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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Couture Galore
By Leila Cohan



















We begin in the workroom in Parsons Paris with the love of my life, Ms. Catherine Malandrino. She tells them that their next task will be to create a couture gown. Tim Gunn drops some science about what that entails. Although we use the word “couture” to refer to any hand-sewn garment, only ten design houses, licensed by the French government, are officially allowed to call themselves couture. The designers will be expected to use couture techniques in the assembly of their gowns and they will have only two days. On Sunday night, Catherine will throw a party to show off the gowns.


















The designers settle into their hotel. Everyone is psyched to be in Paris. Tim takes them out to dinner, near the Louvre. I’ve been there!



















The next morning, everyone looks a little stressed. Tim takes them to sketch outside of Sacre Couer in Montmartre. Not for nothing, but Sacre Couer is a) incredibly beautiful and b) the worldwide headquarters of getting pickpocketed. Watch your wallets, designers! As they sketch, Michael reveals that he’s never done hand-sewing before and Vincent claims that he’s trained in couture dress-making and “it turns me on.” The Vincent skeeve-watch starts five minutes in, guys.



















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At the fabric store, the designers are given 300 Euros, or $375. Back in the workroom, the designers receive model cards for their French models, but are warned that they will have to refit the dresses on their models in New York. Tim leaves the workroom, but not before teaching us all how to say “make it work” in French. And I really must say, for someone so sophisticated and worldly, Tim’s French accent blows.

The designers busily drape. Uli and Laura are keeping it simple. Kayne is not. Meanwhile, Vincent’s looks like a couch. He has this awful tapestry he’s using for a skirt. It’s really just dreadful.

On the morning of Day 2, Tim comes to check in. He’s concerned about Michael’s use of time and he urges Laura to take the collar of her dress really over the top. By the by, Laura is suddenly showing like crazy. I understand that this is what happens when you’ve had several children, but damn.

Tim is concerned by the visible boning on Kayne’s dress. Interestingly, the opposite of the usual situation goes down here. Usually, when Tim doesn’t like something, Kayne doesn’t like it either, but is unsure of how to fix it. In this case, however, Kayne loves the gown and it’s really a taste issue.

In the workroom, Laura worries that Kayne will get kicked off. Jeffrey is not concerned. Jeffrey is also an asshat. With four hours to go, Michael’s is a hot mess. It looks a little poorly made. Meanwhile, Vincent is also running out of Time. Uli, Laura, and Jeffrey are, in contrast, on top of their shit.



















The next morning, the models arrive at Parsons Paris for their fitting. This really ought to go without saying, but the models are really unusually gorgeous. Vincent is gluing his gown together. Couture! Tim is pissed as hell about this and they bitch back and forth.

The designers and models head over to a boat on the Seine, the location of the party. On the way onto the boat, however, someone throws an egg at the group and it hits the skirt of Michael’s model. Michael is stressed, pissed, and seriously in need of some champagne.




















Catherine Malandrino greets the designers and models, looking fabulous, as usual.

Catherine totally flirts with Jeffrey and we finally learn what his stupid neck tattoo says: “Harrison Detroit” (his son’s name) and (in Italian) “the love of my life.” While his neck tattoo is still dumb, that’s a little sweet. Jeffrey tells Catherine that his dress was inspired by the Statue of Liberty. Catherine, who is almost blushing at this point, says that the gown is very audacious. She also likes the long sleeves on Laura’s dress and the construction of Kayne’s gown. She seems less impressed by Michael’s.



















Now for the awesome part: Catherine walks over to evaluate Vincent’s garment and Vincent makes her extremely uncomfortable. She tries and tries to talk about the dress and Vincent keeps telling her what a sensational woman she is. Priceless.




















Catherine requests a runway walk while she marks her scorecards. Everyone does very well, but Jeffrey’s and Uli’s garments are clearly head and shoulders above the other four.




















The next morning, the designers head back to New York. Au revoir, Paris! More importantly, au revoir, Catherine Malandrino!

In New York, Tim sends the models in immediately. Several designers are having fit challenges and Laura’s collar (i.e. the centerpiece of her outfit) has collapsed.

On the runway, Heidi welcomes the designers back. Joining Heidi, Michael, and Nina tonight is Richard Tyler and…he’s looking rough.

Heidi once again cryptically refers to benefits from winning that will be revealed in a future challenge.

Kayne’s piece starts the show and I have to say, I kind of like it. Couture is supposed to be over the top and out there and his garment really is. I think the top is gorgeous, visible boning and all, but I have a problem with the stripey skirt.






















Next up we have Laura’s gown. I’m not wild about it. I don’t think it’s out there enough for couture, and it really looks crappy now that the collar has wilted.






















Uli’s gown is really incredibly beautiful. It actually reminds me somehow of the dress Santino did last year in the semifinals. I’m a sucker for braiding and the beading also looks sensational. I love it.























Next up, we have Jeffrey’s and while it’s very Alexander McQueen/Vivienne Westwood, it’s also incredibly daring and quite couture. Were I picking a dress to wear myself, I’d choose Uli’s, but I think Jeffrey deserves to win the challenge.























Vincent’s dress…Vincent’s dress is a disaster. The skirt looks like a couch and the top is very first-year-design-student. To top it all off, he’s glued a fabric rose to the back. Way to go, Angela.
























Now, you all know how much I adore Michael. And as soon as his dress started down the runway, I got very, very nervous. Nazri looks amazing, as always, but the poor construction is really obvious and the top is not flattering in the chest area. Yikes.























The judges love Uli’s and Jeffrey’s dresses and are not so crazy about any of the other four. Kayne’s is too busy, Vincent’s is not couture and should be reversed, Laura’s is knockoff Yves Saint Laurent, and Michael’s is ill-fitting and poorly executed.

The judges deliberate. Catherine seems to have agreed with the New York judges pretty neatly.

The designers return to the runway. Jeffrey is the winner, and very happy about it. Uli is in. Michael is in (thank god!!!!). Kayne is in, leaving Laura and Vincent in the bottom two. Vincent’s dress was ugly and not couture and Laura’s was a rehash of something they had seen done better before. Laura, of course, is in, and Vincent is out. Tim seems not unhappy to send him to clean up his space. It is worth noting that Vincent initiates his hug.


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