The challenge: In teams of two, create a garment for a former PR designer to wear to the Emmys. Winner gets to go to the Emmys!
Lexus made a nebulous appearance in the episode, being the car driven to meet the former designers and the designers were meant to use the color of the car in their gown. If they'd given the designers interesting car colors, this might have gone better. Instead, they were very standard colors like black, white, and red. Thrill.
As always with a pair challenge, you can see some trainwrecks coming and others come from more subtle meltdowns. If you'd like to read an interesting backstage story, see Laura Bennett's blog, which is straightforward about what went on behind the scenes, versus the edited version of the story we saw.
Personalities aside, here are my unbiased feelings about the fashions. I'm going sort of in order of quality, with comments on suitability of dress for the client, and so on as appropriate.
Ven and Fabio for Kenley: Yes, Kenley directed a lot of this look, including the fabric and length suggestions. That being said, you can still see Ven's design in the look, and certainly the execution. His dress was one of my favorites because of the blend of Kenley's desires and Ven's (and to some extent Fabio's) mastery. I actually like to see a tea length gown on a red carpet now and then, and I think with some bigger jewelry (something rhinestony is certainly needed in the hair) it will be perfectly suitable.
Buffi and Elena for Laura: I thought this look was a little too "cute" for Laura, but I also thought it was lovely. I'm not sure the hair styling was the best choice, because it sort of enhanced the cutesy. That being said, the pleating ended up working very well, and the gown moved beautifully. One of my favorites. For me, that is...not for Laura.
Dmitry and Melissa for April: There were elements I liked about this dress and elements I did not. That sleeve--the cuffed 3/4 sleeve--really drove me nuts. The midriff of the front (was that knotted?) also gave me pause. They did a terrific job with the fabric, and that quicksilver look really did suit April and give her glamour. The back was lovely. I enjoyed looking at and thinking about this dress, despite its few flaws.
Nathan and Sonjia for Valerie: I actually have this square in the middle with Dmitry and Melissa. I love how happy Valerie looked in this, because it had some spunk to it but also the glamour needed. I liked that they chose to include a gold satin in the shoulders with the sequinned fabric; I did not like that they also included it as a V in the back. They missed an opportunity for a sleek fit back there. Yes, the V added a design element, but it ended up looking bunchy. Valerie, with a short torso, needs something to sleeken the silhouette, not bunch it up. I felt the same about the sleeves--great length, but they poofed out a little, and that wasn't quite right, either. All that said, I think Valerie looked banging in this dress from the front.
Christopher and Andrea for Anya: Sewing flaws (like the showing hooks--a problem I've had) notwithstanding, the back of this dress was pretty in design (not surprising, since it was associated with Andrea). The front...well, the bust was simply too blousy. The square neck with a fitted layer of chiffon over it would have been lovely. Perhaps even a gathered collar. The cowl was the wrong direction utterly.
Gunnar and Kooan for Irina: My shock matched that of the designers when this white number was pegged out as a high note. The hem was too short. The sewing was clearly poor even through the TV. Even without being privy to the workroom mismatch and conflict, one can objectively look at this dress and shake one's head. I really think it was the white that blinded the judges, and the accessories--and Irina. Take the accessories off the dress, and what do you have? A poorly sewn, too short, white dress with a train...nothing very special, in fact. The judging here was definitely one of those wth moments.
Raul and Alicia for Mila: This dress was a travesty. It was too simple, yet poorly constructed at the same time. The halter was peculiar in fit, and the bust was dumpy. I spied a lack of understanding of the purpose of foundation garments there. Mila seems to be in good shape, but at a televised show like the Emmys, a lady needs some sort of bust support or an extremely well fit bodice. This dress allowed neither. Obviously there were other flaws, but no one really mentioned that one. Problems in judging other garments notwithstanding, this was clearly the losing dress.