A Challenge Misunderstood

Dressed to the nines…I mean week 9 of Season 12! It’s when the competition really starts to heat up! This week the designers are lined up in front of Heidi and told they have the morning off. Immediately everyone thinks a games afoot. But then again this group has been glamping, had obstacle course games, so why not a morning off? They walk into a nice NYC eatery and find themselves with a pleasant brunch. As they talk, I notice Helen (placed at the head of the table) taking center court. Her confidence has grown leaps and bounds. Is she headed for a fall?

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Tim enters the room and gives them their marching orders. They are to design an outfit for the Belk woman, whom according to Tim, is the modern, Southern woman. Cricket chirp, cricket chirp. What a vague instruction.

Since Tim said “modern,” I’m thinking Scarlett O’Hara is out. Hopefully the designers aren’t feeling limited to Jessica Simpson in “Dukes of Hazard.” Who is plotting fashion-forward Daisy Dukes? Sorority girls come to my mind. There are no Belk catalogs, no visions of ‘the modern. Southern woman.” it just reminds me of the joke: Why do adults ask kids what they want to do when they grow up? Because they’re looking for ideas.

So vague a challenge will lead to problems, me thinks. Most of the designers being Damn Yankees are lost. Ken, from the South, is not—he knows this woman, he lives with this woman, he sees them every day. Justin, also a Southerner, is too polite to be so gauche.

To the workroom.Ken is looking to a maxi dress. Alexander states, hysterically, that he has never dressed as a Southern woman, but sees pants, and a jacket. Dom channels her mother’s family from New Orleans. It’s a print skirt for her. Bradon sees a day dress, with a sexy neck line. Jeremy is looking to a jacket, but is concerned about heading into mumsy land. Kate is looking for a colorful outfit. Helen, something yellow.

Mood! Swatch! I have to say I loved Swatch stretched out, front and center, as Tim gave them the budget, and start time. As the designers run hither and yon, Bradon looks like the kid that lost in a game of musical chairs as time runs out.

Back to the work room, and Tim time! Alexander has switched up and now is doing a “plaid” cocktail dress. Bradon is designing a chic “plaid” print dress. By the way boys, it’s not plaid—it’s madras. Justin is doing a two-piece coral and black outfit. I like that he always pushes himself) Kate has a large print and seems to be in a good place. Ken is working with a purple and is again looking at a maxi dress. Jeremy’s jacket is well received by Tim, but as we know that holds no sway with the judges. Helen has a yellow dress that she plans to have some flower motif over top. It sounds very “Brady Bunch” to me. Dom ditches the print and is doing a basic dress in aqua and sea foam. Ruh-Roh

Alexandria. Is. In. Trouble. Her’s is a plaid, but that’s not her problem. She is lost, she has the plaid print, but she walked away from it and has some odd mixture of plain white with plaid swatches. Tim reins her in. I kinda love her exchange with Tim:
Tim: Do you want a hug?
Alexandria: No, I need prayers. I need immunity.

Now, my mothers part Swedish. I’ve visited there and they tend to be to the point. Gotta love the honesty.

Ken: Purple dress. Looks like a night gown. Ken is in major trouble.
Helen: Along yellow dress with flower applique. Ill proportioned—it would be stronger knee length or above.
Justin: Coral-colored dress. Simple, chic, nice. Safe.
Alexander: Overdone cocktail dress in a madras print. I think safe.
Alexandria: Modern, but fairly conservative dress. Not her best work.
Bradon: A beautiful dress. The bottom looks a little over-worked, but it’s a nice piece. Top Three most likely.
Dom: A two-tone dress done in 1970s schoolhouse colors of sea foam and aqua. Too basic and not modern. Bottom three.
Jeremy’s jacket is teamed up with a simple, but eye searing print. It screams dowager.
Kate has a simple bright print. Safe, but it’s Kate. Top three!

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Overall a poor showing coming from a poor guidelines. The Top Three are: Bradon, Kate, and Alexander (Top Three again because of everyone else being so lost). The bottom are Jeremy, Dom and Ken.
Finally, the group gets some kind instruction, it’s to be a country club dress. I get it now.

Bradon is the winner! The early favorite comes in from the wilderness! Dress to be sold online and Belk stores—money never to be seen.

And out? It has to be Ken, as bad (and mumsy) as Jeremy’s was, and as lifeless as Dom’s, Ken’s Southern nightgown has to go. As much as Heidi tried to get him to implode (“Are the extra security guards in place?”), Ken just fumed. So he’s a bully to everybody, but the judges.

And here’s what drives me crazy: Jeremy is criticized for his “too simple” dress. Yeah, but a couple of challenges ago Helen won for her equally simple dress. Folks, short of Alexandria, Bradon and maybe Justin, no one is doing anything but simple dresses.

But, no the Bottom Three get a redemption. (“The first time in the history of…”) It just reeks of doing anything to keep Ken in the game. (“Mr. Weinstein, is the liability insurance all paid up?”) So, the Bottom Three are given an hour to redo their garments, because they didn’t understand the challenge. Let me tell you no one did.

Each designer gets to have an aid. Dom picks Helen, Jeremy picks Alexander and Ken picks Kate. (Oh God, couldn’t it please be Helen!) Ken is the only one that sticks somewhat to his original design and it’s no better. Shorter, with some overwrought shoulder treatment. He’s a goner. Jeremy comes up with his first-ever modern looking dress. Equally simple, but with a lousy print.

Dom comes up with a winner. Nice print with some interesting detail (And in in an hour!). It’s probably her best to date. Dom, redemption! She too will get her dress sold online, and in Belk stores. Ken and Jeremy are left. Ken’s safe (Yes Heidi, insurance check cleared) and Jeremy heads home. (At Fashion Week one designer of this group didn’t show. Did someone go postal?)

What do you think? The right winner? Did the right person go home?

Althea Harper


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