Barbara Nitke/Lifetime

The designers end up making a second trip to Mood to satisfy a surly client—Heidi Klum.

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August 22, 2014 at 03:11 AM EDT

The Heidi Challenge (noun): an impossible challenge in which the ultimate picky client is also the head judge.

In nearly every (if not all?) past season of Project Runway, there comes a time for The Heidi Challenge. In season 13, it came this week, in episode 5. When Heidi announces it to the designers, it has them shaking in their runway-side seats—and rightly so. Heidi is notoriously picky, and it’s not easy to pinpoint what look she actually will like. Her personal style runs the gamut, as evidenced in the dossier each contestant receives. To guide them in their creations, Heidi gives them the guidelines: She wants “unexpected, fashion forward, fearless”… oh and of course, she doesn’t want to end up on the worst-dressed list (such as here or here).

The stakes are high-ish, as Heidi will be wearing the winning look to the Creative Arts Emmys. It’s unusual that they didn’t time this episode better; the Creative Arts Emmys were last week, so anyone could Google to find out the winning look before the episode’s end. But at least we know she wore the dress (unlike the debacle that was Project Jay).

Tim is full of sage advice for the Heidi challenge: “The success of our challenges begins and ends at Mood.” And then later, specifically pointed at Mitchell, he says to keep it “elegant and sophisticated.” It’s like the man is psychic. Even with all their mentor’s wisdom, the designers make some poor choices. Kristine wants to do a long floor-length gown in a gray color that ends up being closer to a bedsheet; Korina is doing a one-arm dress with snake skin and a mermaid bottom; Mitchell is using silks, satins, and sequins… but “subtly”; and Amanda doesn’t know what the f— she’s making. So it’s no surprise that when Heidi walks in the room (perfectly timed and edited with the thunder) for the critique, the designers are silent and fearful… which leads her to cackle with delight.

Heidi’s picky reputation does not disappoint. On this stormy day, she goes around the room like a tornado, telling most designers she doesn’t love their looks: Char’s print looks too much like she’s going on a cruise. The peacock feather look from Sandhya reminds the supermodel of Dynasty—and the best part is Sandhya doesn’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Heidi says something about Fäde’s look needing to wake up a baby (is that a German expression?). What’s definitely a German expression is “Lodenjacke,” the military jackets to which Heidi compares Korina’s sad dress. Finally showing some emotion, Korina’s eyes start to water. “Don’t be sad about it,” Heidi says. “Make it work.” First of all, Heidi, you just insulted her designs, can you give her a minute with her tears? Second, don’t steal Tim’s line.

NEXT: Twice the Mood, twice the Swatch

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