Sandro and Helen let their emotions get the best of them; the designers quickly learn the dangers of the B-word
Helen Castillo
Credit: Barbara Nitke/Lifetime
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No, you aren’t on the wrong channel accidentally watching an episode of Law & Order. But the briefcases, guns, guarded vans, and the stoic armed men in uniform are a lot less stress-inducing than the evil about to take the runway with Heidi: the button bag.

With several audible gasps and nervous “you’ve got to be kidding me” chuckles from designer row, Heidi announces that the security guards are present for “millions and millions of reasons…”


The models grace the runway, frosted in over $30 million worth of borrowed jewels straight from the Diamond District. This week’s challenge is to create a glamorous evening look inspired by the precious stones that the models are wearing.

“I’m not inspired by jewelry. I’m not inspired by money. We have to pick the prettiest diamond, and I think that that’s very superficial.” And now for a round of Guess Which Designer Said That—Oh, Timothy. We’re not sure that you realize the fashion industry by nature is materialistic and superficial. As the designers begin their model scouting, Bradon is up first due to his challenge win and sticks with his first-round lady. Everyone gets to breathe a sigh of relief when it turns out the button bag is merely determining the selection order. It’s only episode two, and Klum and Co. certainly have bigger and better button bag tricks up their perfectly seamed sleeves.

Most seem more excited than petrified at the idea of diving into eveningwear so early on in the competition. But then again, sophisticated gowns constructed from real fabrics probably feel like a walk in the park after the runway parade of parachutes. Bradon’s parachute gown was, however, impeccably elegant, and hopefully he can come out with back-to-back immunities.

But look out, designers, we’ve got some members of the gang entering workroom stage one: overconfidence. Helen is tattooed with cockiness, claiming that she’s got this one in the bag. “I do eveningwear,” she declares, with bold plans to make a fitted gown with cups and sleek style lines.

NEXT: We’re finally going to MOOD!

Thirty minutes to sketch and then they’re off on the first trip to Mood. After another GoBank debit card spiel (Are we sold on this season 12 change, or does anyone else feel faintly nostalgic for the traditional wad of cash?), Tim suggests a 300 dollar spending cap for the diamonds challenge, but ultimately it’s up to the designers to manage their four thousand dollar total budget for the season.

You’ve got to love a good Mood frenzy. Shower curtain prints for Kahindo, second-hand blue velvet pulled out of garbage bins for Timothy, and couture-caliber fabrics that Alexander needs both for his design and to shove into Sandro’s loud mouth.

“Red Hair, how you doing? Why you going so couture?”

“Because it’s a million, trillion dollar diamond necklace. What am I going to do, plastic? [Pffffffttt]” You tell him, Red Hair.

Still early in the competition and financial rationality still somewhat on the mind, all of the designers managed to stay within reasonable budgets. A successful Mood outing it was—Thank you, Mood. Bye, Swatch!

The workroom instantly becomes polluted with endless quacking from Sandro, and Ken has had enough. The sewing room tension grows as Sandro takes a few digs at Ken’s competence, and Ken fires back the suggestion that Sandro learn to speak correct English. Justin conveniently turns off his hearing aid, while Karen makes a brief effort to referee: “Hugs and kisses, guys!”

It’s pretty much workroom as usual, with a whiny designer here and an amateur sewer there, but Kahindo confesses that she has never worked with silk charmeuse before. Her lack of experience going into her design mixed with the questionable choice in camo-resembling patterned fabric can’t be a promising combination. Tim pops in for consultations, immediately noticing the puckering, messy stitches around the back cutout on Kahindo’s dress. He instead suggests that she layer the green charmeuse on top of the patterned mess hanging on her mannequin. First rule of the runway, no matter how hard you try, the judges will see right through all of your attempts to cover up imperfections.

Kate’s design on the other hand is already shaping up to be a Marie Antoinette-inspired pale lavender gown, paired with a delicate sapphire necklace. Even with only the corset bodice as visible progress on her mannequin, it’s already evident that it has the potential to rule the runway. Tim instantly knows the design has Kate’s name on it, but Alexander doesn’t have the same complimentary things to say about the garment. “It’s very Vivienne Westwood to me. I could repeat top designers left and right, but I came here to be original.” he scoffs. Not exactly the most insulting critique, Alexander.

Helen and her sleepy eyes are still bragging over at her station about her “eveningwear forte,” despite a gloomy shade of brown fabric stitched up around her mannequin. Tim is mostly concerned about the time management of her ambitious design plans, but she insists “I think I’m going to blow his mind, like hardcore. But I don’t want to—all right, that’s going to sound dirty. Nevermind.” Say what, Helen?

Alexander is all about the chiffon, on chiffon, on chiffon. Dom has a pretty little green gown manifesting into something that could either be modern and chic, or regress to floozy beachwear. There’s hope for her on this runway, though. Timothy has an inexplicable velvet blue rectangle strapped across the bust of his mannequin, and he then shuffles around the workroom asking for any suggestions to improve whatever it is he seems to be constructing. Young, confused, and unconfident, this could be bottom two deja vu for Mr. Sustainable.

