'The Collection' Episode 3 Recap: Ready, Set, Launch

Credit: Courtesy of Lookout Point and MASTERPIECE

The titular collection of The Collection finally launches, making a household name of House of Sabine. But drama insists on walking the runway as well.

Yvette: My son is unveiling the most important collection of his life. Where would you expect me to be?
Paul: Somewhere where you're welcome.

This is it: the moment we've been waiting for. The dresses have magically sewed themselves, the models are dressed and styled, the most important people are sitting in the Sabine salon. It is time for The Collection to launch.

Four weeks earlier....

Are we really surprised this show isn't going to dole out the goods that easily? There is quite a bit of drama to be rolled out along with the outfits that are contained in the collection launched in the Fall of 1947. There is also the small matter of that dead body, the one the dog unearthed.

At first, it seems to be nothing, some common criminal who must have been dumped on their property. Paul instantly knows better. If there's a body buried on his property, then it's someone the Sabines want dead, right? Right.

Credit: Courtesy of Lookout Point and MASTERPIECE

Turns out it's the sailor who Claude inconveniently had the affair with and Yvette said to "take care of." Paul's hapless manservant did the deed and stuck the body in their kitchen gardens in a grave so shallow a dog would find it. Paul is, understandably, livid. He's already got an American trying to dig up Nazi dirt, and here is Mama, risking scandal right before the big collection debut.

The inspector calls again the day before the debut. The body wasn't some common criminal; they're reopening the case. Could Paul drop everything and drive to the cottage? Yes he can, because he has to keep this quiet. He'll even give the Inspector a seat at tomorrow's show. He can have Mama's seat. (The best moment is when Paul admits to Helen what has happened after trying to keep anyone from knowing and she says "Oh well, of course, your mother had him killed." Helen is no dummy.)

Paul: Where have you been?
Claude: In my office, drilling a hole in the wall.... If this is a disaster, I can just crawl into it.
Paul: Make it big enough for two.

In other news, Nina has moved out of the sewing room and into the land of Modeling. But one doesn't just rise above their station without setting noses out of joint. Her mother's, for example. Not that she isn't proud to see her daughter rise. But when she learns that Nina's sending her salary to the nuns, to pass on to her son, (and as proof that she's doing well so they might let her see him), she's none too pleased. Especially since the nuns respond by sending Nina's mama the letter and the cash.)

Then there's actually learning to model. One might think these things are a natural gift. (The industry works hard to make us believe that.) But modeling walks take practice. It takes Claude, in one of the best sequences of the hour, to teach Nina how to walk a runway of that era... that is until Billy interrupts. 

Credit: Courtesy of Lookout Point and MASTERPIECE
Credit: Courtesy of Lookout Point and MASTERPIECE

Speaking of Billy, the doe-eyed idiot is in love with Nina but will sleep with any girl who wants in his pants, like Dominique. Nina realizes that he's playing all sides of the room, and tells him to knock it off. "We are not here for your pleasure," she snaps. Next time give Dominique the gifts. Billy tries to be more faithful, including taking tons of photos of Nina, but all that does is make Dominique jealous.

One thing we learn this week is that Nina has a leg up on the other models. She knows Claude isn't just the "manager" but the true talent behind the designs. We learned this week that the other models (especially Dominique) have *no idea* that's the side their bread is buttered on. It's part of why Nina is chosen to wear the finale wedding gown. Claude likes her best.

Yvette: How's the cat?
Claude: Better! He only vomits now when I mention your name.

Finally, it's the day of the runway. Paul's gotten word that his cotton king, Trouvier, has been making eyes at other fashion houses, and is planning on jumping ship the moment he fails. This despite the fact that The Sabine Collection is a fabric eater of immense proportions. During one of the few sequences where the reality of dressmaking is allowed to intrude upon the proceedings, we learnt that the large hip bustle shape that the New Look was so famous for was not done by hip pads or by underskirts, but by fabric carefully folding back on itself to give the exact body, causing each one to require an extra four meters of fabric per skirt.

Even after the show starts, things still go wrong, as Dominique's final gambit to sabotage Nina causes the wedding dress to be burnt by one of Billy's photography lights. She loses her finale gown, he takes the fall. It's perfect! But Claude is damned if the show isn't closing on the bride. It's Tradition! (Couture fashion shows still to this day will close with the bride. It's a long-standing custom dating back as far as 1868, a legacy from a time before there were such things as "bridal lines.") 

Credit: Courtesy of Lookout Point and MASTERPIECE

Claude and Paul pull together, one of the few times we see them both sewing like madmen, and repair the gown, by giving it what is now thought of as the standard 1950s era bustle. It is a triumph. The whole show is a triumph. Not just for the House of Sabine, but for The Collection as well. They don't show the full collection -- that would have eaten a full fifteen minutes or so of the episode -- but all of the highlights that defined Dior's Sabine's "New Look" get showcased.  

There's the rounded shoulders, the cinched waist, the big, full A-Line skirts. Nina is given the famous "Bar" jacket to display. Dominique shouldn't complain, her gown, with the framed neckline plunging into an open lapelled back, is just as famous. An early version of the "Junon" dress walks by, reminding us that designers are still to this day copying that look. And every one of them topped with those amazing flying saucer-like hats. The wedding dress brings women to their feet crying "Bravo." It's totally worth it.

Marjorie: I want to be buried in that.

I had *hoped* after last week we might see Michelle Gomez return to deliver the famous quote from Harper's Bazaar editor Carmel Snow, that named the collection: "It's quite a revolution... your dresses have such a new look!" But, no. Instead, Sarah Parish's Marjorie Stutter gets the honors, telling the assembles reporters she would wear any of Sabine's "new look."

With the show having both climaxed, and yet still facing three more hours to fill, Claude goes upstairs and has his way with one of the married gentlemen who had come to watch the show. (Yvette can't kill them all, deary, even as she blames herself for "what her son is.") Elsewhere, Paul has a one-night stand with Charlotte, his second in command at the Fashion House, which Billy accidentally caught a glimpse of. And because you can't keep a good murder quiet, the man who did in the sailor on Yvette's command is now trying to contact someone. 

Personally, I'm waiting for the magazines and papers to go crazy next week so that Paul and Claude can refrain from "I told you so-ing" at Trouvier, who still isn't convinced, despite the show's rapturous response in-house...