An unconventional challenge takes an emergency twist

By Dalene Rovenstine
March 04, 2016 at 02:42 AM EST
Barbara Nitke/Lifetime
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We have a fashion emergency — no it’s not Mitchell’s hot pink, catheterized mess — it’s that these early season All Stars really just don’t care to be on the show (or “DGAF” as the kids say). First Daniel (season 1 and 2) with his “Oh, I’m going home, really? Okay, no big deal.” And now Stella (season 5) just completely gives up on the unconventional challenge. I mean were they being held against their will on All Stars? Why even go on the show if you’re not going to try??

Anyway, yes, it’s the unconventional challenge. And Alyssa Milano seems more excited about it than even most fans. (And so does guest judge Johnny Wujek, but we’ll get to him later.) She’s beaming as she tells them about it standing outside of DCTV, an arts training program for New York City youth. But the building’s connection to this challenge is that it’s a decommissioned firehouse.

An NYPD police officer, firefighter, and EMT stand beside Alyssa as she says their unconventional supplies will be emergency services-themed. I think we’re stretching it a bit on these “textiles” at this point, but I did LOL when Mitchell asked if anyone wanted urinary leg bags.

With five minutes and a large duffel bag, the designers grab gauze, fire hoses, cotton swabs, fake cop badges, pills, stethoscopes, and a plethora of weird and weirder items. Stella sees blue oxygen tubing and calls it a day. See what I’m saying about being over it? Everyone knows for unconventional challenges you snag as much as you can just in case. But no, she’s satisfied with her tubing. She wants to make a tube coat and sketches it thusly:

Now I am not an artist, so I’m not one to judge, but did that really need to be put on paper? Wait, though… Alexander’s got Stella beat. He doesn’t have any ideas yet aside from “something surreal,” so he sketches this:

A stick figure. A STICK FIGURE. I was laughing all through commercial break on that one. I secretly hope one of the producers drew that and snuck it into a shot just to mess with us. But maybe I’m just ready for UnREAL to come back.

Moving on… The designers are back in the workroom with 10 hours to make these looks. True to the unconventional challenge, there is a lot of glue-gunning going on. Doing well in this challenge requires thinking outside the box, and many people are struggling. As Sam says, “Stubborn people don’t usually do well with unconventional.”

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But they don’t have long to even be stubborn before Zanna is there with her critical eye. The first victim is Layana, who’s working on a bright blue skirt and top made with gauze. “I don’t want it to look like a Smurf,” Zanna advises.

But she is excited by Ken’s “straight-jacket dress.” And the advice goes back and forth like that throughout the room. Her biggest tip is to avoid looking crafty, which she tells Stella about her tube coat after learning how to speak again. Zanna just has wide eyes for the look at first, which Stella seems shocked by. “Don’t you find it interesting at all?” Zanna does not.

For Kini, Zanna invokes the Great Tim Gunn when giving advice about his colored-glove dress: “You don’t want it to be, to quote Tim Gunn, a float in a parade.” But I think Layana is more on point when she calls it a piñata. (Sorry, Kini.)

Zanna spreads her advice around the rest of the room and then tells them they have a long way to go — except they don’t really since they have to get to the runway in the morning. That gives Stella a very short time to re-create her look. She switches to using gauze and is able to take X-rays from someone. It might not be pretty, but her model will be dressed (too bad it wasn’t next week’s challenge).

NEXT: Here’s Johnny…

Before the runway starts, Alyssa introduces the designers to the guest judge: Johnny Wujek, who is a celeb stylist, but more specifically, Katy Perry’s creative director. He’s so excited about the unconventional challenge, he leans out of his chair to shout his excitement for it before Alyssa can barely get his job title out. (I’m making fun of him, but it’s nice to have guest judges on the show who are excited to be there.)

Kini, Dom, Emily, Layana, and Mitchell are safe. Yes, you read that right. I have no idea what that pink dress was, but somehow it passed the producers’ judges’ standards. That leaves Ken, Asha, Alexander, Stella, Valerie, and Sam for critiques.

Ken and Sam both grabbed fire hoses — but ended up with very different textiles. Ken cut his open to reveal a black coating that he used to look like a patent leather dress. Isaac says the result is “naughty and chic.” Alyssa loves it, as well, but has to nitpick about the collar, which she felt was too heavy. And Georgina isn’t enthused about the way the fabric lays over the chest. She says it gives the model “crash boob,” but ultimately she still loves it, so “who cares?”

Asha had bigger plans for her skirt but ran out of time. The pink gauze ended up serving as textile for her skirt, as well as her top. She incorporated X-ray prints and pills to create a pattern, but Johnny says he wanted more with the print on top and that she should have used more pills. Isaac’s problem is with the bottom half: He doesn’t like the cut of the skirt, which looks like it was slashed. And Alyssa says the whole look just doesn’t feel “special.”

Alexander’s inspiration was waves and water, which he tried to execute by gradating colored gauze. Although Isaac says the colors are fresh, the rest have all around bad reviews. Johnny thinks it needs amping up, and Georgina echoes that, saying he should have pushed it more. (But seriously, how is this in the “bottom”??)

Oh, Stella. She completely abandoned her tube coat and instead sent a bandage wrap skirt with a hospital gown crop top emblazoned with an X-ray cutout skyline. Alyssa likes the skyline, but Johnny and Isaac say it feels very Forever 21. Georgina said the idea was okay, but the look fell flat. Stella then tries to help her case by saying Zanna told her she was going too avant-garde, and she feels that was what caused her to produce this. It does not save her. “There is nothing less chic than an excuse,” Isaac says.

Although she used the same pink and nude gauze for her top, Valerie implemented a cotton swab skirt peplum that made the two looks feel different. Johnny doesn’t like the belt she put on it, but when he realizes that it’s part of a stethoscope, he’s more okay with it. Isaac is impressed by how flattering Valerie made an unconventional look. Alyssa agrees and wishes there had been more cotton swabs on the skirt — which was Valerie’s original plan, but she ran out of time.

With the fire hose he selected, Sam used the outer side that had writing on it (as opposed to Ken). He pieced it together as a vest, added sleeves and a bandage dress (with literal bandages) underneath, and ended up with what Johnny calls a Hunger Games look — in a good way. Georgina loves how balanced it is. Isaac was upset by the waist, but when Sam unzips the vest, that fixes the problem. Then Sam and Johnny flirt back and forth, and it gets weird. “Get a room,” everyone there (and at home) shouts.

Winner: Sam

Out: Stella

What did you guys think of this week’s winner and loser? Am I being too hard on Stella? Did you like Mitchell’s catheter dress? Are you tired of Kini complaining about LAST WEEK? Do you think Sam and Johnny got a room?

Next week: NAKED RUNWAY. I can’t wait. Until then, let’s chat below, or you can find me on Twitter @realdalener.

Past Runway designers compete for the top prize.
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