| Christopher has lived in California all his life, so he was inspired by the coast’s water. Rachel doesn’t see the water in the print. Nina thinks Christopher made nice clothes, but not fashion. She adds that she also wants to see more fashion from the other designers, as well. Heidi tells Christopher that his clothes are “nice, safe, and boring.” He retorts that he doesn’t think clothes need to be loud, and she reminds him that fashion designers have to put on shows. Michael adds that whether off-the-rack clothes are loud or not, runway shows are expected to take it further. Nina tells him that quiet can be memorable.
Andy was inspired by memory itself and wanted to create “bubbles of memories.” He also wanted a more relaxed look. Rachel likes his print, but finds his outfit upsetting and confusing. The shorts are not sexy. Nina finds both the print and design to be sad. She’s disappointed as he’s made such interesting pieces before. She asks him, “What happened?” Andy tells the judges about his visit with his mother, and how it threw him off balance. Michael admonishes him, telling him, “The show must go on.” He adds that he likes the print but finds the outfit to be banal. Heidi proclaims it unwearable.
April tells the judges her parents got divorced when she was thirteen, so she wanted to create a family tree torn between the two sides. Michael says that he immediately understood the concept, as he could see the push and pull of the look. He likes the bodice very much. Rachel and Heidi declare the print is their favorite, but Heidi adds that she finds the skirt unflattering.
Valerie talks about wanting to honor her father with a blueprint design. Heidi thinks the dress is virtually identical to the one from the party store challenge. Michael says the skirt just looks like paper whooshed onto a dress form. He notices the blue knit wool underneath the skirt and tells Valerie that it’s an odd layering. Nina deems the overall effect to be heavy. Rachel dislikes the blue underneath and thinks the top should have been simplified.
The last up is Mondo, who used to make collages for his mother. He assures the judges that the print does tell a story. Nina says she wishes she knew the story, but adds that the look is terrific high fashion. The pants are a bit high-waisted, but are still wonderful. Michael sees sharpness and joy in the color mix. The model looks good even without the jacket. Rachel admits she would wear it and that she loves the styling, but she doesn’t understand the inspiration. The pattern is too perfect, and life isn’t perfect. She wishes he would tell …
So Mondo does tell. The plus signs symbolize the fact that he’s HIV-positive – and has been for ten years. The judges are naturally stunned, and Nina congratulates him for his courage in telling them. Backstage, the other designers also congratulate Mondo for his bravery, and Mondo admits that he’d kept his condition a secret for ten years. He felt he needed to tell his secret, and Nina’s question gave him the impetus he needed.
The judges start by commenting about how emotional the challenge was. They then turn their attention to the designers they didn’t like. Rachel thinks Andy’s design was the worst. The print was good, but he simply fell apart this week. Michael says Valerie’s design was the worst. There was nothing interesting about it, and the blue knit at the hem drove the judges crazy. Christopher’s design was boring, and he has yet to make anything memorable. Michael’s look was simply old-fashioned.
There was a clear top three: Gretchen, April, and Mondo. Gretchen’s print was a good idea, but the design wasn’t enough; she can do more. April had both a good idea and a good print. She just always seems unhappy on the runway, though. (I’d guess that might be due to nerves and/or an attempt to cover up nerves. She’s only 21, after all.) Mondo had both a fabulous cut and a good mix of prints. He also incorporated a very good message: he’s going to work with the difficulties in his life.
The then call everybody back in and announce their decisions. April is in, and Mondo is the winner. Gretchen is in. So are Michael and Christopher, leaving Andy and Valerie in the bottom two.
The judges say that they liked Andy’s print, but not his outfit, while Valerie had simply repeated herself. Andy is in, and Valerie is out. Backstage, she exchanges tearful good-byes with everybody, and Tim congratulates Mondo on his third straight win.
At this point, I’d say Mondo all but has a lock on the finals. He’d have to screw up very badly to not make it to Fashion Week. Gretchen will probably join him, while the third spot seems to be up for grabs. Christopher is the only designer left who hasn’t won a challenge yet, and probably won’t stay much longer.
Next week: Heidi herself is the designer’s client. Somebody is accused of cheating.
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