by Andrew Osborne
In Episode Five, the challenge is to create a “fashion capsule” of work looks for strong, sophisticated…zzzzz…huh? Wha? Oh, sorry, musta dozed off there while describing the high-end office clothes the designers are tasked with making (and photographing) for a Marie Claire fashion spread. But the good news is the challenge is team-based, which means lots o’ fussin’ and fightin’ ahead!
And before that, of course, there’s plenty of bitchin’ and moanin’ from the designers (possibly the whiniest bunch since I first started watching PR). They don’t like the challenge, they don’t like having so little time to complete it and they positively hate once again being forced to collaborate with other human beings in teams…especially Icky Strand, who’s dead last in the schoolyard pick’em used to determine the groups.
To show his displeasure (and/or ‘cuz he’s just a pain in the ass), he immediately clashes with his collaborators in Team Six (made up of his own icky self, Dmitry, Alicia, Melissa and team captain Sonjia, who picked first for the group and actually chose Elena…on purpose)!
Opposing them is Team Sausage Party, comprised of Ven, Gunnar, Christopher, Fabio and some nerdy black guy my wife doesn’t recognize (whose name is apparently Nathan). The group’s official name is Team Five, though Melissa calls them Chiffonnies for their love of the eponymous fabric (while Elena calls them ChiFonzies, which is way cooler).
At Mood, everyone keeps running up and down stairs like characters in a French sex farce (and Elena keeps yelling for leather, with a crazed look in her eyes as if she’s starring in a much darker film). Then it’s back to the workroom, where Icky Strand complains that it’s hard for him to have a voice on his team when nobody wants to listen to his terrible ideas about lace.
There’s a brief moment of silence (and a Santeria cleansing ritual) as Kooan’s scuzzy fro-encrusted ’70s disco comb is discovered under a work bench, after which Tim arrives and receives a collective group sigh from the drama queens of Team Six. Yet, despite all the crazy dysfunction, their collection is actually coming together (except for a lacy, bibby atrocity from Icky Strand, which is so terrible it forces me into the uncomfortable position of actually agreeing with the words coming out of Gunnar’s face as he dishes about how awful it is).
As for the ChiFonzies, they don’t actually have much to show yet — and despite the zen calm of their cult leader, Ven, Tim expresses concern over the clownish drag queen bullfighter vibe of their patterns and color palette.
My wife agrees, condemning their collection as “very Dress Barn,” while Dmitry singles out Ven as a “one-way monkey” (before hastily correcting the colloquialism to “one-trick pony”).
He also notes (with endearing Eastern European Eeyore exasperation) that “Everybody hates Elena. Even if they say they like her, they hate her.” (And if they didn’t before, they certainly do after the team photo shoots, where the Terror of Kiev curses and screams so much she even manages to piss off the ever-chill L’Oreal hair and make-up squad.)
By the time the runway show rolls around, the designers are so exhausted and emotionally drained they can barely work up the enthusiasm to lie when Heidi asks if they enjoyed the challenge. Yet despite all the Sturm und Drang, both teams manage to present more-or-less cohesive collections:
TEAM SAUSAGE PARTY
Nathan: “It’s okay,” my wife opines. “Kinda resort-y.” Also: diagonal crotch pleat? Wha…?
Christopher thinks his jacket is bulky and puckered, but the judges wind up digging his pleated skirt, despite all the little threads hanging off it. (Hello? Are little threads on trend now? Can anybody else see the little threads?)
Gunnar: Heidi speaks for me when she notes how the top gives the model “floating soufflé boobs”.
Fabio: My wife comments that his outfit looks “a little more wearable” than those of his teammates.
Ven thinks his look is powerful. My wife thinks it’s dull (but likes the top), while I think the skirt is giving the model some powerful camel-toe.
Melissa: The crazy Battlestar Galactica collar possibly makes her awesome blue dress too Haute for, say, temping…but the wife and I both think it’s a knock-out (and the judges agree).
Elena and Alicia send a boring leather jacket down the runway over a dull blouse and grey pants with seemingly enough room in the crotch for a regulation NBA jock strap.
Next, Sonjia’s nice blue pants are totally overshadowed by Icky Strand’s idiotic flappy bib thing.
Alicia and Elena’s next collaboration comes down the runway featuring, you guessed it, comically over-sized Road Warrior shoulders.
Dmitry channels Season 7’s Milla Hermanovski with some attractive blue-black color blocking.
The final look is another collaboration between Icky Strand and Sonjia, prompting my wife to note, “I don’t know anyone who’d wear that dress. It makes her look very hippy.”
Both teams tie, so everyone’s fair game for Heidi, Michael, Nina and fifth Beatle guest judge Joanna Coles. In the end, Melissa scores a much-deserved victory and Team Six wins the photo challenge (if only for somehow managing not to kill each other).
Meanwhile, Gunnar Deathmuffin winds up in the Bottom Two, but can’t suppress a giddy grin of relief as he finds himself standing beside the obviously doomed Icky Strand.
And so, in the least suspenseful outing imaginable, Icky Strand is sent re-packing…stopping just long enough to inform Elena “I hate your ass” (which, though completely justified, somehow makes me love the Ukrainian supervillain even more).
Next week: …the horror…the horror…as designers are forced to make clothes for women with actual, normal-shaped bodies! Eek!