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The Challenge: The ultimate challenge was to get to NY Fashion Week and show ten looks, which meant that Leanne, Korto and Kenley had to either cut a couple looks (Leanne and Kenley) or, in Korto's case, create two looks in the remaining days, because she was afraid some other looks she created would be perceived as overworked. Then, it was a rush to cast and fit models (one of which was picking up dog poop while in Leanne's gown), figure out hair and makeup.
Tim came in for a group hug and a final consultation of each designer's collection, and surprise, surprise, Kenley got testy when he questioned whether she should show the wedding gown (which the judge's had already seen and had some McQueen look-alike issues though thought was beautiful) as her final look. But—shocker!—she conceded that he was right and she would show it somewhere else in the show.
Cut to Bryant Park, and Heidi announces J.Lo will not be judging because of her "foot injury" , and Tim Gunn will be taking her place. Cut to a stunned Kenley (above right) and she says: "OK, maybe I should have improved my attitude."
The Winner: Leanne with her water and waves inspired collection in ocean blue, sand and ivory, made cohesive by palette and her use of petals and a balance of structure and movement. Michael thought she chose the right first look, which "set the tone immediately...So much of what you showed, the workmanship looked divine." Tim loved the blue vest and white pants: "I thought it was a smashing, smart look. Nina appreciated that she showed shorts, skirts, pants, jackets and a long dress. Heidi came in with the first criticism: "I see things in your line that I have not seen before like these petals, but there were a lot of them." Michael concurs saying, as only Michael does: "I'm just nervous you're going to be know as the queen of the petals. You're going to be Petals Marshall, which sounds like a stripper, not a designer."
Korto came in second with her boldly-hued, African infused collection which made familiar silhouettes fresh with intriguing "askew" details. The judges criticism was again that some pieces were overwrought with decoration, but they also had plenty of praise. From Michael: "You found a way to take your heritage and inject it into the clothes without it becoming a costume. This green dress is definitely my favorite piece you showed." From Nina, who also thinks Korto has a real ability to dress women of different shapes and sizes: "Your collection looked effortlessly cohesive. I think you do phenomenal color. I think this dress is extraordinary. It would appeal to many women."
Kenley's hand-painted fantasy and Alice in Wonderland-inspired collection also scored high with the judges for concept, construction and fit. Michael thought it was full of charm and personality and "remarkable" that she hand-painted everything herself. Tim loved the concept of the hand-painting, thought the construction impeccable and appreciated her "profound point of view." While Nina thought it was a fantastic collection with wonderful spirit, she felt Kenley was borrowing again from other designers: "My only problem is the dress with the flowers reminds me a lot of the Balenciaga collection" (shown in the gallery on Jennifer Connelly). Mike pipes in: "It's a cousin." And Heidi: "I heard people actually say that today." Kenley still acts like she has no idea what they're talking about. Nina tells her: "If you don't know [other designers, collections, etc], all those fashion editors that are watching your shows, they do know." Kenley says they've told her this at least four times and finally acknowledges: "I realize now maybe I need to do some research." Hm, you think? Too little, too late.
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