In their final challenge, the designers must make two separate looks to see who will make it to the coveted Lincoln Center runway show.
Project Runway Recap
Credit: Barbara Nitke/Lifetime

We all make mistakes. We all have moments that we regret and wish to take back. And life doesn’t always present us with the opportunity to make these situations right.

Korina is one of the lucky few: Here, life (or, you know, the producers) gave her the opportunity to apologize for the childish, mean things she said. She could prove it was just exhaustion and emotion that caused her to belittle a fellow designer on the runway. She could apologize and demonstrate that there were no hard feelings.

But that’s not what happened. Much like the overly dramatic build-up from the Lifetime previews, I’ll just leave that there and get back to it later.

Instead, let’s start with the most ridiculous part of the episode: Tim telling the designers they have 10 minutes to jump out of bed and get ready. (There’s no way Mr. Gunn himself can pull off his polished look in just 10 minutes. He probably spends that time alone selecting his suit.)

But somehow the designers pull it off and meet him on the roof of Gotham West (“what a beautiful view!”). They are joined by Brian Bolain, corporate marketing manager of Lexus. The challenge—a two-day street chic challenge—has seemingly no connection to Lexus, but the designers get to cruise in style for .2 seconds before checking out the NYC streets.

Amanda is inspired by graffiti; Emily graphics and architecture; Sean a clean, white kaftan and pants; Kini … denim?; and Char a cool window display with a yellow dress—noooo, Char! Stay away! Luckily, it’s the paper airplanes behind the dress that inspire her.

After Mood and some leisure workroom time, all the designers can’t say enough about how slow they are going to take things. “Today, I’ll work really slowly so tomorrow I can spend even more time working on one little thing.” Basically. Not to mention how much they enjoy the space without Kormeana (thank you, commenters) around. Either these designers have been in the Parsons workroom so long they are delusional or they are very good actors, because ain’t no way they don’t know there’s a catch coming.

NEXT: Here’s the catch…

And that catch comes the next day in the form of a button bag and five losing looks. In an essentially separate but simultaneous challenge, Tim explains, the designers will create a second look that repurposes their selected losing look into a #winning look.

Emily chooses Samantha’s plain blue gown (smart choice).

Char picks Korina’s winter ensemble from the last challenge. And again—noooo, Char! Stay away! Did she really not see that there could be more to this challenge than meets the eye? Or maybe she did and she’s a big enough person that she could rise above it and work with someone who thinks she’s “so much of a f—ing better designer.” What’s that they say about keeping your enemies close?

Anyway, Amanda chooses Fäde’s rainway dress because they were basically soul mates.

Kini chooses Mitchell’s red carpet look, which he can easily transform into Kini gold.

And poor Sean is stuck with Sandhya’s pink tween onesie. “The good news is you didn’t pick it—it picked you,” Tim says.

So after Mood and returning to the workroom, in walk four assistants and one dark cloud. When everyone gets placed with their designer, Char tries to make the best of it … with an awkward clap. But Korina is having none of it. While holding back tears, she tells Tim—and the room—that it’s “clear” she shouldn’t be there. [DRAMATIC PAUSE] “That is perfectly fine,” Tim says. Slam door. End scene.

When everyone saw the promo for this week’s episode, I think we all assumed that this twist would be the next morning, immediately after Korina’s departure. It wouldn’t excuse behavior, but exhaustion can do crazy things to people. Instead, she got at least one to two good nights of sleep before being thrown back in the workroom. And to be fair, she did say she wouldn’t be able to give 100 percent to Char, but come on. You join a competition; you get sent home; you be a professional and do what’s necessary to look like a functioning adult on national television.

Korina staying would most definitely have hurt Char’s looks, which isn’t really fair, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed that Tim let Korina go so easily.

In her place came Alexander. And it was at that moment that I thought, “Oh, yeah, Alexander wasn’t there. Why wasn’t he there in the first place?” Was it because they wanted to force a Korina vs. Char intervention? (Although, there’s no way they could have known Char would pick her look … unless the show has started dabbling in mind control now, too?) Or was it because the everyday model loved her green and black skirt-crop top combo so much she wouldn’t give it back?

