Designers “Try” Avant Garde

Huge Willy Wonka fan, so the start of this week, this challenge, was a super exciting one for me. The designers headed to Broadway in NYC, the Theater District, to meet with Alyssa and get the challenge details. They went to the Broadway venue for the Charlie & the Chocolate Factory show, where joining Alyssa was Tony award winner, star of the Willy Wonka show, Christian Borle.

One underlying message of Willy Wonka is the power of imagination. Fitting for this week, to push the bounds of creativity and let the imagination run wild, an Avant Garde challenge. The designers would use Willy Wonka as an inspiration to create new inventions in fashion. It could be something practical, but a surprising use; inventive way to wear something new; or an unexpected innovation.

Cute segment with the designers not having sketchbooks, and they magically appear. This would be a 1-day challenge, with a $300 budget. However, there was a pile of chocolate bars, and in the spirit of Willy Wonka, one contained a golden ticket. This golden ticket would allot one designer an extra $100, and Biddell won that honor. After sketching at the show venue, the designers were off to Mood. We later learned the designers could source materials from 3 other locations as well because of the innovation component to this challenge — a dollar store, building supply, or an electronic shop.

With that in mind, Anthony got tons of dry erase markers, while Michelle ordered some foam carpet padding. After some new materials arrived, Anne came by for her check-ins. Of course, Django looked miserable! Anne had faith in some, such as Michelle. She thoughts others needed more strength in their looks, such as Cynthia. Django’s look also received some crazy concern, as he was discussing an apron — I was concerned too!

I am not sure why Django then went in full attitude mode, getting mad at Anthony for calling Anne, Ms. Anne, and then Christina for her look. There was definitely some other designer shade throughout the episode — Dmitry on Sean’s zebra prints. And then super funny Irina calling out Michelle for repetitive designers, but Cynthia thought the same of Irina.

The end of the day was crazy, especially seeing Sean decide to start over! Naturally the morning of the runway was going to be crazy, very much so for Sean with a whole look to complete (not a great birthday for him!). It was then time for the runway! The guest judges this week were Broadway star Andrew Rannells & actress Anna Camp. Overall, I was unimpressed with this being an avant garde runway. I am not sure for this type of environment, a 1-day challenge, if anything else was to be expected. The looks were not bad, they just weren’t Avant Garde…. well most of them.

Cynthia is riding the safe wave, and she needs to step up. Her look was so similar to Christina’s vibe, so definitely wasn’t avant garde. At least Cynthia incorporated more. Evan went with a futuristic vibe, but that doesn’t equate Avant Garde. For him getting extra money, I don’t see it was used wisely. I loved Dmitry’s look, not sure how inventive it was, but it did read super chic to me.

For the judges’ top 3, it made sense, and was fairly obvious. Christina created a super chic look, very bad-ass, loved the colors with the pop of the blue. I wish we had seen a bit more with the music aspect, but overall this was solid work.

Michelle had such a purpose with her look. The story worked for this challenge and I did see something different in her look. I don’t quite get the over-the-top praise for the under dress, but the creativity here worked.

Anthony’s gamer look was cool. It was kind of a throwback in a sense of writing, so really how new is that concept? But working that into the garment was interesting. The judges were right to point out the childhood imagination here. His win made the most sense.

Irina being in the bottom was kind of comical. There were 3 similar pant, futuristic bad-ass looks of the bunch, clearly not super inventive, yet Irina was in the bottom? I’m glad at least 2 of the judges had different thoughts, and this was clearly not a unanimous decision. Given that, there was no surprise she would not be in the bottom 2.

Sean’s look was a clear mess, and Django riding the bottom wave as of late, this was the clear bottom 2. Sean survived, barely! I love Sean, but if the judges were sending a look home this week, it would have been Sean. He was saved because he shows more potential. I am fine with that decision, because he does have more potential than Django, but it shouldn’t be held back that his look for this challenge was bad. His styling was cool, but as Anna Camp pointed out, the look was very much unresolved.

It was Django’s time. His look was interesting, but it was not Avant Garde. The top was cool, the hat was a little whacky, and the pants were a bore. The judges were right to point out that this look did read more cinematic and historical than creative and inventive for the future of fashion.

