This episode's challenge is one of those where they have a whole bunch of complicated product placements - I mean conditions. I had to watch it three times before I understood what they were doing. They are split into teams of three (since there are twelve left at this point). Each team must make a high-end mini collection, with each designer individually responsible for a single look - but together the three must look cohesive.
Then we start with the product placement. Each team gets a Lexus (of a different color) they can drive around to the places where they will get their materials for the challenge. They can also use the Lexus as inspiration if they so choose. Since this is yet another unconventional materials challenge (the third one, just five episodes in!), the stores they can go to are a combination homegoods/party store, a vintage wallpaper store, and a specialty food store. But they can only go to two out of the three). And the locations of all three have been programmed into the Lexus navigation system, in order to show it off.
Finally, they are instructed on how they must pay for materials - one of each team must be the chosen treasurer, and spend all of the (suggested) $1500 from just his or her card. And then later the other two will reimburse that person 1/3 of the amount from their cards. I was unclear on why they specified that, since there are other ways to prevent someone from getting ripped off by their team members, but then it became clear - it's so they can show off the ability to transfer between the cards via smartphone. Ahhhh.
The teams are:
- Ken, Alexandria, and Sue (everyone, including these three, immediately decide this is the worst trio possible - nobody thinks they'll be able to get along)
- Kate, Jeremy, and Karen
- Justin, Dom, and Helen
- Alexander, Miranda, and Bradon
The only events of note during the shopping phase happen on the doomed Ken/Alexandria/Sue team. Ken is particularly up-front about hating being on the team. He disagrees with what the other two want to do, such as choosing the wallpaper store as a destination, but when they continue to disagree with him, he just rolls his eyes and purses his lips and doesn't press the point. Here's a hint, Ken - if you don't stand up for what you want, or even bother to present reasons for your viewpoint, people are going to assume you actually don't care all that much!
In the workroom, Ken becomes even more furious with his team when he realizes Sue's ability to sew and make patterns are well below what he considers passable. Then we get taken in a different emotional direction entirely when Tim brings in...Sandro! To make his goodbyes. He does apologize to Ken and Helen, who had received the brunt of his tirade, but it's the hedged kind of apology (I'm sorry, but you DID make me mad!) that leaves a bit of a sour taste in the mouth. I certainly hope he gave a good apology to the crew too, for threatening them and destroying things back stage!
When Tim comes back later for his usual visit, we get one of those little moments that make me love the editors so much. Jeremy is working with some placemats that he describes as being a little "madame" so he's doing something to counteract that - and then when get a quick cut to Ken, working with the exact same placemats, looking over at him with an outraged expression. Tim likes what he sees so far from Jeremy/Kate/Karen, but given the materials they have, feels like they're only at a "two out of ten" in terms of taking advantage of them.
Tim is very concerned about Ken/Alexandria/Sue. He sees that Sue is doing her usual draped/smocked black dress using curtains, and that he is "sick" seeing this - "you've thrown the challenge! Haven't you seen Project Runway before?" The judges do not appreciate use of fabric in unconventional materials challenges. Sue will have to start over. But they don't have much material to use, since they spent so much money on the wallpaper that I guess they've decided now doesn't fit in with their planned collection. Ken is smirking constantly through this, drawing the ire of Tim, who tries to get him to pitch in. Ken of course just uses this as another chance to insult his team, and reaching out as if to a rotten piece of fruit, touches Sue's dress and says it's "the best [she] can do right now." Cut to wide-eyed "glad I'm not on that team!" facial expressions around the room.
Things only go downhill from there. Ken is talking to Alexandria, and when she, at some point, doesn't give the exact response he wanted at the exact time he wanted, he decides she wasn't listening to him at all and walks off in a snit. From there he pulls Kate aside and asks about how team eliminations go, to try to come up with a strategy to save himself. Kate's advice boils down to "save yourself."
Nobody is ready to leave the workroom when Tim comes to take them to the show. Sue, in fact, has to be stopped from further sewing out in the hallway. Tim says that nobody has had a model so far from having a wearable garment before. It's later revealed that the model herself actually keeps sewing back stage so that the dress will actually stay on.
Alexander, Miranda, and Bradon make looks using mostly white and silver wallpaper. Alexander makes pants and a shirt, with a giant puffy stole. Miranda makes a sheath dress. Bradon finishes it off with an exuberant bridal look.
Justin, Dom, and Helen anchor their collection with cream patterned wallpaper and goji berries. Justin makes a tunic and pants, which Dom disparagingly dismisses with "goji berry overload," which confuses me since her sheath dress with giant crystalline shoulder forms has almost as many berries on the waistband. Helen makes a dress with a panniered skirt and corsage.
The doomed trio has a boring collection of black foam mesh and gray placemats. Sue acknowledges hers is a disaster and it inspires an epic stink-eye from Nina as it goes by. Ken's dress looks stiff and pleathery. Alexandria's skirt is hilariously loud walking down the runway. SQUEAK CREAK GURK CHMIRK
Jeremy, Karen, and Kate have a black, white and silver collection, with a large variety of textures. Jeremy's white dress has tinsel down the sides. Karen's drop-waist dress is a patchwork of different materials. Kate's dress is edgier than she usually does, with thigh slits and lots of little cut outs.
Jeremy/Kate/Karen are the top team, with Alexander, Miranda, and Bradon a close second. Ken/Alexandria/Sue are obviously on the bottom.
For the winners, the judges gush over it all and want to know what materials they used and where they are. A patch of poppy seeds mixed with glitter! Pieced placemats! They love the tailoring Jeremy did and Heidi points out how great the model's cleavage looks. They captured luxury and they captured the spirit of the Lexus.
For the losing team, of course they have to recap all their drama for the judges. Ken and Alexandria blame Sue for not being able to sew - and Ken makes sure everyone knows the model finished sewing Sue's dress. However, the judges counter by saying that all three looks are terrible: bad proportions, bad taste, bad, weird, funky, ugly! "NONE OF YOU CAN SEW!" Alexandria also brings up how hard it was to work with Ken, and that she had to "walk on glass." Ken tries to claim that can't possibly be true, but shows his true nature to the judges. First, he calls her "AlexanDRA," then when she starts talking after he has very plausibly stopped talking, he snaps "I'm still talking, so I need you to be quiet!" Oh yeah, nobody will believe you were hard to work with after THAT!
He continues this behavior back stage, telling Alexandria how furious he is that she would dare imply she had to be careful in how she spoke to him. So furious, that he orders her to not talk or even look in his direction! Yeah, he's really disproving Alexandria there...
Meanwhile, the judges are pooh-poohing Ken's garment, saying that his duct-tape-over-cloth skirt doesn't really meet the challenge of using unconventional materials. Then they tease that they might eliminate more than one person this week!
Jeremy is named the winner. Alexandria, for being the only one who tried to make the team work, is safe. Sue is out. Ken...is also safe. So, just a normal elimination. Nobody backstage seems all that enthused that Ken is back.
Next week - glamping, and Tim gets teary trying to make some kind of announcement.