Seth Aaron goes first. He thanks his family (for putting up with his work habits, probably). He tells everybody that he was inspired by the 1940’s German and Russian military. A collection inspired by Nazi and Soviet soldiers? Ooookay. That sounds like it could be interesting – or a tasteless disaster. Oh, he also mentions that his models are strong and “kick ass.”
Mercifully, Seth Aaron’s collection does not involve swastikas, eagles, or the like. The military influence seems to be mostly in the tailoring and is especially evident in the ninth look, a checked black and white coat. He also uses wide leather belts in many of his looks. His first look is the red dress that he showed Tim, and here we see another Seth Aaron trademark: leggings that seem to be more than an afterthought.
In the first look, the leggings have a blotchy black and white pattern. In the eighth look, a two-toned dark coat, the leggings have vertical black and white stripes. In the third and tenth looks, the leggings appear to be made of shiny black leather. Most of the looks are coats or dresses, but the second look is a checked black and white suit with a scarlet shirt. The jacket is snug and has mid-length sleeves. Seth Aaron’s favorite colors seem to be black and white, but he uses yellow plaid in the sixth and seventh looks, a coat and a pair of pants, respectively. The seventh look also includes a black coat and shirt. The weakest look is the last one, a sleeveless black and indigo dress that emphasizes the waist and hips. It doesn’t quite go with the rest of the collection, which is otherwise cohesive.
Mila is next up and talks about how she was inspired by shadows. As might be expected, there’s a lot of black and white. The second and tenth looks are ones from last episode’s face-off with Jay. The second look is the dress made from assymetrically blocked fabrics, while the tenth is the short metallic dress. The sixth look includes the black mohair sweater she’d shown to Tim. As promised, Mila did use purple, too, most notably in the ninth look, a short dress with wide, diagonal black and purple stripes. She also had many of the models wearing gloves; the fifth model was wearing one black glove and one white glove, along with a tunic and leggings.
Finally, it’s Emilio’s turn. He talks about how he was inspired by the women in his family, and he calls his collection, “Color Me Bad,” which fits because he does use color – a lot of color. He seems especially partial to red and blue, with black and tan being his favorite neutrals. He also uses a blue and tan print with his logo in it for shirts with some of the outfits. The brocade Tim hated forms the skirt in the ninth look, which also includes a black top and black coat. Emilio has made several coats, including a tan coat over a black skirt and print shirt for the first look and an oddly-shaped bright blue number for the third look. The eighth look is a black suit with a print shirt. Most of the outfits look like they’d be suitable for casual wear, but the tenth look is a bronze evening gown with a wide gold belt.
After the show, we’re treated to the usual backstage commentary. Joanna Coles of Marie Claire likes Mila’s collection the best, while photographer Nigel Barker prefers Seth Aaron’s outfits. Anthony votes for Emilio, while Ping, who has dyed her hair silver, roots for Mila. Bonnie Takhar of Halston and Raven-Symone both like Emilio’s looks. Beth Ostrosky Stern loves Seth Aaron’s military theme, while Irina of Season 6 likes Mila’s collection. Jonathan comments that Seth Aaron’s collection is the most whimsical, while Mila and Emilio’s pieces could be sold straight off the runway. Who wins depends on what the judges are looking for.
Speaking of the judges, they chat among themselves a bit first. They agree that all three designers are talented and put on a good show.
The judges call out the designers and congratulate them for making it this far. They start with Seth Aaron, who tells them that he was inspired by the structure of military clothing. Michael says Seth Aaron knows how to craft clothes beautifully. Seth Aaron also managed to step up the luxury while keeping his looks fresh. He also notes the red wool dress would be a commercially viable piece, as it could be worn with pumps as well as leggings. Nina comments that the collection is more sophisticated than his previous work. She loves the parachute-like dress (his third look). Faith says she would wear it, too. Nina was impressed by his ability to use patterns. She thinks he still has a heavy hand, but he has delivered a great editorial. Heidi dislikes the tenth look.
Next is Emilio, who wants to create great American sportswear with great color and proportion. Faith loves the coats, especially the tan one from the first look. Heidi likes the print. Michael comments that Emilio’s collection is the most commercial of the lot. He loves the gown – but notes that it was not cohesive with the rest of the collection. It “jumped from daytime to glamorous without a step in between.” (He’s right; it didn’t go with the rest of the collection. Emilio should have probably made another gown.) Nina thinks the collection was quietly sophisticated and wishes he’d used the gold from the gown elsewhere. She also thinks the tailored suits are a little much, given Emilio’s penchant for the feminine.
Finally, the judges turn to Mila, who explains how she was inspired by shadows and wanted to create a look with texture and dimension. Heidi likes the changes Mila had made since the face-off. Michael thinks the clothes look contemporary and that the styling helped tremendously. He loves the shiny skirt from the sixth look and the “mixed-media tunic dress.” Heidi says she saw a lot of great pieces, such as the white shirt with the black stripes at different angles. Faith likes the black and white scarf from the fifth look. Nina deems the show successful and adds that Mila shines when she loosens up.
The judges dismiss the designers in order to deliberate. Heidi notes that choosing a winner will be difficult as she likes all three. Mila has proved that she could make her retro looks look contemporary. She’s also great at mixing textiles – but she didn’t offer any surprises. Seth Aaron did surprise a bit with his new sophistication and luxury. His looks are exciting, but can be overwrought and costume-like. Emilio made a beautiful gown, but he went quiet and commercial, so his show lacked drama. The judges ask themselves who is the most creative and who has the most to say.
After coming to a decision, the judges call the designers back in. They tell Emilio that he has an analytical eye, but little sense of showmanship. His clothes are the most flattering and would be the easiest to wear. Seth Aaron has tremendous showmanship, but his looks can be costumey. Mila proved she could use the 60’s well, but didn’t surprise. With that, she’s out. It is then down to Emilio and Seth Aaron, who are both deserving of the big prize. But it’s Seth Aaron who is the winner.
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