Be careful what you wish for, Kenneth.

Without fail, the “wheelhouse” challenge almost always goes poorly for the designers that were destined to do it. This usually happens for one of two reasons. One, the designer may be one of the weaker links on the show (Ken). Two, the designer may over-think or put too much pressure on themselves for the challenge (Dom).

As another boilerplate episode plodded along towards the juicy bits of the actual runway show, I just kept thinking, what would every contestant’s “wheelhouse” episode challenge be? Join me, if you will, for a mid-show/recap daydream…


Bradon – designing a new unitard for the American Ballet Theatre for their upcoming adaptation of a Lucky Charms commercial.

Helen – designing some all-weather motorcycle gear for the biker that likes to break down and cry all the time. You don’t want that leather to shrink and warp from all those tears. Happy 110th birthday, Harley Davidson.

Ken – designing a stylish new straightjacket for the New State Psychiatric Institute. There’s no reason to look like shit when you’re raving like a madman. Wheelhouse.

Justin – designing a new look for broadway show, “Paperboy: Throwing Bundles of Love to Your Doorstep.” Watch out for the break dancers and fire hydrants, paperboy.

Jeremy – designing a look for Barbara Bush on the eve of her 88th birthday. “I like to dress my age,” says Barabara in between breaths on her ventilator.

Dom – designing a prom dress for a high school in Tokyo. The theme this year is Mario and Luigi, together at last.

Alexander – designing a new look for the new L’Oreal brow shaping duel brow shaping kit print ad.

Kate – design a second look for any challenge really. Don’t worry the first challenge didn’t count.

Alexandria – design a red carpet look for Rooney Mara.

And since it’s a dream…

Sandro – design a uniform for the new airline AirTrafik, the first flying sex carnival that only services various Asian cities along the sex trade circuit.

Timothy – design a new look for a homeless man made from various objects found in their shopping carts/entire life’s assets.

Do-do-lo, do-do-lo, do-do-lo – back from our daydream. Most of this episode revolved around people telling us what they were doing while showing it. “Then I watched paint dry.” Let’s get straight to it.



Helen – Designed a dress with a yellow doily pattern that Jan Brady would wear with a black wig to show her new hip look. Helen was miffed that she was only safe. One reoccurring theme from this episode was multiple contestant’s overall ignorance of what passes as couture in the Bible Belt. Have these people never been below the Mason-Dixon line? Have they not seen a Tennessee Williams play? Have they not seen “Cookie’s Fortune” accidentally?

Anyway, foot-in-mouth disease ran rampant as our contestants asked a dumb question about the South, got the patented Ken eye-roll, and laughed. This was rinsed and repeated many times throughout this flimsy episode. Helen asked if southerners drank champagne. They do Helen. They also have faux tough tattoos just like me and you. They have feelings and indoor plumbing. It’s amazing.

Justin – Designed an orange (coral) dress, and…that’s it. Sure it was made from only one piece of fabric, but this is the guy you brought back from elimination? It looked like a dress. It had one hole in the neck area where the head would go, and two by the arms for ease of use for one’s arms in case the model had to butcher a cow or pump gas. What I liked here is he only had one hole at the bottom for the legs, so the garment would flow better with the wind. Stunning. One hole for the legs. Amazing.

Alexandria – Designed a plaid belted dress, and…that’s it. Similarly simple to Justin’s frock, but more kudos go to Alexandria here for a few reasons. One, she was forced into this simplistic design by aborting an earlier gown that looked more sexy mechanic than Savannah soiree. After Tim Gunn gave here a drive by with such nuggets as “You’re going crazy quilt on us” and “It’s hideous,” I was amazed to see her pick herself off the mat. This chick is tough. Kors tested his nukes on her last week, and Tim Gunn marched over her like Sherman last night. But there she was, cranking out something new, albeit safe, but still new for the runway in a few hours. Plus her track record is better than our deaf indestructible contestant. Alexandria knew she was putting something sub par down the runway. Justin did not.


Alexander – Designed a cocktail party dress with a bodice all in a painted plaid print. I personally thought this was the winner, but what do I know? Tim asked Alex Eyebrows where his client would be going in the dress, and Alex said, “To the forest or whatever.” I got onto the floor and rolled around laughing at this. Something about Alexander’s delivery gets me every time. I’m officially driving the Alex for Bryant Park bandwagon strictly for selfish enjoyment reasons. All aboard.


Kate – Designed an orange-with-giant-red-beads printed babydoll dress for the pregnant hip Southern woman. I was OK with this, as was my man JT. One of our bonus judges, John Thomas, the VP of a division of Belk, was feeling this dress, and said he’d like to see it on the rack. Heidi thought the dress made the model look fat. The take away here was John Thomas was awesome. Between the salmon colored blazer at the top of the episode, to the brutal honesty when it came to critiquing the contestants, JT was a solid contributor the entire evening. Most of the suits brought in to rep their brand come off as odd fanboys. Not JT and his million dollar smile. Aye, aye captain.


