putting in their final judgements.
Overall, I think the more casual looks were more successful than the dressier ones. You can make an outfit in nylon look convincing for daywear, but the evening gowns just looked like gowns made of parachutes and not something anyone would actually wear out.
In that daywear category were:
- Jeremy: multi-color cargo pants and white shirt. My favorite look!
- Kahindo: purple dress and purple-and-pink pleated skirt, somewhat like a tennis outfit. Cute but a bit stiff.
- Helen: a bunchy and stiff pieced sun dress. Like her model went on a picnic and didn't come back for a month.
- Alexandria: very sporty and graphic sleeveless dress. Probably my second favorite.
- Karen: a dress with interesting graphic piecing, but terrible fit issues. Like a muumuu that had shrunk unevenly in the wash.
- Angela: cute pink & blue raincoat. Good idea since the fabric doesn't look out of place, but a bit sloppily executed.
- Dom: a cool jacket and an interesting skirt with allover ruching (or micropleating). Probably the look that seemed most like something you could wear out in everyday life and not seem weird.
The dressier looks were:
- Sue: a big bunchy pink sack. Looked like what you would make given a parachute and five minutes.
- Bradon: fairly nice dress with blue in front and a floating pink train, but still screamed "parachute" to me.
- Justin: hot pink dress with a full floating skirt. I thought this had the most successful movement of all the looks.
- Kate: a very fussy, busy, prissy little yellow dress.
- Alexander: an unappealing graphic dress that rode up in between the model's legs.
- Ken: big ruffles on top, pencil skirt silhouette below. One of the more successful dressed-up looks.
- Miranda: a nice colorblocked dress, but uh-oh - it was mostly made of the black "supplemental" fabric. So she did her best to avoid the challenge, essentially.
And in the WTF category:
- Timothy's overworked concept was burned and crumpled in the front and origami folds in the back. War in the front, peace in the back. The back was nice.
- Sandro sent his model out in a pair of shorts that didn't fit, and, well, let's just say that when the model didn't have her hands in front of "herself," a black censor bar was required. That probably made Timothy's model feel a little less mortified.
Jeremy, Kahindo, Helen, Alexandra, Karen, Dom, Justin, Kate, Alexander, and Ken are safe. Timothy and Sandro are obviously in the bottom, and in fact Angela is too. Miranda is initially in the top, but when the judges realize (and Tim Gunn emphasizes - he says as a teacher he'd give her an F!) how little of the parachute she used, they move her to the bottom. Bradon is in the top, and bafflingly so is Sue. For some reason the judges think that shuffly pink amoeba is sporty and elegant.
They point out to Timothy that he'd do better advocating for his philosophy if he actually made something appealing. They manage to avoid talking about what Sandro's pinup-inspired shorts DON'T cover. They like Bradon's story of making it look like the dress is being worn skydiving - flow lines across the front torso, billowing in back. They think Angela's looks like a disposable raincoat, and on closer inspection see many construction flaws.
Miranda is given a warning but is also named safe. Bradon wins! Sandro is safe, leaving Timothy and Angela. Alas, Timothy is in, leaving him to totter off the stage and breathe a sigh of relief as he removes his ridiculous heels. Poor Angela is out.
Instead of a normal "next episode" preview, we get a montage of the most shocking out-of-context clips the producers can muster. There will be camera smashing! Missing people! Crying! Yelling! Famous judges! See ya next week!