Designers go Red Carpet Glam

I love gorgeous gowns, so with this week being all about red carpet glam, I was super excited! Alyssa met the designers on the runway, joined by President of Butter London, Sarina Godin. Butter London has a new Glazen collection, creating an intense, metallic look, with a gel texture. This would serve as the designers’ inspiration for the challenge.

Each designer would create a red carpet look using metallic fabrics, while also adding a unique texture. The red carpet at hand would be up to the designer. The winning designer would receive a years supply of Butter London products and services for fashion shows and photoshoots, in addition to the $5000 weekly prize. This would be a 1-day challenge with a $250 budget.

The designers were off to the Butter London studio, to check out the Glazen collection firsthand, and to get some inspiration. Right from the get-go, Anya was not super thrilled. Others were much more excited and ready to head off to Mood, getting a little scared on the prices, but others were beginning to see their visions come to life!

As the designers were back to the workroom, we first re-visited the Michelle/Dmitry drama from last week. Dmitry still stood by his copying thoughts, but Michelle did offer an apology for snapping. Anya was still at a loss, which was no surprise, given her lack of actual sewing skills, she wouldn’t be relying on normal bag of easy tricks. In fact, when she was in the sewing room, it kind of looked as though she was checking out the other designers as if she was cheating on a test.

Anne came by for her check-ins, where we know from the past, Django was less than thrilled. Anne noted a cheap curtain look, making others modern, and giving some elevation. She reminded the designers that there was some interesting fabric choices, but the fabric couldn’t do all the work. Model fittings were soon thereafter, where some designers made some changes, such as Sean & Django, and we really got to then see how messy Anya’s process was for her look.

I’m going to add a new segment in my recaps with Designer Shade! Biddell was hating on Sean’s fringe, being super repetitive. But most shade was on Biddell, Anthony Ryan not seeing how he could just finish so early, and not try to do more. So yes, by the morning of the runway, Biddell was still finished, while Anya was barely struggling to get by. She had 2 or 3 other designers actually helping her complete her garment — YIKES!!

Given my excitement for the challenge this week, I was ready for the runway! There were actually 3 guest judges on the panel, not sure why so many, but nonetheless a full slate for the day — talk show host Wendy Williams, racecar driver Danica Patrick, and model Lily Aldridge.

The judges’ top and bottom pretty much made sense. For the rest, here are my quick thoughts — I didn’t love Cynthia’s print, it felt like too much; Christina’s look felt underwhelming; Anthony Ryan needed more punch in his look and it read very heavy; but I loved Dmitry’s look, such glamour!

How Irina was not the winner this week was beyond insane! Her look was the epitome of a red carpet challenge. I might have personally preferred a little less of a slit, but this look was stunning. The ombre effect was spot-on. This would be on anyone’s best dressed list.

The judges’ selected Sean as the winner. His fringe work was of course stunning. And this look would have been much better had the top been less, versus more. It was certainly a great look, but I didn’t get the red carpet story. I don’t imagine this being a look for the Met Gala!

Biddell rounded out the top 3, which was the right choice. Other designers thought his look, specifically his fabric choice, was cheap. But I didn’t see that, I saw chic glam. I didn’t really care for the earrings the way some of the judges did. They were too big!

The bottom 3 was Anya, Django, and Michelle, not too surprising of a group. Django’s look was originally dubbed by Anne as moo-moo like, so he added a midriff cutout I guess to be more sexy, more modern. It was not a good call. I loved his fabric choice, but he has to know better what to with it!

I don’t think Michelle’s look was as bad as the judges thought. Seeing the hem upclose, that was worthwhile to mention. And my major critique was, as Danica pointed out, the fit was off. This look read too boxy. It didn’t have to be skin-tight, but there was too much flow.

I think it was obvious who was going home though however, Anya. I don’t know if there was anything positive to say here. There were so many errors, it was so trashy, the fit was so bad. This is an embarrassment coming from any All-Star designer, especially one this far along in the game. Shame on the judges for keeping her so long!

Best of the Best — 2018

Many red carpets throughout the year of 2018, here are my top picks for the year!

