Along those lines, the designers are sent to Rome for three days for inspiration. Needing to be inspired by The Eternal City is an expectation for the collection, but it doesn't feel like a real parameter for a challenge. In the case of Amanda and Sean, I think the inspiration is palpable. Kini and Char's collections feel like something they would have done even without the trip overseas. And no one is ever criticized for not being Rome enough, so there's that. This season lacks the element of needing an unconventional materials look that we saw last season, and I don't know if that's a good or a bad thing. I guess it just kind of "is" at the end of the day.
The trip to Rome is rather uneventful, but it fills the time better than the meetings with families does. The designers get the equivalent of a high school book report on the city and the sites therein from Tim. It was cute, but I was left thinking "Yes, Tim, we know. We took social studies in high school too!" There are a couple of touching moments as Tim sits with each of them and asks them about what's coming up next. Sean's need for a design space before he even gets into thinking about what to design is compelling, but not overly dramatic. I think we all knew he'd have a space in enough time to have looks put out before Tim comes a callin'. During lunch, Tim looks at Char and asks what it's like to be the only designer left who has never won. It felt a lot like "Hey Char, how does it feel to be a loser?"
Other than that, nothing much happens. The group goes to the single most expensive fabric store on the face of the earth, but no one is required to buy fabric there. Tim convinces Char to spend a bunch of money on some of the ugliest fabric you'll ever see, but whatever I guess. Not that I'm suggesting he's trying to punish her for forcing him to explain why he used his save on her or anything. Because I don't think Tim would do such a thing. But you guys can make up your own minds about that.
The big shock from the home visit is that Kini doesn't actually have an entire collection or two created already. He says he hit a wall when he first got back and has been slowly working past it and doing what he does best: well constructed denim. The few pieces he does have are great, so I don't think he has anything to worry about. Kini's family is adorable. And Tim Gunn does a hip roll. I can now die happy, Runaways. Honestly, I don't know that I didn't die and this is just my ghost writing the review.
Char and Amanda's visits are kind of similar in how simple and boring they are. Tim points out moments in both collections where things bump up against being a bit too much or a bit too costume and tell the girls to scale it back where needed. Amanda's designed and had someone create a lot of really nice jewelry that accents her pieces exceptionally well. But she's looking like she's bit off a little more than she can chew. Char's looks don't appear to have much direction or anything to say, but that's to be expected.
Sean's visit starts with a clean shaven Sean having a skype date with his parents, then cuts to a grizzled looking Sean in a confessional and then waiting for Tim. The cutting of these two scenes is really weird and seeing these two versions of his face in scenes that are supposed to take place in the same day (he tells his parents that he's got a meeting with Tim that day) is very jarring. Also, Sean shouldn't try to grow a beard. Let it go buddy. He tells Tim his Rome inspiration is about the betrayal Caesar, and so his collection will progress from light to dark to murder. It's a great concept and a very unique thing to be inspired by, but I don't know about the execution at this stage. The first looks are boring. He keeps using the word "Bright" but the colors are just white and grey, so how is that "bright?" The transitional look and the looks of the murder are nice, but Tim points out that they don't seem to go together. Sean says he might have to scrap it all and start over, but I thought it was just an element of needing to pull aspects of the later designs into the earlier looks. Hopefully the elements he pulls through won't be fringe, but no promises.
Everyone gets back to New York and unpacks their collections and compliments and complains about each other as expected. There's hair and makeup stuff, and then the "surprise" that the judges want to see the looks before hand. Char says "In my mind, I’ve been thinking I’ll see the judges at fashion week" and again I wonder have you not watched the show before? Of course you're going to show a mini collection here, it's how the justify making this its own episode.
Look 1: The pop of the blue back literally made me OMG out loud. I love this. I love it because it doesn’t scream Amanda to me, which is a back handed compliment, I know, but still. The cut of the top isn’t my favorite, I feel as though it’s open in a way that feels messy or lazy instead of conceptual, but I also wonder how I’d feel about it on a less busty model.
Look 2: This one lives or dies by the print. I don’t see anything interesting in the design of the dress, but the print pops in a cute way. I can’t tell if I like it better from close up or from far away though.
Look 3: This one is probably my favorite because I like the color, I think the jewelry works well, and I really like the cut of the dress. Down towards the bottom it almost looks like they could be pants instead of a dress. I like the cohesion of the collection as far as these three pieces go. I also feel like it just doesn’t scream Amanda, which I like. Or at least it doesn’t give in to Amanda’s baser tendencies.
Look 1: hm…. I like how clean and simple it looks. I love the draping. I love it a lot when paired with the Caesar inspiration—it has a kind of toga feel that I appreciate. But I think that’s all the good things I can say about it. The orange fringe piece on the back looks very out of place without any context attached to it.
Look 2: I’d love this look 100x more without the fringe. I think the cut and tailoring on those pants and that top are to die for. The way the neckline plunges and then honestly plunges some more if you look closely at it is just brilliant. But I think the fringe is distracting and makes it feel like the look exists in a no man’s land between dress and pants that I don’t find flattering.
