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

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August 01, 2014 at 03:28 AM EDT

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.

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