SUI HE — Cannes






2nd look — Baby2Baby Gala

SHANTEL VAN SANTEN — Oscars Elton John Foundation Party

MADELAINE PETSCH — at the Art of Elysium

2nd look — Oscars Elton John Party

3rd Look — Emmy’s

VANESSA HUDGENS — Dog Days Premiere

VU NGOC ANH — Cannes

2nd look — Cannes





OLIVIA HOLT — Avengers Premiere

2nd Look — Network Upfronts


Final Faves of 2018

Here are a final few fave red carpet looks from 2018!








  • at the Venice Film Festival — Suspira screening














At the Werk Ohne Autor (Never Look Away) screening.

Designers are off to the Zoo

Alyssa hit the runway with a bang, as she strutted out having her own “Britney Spears” moment with a yellow albino python. The snake was of course a way to introduce the challenge! The designers were to find inspiration from a zoo animal, to create a look for a wild night out. The judges would be looking for a runway look that would stand out, attract the most attention.

With that, the designers were off to Turtle Back Zoo, racing to find their 1st choice animal inspiration, because each designer had to pick a different animal. The jaguar was a top choice, and then also an owl?? Each designer seemed good with their final selection, especially Juli who was fond of her “cheeky” monkey.

Sketching was done, and it was time for Mood, shopping with a $200 budget for this 1-day challenge. Anne came in later for her check-in critiques. She really was getting each designer to talk out their process. She mentioned no trashiness or going to the renaissance fair, and encouraged a couple to create a WOW factor. She and Django didn’t see eye to eye again, especially over the color green.

Django is very much not a fan of Anne’s critiques! Model fittings were next and Sean was kind of bouncing around 2 different looks. Day 1 was filled with hard work, but the morning of the runway brought some drama! Dmitry is known for his use of cutouts. Irina mentioned to him about some similarities seen in Michelle’s look. Anthony Ryan then made Michelle aware of this chatter. Michelle called Dmitry out and he deflected. But later, we saw Biddell also point out the similarities. I am not that immersed in knowing Dmitry’s work offhand, so I only saw the similarity when seeing the comparisons on the show. The judges also made mention of this, so clearly it was not just a minor issue.

Drama aside, I was ready for the runway! This week’s guest judges were supermodel Joan Smalls and actress Peyton List. Production clearly wanted some more Dmitry/Michelle time/drama on the runway. Otherwise, I don’t see how Cynthia’s super sexy leather look or Biddell’s mixed media, shimmery look didn’t make the cut.

A few other quick mentions — I definitely saw Anya’s bird inspiration, but I don’t think her prints worked together within her separates; Christina’s alligator look was pretty literal, and the sleeves, as well as the back were pretty cool, but the front was just so blah. I didn’t agree with the judges top 3 looks at all, but I do agree that Michelle, despite the drama, deserved the win.

Her porcupine inspiration look really did look like a WOW dress. She selected an eye-catching print, included some great details in the look, it really stood out. Joan Smalls’ comment on this being very visual was spot on. Dmitry’s look also made the top, and while not horrible, I still felt he was included so that the comparison drama could continue with Michelle. It was different, I will admit that, but I don’t know if it stood out in the best way.

And then Anthony Ryan rounded out the top 3. I didn’t hate his look, I just saw it more as a day or brunch look than a wild night out. It was a great look, but I don’t think it fit the challenge description. As for the bottom 3, it seemed kind of obvious that Django would land there. I was surprised he wasn’t bottom 2, especially over Sean. Django really didn’t capture a lion in this look; it was very much underwhelming. I don’t see Django doing well here because of that fact his work is going to have a hard time standing out amongst these other super talented designers.

With Sean being in the bottom 2 with Juli, it was kind of like the writing on the wall that it would be Juli going. Sean did capture the giraffe in his look, but I didn’t see this for a wild night out, and the plaid print fell flat. I liked the idea, but with the plaid print, and his styling choices, the look read far too casual.

For me, it was very much time for Juli to make her exit. I get that she is a commercial designer, but that generally doesn’t fare well on this show. This look was far too basic and not flattering. And she did attempt to try and do more than basic, and that attempt went horribly awry. Her leaving now reaffirms my point that Seth Aaron should have stayed over her!