Look 3: This is fringe done right. Granted it’s fringe done the same was a he did Heidi’s red carpet look, but still. It’s the best use of it out of the three we’ve seen. The top I like from the front but don’t like from the back. I don’t know what that is called, but I hate it when tops are cut that way in the back, it looks horribly unpractical. But there’s a nice symmetry in those last two looks where the neck line plunges on the first but then the slit comes up from the bottom on the second. I like that. I’m not in love with these three looks, however. I think he could have done better.
Look 1: No. I hate it!
Look 2: This I like a lot. The shear fabric is perfect. I love the length of the dress for some reason, I don’t know why but that really stood out to me, and I think the two pieces (is it two pieces or just one?) really went well together. I also even like the bow on the shoulder, which I didn’t expect.
Look 3: Is the hemline elastic? It looks like it is a bit, or it’s just puckered in an odd fashion? Either way, I like this look except for the hemline. I’m going to question the cohesion of Char’s collection based on these three looks. I think the last two go together well, but the first one comes out of left field. I can’t bring myself to believe that the same girl is wearing all three of these.
Look 1: My breath is gone. I have no breath. The top is the best portion of this for me. It’s just so well constructed and everywhere I look I see something new and pleasing. The skirt is cute too though I don’t know how I feel about the one band that just going around the middle of it.
Look 2: Another out loud OMG moment here. I don’t even know where to start with this. I have never worn a dress in my entire life, but I want this for myself. Oh My God! It’s just perfect!
Look 3: Ok here’s the thing, I think this look is exactly what it should be. It’s bold, it says something, and it’s so Kini, but I hate shoulder pads. It’s a personal nitpicky thing, I know, but I hate them. So the boxiness of the top throws me a bit, but I don’t think that has to detract from the look overall. As for what these three looks say about the collection as a whole: they say that Kini will win this season. There’s no other option here.
So the judges are just here to offer a little feedback, no strings attached. They like Sean’s looks a little bit more than I do. Nina’s point about him being brilliant but not needing to narrow in on the Fringe is really accurate. I want to see more and everything from him too, and I know he can do it so it’s disappointing to see him narrowing his view.
Heidi points out the lack of cohesion in Char's collection, and no one really has anything overtly positive to say about her looks in general. Nina hates the look that I actually like the most. But nothing here is surprising. They all tell her that the looks need a little more of her own personal style brought into them so we'll see how that works.
And then there's Kini... Every so often, I watch this show and I write these reviews and I admit to you guys that I know nothing about fashion. And this might be one of those moments, because in spite of all my glowing praise for Kini's looks (which I totally stand behind, mind you), the judges hate them. They make points about the styling, which I agree needs work, and they point out that he could do without the coat, which I have to agree with since it's my least favorite piece, but the rest of it? I felt like they didn't actually engage with the clothes themselves so much as talk about overall elements of the show and the outfits. So when they say the clothes aren't sexy enough...well what does that mean for the outfits themselves? I don't disagree with the point, I didn't look at any of the clothes he sent down and think to myself "WOW she looks sexy as hell!" but if his collection isn't meant to be sexy, is that a bad thing? Doesn't he have that right? The fact is the clothes are impeccable, the looks are gorgeous, and a lot of them are also really wearable. So why is he thrown under the bus so much for not fitting his looks into some kind of nebulous poorly defined idea of sexy? The only reason I can think of is that they all really like Kini and want to offer him responses that will push him to be even better. Also I'm betting the show wants to add more drama to the finale. So when Kini pushes through his stress and changes one or two looks and then gets the win, it'll be this great heroic kind of a thing. Either way, I find this highly problematic. His looks didn't deserve that kind of a reaction, and I for one feel like it might cheapen instead of enhance his eventual win because of just how staged it all feels. But that's just me.
The Eternal Thoughts:
--Sean in that sleeveless shirt in Rome did very funny things to me. Yummy!
--Amanda's boyfriend sitting on the porch swing waiting for Tim is the most staged thing on the face of the earth.
--I was planning on pointing out the hypocrisy of complaining about Sean's fringe (which has clearly become his thing) but not complaining about Kini's use of denim, but since the judges didn't praise Kini's denim, or his anything for that manner, I guess it's moot. But honestly, do you guys think that's fair? Because even I have a problem with the abundance of fringe and the one way monkey (hahaha) aspect of it. But I also think that if that's going to be his signature, then there's no reason for him not to use it. Just like I think of Kini's denim.
--I felt like Amanda's looks don't feel like her, but I will say that the color blocking aspect of them did. And that's a good thing because I think that that's something she does well and that I don't mind seeing from her.
--In the "previously on" segment, they show Korina's bitch fest again. They've done that for the last couple of episodes, and it's left me wondering if they aren't doing so in an attempt to poison the well for her amongst potential clients? It no longer has any bearing on the action going forward, so I'm left wondering why they feel the need to bring it up again and again.