Photo: Adam Taylor / Lifetime

Ground Up In The Gears

A steampunk challenge puts Team Anya to the test.

An avant-garde/steampunk challenge tests Shan, but he gets an A+ and the win; leaves Mondo's team firmly in the middle; and gets the best of Nicholas, unsurprisingly. Along the way, Sam's kind of a brat, Natalia's kind of a genius, and Anya is not "kind of" over it.

Who killed it, and who killed us, on last night's Under The Gunn?


Oscar's friendship with English "Avant-garde is, when you give a kid candy? It's like that." See also his weird story on the runway about the relationship between trains and women giving life. …I don't know either.

Blake Loved his neck action when asking about Oscar's six grand in challenge winnings, and his sweet encouragement of Shan after Shan finished in the bottom last time.

Anya She made a couple of mentoring choices with Nicholas that I might have done differently: questioning whether he's responsible for the looks in his portfolio is not just aggressive, but odd, as Nicholas rightly points out he had weeks and months to complete those looks, not the day or two the designers get on the show; the ice-princess act on the day of the runway likely didn't motivate Nicholas to keep going on his design. With that said, there's likely little that could have lit a fire under him except the failure and ejection that finally greeted him at the end of the episode…and all the other designers have the same super-short time-frame to work with, as Anya rightly points out. She's self-aware about her frustration and concerned with doing everything she can to save Nicholas from himself, and editing notwithstanding, when she's again asked to choose whom to send home, she doesn't seem to hesitate before telling Nicholas to learn from this experience…somewhere else.

BlowPro …Hee.

Uncle Nick "All these ideas are great; you might have to sacrifice some." Spoken like a true Gunn, sir. Even Tim is like, check out my man learning how to do this.

Stephanie I agree with the judges that it came out too Disney, but 1) the dress had pockets and 2) she hid a zipper in that front leather panel. It's too much, but credit for ambition.

The comeback kids I love Shan, and I want to see more of him just working, doing the fit; I don't like steampunk OR cut-outs and I would still wear that garment if he fit it onto me. Boyfriend can really make the most of the tuchis he's given. And way to be, Natalia, seriously. I figured her for an early exit after much weeping, and I think she and Uncle Nick fed into each other's worst tendencies early on, but he said in so many words he's going to trust her from now on, and that's wise. She's committed to her ideas and now she knows she can execute without hand-holding.

Ambassadors Roy and Chapman It's Jen Rade's job to fling the zingers, but I like the way Rachel Roy will gently but firmly point out that, in the end, they can only give so much credit for the ideas. Guest judge Georgina Chapman, whom I always enjoy, has a good bit for Nicholas about how simple is fine, but then you really have to kill it on the cut and fit, and that didn't happen.

"I am twerking on the inside" That's how happy Jen Rade is for Shan. Hee.

Michelle's jacket Not sure why it didn't get any love from the judges -- it might have been a bit "expected" in terms of the cut and color story -- but I'd buy it today.


Avant-garde I wish these shows would just stop doing avant-garde challenges if they're only going to insist on the parameters intermittently. Not that I know what an avant-garde look consists of, but that's the point: the show either doesn't know either, or only cares to enforce it if a garment is already shitty or they want to send its author home. In this specific episode, a steampunk challenge brief is already plenty, but generally, either run down the strict definition of "avant-garde" vis-à-vis the looks and insist on it, or stop dragging it out when all you really want is "fresh" and "innovative," which duh.

Nicholas The monotone "I get really excited about…transportation" comment says it all. Not everyone is cut out for the hothouse atmosphere of the PR family of competitions; he benefited longer than he should have from Anya's probable unwillingness to admit she'd fucked up in picking him/sending Brady home before him. I mean, he's still on muslins on Day 2, then sulks that Anya's pushing him to finish when the runway is in an hour. My notes: "Passive-aggressive baby." This show isn't for him.

Sam He's not wrong noting that an "I can do no wrong" headspace isn't a good one for a designer, but the cockiness isn't playing well. Watching Oscar breezily dismiss Sam's painting technique he's so proud of inspiring "everyone" with (whatever) as tie-dye is delightful, because Sam knows Oscar's basically right, but he desperately wants something he's known for. He's not horrible or anything, just needs to grow up a bit.

The editing Even grading on an "it's the 'let's give Nicholas two days of rope to hang himself' episode" curve, we see almost nothing of Mondo's mentoring; we see almost nothing of other designers' construction challenges, except Natalia's, and even that we didn't see nearly enough of how she actually rigged the skirt to be raised and lowered; and after Anya reams Nicholas in the breakroom, we just…cut to the next day and don't see anything of his process, or anyone else's, for the remainder of Day 2. Other storylines were in play here that, since we knew Nicholas was on borrowed time anyway, were more interesting: Natalia, Shan, Blake, even Sam.

Oscar's dress Sam's right: she looks like a madam from Firefly: The Musical, and that muddy purple is hideous. Flawless draping and execution bail him out, but even Uncle Nick yanking hard on the taste reins only slowed him down so much. I like him, but I'm not sure how much time he has left.

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