This week, the designers were forced to work in two teams to create two collections. The winning collection will be featured in the newest iteration of Marie Claire, a publication specifically tailored toward working women As usual, the designers can barely stop snipping at each other long enough to pull it off.
The teams break down like this: Alicia Hardesty, Elena Slivnyak, Melissa Fleis, Sonjia Williams, Dmitry Molokhov and Raul Osorio versus Christopher Palu, Gunnar Deatherage, Fabio Costa, Nathan Paul and Ven Budhu. Nearly everyone says in their interview that they hate working in teams and sublimating their own vision for the sake of the group, making me nervous for anyone who has to go on a job hunt after this show. Since one team has six designers and the other has five, they have to create one extra look, which I have to think gives them a bit of an unfair advantage. After all, won’t the judges have more material to judge Team Six by, making any missteps seem less significant? I suppose conversely, if their collection is heinous, there is more rope with which they can hang themselves. Maybe I’m overthinking it.
There are a couple of people on each team who give everyone else grief. Raul is so insecure after already being eliminated once that he seems afraid to take any criticism at all from his fellow group members, even when it’s constructive. It’s often not constructive, however, particularly when it comes from Elena, who is such a terrifying drill sergeant this week that she makes both teams crazy. Team Five is mostly struggling because each member hates the other members’ work, driving Gunnar to scrap a skirt he was working on and make an entirely new one. Team Five is also working with silk chiffon, as is their wont, which both Elena and Melissa scoff at as unrealistic fabric for women to wear to work. They dub them the “Silk Chiffonzies” and even perform a little song at their expense. It’s all verrrry mature.
Before runway day, each team has their collection photographed as it would appear in Marie Claire in order to help the judges make their decision. On set, Elena is terrifying and when Melissa tries to explain that she is emotionally abusing their entire team, she gets even more defensive. Dmitry, no ray of sunshine himself, sums it up: “How can anyone possibly deal with this?”
On runway day, the guest judge is Marie Claire editor-in-chief Joanna Coles. The two collections have strong and weak points — Team Five’s clothes seem designed for an older woman, with their purple and black flower prints and white bottoms, and Team Six’s collection looks more modern, working with a palette of electric blue and black. The judges are evenly split, giving the same scores to both teams, thus making everyone eligible for either winning or being eliminated. Though Heidi Klum seems more in favor of Team Five, they eventually declare Melissa the winner of the challenge, for an awesome high-necked blue dress she made, and give Team Six the photo shoot. It’s probably the least they can do, since everyone in that group now has Post-Traumatic Elena Disorder.
The bottom two designers are Gunnar, for his hideously redesigned office cocktail dress (it’s as weird as it sounds), and Raul, for his contributions to his collaborations with Sonjia. It’s Raul who gets sent home for a second time, to no one’s surprise. His confidence was totally gone — he wouldn’t have been able to get it back on this show. You can see the winning team’s looks below, via MyLifetime.com:
this is some kind of spaceship or something.