Barbara Nitke/Bravo
People Staff
September 04, 2008 12:00 AM

Forget about celebrity guests or thematic challenges. For the first time this season, the designers had to step it up and create for an actual design powerhouse: Diane von Furstenberg.

Tasked with creating a look for the iconic designer’s fall collection, the contestants were marched downtown to the Meatpacking District where they met von Furstenberg, who arrived to deliver their task after gliding down a regal staircase. With an entrance like that, was there any doubt the night be would about D-R-A-M-A?

Take Kenley, who immediately began bawling when she learned that von Furstenberg would be assessing her design. (She was just so overwhelmed by the possibility of meeting such an illustrious designer!) Then consider the design inspiration: Von Furstenberg explained that her fall collection was designed around the 1948 film A Foreign Affair, starring Marlene Dietrich as an international spy who traveled between Berlin and Shanghai. She asked the designers to visit her storeroom, grab fabric and create an international look befitting such an iconic figure. While many took to the challenge with enthusiasm, Stella seemed out of her element from the get-go. First, the “tough” designer could barely yank her fabric off the shelf. Then, she seemed unsure where to go with the challenge. Hmmm, would leathuh pants and a stitched vest be too conspicuous for a ’40s-inspired spy?

In the opposite camp, Kenley showed off an ber-confident approach. While most of the other designers created three-piece looks, she would fabricate one piece: a bold, colorfully pattern dress incorporating Chinese flourishes.

Meanwhile, the rest of the designers began butting up against each other in the workroom. Korto and Terri got snippy over their respective looks. Leanne, who had immunity from her win the previous week, got busy pretending to be a spy: She slinked around the workroom with stealthy zeal, then whispered about espionage in the testimonial booth. Method designing, it turns out, really works. Leanne’s look–a stunning blue dress with a ruffled back, paired with a smart, gray jacket–wowed the judges, and she earned her second win in a row.

On the runway, Kenley was praised for her dress, even though she had to defend herself to Heidi Klum who deemed it too easy. (DVF loved the look, though.)

In the end, Stella and Joe were taken to task for sloppy, unsophisticated designs. Joe’s look was criticized for its slatternly tailoring … with the seams in the back never matching up. Stella’s outfit, a cape worn over ill-fitting pants and a vest, earned poor marks for fit and style. Or as Fern Mallis (who subbed for Nina Garcia) summed it up: “Stella was not stellar.”

So, Stella, who graciously left the runway, was sent to pack up her leather and go home. –Brian Orloff

Tell us: What did you think of the challenge? Should Kenley have won? And did Stella deserve to go home?

Barbara Nitke/Bravo

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