Photo: Barbara Nitke / Lifetime

Welcome To The Doll's Auf

Designing for American Girl dolls (and their kid owners) gets one contestant kicked out of the playroom.

MY GOD, FINALLY.

And it almost didn't happen, too! The camera swooped past Emily and Sandhya together on the runway and I thought, "Oh no, they're going to justify saving Sandhya again." Certainly the critique of Emily's high-low look sounded a little like laying groundwork for a horrible save. Glad I was wrong!

Any American Girl challenge is kind of nightmarish -- the way most people feel about clowns is how I feel about dolls -- but then they have to use the kids as models, which sounds like multiple meltdowns waiting to happen. But the kids are pros and the challenge is sort of interesting: how will the designers adapt to different body shapes? What colors can you use and cuts should you avoid when it's tweens?

And who's getting an A and who's getting left back?

Kini

I LOVE that entire outfit. The dress is gorgeous, the coat is crazy chic and good for three seasons AND POCKETY, I want to buy the whole shebang for my niece in every size AND for myself and wear it every day. So pretty and well cut. So happy the judges caught their snap and made it the winner.

Emily

She's compassionate to Sandhya without committing to liking her (heh) and insightful about what people find frustrating with her. As for the outfit, it's almost there; I dig the Carrie Bradshaw-y mix of formal and cazh with the nubbly sweater and the tulle. But the fit in the front is weird, like the kid is hiding something blocky under there, and the veil is no good. Most girls would want the hell out of it, though, and again, it felt to me like the judges were unkinder to it than they may have genuinely felt.

Korina

At least she's honest about not communicating well with the littles, but after all that drama and the last-minute-finishing drama, it seems she "communicates" just fine, at least fashion-wise; I would have kiiiiilled for that frock in fourth grade. It's sort of baggy at the waist, and I don't like the belt (or the hat, but the model loved it, so why not), but it's a neat, elegant idea and I'd wear it in a grown-up version.

Char

I like the vest, particularly the shape and how it's longer on the sides, but the finishing is a little on the costume-shop side, and it hides the super-cute dress underneath.

Amanda

"We are meeting Tim at the American Girl store, and it's rilly kewl!" Girl, stop that. Loved her dress, though: super-smart use of the fabric, and the cut is flattering and big-girl, but not in a dicey way. Pity about the jacket fabric and the home-sewn closures.

Sean

I like his fabric choice; it's reminiscent of the sixties but not too garishly literal. The vest is kind of the worst; I have a thing with chambray (to wit: hate, all day anytime) and the peace sign -- which isn't even correct; he forgot a leg of the design -- ruins the subtlety he showed in selecting the print.

Alexander

Compares Sandhya's abandoned appliques to "wall clings," which: totes. Not a fan of his topknot this week. I get what he's trying to do with the pattern-mixing, and neither print on its own is bad, but something about it doesn't work, and the outfit is cute, but the top looks like an Anya special: drape, pin, done in three minutes. Inoffensive; unimpressive.

Nina

Nice Yo Gabba Gabba reference. She's right about Emily's color choices, too -- I don't love the olive green, looking at it again.

Tim Gunn

"Tawdry"? It's vest fringe, princess. Calm down.

Sandhya

Cuts the line at Mood and doesn't care, shrugs that Korina hated her from day one, but cries back at the apartment about nobody showing her compassion, then switches BACK to bullheaded "thank you for the feedback" crit-proof-ness on the runway. I mean, she is what she is; all the promise I saw at the beginning of the show is still back there at the beginning, with miles of awkward pantlegs and budge color choices between there and here. This week is no different: all her fabrics look cheap and don't flatter any skin tone, and the applique clashes as well. Everyone is right about the finished product, too; the random ruffling at the waist isn't even a peplum, quite, and it really does look like baby clothes, especially with the zipper in the back. I think the judges have been waiting for Sandhya to level up with her sophistication and it just didn't happen. Overdue auf, but I'll take it.

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