So this is it, PR fans! We're down to the bitter end. It looks like we begin right after last week's runway show, with Austin, Michael and Mondo sitting in the chairs waiting for Angela. And halle-effing-lujah, Austin has shaved his pornstache! He looks so so so so SO much better! Great styling, Austin. Mondo disagrees, however, saying he went from Errol Flynn to Kermit the Frog. Meow.
Angela introduces the challenge by asking them to welcome "some familiar faces." The designers are nervous, but it turns out to be just Georgina and Isaac. They're instructed to design a mini-collection of 5 looks in only four days, after which they'll put together a runway show. (For whom? Angela says "VIP guests" will be invited, and it's at a very special location. I'm going to guess...the Intrepid.) Because we won't have home visits with this abbreviated finale, the three finalists have been invited to the Marie Claire offices to meet Joanna there.
The three of them arrive at the building, where Michael seems impressed with the very concept of an office building. He likes the escalator. (Well, fair enough--it's the Hearst building.) A minion of some sort escorts them to a conference room with an amazing view of the park, but I'm distracted by said minion's sloppy presentation and mumbling escort. That can't be Joanna's assistant, surely?
Joanna joins them and asks how they're feeling (points if you said "nervous"!), and then gives the most cogent explanation I've ever heard of what fashion editors look for when reviewing collections. 1) A shift from the previous season. 2) An overall theme for the season--determined by watching a gazillion collections at Fashion Week, basically. 3) Someone who executes that shift & theme very well. That actually makes so much sense to me!
Mondo asks about the importance of theatrics in a runway show--Joanna thinks they're fine if they seem intrinsic to the designer's overall vision, but they aren't necessary. Michael asks what the "guest editor" portion of the prize entails, and Joanna basically says that they'll be shadowing Nina Garcia and her team, evaluating the fashion that will appear in the magazine. Sounds like "Big Fancy Intern" to me.
They leave Marie Claire and go off to Central Park to sketch--a chyron tells us they have only one hour. Michael is inspired by the greenery. Austin tells us he's going to make a wedding dress (which makes sense, as he was the designer for Amsale for years). Mondo's determined to remain true to himself. Everybody wants it more than everybody else. Everyone is there to win. "I want to win," says Mondo. Our "next on PR" bumper immediately shows Mondo saying, "I want to quit." For a contestant who is clearly the anointed one this season, Mondo's being kind of a pill.
Mood time! They have one hour to shop, and a budget of $3000--with only 5 outfits, that's a pretty generous budget, I think. Everything better look expensive, boys! Michael's thinking "African safari," which feels a little random for him. But honestly, I still don't really know what Michael's aesthetic is, other than draping. Mondo's at sea, and isn't feeling it. Austin's model woman is "someone who stepped out of a Fragonard painting but she is a modern rock star...meets...Hasidic gentleman." Oh, of course, one of those. I think Austin's been sniffing his hot glue gun.
The designers return to their workroom, only to discover that it's been turned into some kind of lounge! The tables are gone, replaced with a carpet and couches. Basically, they set up the side rooms so that each designer gets their own little room with a table, sewing machine, etc., so they don't have to deal with each other. (Incidentally, this is the same setup that they use on "Ink Master," the reality TV competition for tattoo artists. Can you imagine being a volunteer subject for a tattoo competition?) Mondo is whining about hating his fabrics and not being inspired, and I am quickly becoming Over Him. Austin and Michael each try to reach out to him a little bit, but Mondo shuts them down, rather rudely. Mondo shuts himself into his room, which is the signal for Austin and Michael to start bitching about his behavior. Then there are shots of the two of them draping, draping, draping, and Mondo doing...nothing.
Georgina arrives for a check in (and obligatory plug--apparently Neiman Marcus is a very "nurturing" company). They're chatting a bit, and then Georgina observes Mondo's sullen demeanor and asks him what's up. He says that he doesn't like everyone telling him what he's capable of, and expecting so much of him. Georgina graciously doesn't smack the crap out of him, but instead acknowledges that she also shares this anxiety, and the twin anxiety that her process requires the breakdown and resurrection. The guys break for dinner in the restaurant of the Flatotel, and I can tell you that Austin is drinking a dirty martini. Yum! Mondo is STILL pissy, and leaves dinner early. Come on, show, this is getting tedious. Let's move on.
