The designers pair up to design red carpet looks for Little Big Town... Fights ensue

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“Opposites attract” may be true in love and country music bands, but the same is not true of Project Runway design teams.

Once Alyssa told the designers they would be designing in pairs for the female leads of Little Big Town with an “opposites attract” theme, I thought, “Oh, this could be fun.” And then when she put Sam — last week’s winner — in charge of selecting the teams, I thought, “Oh, this is going to be a disaster.”

Sam picked to be with Kini, whom he calls “some kind of wizard” (and let’s be honest, you would pick Kini for yourself, too). He then pairs Asha and Alexander, Layana and Emily, Ken and Dom, Valerie and Stella, and… “I guess that leaves Daniel and Mitchell.”

When the designers ask Sam about his choices, he claims that he picked people who would be opposites in their design styles, such as how Valerie designs light and flowy while Stella designs dark and hard. Kini applauds Sam on the quick excuse he came up with. Ken and Kini determine the reasoning for his pairing Daniel and Mitchell was simply “leftovers,” and when they ask him if that’s true, he just gives them the living embodiment of a GIF:

But regardless of how the designers were paired, they have to make it work (aww, miss you, Tim Gunn) because the prize is high: Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Schlapman will wear the winning looks on the red carpet for the Academy of Country Music Awards in April. Kimberly is a little bit country and Karen is a little bit rock & roll, so the looks have to have an opposite theme to suit that — however, the women are typically photographed together, so even though the individuals will be responsible for their own looks, the pairs’ looks have to be complementary.

That doesn’t sound like it will lead to fights at all. And it doesn’t…right away. With $600 to spend at Mood, the designers are sketching their ideas and buying fabrics. The opposite themes start to develop (naughty and nice, light and dark, “pleasure and pain…because we’re freaks”), and the discussions stay civil for a short time.

But back in the workroom, the personalities start to come out. (They clearly did not read Project Runway Junior winner Maya’s advice for group challenges.) Daniel wants to talk through Mitchell’s gown because he’s concerned it will look too “old.” Mitchell just rolls his eyes and pouts. This moment perfectly sums up this pairing:

Mitchell wants to take a “15-minute breather,” so he uses that time to get a pep talk from his yes man Stella. Their friendship baffles me. She tells him to just ignore Daniel, which seems like the opposite advice you should give to someone working WITH A PARTNER.

But Stella has problems of her own: She and Valerie do not get along. Stella goes so far to say she wouldn’t wish Valerie as a partner on anyone. And what’s Valerie’s big sin? Trying to get Stella to stay on track time-wise. HOW RUDE. When Valerie finishes her look and Stella is still working, she offers to make a belt for her. Stella then yells at her for making it wrong. I get that being a crank is Stella’s thing, but it doesn’t hurt to just say thank you every once in a while.

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Zanna comes to the workroom to critique the themed looks…and mediate between the dueling teams. Asha and Alexander, Layana and Emily, and Dom and Ken are all just smooth sailing — Zanna even tells Dom and Ken, “Keep it cool.”

But when she gets to Daniel and Mitchell, she starts to see the now-cliché teamwork troubles. Zanna says she thinks Daniel’s look is tacky while Mitchell emphatically nods his head up and down. But sweet Daniel is clueless: He says they’re a good team because Mitchell helps him with time and he helps Mitchell with editing, to which Zanna says he needs to help Mitchell edit a little further. Zanna ftw.

Next, Zanna goes to Sam and Kini, who are getting along and like their theme. Their theme is West Coast vs. East Coast, a.k.a. “beach and bitch.” They both like their looks — and Zanna does, too, but not together. So to make the looks work together better, they re-create Sam’s top to make it more couture and flowy to match the look of Kini’s dress. And by “they,” I mean mostly Kini. Sam said it — he is a wizard with sewing, so he’s able to finish his own look and then help Sam do his work, too (or so he grumbles to the camera over and over).

