'The Fashion Show' Crying over spilled Halston

Reco_thefashionshow_290 Tonight, 'The Fashion Show' let go o the cattiness and instead turned to tears as fashion history schooled the designers something awful.

It all started with the Mini Challenge, which was basically a quiz of fashion history. The designers dropped form the ranks pretty fast in the face of industry trivia until just Anna was left standing. I wish I could remember some of the questions, but I was too disturbed by what was happening on the back of Merlin's head. I never noticed that rooster tail thing he has going on because his clothes are always so distracting, but my god. What IS that?

The Elimination Challenge is for the designers to pay homage to a classic designer while not losing themselves in creating a knock-off. At first, they are all excited. But then they find out that they don't get to pick their designer. Anna does. And she's got a plan. She's kind to her friends and cruel to everyone else. This means that Haven gets Yves saint Laurent, Daniella gets Christian Dior and Johnny gets Gianni Versace while Anna claims Coco Chanel.

Meanwhile, Merlin gets Madame Gres, James Paul gets Emilio Pucci and Reco ends up with Roy Halston Frowick. It's clear there will be trouble when Reco and Merlin admit to having no frame of reference for the designers they were assigned. Anna seems to enjoy her machinations to the hilt, gleefully deriding Reco's design with a condescending "Halston NEVER did a corset."  Which is sort of sardonic, because Chanel never a pleated dress either, but whatever.

Merlin tries to make do in his own outrageous way, entering the design room on day two with the joyous declaration that Madame Gres came to him in a dream and he's still smelling her perfume. Daniella is less sure of herself and her decision to use pants in her Dior inspired design and Johnny upsets  Isaac yet again with his frabric choice. Pleather is not something Versace would ever touch. Isaac also gives Anna a taste of her own medicine by archly commenting "It's very interesting that you think that jacket is paying homage to Chanel."

The runway show seems to fall much flatter this week than it ever has before. Haven's look is sloppy, ill fitting and tired looking, which is not YSL at all. Daniella, again, manages to pull off something that has her aesthetic while also reminding one of Dior. Anna's Chanel tribute seems terribly proportioned and is instantly better when the jacket is discarded. Reco's look doesn't sing the sophisticated simplicity of Halston so much as the folksy tale of a renfair serving wench. And James Paul softens the jarring geometry of a Pucci print with uncommon draping and artful folds.

But it is Johnny's take on Versace that is the clear winner, even with the pleather. He effectively took the best of 90's Versace and updated it to a modern plane, accessorizing and styling his model to perfection. The bottom two are Haven and Reco and to me it's clear that Haven is going home. But when Kelly asks Reco if he really wants to be in the competition, I am blown away. For all Reco's abrasive personality, I truly think he wants this with every fiber of his being. And it's that questions that gets his tears flowing, with him nearly completely breaking down onto Haven's shoulder when the judges go to deliberate.

Luckily, the judges decide the more unforgivable sin is to know YSL and still get it wrong than to not know Halston and miss the mark completely. Do you agree?

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