The next day, everyone is hard at work, and predictably, Mondo has turned the corner. Because the whole PR experience has made him crazy, he says, he needs therapy, and has named his collection "Therapy." Looks like he has some sketches, and is going to be ready for model casting. The three of them sit at a table and watch models walk, and seem to be enjoying themselves until Austin asks one of the models to wait while he gets a skirt for her to try on. Mondo seems infuriated by this, as though it is the height of rudeness, and maintains that Austin has been selfish and inconsiderate the whole season. I think Mondo's still being a pill--it seriously couldn't have taken that long for Austin to run to his room and grab a skirt, could it? And if it did, so what? Why not bring in the next model in the meantime? Basically, I don't know what Mondo's problem is. There are some battles over models that are solved with a flip of the coin, but somehow Mondo still seems to think Austin's getting everything (even when Mondo wins the coin toss!).
By day 3, Mondo's on a roll, and is making inkblot patterns on white fabric to form Rorshach-style imagery. He finally seems in a better mood, so he's happy when Isaac drops by the workroom to drop off CDs of the runway music. (There are 3 tracks, so here's another opportunity for them to fight with one another.) Isaac's really there to explain how to arrange a runway show, and it's much like writing a 5-paragraph essay: put your newest thing first and your grandest thing last. Michael says he's staying quiet and listening, because "you can't get this advice just on the street." I am swept away in a reverie of little would-be designers picking up all sorts of fashion misconceptions because they learned it on the street, and not from their parents. Heh.
Sure enough, there's a bit of bitching over the music choices, but it seems that Austin can't be bothered to get really het up about it. Then it's time for ragging on each other's collections! Mondo tells us that Austin's collection is "really...Austin." But I'm not sure that's a compliment. Austin tells Michael his pants are cool, but then tells us that Michael's clothes are impossible to wear if you're not a supermodel. This is true. We skip Michael bitching about Mondo's collection, but I'm going to assume it happened.
Next day (or later that night?) Angela arrives to deliver the now-traditional twist...which is halfway blown by the bumper to the next commercial, in which we see all the aufed designers back. So let me guess: the finalists will have to create a sixth garment with the change they find in the couch cushions, and they'll get to pick someone to help them.
Sure enough, they need one more look, and the fabric will come from the remnants of all their other challenges. OK, that's kind of fun. Michael's concerned because he hasn't used anything safari before this. And here come the past contestants! Mondo finds it uncomfortable, even though he gets first pick. He chooses Mila because he thinks her technical skill and work ethic are great. Austin goes next, and chooses "Her Serene Highness, the Princess Antoinetta." That's Anthony, for those of you following along at home--Austin feels they share a couture sensibility. Really? Michael is last to pick, and chooses "silver fox" April, who seems happy to "be his bitch for 24 hours." Why did no one pick Rami? That seems crazy.
Work montage! Talk of seams, cuts, darts and patterns. The room is quiet, and everyone bustles like little bees. Austin's sixth look is going to be a "leather tuxedo jumper" made with leftovers from the streetwear challenge. Michael's is from the flag challenge because he had lots of leftover white toga fabric. Mondo is using stuff from like four different challenges. Anthony feels pleased because Austin seems to be taking his advice. I love Anthony's personality, but I think his taste level is often suspect, so this concerns me.
Work, work, work. Fret, fret, fret. Tick, tick, tick goes the clock. There is pressure. Everything hinges on their looks. Each man wants to win. Time's up!
As I fast forward, my Tivo shows me that we only have seven minutes to go...there's no way this show is over at 10. Is the finale a two-parter?
Joanna comes in to usher out the 24-hour helpers and get a last check-in with our designers. She seems to be OK with Austin's, but not blown away. She likes the wit of Mondo's inkblots. She thinks Michael's work is clearly his, and clearly a unified collection. Joanna has kind of a terrifying smile (or perhaps some not-great side teeth?)...it's reminiscent of that moment in LOTR when Bilbo wants his ring back. Then it's on to the L'Oreal yada yada.
More inter-collection bitchery that I can't be bothered to recap, and then it's time for bed! They go back to their suite for wine and reflection. We get clips of all their good comments on the season's garments--Michael has fewer than the other two, but everybody gets some. And that's it! I guess we have to wait till next week to see the winner. Who will it be?