This episode of Project Runway was brought to you by Celebrity Cruises.
I know, I know. After 14 seasons of the variously branded accessory wall, beauty shots of Brother sewing machines, and throw-away lines about how awesome the Samsung refrigerator in the workroom is, I should be used to it. But when an episode opens like a commercial for a cruise ship, I still can’t help but roll my eyes. The producer who was able to get Amanda to say, “If I go on a cruise, I’m taking theirs,” without sounding like she was reading a cue card deserves a raise.
However, the cruise promo does allow for a cool theme (and 1,000 times better than last year’s Red Robin theme challenge): The designers must work in pairs to create exotic, high-end looks that go from day to night. The button bag — which Swapnil says has been “ruining everyone’s careers” for years — decides the pairs; and the pairs each pick a suitcase, which decides their destination. Here’s how it shakes out:
Amanda and Gabrielle — South of France
Ashley and Candice — Venice
Lindsey and Jake — Hong Kong
Laurie and Swapnil — India
Kelly and Blake — Greek Isles
Edmond and Hanmiao — Caribbean
Merline and Joseph — St. Petersburg
Inside the suitcase, the designers find fabric “in the spirit of the destination” they have chosen. There’s also a “mini Mood” back in the workroom, where they can choose solids. Three episodes in and no Swatch? Rude.
As the pairs begin to sketch, it’s immediately clear who will have the most trouble working together: Hanmiao and Edmond, Lindsey and Jake, and Joseph and Merline. But problems or no, they have eight hours to get a look completed. And according to Tim Gunn, since they’re in teams of two, that’s 16 hours as far as he is concerned. So let the battles begin!
Edmond has a lot of patience — a lot, a lot, a lot of patience. True, he has immunity, so he can wait out whatever Hanmiao creates and take no credit on the runway. But the amount of times he’s able to hold is tongue with Hanmiao is impressive. Whenever he asks her to communicate what she’s thinking, she just yells, “Shut up.” So he just sits back and tries to be agreeable.
And agreeability seems to be what’s causing the most tension in the room. It’s plaguing Merline and Joe as well. He takes the lead, and she doesn’t seem to mind. She does exactly what he says, even when he tells her to stop singing in the workroom. (Which I thought I would be thankful for, but it really just sucked the joy out of the room.) You would think that would make Merline mad, but no, it’s Joseph who keeps getting upset. He’s angry that he has to walk her through how to make all of the designs he came up with — designs Tim calls “matronly.”
Lindsey is doing all the work in her pairing as well, but for a different reason. Lindsey is full of ideas, all of which Jake shoots down without offering solutions. Somehow they agree on a vest. When Tim comes to do critiques, Blake says he wants to do it in black and Lindsey says she would “sooner die.” Tim says their destination, Hong Kong — which Jake has been to! — is all about lights and neon, so Lindsey wins.
Aside from those, Tim is impressed with most of the looks he sees in the room. Ashley and Candice are collaborating as if they’ve always done it; Laurie and Swapnil have “found the secret sauce”; Blake is keeping his offensive comments at bay while creating a Greek goddess look with Kelly; and Amanda and Gabrielle have a pattern that Tim calls “excellent.” What could go wrong??
NEXT: Everything will go wrong.