Jeremy starts us off this week by doing his own recap of the previous day's events - Karen is out because "she f***ed up the challenge." Ken says that he's being very careful what he says to who at this point in the competition, and that his guard is up. He's not the only one - the designers are told that they will get to have a nice brunch out, and everyone is immediately suspicious, wondering what the catch will be.
They do indeed get to have a fancy brunch, out at a restaurant patio reserved just for them, punctuated by a little gloating from Helen over her New Balance win and a little secretive eye-rolling in response. Everyone is tense, waiting for the other shoe to drop. So when Tim Gunn finally appears it's a relief. But fortunately the twist isn't too brutal - the brunch is simply to put them in the right frame of mind for the challenge, which is to make an outfit (day or evening) for a modern Southern woman. This is because it's the challenge for Belk, which is supplying the accessory wall this season, and who's slogan is "Modern. Southern. Style." Also, the winning look will actually get produced by Belk.
Ken and Dom are immediately perceived have an advantage, both having family backgrounds in the South. They, in fact, know exactly what modern Southern women are wearing at this very moment. At Mood, everyone goes for very colorful fabrics, and then in a repeat of the Miranda/Alexander plaid pants collision, Bradon and Alexander both get very similar large-scale plaids, not seeing the coincidence until too late. Alexandria also ends up with plaid. Really? Plaid? Somehow plaid doesn't say "Southern" to me at all but I must be missing something. Dom and Ken also seem to agree that plaid is definitely not a "thing" in the South, leading to a running joke throughout the episode that whenever on of the plaids is mentioned, we get a quick shot of one of them looking skeptical, irritated, or bemused. They did one of those "live polls" during the show, and in fact the majority of viewers agreed that they did not see plaid as something a modern Southern woman would wear.
At Tim's visit, we find out that Bradon's plaid is a very close match for Tim's tie. Tim also warns Justin that combining dark colors with his lovely coral fabric just push it into cheap orange Halloween territory. And then he just straight out tells Alexandria that hers is hideous. She ditches some complicated patchwork she had started for the skirt and starts over using the plaid alone.
We get a little interlude with Ken. He's feeling "not quite homesick," but misses his family. He has a conversation with his mother where it becomes apparent that they're both aware he has an anger issue. "Has that other side come out yet?" she asks. "A little." And in one of those moments where the editors enjoy themselves far too much, we get a montage of the times Ken has yelled at, sworn at, or attempted to silence the others.
Heading into the runway, everyone is really happy with their looks except Alexandria. So we know already at least two folks are in for a rude shock.
Ken's dress looks like a long version of Marilyn Monroe's iconic gown, but in purple, and somehow the proportions around the torso look awkward. Helen's lace-over-yellow gown looks very nicely made but doesn't seem modern to me. Justin's flippy coral dress with interesting draped elements is probably my favorite. Alexander's plaid dress strikes me as a tamer take on Vivienne Westwood. Alexandria's plaid dress has a weird shape and has some kind of odd structure around the hips. Bradon has pieced his plaid in a way that is interesting for the textile, but I think makes the dress too unevenly flexible - it drapes nicely in some parts and is too stuff in others. Dom's evening gown is long and colorblocked, and looks pretty nice but slightly too twee. Jeremy's print dress is alright, but the red jacket makes it look far too old. On the other end of the spectrum, I think Kate's exuberant confection reads too young.
Helen, Justin, and Alexandria are safe. Helen is peeved, as she feels that she was bumped out of the top just because hers would be too expensive to mass-produce.
Now, I have to say, at no point in this episode did I get any real understanding of what was meant by "modern Southern woman." The judges seemed to have gravitated towards "modern country woman" in my opinion. They were definitely not sold on Ken's and Dom's, who both made what they claimed were the kinds of things that the actual modern Southern women, which they know in real life, would really wear. So those two were in the bottom, as was Jeremy.
Jeremy's is not modern or sexy. Zac hates the jacket, Nina hates the print, and guest judge Stacey Keibler hates the length of the skirt. As for Dom's, Heidi says it's not fashion forward, Nina thinks the colors are reminiscent of hospital scrubs, and it's too safe and pageanty. Heidi also calls Ken's safe, as well as unflattering, and she doesn't understand where anyone would wear it. Zac finds it uninteresting and calls it a purple nightgown. Ken is visibly fuming more and more, and finally Heidi remarks that he looks like he wants to roll his eyes into his head. Ken, probably recognizing that if he says anything he's going to completely lose it again, chooses to remain silent and we get some awkward moments of staring.
Praise for Bradon's and Alexander's plaid dresses are universal. We gets lots of shots of Ken and Dom giving hairy eyeballs, since they can't imagine the modern Southern women of their acquaintance wearing plaid (Dom even compares Bradon's to a tablecloth). As for Kate's, the judges all like it except for Heidi who thinks the high-waisted poofy skirt looks too much like a baby bump.
Bradon is named the winner! And then we get the twist. Based on how the judges are acting, Helen thinks they might just eliminate all of the bottom three, but it's more interesting than that. The judges feel none of them "got" the challenge, so they each get one more hour, one other designer as an assistant, and any remaining fabric in the workroom to produce another garment.
Dom chooses Helen, and makes a completely new dress out of the black and white print she was initially going to use for her long skirt but then passed on.
Jeremy chooses Alexander, and they also start completely over, making a tank dress out of two different light-colored fabrics.
Ken chooses Kate, and they rework his purple dress. They chop off the skirt and make it nearly a mini, then drape the extra fabric around the neck and down one arm.
The judges adore Dom's new effort. Heidi wants to buy it right then, Zac loves the print, and the guest judge from Belk admires how it has interest both from the front and the back. They agree that Ken's is a 100% improvement, and is sexier and cooler. However, Heidi thinks it's now TOO short, and the top looks forced. They're even more lukewarm on Jeremy's - it's pretty and more fun, they like the prints, but it's the least interesting of the three.
Nina takes a stab at keeping Jeremy around instead of Ken, since he has a better attitude, but nothing can save him - he's out. Ken stays for another day. Dom not only stays, but her design will ALSO be produced by Belk!
Next time - looks like it's the "real woman" challenge, this time with Project Runway "superfans." Judging from how those usually go, I really hope they all have thick skin and a willingness to look ridiculous. And speaking of thick skin, or a lack thereof, it also appears there will be some kind of blow up between Ken and Alexander in their apartment.