Last night’s episode of The Fashion Show forced the contestants to face a question everyone must at some point in their professional lives: At what point do you bend over and take it? In an episode so awesome that Bravo allocated fifteen extra minutes of airtime for it, the House of Nami had to dress the Real Housewives of Orange County, and the House of Emerald had to dress the Real Housewives of New Jersey. The designers were tasked with taking them out of their preferred beauty-pageant garb and putting them in eveningwear classy enough for a New York gala. And what a task it was, with both sets of women embodying the antithesis of New York chic and damn intent on staying that way. Could the designers convince them to put the boobs and bling and spandex and puckering flesh aside in order to elegantly enter the modern world we live in today?
Only a couple of designers were successful. Poor Jeffrey was stuck with Lynne, who seems like the nicest of the O.C. housewives, but who also wants more than any of them to have her boobs out. Jacqueline from New Jersey doesn’t want to show off her body because she thinks it’s lumpy. David, who is more freaked out by the idea of dressing a person with a normal body above the age of 25 than any designer, tells Caroline that she has his mother’s proportions. Caroline is obviously offended, because she’s a New Jersey housewife and that’s what they do, and says she wishes she had Teresa’s designer, Calvin. Calvin and Teresa get along splendidly because Calvin thinks, honestly, that she’s beautiful. Also, they are different versions of the same person.
Orange County’s Gretchen has to work with Golnessa and is so intent on wearing the shrink-wrapped Swarovski-studded clothes she always wears rather than another person’s vision that she brings her own sketches (which we can only assume she hired someone to create before coming on the show). She tells Golnessa that she wants bling on her strap just so, and then tells the Bravo cameras, “I’m not sure she even knew what bling meant.” She did not realize that maybe (well, not knowing anything of Golnessa’s past work on the show) this was a reason to trust her. But Golnessa wins her over when she measures her hips and tells her, with no surprise in her voice, that she’s the same size as the mannequin. There’s no better way to get a certain kind of woman to like you than to tell her she’s slim.
Creating elegant and modern gala costumes for these women is made extra hard, Isaac Mizrahi notes, because they’re not models. They’re “real” people. “You’re not working with models, you’re working with real women who have, like, anatomy. Models do not have anatomy,” he cautions. Oh, flesh — how scary! But it’s a great test of any designer, because the successful ones don’t make it by dressing model figures alone. “This is the hardest challenge because we know our models, and they’re the size of our mannequins, but these women are not models, and it makes it really hard for fittings,” whines David, who is obviously not going to win this show.
Though the first meetings went smoothly, for the most part, things start to fall to pieces in the second fittings when Gretchen splits her dress, Calvin and Teresa clash, and Lynne throws enough of a fit at Jeffrey for covering her boobs that he cuts the neckline away and makes the dress look terrible. Review the final looks and critiques in the slideshow.