Photos: David Russell / Lifetime

Palu 1, Garcia 0

The designers guess trends for 2014, but nobody could have guessed the auf in this super-watchable ep.

Stylemaul

Alyssa Milano appears in -- sing it with me if you know the words -- an unflattering Gossip Girl combo of buttoned-up collared shirt and '90s button-front A-line skirt that cuts her at the wide part of the thighs. Cute makeup story, but if you're going to go schoolgirl, get with the theme and: pencil skirt! …I'm going to write her a letter, like a real one with a stamp on it.

Anyway, she asks the designers how it's going compared to their "real" seasons, and introduces Nina Garcia, who's in a tired sharp-V bustier pantsuit thing. Viktor: "Ohhhhh sh…ph." Word. Nina in turn announces that five of the biggest bloggers from Stylehaul will collaborate with our heroes to create the biggest trend for 2014. And! The bloggers also serve as the models. AND and! Pantone's color of the year is radiant orchid; the designers must incorporate the color into their designs. Take one thing off, challenge. Everyone's excited about the color -- especially Elena, who's wearing it in lipstick form -- and Nina's going to endorse the winning design in a video on the Stylehaul homepage, plus Pantone prize package blah blah.

Setting The Mood

The designers choose their bloggers and watch their intro videos, and everyone's super-cute, but…you know. Real women: breasts; weird waist placements; a translady. Each blogger enthuses about her designer's ideas, but you know how these honeymoons can end.

At Mood, Palu can't find the right material for his army-green lace trench, which sounds so bugly that it'll probably turn out amazing. Seth Aaron's color combo sounds a little Spiegel catalog. Swatch isn't impressed.

Workroom

Elena crabs that everyone's using neoprene now, and it's pissing her off, and maybe she was "onto something" when she started using it three years ago. Yeah, maybe. Or maybe you bit Jay McCarroll's shit from ten years ago. Or maybe it's a cyclical thing that designers try every 4-5 years to get a surfer vibe into their collections. Whatever it is, shut up. As Elena passive-aggressively uses a noisy carpet-cutting tool on her sleeve pattern, Palu glares and Korto mentions Prozac. Bye, Elena.

Seth Aaron's idea is kind of cool -- make a slimming panel from the radiant orchid that suggests the Union Jack -- but has the potential to go "lesser superhero heel turn" in a hurry. Elsewhere, Viktor's doing a jumpsuit and it doesn't look like his orchid is actually the radiant one; Palu's only using the color in accessories, and it should look pretty great with his army green; and Elena is having (legit, IMHO) anxiety flashbacks to Nina being a gratuitous bitch about her design abilities. Seth Aaron advises her that Nina can smell fear as we see Elena's peplum jacket, which is radiant-orchid chevron stripes -- in panels -- over a kind of composition-book pebbly pattern, and is both gorge and migraine-y at the same time.

…Bye, Elena.

Young Lady, Go Back Up To Your Room And Change RIGHT NOW

Zanna Roberts Rassi comes in wearing a deep-V purple dress with a white faux-collar yoke…I'm not describing it well, and she could wear the style, but the fabric looks cheap and slumpy around the waist, plus her hair is down and covering the yoke and puff sleeves (and not in a good, you-can't-see-them-at-all way). Sometimes the big names dump certain looks at H&M for a reason, noam sayin'?

Zanna likes Korto's Sydney-Opera-House vest and white pant (Viktor is bored by it) and thinks Nina will dig the work-appropriate vibe. She likes Seth Aaron's use of the color; she's less sure Palu's isn't derivative of Burberry. Viktor's "good girl gone bad" trend loses a little of him, Zanna says -- good comment.

Elena is saying that her jacket is good for a very petite girl like her blogger because it's linear. Um. I don't think Elena understands how optical tricks like that work; the cut is lengthening -- gorgeous, flattering sleeve that comes out to a slight bell at the end, and a wavy peplum that isn't too Delta Burke -- but the pattern-on-pattern is going to box any model out a little, even a "real" one. Granted, at five ten myself, my investment in what gives the appearance of extra height is academic, and I just wear the dress-over-pants line-ruiner outfit and don't care -- but Elena should leave that aspect out of her argument.

Zanna sees interesting work but wants them to think bigger. This prompts Viktor to bust out some paint. Uh-oh.

Model Fitting

Korto's model is super-psyched with the design. Viktor's wants him to go tighter, and he's not crazy about that, taste-wise. Elena's model is drowning in the jacket, but she still has time to sigh that Palu's trench dress is not "a new kind of a thing." True.

HEY GUESS WHAT GUYS Elena is freaking out because her blogger is so teeny. And this week's starting-from-scratcher is Viktor, who's cutting a neoprene dress with a radiant-orchid confetti pattern that looks very Clinton-era Hot Topic. He's trying to sell it as "creating your own textile," and he might get away with it; Korto's into the '50s-inspired cut.

Runway Day

Viktor is freaking, but calls Palu's "Shrek" and snits that the color doesn't work. Dolce loves Elena's jacket but it still looks too big. Palu advises Korto that her accessorizing looks "lawyer."

Hair. Makeup.

Elena helps Viktor with a zipper; he's nearly in tears as he watches. She explains that he's helped her before, and she'd rather beat the best, etc.

Runway

Alyssa's in a dreadful brocade-sleeved tuxedo jacket in coffin-liner blue-gray with a silk buttondown and matching brocade shorts that once again need to be either way shorter or Bermudas, and is in need of some finishing crème for the old locks. I can't even.