NEXT: Bring on the boobage…

But the one thing this team challenge helped everyone with was time management. There weren’t any major time issues (potentially because the pairs were spurring each other on), and the designers get to the runway on time.

There, they are met by Alyssa, Isaac, Georgina, and their muses, Karen and Kimberly, who are also serving as guest judges. Ken and Dom and Layana and Emily are safe, which means the rest get critiques.

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Credit: Lifetime

Asha and Alexander used the very simple light and dark theme, but pulled it off pretty masterfully. Isaac says they most clearly fulfilled the idea of opposites attract; his only critique is the finishing on Asha’s cutout looks messy. Alyssa loves how Asha placed a sparkle fabric underneath the lace to give it the perfect pop for the runway. Meanwhile, Georgina is obsessed with the printed fabric Alexander put under his tulle. The black and blue give it a great iridescence. Kimberly and Karen like it — there are just fans all around!

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Credit: Lifetime

Sam describes his and Kini‘s coastal themes as “my Bostonian seriousness and Kini’s beachy fabulous.” Even with the switch to the blousy top on Sam’s look after Zanna’s critique, it didn’t fully satisfy the challenge, as Isaac says he doesn’t get the opposites. But he does love both looks. Alyssa says, “Sam, holy s— I love this,” and goes on to say it could be her favorite runway look since she’s been on Project Runway All Stars. However, she doesn’t see it as a red carpet look. Kimberly agrees; she likes it, but it’s a bit too “business” on the bottom. These two are in the top, but it’s also not helping that Kini committed the worst red carpet crime: His dress doesn’t highlight the model’s shape when standing still. And considering people are standing still for red carpet images, that’s a big no-no.

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Credit: Lifetime

When Alyssa asks Mitchell and Daniel to explain their looks, Mitchell immediately throws it to Daniel since “it was initially his idea” — which is code for I’m not taking responsibility for this. Daniel, clueless still, doesn’t mind. He says with their pleasure and pain theme, he wanted to do something bondage-y, rocker-y, and edgy. It went a little too edgy, according to all the judges: Isaac thinks it’s objectifying to the model. Karen says she saw some “boobage.” But oddly, Georgina is a fan of the dress. She says she likes the lines of the top but wishes Sam had lined the lace skirt to the floor. With his pleasure theme, Mitchell wanted to do “something princess.” Sweet Kimberly tries to give him good notes — she likes pink — but eventually has to say the truth: that this doesn’t appear to be finished. And they all agree. Georgina tells him he needs to start giving them finished designs, not just ideas.

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Credit: Lifetime

Stella and Valerie present their naughty and nice looks next. Georgina, Isaac, and all the judges love Valerie’s jumpsuit, but they think it’s not red carpet enough, especially since the ties on the hips make it look like an apron. But that’s nothing compared to what they say about Stella’s dress: Isaac says the fabric makes it look like a garbage bag. Ouch. Stella tells them she had never used this type of material before, which Alyssa points out probably wasn’t smart to try for the first time on a judged runway. But as Karen notes, the dress she was able to create with that terrible fabric is impressive. The bigger problem than the fabric is the slit up the front of the dress. Georgina hates it, and as Kimberly says, you never want the media takeaway from a red carpet look to be “we saw her panties.”

Winners: Asha and Alexander

Out: Daniel, who — confused as ever — doesn’t even believe Alyssa said his name

And if I’m being honest, I don’t either. Isaac does say that the decision between Mitchell and Daniel was by just “a hair.” I’d like to know what that hair is. No matter what it was, I guess third time’s not a charm. Sorry, Daniel.

What did you think of tonight’s episode? Did it make you nostalgic for the drama-free Project Runway Junior group competitions? Were you sad to say goodbye to Daniel so early? Let’s chat below, or you can find me on Twitter @realdalener.

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Project Runway All Stars
Past Runway designers compete for the top prize.
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