NEXT: The panic room

It appears that we’re onto stage two: harsh reality. With an hour left, designers enter the 10 p.m. panic mode, and Sue still can’t work a sewing machine. Dom is generous enough to rethread it for her, but there can only be so many more instances of charity before it’s ever designer for him or herself.

It’s the morning of the runway show and designers have now entered stage three: complete fashion hysteria. Helen realizes that she took on too many tasks that she’s never done before and admits that her dress next to Kate’s looks like a dog turd, Timothy is having a “make it work” moment, and Sandro is making faces with a bra on his head.

Sandro has an epic Project Runway freak out where he drags a PRODUCTION CREW MEMBER INTO THE WORKROOM TO HELP HIM WORK THE STEAMER. WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! As much as you want to slap a muzzle on the man, it wouldn’t be half the fun without the token babbling loudmouth, who somehow reveals a few episodes into the season he or she is infuriatingly talented (Elena Slivnyak, season 10, anyone?).

Hair and makeup goes smoothly, with Timothy learning that L’Oreal products are “wonderful in sustainability,” whatever that means. Kate has a pretty, modern updo in the works for her blonde bombshell, and no one tells Dom that headbands aren’t making a comeback.

This week’s guest judge is Eric Daman, Emmy award-winning costume designer known for iconic, stylish television series including Sex and the City and Gossip Girl. Heidi dishes out the lengthy prize list: A new car, a collection on Belk, lots of water bottles, lots of money, something about the Maldives, her next born child, yadda, yadda. The music starts up, the first shadow appears on the runway screen, and it’s showtime!

NEXT: The six of you have the highest and lowest scores…

Alright, folks. Let’s go through the best and worst looks (and you’ll have to excuse the blurry screen grabs):



Our alum designer created a knockout gown with inspiration behind it. Described to fit the story and style of Marie Antoinette fleeing Versailles, the gown makes the jewelry pop, is styled to perfection, and could be “seen in a perfume ad,” according to Zac.


Her modern, wind-catching gown matches the emerald diamond jewels perfectly and shows a sophisticated draping job in the shoulder and back detail. This look was an instant hit as it billowed down the runway and looked entirely different than any eveningwear the judges have seen. The only complaint, the hair ribbon. When it comes to hair and makeup, less is typically more, gang! Unless you’re Timothy.


This bustier and mermaid skirt ensemble was instantly my favorite, and the over-the-top Russian vixen look won the judges approval. Our little workroom pest was one of the few designers to do a shorter skirt, which Nina instantly commends. Styled with a giant top bun, a bold scarlet lip, and a gorgeous ruby diamond earrings and necklace set, the two-piece nude top and skirt with black lace embellishments proves that once in a while on Project Runway, more is more.



Ill-fitted and ill-colored, her unpolished gown was a miss as soon as the model stepped onto the runway. Helen also needs some thicker skin to survive the episodes to come. After 11 previous seasons, you would think that the “I live for this, I want to be in Paris, I want to do couture, I am going to do it until the day I die” speech and tears charade are things all contestants should know to avoid. Hold back the waterworks, Hel. Sandro jumps in to try and provide some support for his emotional “friend,” only leading to a lecture from the judge’s panel reminding everyone that they all share a passion for design, but in the world of fashion you have to be able to execute and deliver first and foremost.


Inspired by the blue velvet jewelry box that the yellow diamond necklace came inside, the racer back-in-the-front gown left the judges skeptical regarding the practicality of the dress. Heidi was still snarky in regards to Timothy’s sustainability beliefs, but he at least used makeup and hair products this challenge. Zac thought that blue velvet looked familiar, perhaps scraps from his own showroom. Although I typically love Nina’s commentary—harsh but professionally honest—I am not entirely in agreement with her tuxedo jacket suggestion. The bizarre racer back in the front of Timothy’s garment ultimately puts him in the bottom three. Ladies, we can see where the judges are coming from on this one. Unless we throw on a backwards sports bra, the functionality of the gown is unrealistic. But I’ll admit, I didn’t think Timothy’s dress was as disastrous as…


Mistake number one, admitting right off-the-bat that she chose to go simple because she knew she didn’t have a lot of time. No one had a lot of time; you “make it work.” Heidi uses the dreaded B-word, describing her dress as boring and off-the-rack. Zac describes the print as “sand art,” and Eric Daman argues that the jewelry isn’t complimented at all. When it comes to Project Runway, boring is always eliminated. “I am a strong designer and I can definitely show that,” Kahindo sucks up. She hammered that last nail in the coffin.

Do you agree with the judges’ decision? Did Timothy deserve to survive back-to-back bottom twos? Will we eventually love crazy Russian Sandro?

Episode Recaps

Project Runway

Karlie Kloss and Christian Siriano guide undiscovered designers through the harrowing rites of fashion.

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