Maybe The Fashion Show doesn’t have as many L.A. movie-star guest judges as Project Runway because the show is still young and finding itself and is not enough of a draw for those kinds of stars. But this creates an opportunity for producers to recruit real fashion-industry players who might not be nearly as recognizable as movie stars, but who also don’t get by by hiring stylists to put bad ball gowns and oversize diamonds on them and shove them onto a red carpet. Middle America may not know who Anja Rubik, the No. 3-ranked model on Models.com, is. But people who truly care about and follow fashion will, and they were probably delighted to see her guest-judging last night’s episode. Rubik consistently appears in major ad campaigns, editorials, and on magazine covers, but seldom gets to open her mouth. When she does, it’s easy to see why she’s so successful. Last night she was wonderfully articulate in critiquing the designers’ looks. She doesn’t just say, “Ew, gross,” she finds the faults in the clothes and explains how they could be improved. This sounds tame for television, but it’s fine, because Iman sits just a couple chairs down to tell people when their shit stinks.
The episode begins with Iman dragging the designers to the Museum of Natural History, where they are met with their unnecessarily complicated challenge: to design modern dresses inspired by time capsules of various years in history. After they rifle through their faux, Bravo-made time capsules, and Cesar gets emotional because he gets 2001, the year of 9/11, Iman comes over and tells them they also have to use plaid because she loves plaid, dammit. “I fucking hate plaid,” whines Rolando. Isaac cautions the designers of the plaid, warning them that it’s hard to match up and stitch together well. Unsurprisingly, it’s Rolando who has the most trouble in the sewing room, when he cobbles together the first dress he’s ever made with piping, which looks like a sorry patchwork of dish rags. Calvin, in a wonderful moment of honesty, wrinkles his face at his teammate and scoffs, “Your dress horrendous.”
Over at the House of Emerald, Cesar tries to help his teammates through their difficulties. He shows Golnessa, who hasn’t produced anything good thus far, how to sew boning into her dress. Cesar is such a stallion himself that he creates two looks after looking at his house’s lineup and deciding they need something extra. Jeffrey, who has failed to impress thus far this season, ends up winning with a dress that essentially has a bedsheet hanging diagonally across the body from the neckline. Rolando, who ends up cobbling together an outfit he didn’t even sketch out, goes home after he shows the shapeless sack of a thing.
But the real intrigue this episode was in the romance that seems to be brewing between David and Dominique, both who sit on the House of Nami. David the Straight Designer almost gets kicked off after he sends an ugly saggy jumpsuit down the runway. When asked to defend himself, he’s at a loss for words, and his maybe-lover Dominique freaks out and starts crying, telling him to be a man and defend his ugly jumpsuit! “I shouldn’t have to be the man of the house,” she cries. “If he lets me down, I’m going to be furious.” Though his outfit may have been just as bad as Rolando’s, he gets to stay, probably so that producers can cultivate this straight love affair that seems to be brewing and let it blossom into this rare thing for a fashion-design reality competition show. Review all the looks, with commentary, from last night’s episode in the slideshow.