In this week’s Part 1 of the season finale, the final challenge is revealed: design a mini collection of five looks in four days. With the incredibly truncated timeframe (finalists usually get weeks), neuroses emerge as the designers fight to create their greatest collection yet.

Three Paths Chosen After a stop at Joanna’s office at Marie Claire (where the winner will be a guest editor), the three remaining designers head to Mood, where they’re given one hour to shop and $3,000.

Michael: Sexy Tribal Resort Wear
Michael finds a silk jersey African print that inspires his collection idea of an adventurous safari. Not exactly what I would have expected for him, but it does allow for various jersey fabrics that he loves to drape (in under 10 minutes).

Austin: Madame-Rocker-Hasidic-Jew
The fanciful romantic explains his vision as thus: “Madame de Pompadour meets 21st century rocker meets Hasidic gentleman.” Oookay. To give you a visual of these three images, imagine the following combined, in one mini collection:

austin vision2.jpgHopefully Austin can somehow pull this off in a cohesive manner (it’ll certainly be interesting to watch him try).

Mondo: ???
Once again, Mondo is not feeling it at Mood and is forced to grab a bunch of patterned fabrics with the hope that it will make sense to him in the workroom. Unfortunately, his uninspired feeling turns into a full-fledged “foul mood,” evidenced by his peevish remarks to Austin during lunch and the whole day is peppered with his comments like “I just want to stop” and “I feel dead inside.”

The Judge Visits: Georgina
Georgina is the first to visit the designers with her usual put-together, lovely, accented self. As she senses Mondo’s intense frustration, she offers some empathy while sharing her struggles of sleepless nights and nervous breakdowns (which seems somewhat difficult to imagine, given the collected, delicate face of Marchesa). She seems like just a ball of encouragement and after she hugs the designers, she’s off.

Although Georgina tried to cheer him up, Mondo seems incorrigible at this point and when the three guys go out for dinner, even the fruity cocktails and food don’t lighten his mood. Soon he simply says, “I’m done” and leaves the other two to dine alone. To this Austin responds, “we haven’t even had dessert” with an air of disbelief and Michael, unfazed, says, “when he’s in a bad mood – that’s when he creates his best stuff ever.”

A Fashion Breakthrough and More Quibbles
It’s a new day and the sleep has seemed to clear Mondo’s head – inspired by his crazed frustration, he comes up with the idea of turning his collection into his catharsis by calling it “Therapy.” He lists concepts such as “acupuncture, shock therapy and Roschach ink blots” to tell his story of therapy through his clothes (this sounds intriguing, particularly the ink blots he dyes). But then it’s time to cast their models and of course Mondo and Austin butt heads when they both want the same model; they decide to flip a coin, and when Austin wins (which, according to Mondo, always happens), Mondo swears and slogs off.

The Judge Visits: Isaac
Finally Isaac makes his visit and Mondo seems a bit happier, as he has a “man crush” on Isaac, whom he finds “adorable.” This seems to be a common effect, as Michael tries to remain really quiet during Isaac’s talk so he can “really take it all in.” Isaac gives them some practical advice about their lineups (“the newest piece first, the grandest piece last”) and tells them to enjoy the process, because “if you don’t, we’ll be able to tell” (Mondo should definitely heed this advice).

The Judge Visits: Angela
At the end of the day, Angela shows up and instead of advice, she brings a secret “All Stars twist”: each designer must create one more look. Can’t say we didn’t see that one coming. The other catch is that they must create this last look using the discarded fabrics from all their previous challenges. But it’s not all added work – all the eliminated All Stars designers are brought back and the finalists can each choose one helper. Mondo, being the winner in the previous challenge, gets his first pick and he goes with Mila, because of her “technical abilities, approach to design and work ethic.” Austin assumes Mondo will choose Michael to pick next, but in a nice act of goodwill, he picks Austin. Without thinking Austin tells Anthony (or “Lady Antoinette”) to join him. Last, Michael calls April over, who is a little surprised because of their divergent styles.

It’s Easier With Help
With only 24 hours with their helpers, all the designers get to work. The best moment is when Austin explains his three-part theme to Anthony followed by “any questions?” and they cut to Anthony laughing so hard he’s tearing (“I love Austin, but he definitely needs my help.”) This is again demonstrated when Austin exhibits a lace fabric that Anthony describes as being “Dead White Lady.” The designers are quick to churn out some new looks, with April working on a long sleeved structured dress for Michael, Anthony helping Austin with a leather tuxedo jumper and Mila helping Mondo pair two different black-and-white graphic patterns together.

The Judge Visits: Joanna
Finally it’s the last day in the workroom and Joanna makes her last rounds, but this time with an uncharacteristic optimism. Austin shows her his rose pink balloon pants, Mondo displays a laminated raffia skirt, Michael shares his African safari collection, and Joanna can’t seem to say anything but positive remarks like “it’s very coherent and strong” and “looks like you’re in very good shape.” Perhaps this means we’re in for a stellar runway show.

With that, the episode is over, leaving next week’s Part 2 to fully reveal the mini collections of each of the designers. There’s a brief clip about how each contestant so deeply desires to win the competition (Mondo: “I feel like this is my time”) and their different strengths they’ve showcased throughout the season. While there are no runway looks this week, Lifetime did release one look from each collection to share before the show next week:







What do you think of these looks? Who do you think will win the prize?

(Images courtesy of Lifetime)

Jenn Lee

Staff Writer, BuddyTV

Jenn grew up in Ohio before moving to Seoul, Korea, where she attended international school and failed to learn Korean. From there she went on to earn a BA in Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania before settling in Seattle, where she now spends too much time pondering the power of narrative in TV shows and novels. While she loves a good smart comedy (a la Community or Parks and Recreation), her favorite current show is Breaking Bad; all-time mentions include Arrested DevelopmentLost and Friends. When she’s not consuming television or literature, she’s savoring pastries and searching for the city’s ultimate sandwich.