But, Tim Gunn, let's be fair. You changed the whole format of the show in order to let Nick run over Isabelle. That was episode 5, and in the previous 4 episodes, at no point did the mentors get to come to the defense or criticize their designers. Instead, in that judging session, you allowed Nick to completely influence the judges. In essence, you handed Nick the keys to the bus and said, "run that bitch into the ground!"
And, Nick, your apology this week was less than genuine. "Isabelle, I'm sorry I ran you over and got you kicked off the show. I'm not that type of person. But, you're still gone, and that's a good thing. Please, I'm not letting you back on the show. Buh bye."
Meanwhile, his designers are all, "Well, if he threw one girl under the bus, why wouldn't he throw any of us under the bus?" Not that there wasn't going to be somebody from Nick's team that was going home this week. Because we had a team challenge that was coming up, and of course the producers were chomping at the bit to send somebody from Nick's team home. But, because he got the largely weaker team, and they were already eyeballing Isabelle from day 1, they waited until E5 in order to have balanced teams for this week.
Which brings us to this week's challenge: it's a team challenge, brought to you by Voltantor. Volcano/Titanic/Gladiator. Now you don't have to sit through 7 hours of movie to get that combination, it comes in at a smooth 100 minutes! Set in Roman era, the goal of this week is to create three fashionable looks inspired by Roman times, but not costumes, making something fashion forward, and inspired by The Getty Villa, actually a Greco-Roman museum in LA (I'll plug the cool things that deserve plugging).
Since we're doing a team mini-collection, we can look closely at the three mentor's collection of their designers with a smaller scope.
Mondo chose a team that was relatively forward in their thinking, almost to the point of being future forward thinking. His team is quite progressive in their points of view, even if they come at the same challenge from completely different angles. He is seen saying that materials and flairs will keep his team cohesive, but otherwise he is mainly encouraging the team members to express themselves and help each other out.
Anya has a motley group, especially since she kicked out Brady to keep Nicholas, for some reason. So, she has the can't-design-for-women Nicholas (who chose her so she would help him design for women but she's taking a hands off approach), the completely fashion forward but in his own idiom Shan, and the overly-serious but may skew younger Blake (who created the tampon look last week). Anya is, of course, taking a hands-off approach because, what? Is she going to teach them how to cut and sew and do finishing?? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Damn, that was funny.
Nick has an even more motley group, of which only Oscar seems to have a singular point of view, and Natalia runs a close second. Having learned his lessons of being too hands-on in Episodes 1, 2, 3, and 4, Nick boldly and proudly asserts at the beginning that his team would benefit from having HANDS-ON NICK. This would benefit the whole team, he states. And, he dominates the sketch time. Because, of course he does.
At Mood, the teams all start to expose their strengths and weaknesses. Team Anya and Team Mondo are all about matching their fabrics before cutting, and working together. But, Team Nick is disoriented and Oscar is being completely independent and uncommunicative toward the other team members. Because he has a strong sense of view, but can't figure out how to work with anybody else without being the explicit leader.
The mentors, this week, actually take a huge step back from the show. Nick gets told by Tim Gunn that he has to step back and actually let the team figure out their own problems. Part of that was because he was so late in coming to them for the initial mentoring, but his team was melting down at that point because they wanted Nick to tell them what the fuck to do, since he had taken such a heavy-handed approach in 4 episodes, and at the beginning of this episode. Part of the problem of having a heavy-handed bitchy approach to your designers is that they eventually come to depend on your approval for their sense of self-worth as opposed to being strong in their own designs.
Mondo's team works well together, and Mondo tells them that they need to refine their dyed print. Then, he otherwise disappears for the episode, only making an appearance to say "I love you guys." NOOOOO!!!
Anya's team is all about compromising instead of critiquing. She tells them they need to not compromise their individual visions, then worries about Shen's compromised vision. She makes a second appearance to try to help Shen work out his vision. But, her worries amount to "I hope you figure it out."
Nick's team has a lot of their design elements developed, but couldn't figure out how to work together. They're looking to Nick for leadership, but Tim, who gave Nick the keys to the bus last week, tells Nick to let them drown if they can't figure out how to work together. He disappears from the episode, probably to get drunk. I think I saw him in the background during the model fittings.
