Linda Sue Strong is the founder of entertainment blog and an occasional attorney. Her life has not yet been turned into a reality television show. Follow her at @themisslinda. 

Last week, Polka Dots was gifted with one last chance. Tim arrives to tell them that nobody is going home, and Polka Dots got a second chance because she is talented. Translation: the judges pulled an audible, and the producers nixed the idea of filming another challenge on the fly. Layana has “mixed feelings” about Polka Dots staying because they had to work so hard for a challenge and the same five people are still there. I have “mixed feelings” about Layana—should I strangle her with charmeuse or linen?

Heidi gives them their final challenge, and it’s a doozy. Each contestant is going to a different European country. Daniel has never been outside of the United States, so he starts crying. They’re each going to a different fashion capital with a sewing assistant who will be traveling with them:

  • Layana: Barcelona with Samantha (so glad to see her back!)
  • Wind Chime: Paris with Kate
  • Daniel: Berlin with Amanda
  • Stanley: London with Hallmarq
  • Polka Dots: Nowhere with TuTu

Aw, this is sad. Polka Dots gets one last chance, but nobody wanted to kick in for a ticket.  Each person has to create a high-end runway look with a thousand dollars for materials. They will be wandering around their cities getting inspired and buying fabric, and then return to New York to create something fabulous.

Daniel goes straight for the Berlin wall, which is a good bit of inspiration because it is simultaneously uplifting and oppressive. The great thing about Berlin is that it’s a true mixed bag, and Daniel gets inspired by some of the newer, geometrical architecture. He finds a white vinyl fabric and decides to make a white jacket and a black dress.

Back in New York, Polka Dots feels a tad on the lonely side and is afraid that her misery will translate in her design. To snap herself out of it, she takes a double-decker bus tour in the rain and gets a new perspective of the architecture, particularly the old buildings reflected in the glass of the new skyscrapers. Polka Dots goes shopping in Mood and buys cashmere and leather.

Wind Chime experiences Paris street art, which of course is a million times more creative than anything in the United States. She’s seeing layers in the textures and wants to do the “true, gritty, street Paris.” Then, she sees the Eiffel Tower and has her Paris moment. She goes over her budget in the fabric store by $250 because she’s buying a million different fabrics, but the nice Parisian tells her “no problem.”

Layana is inspired by the tile work and patterns on the architecture. She sketches from the outside of La Sagrada Familia, without realizing that all of the really good stuff is on the inside. Layana can’t find leather in Barcelona and switches to black lace which is never, ever frumpy. “After all that, I have to cut my own fabric?”

Stanley is hitting all of the main sights and is inspired by the windows of the towers, particularly Big Ben. He goes with a long and lean silhouette that is darker than his previous work. He chooses a veeeery expensive fabric and isn’t sure if he will have enough to cover his model.

The jet-lagged designers and helpers return to the workroom and Polka Dots is not enjoying listening to the other designers’ travel stories. Daniel is making a pair of boots that Polka Dots calls the kind of plastic hooker boots you buy when you’re dressing up for Halloween. He’s also sewing a quilted white pleather jacket. Tim cautions that he has a lot of work to do, which is a euphemism for “it looks like crap, but maybe you can salvage it.”

Stanley designed a “modest” capelet that Tim calls “monastic,” and which is removed to reveal a backless dress.  Wind Chime is layering fabrics to make her own textile, and Tim Gunn calls it “remarkable.” But her pieces don’t go together, and he encourages her to turn her jacket into a “top” and ditch the out-of-place shirt. Polka Dots is making a “stunning” breastplate and a hand-painted ombre dress that will resemble soot on the side of buildings. Layana is creating a coat, pants and blouse. Tim worries that she has too much work to do during the short timeframe.


Runway time! The judges this week are Zac Posen Kors, Nina Garcia, and nine-time Grammy winner John Legend. Four of the designers will go to Fashion Week, and one will be out.

Layana’s outfit looks like Hot Topic circa 1995. Polka Dots’ dress looks both pretty and slick, with some killer strappy detail work on the back.  Stanley’s dress is morbid, even when the cape is removed. But, it’s an interesting shape and extremely well made. Wind Chime’s crafty top is…somewhere between cool and frumpy. Daniel’s white jacket is slick, and his asymmetrical dress underneath is very wearable.

Nina thinks Daniel captured the “beat of Berlin” very well, likes the jacket and boots, and she calls the dress “phenomenal.”  Nina also loves Stanley’s outfit, and the glimpse of sequins on the inside. Zac Posen gives him a “bravo” for having captured the mystery of London. Oh boy. Nina is already grimacing at Layana. Zac Posen recognizes Barcelona in the materials, but Nina laughs at the pirate sleeves. “This outfit looks so old fashioned, and old fashioned coming from such a young designer is tragic.” Heidi calls the coat a housecoat. Nina is shaking her head. It’s weird that they sent Layana to Barcelona when “schadenfreude” is a German word.

Zac Posen Kors calls Wind Chime’s outfit “trash couture,” and “lumpy and dumpy.” Nina is underwhelmed because she doesn’t feel Paris in it at all, and calls it “cotton candy gone wrong.” As Heidi calls the top “special,” Nina forces her face to frown. The judges react well to Polka Dots’ design and the story of the slick glass buildings combined with the older materials. But Heidi does not like the painted ombre bottom because it looks like “a dirty horse blankie.”

To the judges! They’re loving Stanley and Polka Dots. The judges are nervous about Daniel’s taste level, but are impressed the way that he tuned into the Berlin underground look. Nina thinks that Layana has commercial taste, so she struggles with high fashion. John Legend doesn’t see the taste level necessary to be one of the top designers. Heidi is intrigued by Wind Chime, but Nina doesn’t think she is ready to put on a show and calls her work “artsy fartsy.” Basically, Heidi is fighting for her and Nina yells the words “arts and crafts horror.”

In the end, the judges send Stanley, Daniel (I just placed his accent—Dustin Hoffman as Dorothy Michaels in Tootsie), Polka Dots, and…yes!!! Wind Chime is showing at Fashion Week! Layana is out! Aw, her face is what it looks like when dreams are crushed.

Next week, the designers get $10,000 to create a twelve look collection.