First off, the bottoms were given a 60-minute stay of execution while the producers tried to spice up this hot turd (besides the actual runway show) of an episode. These three cats were let back into the workroom to spice up the duds they originally sent down the runway.

Ken – A purple dress originally, but after his transformation it was a really sloppy purple dress. Dude. This southern gentleman has nine lives. Ken embodies the producers mantra of “keep him, he’s good television” to a tee. He’s the feral cat in your alley. Sure he keeps away the mice, but we’re going to have to put him down eventually because he’s going to attack someone. We learned some more things about Ken this week:

1)      His mother Sonya is a sweetheart, but even she knows that he is evil. What hath you wrought upon us, Sonya?

2)      Ken thinks “Little House on the Prairie” was set in the South. It was set in Minnesota.


4)      Once he’s run out of reaction faces, he takes his glasses off.

5)      No one is above Ken’s eye daggers. Not even Heidi.

6)      Ken’s idea of a modern Southern woman is a very boring person.

7)      Ken doesn’t like his ironing board messed with.

8)      Eye Daggers.

9)      Eye Rolls.

10)  Glasses Off.

11)  Ken, out.

 The judges torched his garment, his only saving grace was that Jeremy cannot design for anyone under the age of 65.


(on Bradon’s dress) “Looks like Harriett Tubman after she received her freedom.”

Dom – Designed a forgettable two-tone matronly sale rack gown later to put together a wildly over-praised zebra print dress. I dig Dom, everybody knows that, but I cannot understand the love for her second piece. Amazing she got it done in an hour? Sure. Put it into production for the almighty Belk? No. Hopefully this is the near miss that catapults young Dom into sustained greatness for the rest of the season. I want to see her collection at Fashion Week. Yes, I know fashion week already happened. But as a guy who can wait for nearly just about anything, I have no idea what happened. Things take time to ferment. Then the consuming is much more enjoyable.


Yes, yes she is.


Once again a stellar performance for our panel this week. Maybe everyone took notes from Michael Kors’ virtuoso example last time, but for whatever the reason, our judges were on point this week. Props to Zac Posen’s “casino jacket” rant. As anyone tried to complement Jeremy’s dress, Zac was there to toss another log on to the flaming hate pile. John Thomas was a smooth operator as a guest judge, and even seemed to save Ken with an “I know he’s got a bad attitude, but who’s the better designer” quip.

But poor Stacy Kiebler. From Pro Wrestler (awesome) to dating George Clooney (not wrestling but OK, still good) to host of the aforementioned “Supermarket Superstar” (fate worse then death). Well all good things must come to an end. And some of those ends are fiery bus crashes.


Bradon – Designed a plaid full-length collared shirt dress with odd paneling in the front. Loved this dress except the vertical paneling at the front of this dress. I liked both red-headed roommates’ plaid pieces. Once again the true star of Bradon’s look was his otherworldly model Ya. Dude, that woman would look good in anything. She’s his secret weapon. And honestly Ken, I can’t believe that Harriett Tubman would have donned that upon reaching the free states. This dress was high on Ken’s hate list, which was very full this week.


Jeremy – Designed a Remax blazer and a still-life pastel dress to complement how bad the blazer was then he cut holes in two sheets of fabric and sewed them together. Some eliminations make me smile and this was one of them. Jeremy has gotten on my nerves over the last few weeks. He’s a closet basher. Sure Ken’s outbursts and eyerolls are getting tedious, but at least he has the common decency to own it. With Ken, it’s all on display. With Sandro, it’s all on display. As much as they suck from time to time, at least you know where you stand with those guys.

I get the feeling when the contestants are watching the episodes from home or prison (Sandro) or Mars (Timothy), there will be a collective “hey, fuck that guy” sentiment towards Jeremy as he bashes every one’s design every week and then turns around and plays super-nice super dad to their faces. Don’t let the door hit you dude. It’s easy to snark in the shadows. Hey wait, that’s me. So…maybe Jeremy wasn’t THAT bad. I look forward to his fellow contestants reaction on the reunion episode.

Next week it looks like Ken gets mad. Shocker.


The Bill Clinton (can do no wrong, two termer)

1)      Kate

The Nick Saban (can do no wrong but I hate him, I think)

2)      Helen

Gulf Shore Oysters (great, but every once in a while, not good)

3)      Braden

4)      Dom

5)      Alexandria

The Atlanta Braves (my rooting interest, but I don’t trust them)

6)      Alexander

Bourbon Street (I don’t understand what’s going on, and why did we come back here)

7)      Justin

Sling Blade (It’s only a matter of time)

8)      Ken