[throws up hands] Amirite?

Georgina Chapman's replacement this week, awesomely, is Christian Siriano in a sharp red blazer, and joins Le Miz; Nina; and Francisco Costa of Calvin Klein.

Seth Aaron's is cut beautifully and his model knows how to walk it, but the square cap sleeve isn't anything new. Flattering, but not that forward.

I still love Elena's, but something about the cut on this particular woman is not working; the peplum comes down too far, and I see what she's trying to do with the black material around the neckline -- it kind of comes up in a mock, which is smart to sell it to women who wouldn't look great with that pink next to their faces -- but it's sloppy.

Viktor's is "fun and flirty and youthful," as he says; love the creamy leather with the pink tipping. But it's everything we've seen for two years, no? Moto styling? Fit and flare? The blogger looks adorbs, but she could have walked out of any Gap in the spring of 2011.

Palu's might get by with a pro walking it. Might. But the sash is too narrow at the waist, and the lace throughout is too busy for a girl with those curves, which is to say any. Too much going on, and the graduated hemline is both done to death and not a great look for this particular blogger's knees.

I love Korto's. I can't wear that color, I can't wear that fabric in the pant, the top is too much for my front porch, and I would still buy it. I can't say enough good things about a pant that embraces a juicy butt, literally and figuratively.

Judging

Nina points out the same thing I said about motorcycle styling on Viktor's; she likes the dress without the jacket. Christian thinks the under-layer cutouts are the freshest bit, and Le Miz agrees that, after several years of color-blocking everywhere -- which he sounds as done with as I am; high five, Isaac! -- the simplicity of this is a nice change. Costa likes the jacket and its edge. The blogger loves the whole look.

Elena sells her jacket as a texture trend; Alyssa's with me about the proportions of the peplum -- ironically, since the proportions are consistently the problem with her PRAS attire in my opinion -- and Christian thinks the texture would work better in a more conventional jacket. The blogger likes that it gives her curves, and doesn't feel like she's "confined" in the jacket as Nina says.

Nina points to Seth Aaron's as the best showcase for the color, but the shape's been done to death. Le Miz: "It doesn't grow on me." Costa likes the confidence but wonders what the trend is.

Alyssa looooves Korto's but again talks about how the shoes cut the model off. Host, heal thyself! Nina for some reason leads with how she hates the bag, hates the shoes, but the vest is a star; Costa likes the choice to do pants, and Christian thinks the structured softness is chic.

"My dress is new vintage Paris soft military." Points for effort, Palu, and Le Miz is like, well, now I kind of like it more? But the color is "funny." Christian points out that a coat as a dress has to read more evening, "because that's what it is," and I never thought of that before.

And then it's time for Nina's trademark first-draft-Michael-Kors "burn," as she dismisses Palu's lace in that color as "seaweed that has come out of the swamp." "Thank you," he grits. "It wasn't a compliment," she says. GOT IT THANKS NINA. Palu: "I didn't take it as a compliment." And in my heart, I rush up onto the runway and hand Palu a mic, and he drops it, because thank you. Be a bitch or try to be funny, but you're only good at one of those things.

And then there's a stare-off. And then Alyssa's like, ohhhhh-kay uncomf moving on! Palu's blogger's face: "Shiiiiiii…" Amazing. It's clear Palu's going home, and the dress isn't good so I'm okay with it, but I'm happy for him that he's not going out by taking Nina's shit.

More Judging

Nina admits that it's a hard challenge, and compliments Korto for taking the right approach -- look at the recent trends and go the opposite way. Le Miz puts Elena in the top, and Costa agrees that it's fresh, but Nina and Alyssa say the jacket is "carrying" the girl. (I think they mean "wearing," and I don't disagree.) Seth Aaron's is blown off as something they've seen "season after season after season." Alyssa also shudders at Viktor's proportions "for a short woman." Oy -- it just makes it worse that she knows these principles but then still dresses like she's a six-footer.

Christian liked the romance of Palu's, but it's just not cute, and Alyssa rightly dings him for only using the color in a half-ass clutch. Le Miz makes a point of saying that he respects Palu's defense of his design -- and the editors make a point of holding on Nina's "...PEON!" death moue. Ha! She's so shitty.

Win/Auf

Unsurprisingly, Korto is declared "the clear winner" for her second win in a row, and could see herself winning the season. Ditto, and I'd love it. Seth Aaron is called safe before Alyssa says through a mouthful of Meyer lemon that Elena is also through to next week. Eeeeeeasy, mini. After an ice age, Pal-- WHAT?! Holy shitballs! VIKTOR is sent home! Wearing wicked bronze brogues!

I…wow! I had him as the favorite going away. Very interesting -- and I would love to see the uncut judging footage, because I don't think it's a massive injustice, but if the argument is that Viktor didn't meet the challenge, neither did Palu. Palu also kind of shined on the challenge by not really using the color, and a trench dress isn't exactly futuristic. Or, in this case, attractive. Maybe Le Miz and Christian didn't care for Nina acting such a hag to Palu, and threw their weight behind him in response?

Verdict

They could have pushed the bloggers' involvement a bit farther -- their actual presence seemed like an afterthought by the end -- and Alyssa's near-angry harping on the outfits that didn't flatter short girls isn't, so to speak, a good look for her. But it's a compelling and tough task, it led to some cool outfits, and you can't beat the twist. Watch-mas!

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