And sew it goes...
The Challenge: In a rare repeat of a challenge from a prior season, the designers are asked to use HP computers (the company is a major show sponsor) to create a textile design to be incorporated into an original garment. (Fortunately, no one copies Emilio Sosa's narcissistic season 7 signature print.)
The Workroom Drama: Begins with all the plot twists of at telenovela. April Johnston creates a dark and romantic design that channels the conflict over her parents divorce. Michael Costello works with an evil eye motif because his loving family is "shady and has secrets." Mondo Guerra shares that when he was 17, he told his deeply religious mom he was gay and she asked him not to tell his father. "I felt guilt and shame," he says. (But he tells this to the cameras not his fellow contestants.)
And speaking of mommy dearest: The designers shriek as "special guests" turn out to be family members. Moms make up the majority of visitors, but Michael Costello's seven-year-old son, Giovani, accompanies his grandmother. Gretchen Jones weeps because her mother, who cares for her disabled stepfather, finds a way to make it to Parsons. And despite their complicated relationship, Guerra is moved that his sweet-seeming mother is there for him.
The Guest Judge: American fashion designer Rachel Roy joins the panel and gets props from StyeList for being one of the most engaged critics of the season.
The Runway Show: The judges are divided and insist they the seven remaining contestants stay for a lengthy critique, elevating the tension. During their review of Geurra's print flared-pants and coordinating blouse, judge Nina Garcia says she loves the ensemble but , "I wish I knew what the story was.'" Guerra eventually tells Garcia he would like to respond. "I have been HIV positive for 10 years," he tells her, explaining the plus signs in his bold fabric are a symbol of his infection status. "I've been so scared and hiding this, but I feel better now." His fellow contestants are weeping and even the sometimes chilly judges have moist eyes.
Who's In: Guerra for the completely chic pants and blouse. Judge Heidi Klum says the look came from a "difficult inspiration" but "instead of giving us something sad, you gave us something gorgeous.' This is Guerra's third consecutive victory, making him the season's man-to-beat. We're officially very happy.
Who's Out; Sadly it is one of StyleList's season 8 favorites, whimsical Valerie Mayen. She's been in trouble with the judges for weeks now and her "napkin dress" reminds them too much of the inspired frock she did during the Betsey Johnson party favors challenge.
What StyleList thought: Based on her recent failings the judges got it right, but Mayen showed one of the best of the season 8 "PR" collections during New York Fashion Week. StyleList thought she could win-it-all based on the fruity, fun frocks she shared in a stellar decoy show.
Meanwhile, read about Heidi Klum's big Victoria's Secret retirement news.