During their video recap debate, Gold Derby senior editors Daniel Montgomery and Susan Wloszczyna got right into what might have been the lone low point of the first episode that had the 16 newly introduced designers pairing up for a challenge that celebrated America’s entry into the space race in 1962.
As Montgomery notes, “It ended surprisingly to me not just with an elimination, but with a double elimination.” Returning judges Brandon Maxwell, Elaine Welteroth and Nina Garcia decided to send home designers Asma Bibi and Jenn Charkow, whose styles — a fully covered “modest” outfit vs. goth chic — failed to mesh into complementary looks. “I disagreed with the judges’ decision to send both home.”
Wloszczyna was less bothered by their choice to chop two contestants right off the bat. “If you remember the premiere last season, we had two people being picked there, and we thought the one chosen to go home should of stayed. Maybe it would have been fairer if they’d just gotten rid of both of them. But I don’t know why they did that since it would be one less episode.”
Montgomery surmises that the addition of the “Siriano Save” this season that allows mentor Christian Siriano to bring back one eliminated player if he so chooses could result in an extra episode, balancing things out after this double elimination. “We both mentioned they should of had a save last season,” Wloszczyna adds, and they corrected another pet peeve from last season: “They showed Swatch not once but twice,” referring to fabric store Mood’s in-house canine star who was mostly MIA on Season 17. “They’re listening to us.”
Wloszczyna suggests that this crew of 16 were a more confident lot than last season’s. “But not all of them are confident. A few had a little breakdown.” High on that list was the entertaining though forgetful Alan Gonzalez, who left some essential fabric behind at Mood, causing him and his partner Dayoung Kim to be the second team on the bottom of the judges’ scores. He managed to borrow some flowered pattern that said cheap more than chic. As Wloszczyna put it, the outfit “looked a little Target-y.” Or as Elaine Welteroth put it, “It looks like a bad Destiny’s Child costume.”
Brandon Maxwell saved his most scathing words for Asma and Jenn when he blurted out, “What in the actual hell?” about how their models looked as soon as they walked out.
Some designers, perhaps, were too full of themselves — we’re talking about you, Sergio Guadarrama, who created Billy Porter‘s buzzworthy design for the Tony Awards. “At first, I was impressed by him,” says Wloszczyna, and Montgomery agrees he should have “bragging rights.” “He is obviously on this show for a reason. But he acts like, ‘Oh, they’re lucky to have me.'”
At least this week, however, Sergio and his partner, Uber driver Brittany Allen, were one of the two pairs on top. Says Montgomery, “I liked his look, but Brittany Allen, who actually won the challenge, had the better look.”
A lack of confidence in your talent, can be equally annoying as being arrogant, however. “That Geoffrey guy, who was one of the top looks, he was making the whole thing out of muslin. But it turned out OK with him. But Dayoung was so hard on herself.”
Adds Montgomery, “There are two kinds of designers who are really stressed out and under-confident. There’s the one who is just disorganized and bad. And there are the ones who just second-guess themselves constantly but they turn out to be great. Sebastian Grey was like that and he won [season 17].”
Wloszczyna does like Nancy Volpe-Beringer, but she hopes she stops saying she is the oldest contestant ever on the show at age 64. Alan is the youngest at 24, and sort of acts like it. But Nancy is hopefully not going to be presented as a motherly figure, considering her design was deemed safe, but not one of the top looks despite it incorporating a reveal — which is usually catnip for Brandon.
Notes Montgomery, “She was collaborative, was warm but they didn’t make her the mom of the contestants. She is actually still fairly green, considering she has only been designing for a few years because she left a previous career. I really, really like her. A lot of times what will happen is you’ll get a designer who is really kind of ‘Kumbaya’ and really loves everybody, and their work turns out to be kind of sloppy and slapdash … But she had a great look.”
Our editors also go on to discuss that this batch of designers will get a chance to show a collection New York Fashion Week — unlike last season — while Montgomery, who thought Brittany was a deserving winner, has his eye on both Delvin McCray and Tyler Neasloney as being potential standouts.
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