Barbara Nitke/Lifetime

Avant-garde looks from the designers walk down a special water-filled runway.

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September 12, 2014 at 02:41 AM EDT

If you watch Project Runway, you have to be okay with in-your-face sponsorships. From the original Banana Republic accessory wall (“use it very thoughtfully”) to the Red Robin prize this year, sponsors are mostly an annoyance for the audience that we try to not think about too often. That being said: Samsung, we will never be able to thank you enough. You gave us the rainway.

It needs no explanation, but let’s have Char explain anyway: “A rainway is a runway with rain… duh.” Apparently, there is some connection to a curved TV, but no one cares about that. We do care about rain. on. a. runway. To add to the rainway experience, the designers are given $300 and two days—yes, you read that right—to create an avant-garde look.

The avant-garde challenges always allow the designers to throw wearability out the window and let their creative flags fly. And season 13 did not disappoint. During sketches we get the basic ideas: Amanda thinks of Cleopatra in a flood, Sandhya is inspired by a television test pattern, Kini wants to construct an upside-down umbrella skirt, and Fäde is just lost. Maybe a trip to Mood will help bring one of his “experiments” to life.

At the fabric store, the designers fight over the small vinyl section, and Sandhya starts to pick up a yellow—do you think she could hear the audience yelling at her through their TV screens? You have to admire her audacity, though; she knows what she likes and she won’t let the judges’ criticism sway her from her point of view.

Meanwhile, Fäde has completely lost his point of view. He tries tacking various designs to his form, but eventually spirals out. It’s hard to see. We can watch week to week and criticize the contestants, but the truth is they design day in and day out, and even the most creative designer will eventually suffer from exhaustion and/or have an off day. This is clearly Fäde’s off day. The only bright spot in his dark moment is the recurring showmance of Amanda and Fäde. (Lifetime, there’s a spin-off idea there.) I’ve never bought the “phony” idea of Amanda, and her tears for a hurting friend dispel that notion even more.

NEXT: Rainway magic

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