Mind you, we're still focusing on 13 different people. Tim Gunn, the 3 mentors, and their 9 designers. So, there is little breathing room for the designers to assert their individual personality. The main characteristics we get in the first half are Shen compromises in a team, and Team Nick's designers are now paranoid.
In the morning, Oscar has already finished his look, and takes leadership to tell Natalia and Stephanie what the hell to do. Nick makes a cursory appearance, but he's been negated as a leader. Fuck off Nick. You're almost as shitty as Anya. Anya makes a cursory attempt to help with finishing, but it is totally cursory based on what comes out on the runway.
And then, it's runway time. Jen Rade, Zanna, and Rachel Roy are back. Our guest judge this week is Wendy Partridge, who worked on Voltantor.
Team Anya: I think, largely, her team was secretly taken over by children who can't sew. It's an incoherent collection of ugly pieces, that I think the judges were far too nice about.
- Nicholas - If I take off my glasses, squint my eyes, and pause on a somewhat blurry frame from afar, I can see what he was going for. The tunic is still half finished, but the top has some nice patterns when blurred. Up close, it's all a fucking mess. The hard shorts with the sloppy safety-scissored top makes for a hideous up close experience in the discount junior department at Walmart. Plus the material mix for the pattern is fucking ugly. The one good thing the outfit has going for it is the low-slung back, which couldn't be worn with a bra.
- Blake - Black witch. This is the best look of Anya's group, but it is borderline costume. It flows nicely, though, and the mantle/hoodie into a strong back with a sexy feminine front is gorgeous. The belt pushes it into costume territory, but it's not terrible.
- Shen - What is with the white gauzy looks this season? Seriously, its another tampon look, only the gauze is on top of the applicator. Just stahhhp. The flat bustline is terrible, the gauze on the top is awful and not shorn well. The back is nice, and from the waist down it's a nice look. But the top needs a lot of help.
Team Nick: OMG, are we sure this isn't Team Anya? This is an excellent resort wear collection, with draping of summery prints. I think Anya actually designed 2 of the 3 looks.
- Stephanie - A nice, summery, Roman beachy resort tunic look with a dreamy, watery print. With the hard blue shoulder accents and the white outlines, this look is stunning.
- Natalia - the most costumey of the looks, but it is still a really nice roman column-based design. With a blocky column-esque top and a flowing blue skirt, it's a nice looking outfit, if a bit on the cheaper side compared to her two compatriots.
- Oscar - Who are you and what have you done with Oscar? This is not an overdesigned look at all. It's clean, Roman inspired, strong, and sophisticated. It's open sides make it edgy, and it is pure awesome.
Team Mondo: It's a cohesive, younger look that actually feels most like a strong woman take on the Roman warrior woman.
- Sam - With an oxblood leather/vinyl top and an interesting abstract red/print skirt, it is a bit on the easy breezy costumey side. It's still strong, but it isn't that modern.
- Asha - Girl needs to edit. She used only the oxblood material to create a roman throwback take on her bitchy future-tech warrior girl. It's a blend that isn't harmonious, though I respect the point of view. Mondo put it best when he said "I want to love it, but it's not letting me love it. She needs to learn to edit."
- Michelle - Another costume style outfit, which truly is more in the Roman vein. It feels like it could be in a movie, which is actually different from the challenge.
Team Nick, despite Nick's terrible mentoring, is the winning team. Team Anya, because of the finishing problems, is on the bottom. In the end, Oscar wins, and Nicholas
goes home should have gone home, but somehow is saved because...who fucking knows at this point. *throws remote*
- Mondo: "We need to take more risks." No, honey, you don't. Your team was a bit more costumey, and was out designed. But, your designs were good, they just weren't as sophisticated as Oscar's.
- Nick: "I cannot take responsibility for this one. It is all theirs. Bravo." (though, he's secretly taking credit for letting them be their own designers)
- Jen: "She's like a mummy. ... I'm just here to be honest." Jen, there's a line between honesty and brutality. You crossed it, but I like it when you crossed it. Just don't be apologetic.