With all that out of the way, the designers could get to work on their two looks. They each have very clear visions for what they’re doing; and when Tim comes for critique, only Sean is left scrambling for a major change. Tim suggests edits for Charketa, but per usual, she sticks to her guns. She always does it so respectfully, maybe that’s what he sees in her—her unwavering aesthetic?

NEXT: One last runway … until the last runway

Pretty Little Liars star Shay Mitchell joined the guests’ panel for the runway show. If you have seen the show and know how many outfits Shay wears on any given episode, it should come as no surprise that she had a lot to say—and it was all said in very elegant critiques. She definitely held her own with Nina, Heidi, and Zac.

Amanda‘s street look was boho to the max, but it was amazing. That dress alone defines her aesthetic and skill as a designer. It was an odd cut, the way it had volume on the sides was strange, and the colors were drab, but somehow it worked. Her updated Fäde look was … not as good. It was better than the original, but that isn’t saying much. It honestly seemed like a waste of good leather. (And Shay gets the critique of the night: “It’s just reminding me of Tron.”)

There are definitely people out there that would love the bodysuit/hoodie combo that Emily put together—I am not one of those people. The bodysuit was exactly how Nina described it: a Cirque du Soleil costume. I could maybe get on board with the giant hoodie, but it still didn’t feel like a runway look. The reworked look was very cute, which was the problem. It didn’t look like Emily’s style at all. She spent way too much time on the street look and didn’t give enough thought to it; it evolved into something that wasn’t her (but props to Samantha!).

Sean‘s white top and skirt was one of those designs that looks as if it walked off a magazine page. Of course Nina loved it (she said it was one of the best pieces she’s seen on Project Runway)—so did the other judges. Heidi tried to psych him out: “I mean what is going on here? [dramatic pause, terrified look from Sean] … It is fantastic.” Classic, Heidi. Sadly, his Sandhya 2.0 look didn’t get the same love. He did embrace the campiness the original onesie had, but it read more “Flamenco rodeo princess” than ironic.

Char‘s street look was more her than anything we’ve seen since her original rack on the premiere. This look explains why Tim saved her; he saw this. She put her aesthetic into it—and extra pocket or no—it looked great. Her black dress, which only used strips of Korina’s cape (how much do you think she loved ripping it apart?) needed a little more time for better execution, but the basic idea was there.

Although his trench was very NY street—we love a good trench here—Kini‘s street look was overworked. I think it was Coco Chanel who said that women should look in the mirror before leaving the house and take one thing off. Kini’s look needed a mirror. But his former-Mitchell look saved him. It was effortless, tailored perfectly, and simply stunning.

NEXT: Final thoughts…

With their looks judged, each designer was given time to say why he or she should continue on to Fashion Week. Let’s grade them, shall we?

Kini: “I want to go to Fashion Week so you can see what I can truly do and where my creativity can go and I feel like I could put on a great show.” B

A little too generic.

Emily: “I feel like throughout the competition, every look that I’ve shown, I feel like I’ve put myself into it, and I know that what I would create is going to be amazing, and I’d really love to show that at fashion week.” C+

Only works if the judges want to keep seeing your look.

Sean: “I’ve shown you some moments on the runway which you have never seen before, and I have plenty more of them stashed away that once the limits of the competition are taken away, I’m going to be able to give you something impressive.” A

The judges are now thinking of the rainway challenge; this is a good thing to remember. Sean must have been in debate.

Amanda: “I definitely had a lot of regrets from season 11, and I was just so determined to come back and take risks and find my voice. And I think the next jump—which I hope is Fashion Week—could just be really exciting.” A+

Everyone loves a redemption story. Smart to bring that up.

Char: “I think because I haven’t had the chance to show who I am 100 percent, so I think New York Fashion Week would be a great opportunity for me to do that.” D

Now the judges are thinking, “Why haven’t we seen you? Why are you still here?”

But luckily the judges went on more than just speeches and Kini, Amanda, Sean, and Charketa will be moving to the finals.

OUT: Emily

Past and future contestants, take note: The way Emily was supportive and thrilled for everyone moving on to Fashion Week even when she was not? THAT is how you make an exit.

Tim line of the night: “Group hug! [Hug without Tim]… Include me in this!”

Follow me on Twitter: @realdalener

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Project Runway

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

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