In this season's unconventional challenge, designers must use items from the world of cinema to create cohesive team looks.

By Dalene Rovenstine
Updated August 01, 2014 at 03:28 AM EDT

Project Runway

S13 E2
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One sleep in Gotham West, and we wake up to a pantless Mitchell and the other designers discovering morning matinee tickets and popcorn.

Nothing brings fear into the hearts of designers all across Project Runway land (and joy into the hearts of viewers) like the words “unconventional challenge.” Designers quickly learn that’s what they’re in for at their Tim Gunn movie special, and things only get worse when they realize it’s also the dreaded team challenge. Season 13 is not messing around.

Korina’s surprised to see the unconventional challenge happen this early in the season, which means she either has a terrible memory or has never watched the show; most seasons in the history of Runway include such a challenge in episode 1 or 2, most notable the pilot’s supermarket challenge. The only drawback to having this challenge this early is the delay in hearing “Thank you, Mood,” or getting a Swatch sighting.

The hunt begins with teams snagging “movie experience” items such as caution tape, assorted colors of gaff tape, film rolls, 3-D glasses, rope, tickets, flowers, costume boas, hard hats, candy, and of course, popcorn. (Who else was disappointed that no one used food in their designs? Jillian Lewis could have made popcorn and Mike & Ikes haute couture.)

Back at Parsons, the teams immediately get to work on their 24-hour challenge. We see without any delay that Red Team—Carrie, Hernan, and Sandhya—are going to be the problem team. The editors clearly didn’t have to work hard to portray Carrie and Hernan as the bullies. Sandhya, with her unique perspective on fashion, wants to use numbers to imply speed, motion, the anticipation of things to happen in a movie—a compelling concept—but her teammates are having none of it. Although she is soft-spoken, Sandhya does try to stand up for herself, but the other two just bulldoze her; in her own words, she knows she’s on the “sinking Titanic.”

The other team in trouble, Blue—Sean, Angela, and Fäde—are having problems because Angela doesn’t know what a villain is. Sean and Fäde are thinking black and white and Cruella de Vil as inspirations, while she would rather do a “fairy or angel villain.” Maybe she’s thinking of this kind of angel? Even he doesn’t wear floral well.

Amid the beginning sewing stages, we also learn a few backstories: There is a lot of diversity in this cast. Carrie was born in Moscow and escaped to the U.S. with her family. Fäde also fled his country, going from East Germany to West before the wall came down. Sean is from New Zealand. Korina is part Native American. Etc. etc. etc. All these points of view are definitely leading to unique design perspectives so far. Well done, casting director.

NEXT: Bullies never win.

It must be incredibly stressful and difficult to pull off, but the creativity in the unconventional challenges is always astounding. Amanda is using VHS tape, which apparently still exists; Emily uses yellow construction hats for a peplum-esque skirt (Char doesn’t approve); people are taking lighters to wires and sewing ticket rolls to muslin. How do their minds even go there in 24 hours?

Tim comes for his check-in to see if the creativity level is to his liking, and his “How is everyone?” gets dead silence in response, plus the best deep chuckle I’ve ever heard. As he makes the rounds, it’s no surprise Tim is worried about Team Red and Team Blue. The difference: Team Blue tries to figure out a way to work together, while Team Red continues to dump on Sandhya.

And this is when it’s good to pause and reflect on life lessons: Bullying is never okay—whether it’s in middle school or Project Runway. Yes, this is a stressful, high stakes situation, but as we all (were supposed to) learn in K-12, group projects are meant to instill teamwork. You have to work together and hear one another out in order to succeed. Hernan, it’s never okay to call a grown woman “baby.” Never. Luckily, Sandhya has more grace than any of us and simply chooses to talk to counselor Tim about it and then go with the flow. She’s a saint, basically.

On the runway, fashion blogger Garance Dore joins Heidi, Nina, and Zac, who all seem extra fired up. Before teams are announced, Headmistress Heidi takes the opportunity to call out Angela in front of the class for doing a terrible job. Luckily, her Blue teammates save her. The Green Team is also safe, as is Purple Team, which is quite the feat. As Amanda sums up best: “They have a super Barbie, prom thing going on.”

Barbara Nitke/Lifetime[/caption]

The Silver Team—which is a bit confusing since they have the green dresses—ends up on TOP. Their futuristic 1960s looks are all three hits with the judges. Amanda gave her team sound advice: The judges love when designers make their own textiles. And even though it took them forever to do, these “textiles” definitely paid off.

On a side note, was anyone surprised at how much of a team player Korina was? She didn’t even pick herself when Heidi asked who should win; maybe she’s not quite the villain she was painted to be last week.

Barbara Nitke/Lifetime[/caption]

The Red Team ended up going for a too cohesive film-strip sophisticated look, and land on the BOTTOM. The no. 1 critique from the judges: There are three nearly identical dresses in this “collection.” Excuses abound; Carrie even has the audacity to throw Tim under the bus. (When will designers learn from the past? Giving blame to anyone but yourself NEVER works.) Zac definitely isn’t having this, and shuts it down: “Stop. No more excuses.”

When getting scolded for trying to incorporate numbers, Sandhya’s complaint to Carrie was, “It shouldn’t be the same material three different ways.” Too bad Carrie didn’t listen because that’s what ended up sending her home, try as she might to fight the judges on it.

OUT: Carrie Sleutskaya

IN: Hernan Lander (You were expecting Heidi to say, “You’re also out” weren’t you?)

Tim’s best line: That deep chuckle.

Best (actually deep) line: “I want to tell my stories in a way that I believe.”—Sandhya

Did Team Green Silver deserve the win? Should Hernan have been this season’s first double out? Are Mitchell and Korina still the mean girls—and if not, who will take their place? And finally, would you rather wear a dress of broken DVDs or outdated VHS tape?

Follow me on Twitter: @realdalener

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