21 September 2013

PR12E09 North and South

I am falling too far behind on my reviews! Still trying to do them in order before watching the next episode, so here goes for last week’s… The Belk challenge. Belk apparently being a big store in the southern US and supplier of the accessory wall this season. We find out about this challenge when the designers are given a “morning off” for a “southern” brunch (French toast is southern?), which is not really a morning off at all. When Tim announces the “Modern Southern Woman” challenge, Ken and Dom, southerners both, think they have it in the bag. Make way for the carpetbaggers from the north!
They go to Mood for fabric and a whole lot of them seem to be going for plaid, much to Ken and Dom’s annoyance. Dom’s cutaway comment is about people in the south actually living in cities, while Ken’s more quotable one is that the customer is “the modern southern woman, not Little House on the Prairie.” Back to the workroom where we get to see the usual unpacking of fabrics and then the thing I always find jarring, but which has become “designer” for me: the tearing of muslin…because it doesn’t merit cutting?

Tim arrives for the critique. The Belk guy does not accompany him, which must be a relief after Heidi’s visit last week. Tim rattles Justin by suggesting his idea looks a little Halloween and opines that the main colour he chose looks like coral on its own, but like orange when combined with the other colours. Tim wonders if Dom’s look isn’t “underdesigned” and calls Alexandria’s “hideous” and asks if she is “going all crazy quilt on us”. Hurricane Tim leaves to send in the models.

Harriet Tubman

If we thought Tim’s critiques were hard, the designers have their own comments on each other’s work:
  • “Helen’s gown is like the sixties threw up.” (Alexander)
  • “It looks like the dress Harriet Tubman wore when she received her freedom.” (Ken on Bradon’s)
  • “Jeremy’s look is just old.” (Bradon)
  • “I think it looks like a tablecloth.” (Dom on Bradon’s)
We get to see Ken skyping with his mother, who asks if that “other side” has come out yet (it has), Justin is making a dress with only two pattern pieces (apparently very avant-garde) and our hapless model is now paired with Alexandria (hideous crazy quilt). Lucky her.

Time for the runway show. The judges, in addition to the usual suspects Zac, Nina and Heidi, will be joined by John Thomas of Belk and Stacy Keibler of the new Lifetime TV show Supermarket Superstar, because I guess there’s some kind of contractual obligation to promote the network’s other programming. (I don’t know about you, but Supermarket Superstar doesn’t conjure up “fashion forward” for me.)

It’s always interesting to see what the designers say about their own looks as they go down the runway (in cutaways because the runway show is “anonymous”):
  • Ken: “Muy bon chic.” Mixing multiple languages you don’t speak is hip?
  • Helen: “No way I can lose with this look.” Because she’s on such a winning streak and expects it to continue forever.
  • Justin: “Keeping it simple, but bold in the colour” Tim saved you — in the workroom this time — from going Halloweenie.
  • Alexander: “Striking, vibrant, energetic…exactly what the Belk woman should be” confident, anyone?
  • Alexandria: “I chose some difficult fabric. I should have gone with something less pleated and had less structure and body.” No confidence there.
  • Bradon: “I take risks. That’s what my work is about.” Nobody does a plaid shirt dress like me!
At which point (after the three plaids in order) Ken is back with his own commentary on how terrible it is that they chose plaid and how they should be worried about this challenge. Back to the others:
  • Dom: “Exactly what a modern southern woman should look like.” Oh honey, I see a disappointment coming.
  • Jeremy: “My look is not only southern, but nationwide.” Has never been to the south and has no plans to go there.
  • Kate: “It’s everything Belk said they wanted. I’m really proud of myself.” Not sure I would be proud of just producing what you think the customer wants…where’s the design?
The “safes” include one of the plaids (Alexandria) and Helen, who is very annoyed at not being on top. Entitled much? Ken and Dom practice pained and angry facial expressions as the judges say nice things about those darned plaids and not-so-nice things about their designs:
  • Bradon’s: the judges ALL love it! Plaid-o-rama!
  • Jeremy’s: Zac says it is not Madame, because that would be positive and hates the jacket. Nina, however, only likes the jacket.
  • Ken’s: Zac calls it a “beautifully cut purple nightgown”, earning a frown from Ken and the when Heidi calls it unflattering he does another look. Heidi calls him on giving her a look and they have a silent stare off for a while. I expect him to cut one of the judges someday, probably Zac. John Thomas riffs on Ken’s assertion that it belongs at a formal wedding into “it went a little bridesmaid.”
  • Kate’s: everyone loves it, except Heidi, who thinks the model looks pregnant. John Thomas is sure they could sell that at Belk’s — well, the south does have higher rates of unwanted pregnancies, doesn’t it?
  • Dom’s: Stacy thought Dom’s wanting to “scale it back a little” might have gone way too far and Nina hated the colour, comparing it to hospital scrubs (good one Nina!).
  • Alexander’s: more gushing from the judges about the third plaid, its colour and movement.
The close-up look section gave us a couple more zingers from the judges, or at least from Zac:
  • Zac thought if you put Jeremy’s jacket on Heidi, you would have Air Klum, whereupon Heidi put the jacket on and did a flight attendant impression of where the safety exits are. Zac doubled over laughing at his own joke.
  • Zac thought Ken’s fabric was too heavy, calling it “sweaty Betty” fabric.
Bradon’s plaid shirt dress was pronounced “the clear winner” (Ken eye roll). Alexander’s plaid and Kate’s little miss southern maternity number were in as well. Backstage, bitter Helen consoled herself by opining that maybe all three of the bottom designers would be out. Luckily Helen is not a judge. No, the judges decided to give the bottom three one hour to remake or start over, with the help of another designer.

Jeremy (with Alexander) started over, making a bias-cut dress later described by one of the others (or one of the judges?) as a sheet with a hole cut in it.

Dom (with Helen) also started over with her pattern fabric and made something amazing for so little time. Some of the comments:
  • “Brava” (Zac)
  • “Edgy yet easy” (Nina)
  • “Classy but also sexy” (Stacy)
  • “A great coming and going dress.” (John Thomas)
Ken (with Kate) was the only one to remake the same dress, shortening it and making a big drapy sleeve on one side. Praise be upon him, from all quarters, even if Zac still doesn’t like him and tried hard to equivocate on the praise.

In the end, Dom is also pronounced the winner, meaning that her save me dress will also be produced and sold at Belk. That sort of cheapened Bradon’s win, but he’s probably just lucky that they didn’t take his win back! Down to Ken and Jeremy. Jeremy is sent home for being boring (true enough) and Ken is kept, either for the drama he is likely to produce (to the delight of viewers like you and me) or because the judges were afraid he might leap off the runway and cut someone. You know who. Next week’s preview promised the former (the drama), so I can’t wait to see that!

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