Barbara Nitke/Lifetime

It's an L.A. showdown to fashion week.

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October 23, 2015 at 12:28 AM EDT

Before Project Runway, the only outlet us normal people had for critiquing designers was the red carpet. We’ve see the best- and worst-dressed lists after each award show every year — we (mostly) understand why things belong on those lists and what looks good on a red carpet. And while we may be more familiar with avant-garde and “editorial” looks thanks to 14 seasons of this show, the runway challenge always feels the most familiar.

Since there hadn’t been a runway challenge in season 14 yet, we were due. (Yay!) Making it even more interesting is that two out of the final four designers are not exactly “runway” designers. Ashley designs ready-to-wear, and Kelly designs streetwear. According to Candice, she’s got this in the bag. Well, let’s just see…

In order to get extra inspiration, Heidi sends the designers to the city of red carpets and paparazzi: Los Angeles. They’re to use L.A. as their inspiration for a red carpet look, which they have two days (plus flying time?) to design. On the West Coast, Tim takes them to a gorgeous house with a nice view of the valley so the designers can sketch. Some lady comes to tell them that red carpet looks are all about color, drama, and fit.

So with $400 in hand, the designers head to L.A.’s Mood to find fabric that touches on all three elements. Kelly, who has no idea what to buy with this much money (adorable!), gets a variety of textiles to build her own pattern. Edmond gets the world’s loudest sequined fabric you’ve ever seen. Ashley get’s the coolest sequined fabric you’ve ever seen (it changes colors when you touch it, kind of like a microfiber couch, but fancier). And Candice bought a few variations of black. No surprise there.

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The designers set up shop at FIDM and get to work. They all have pretty clear inspirations (Ashley — asymmetrical, Candice — open back, and Kelly — her own textile), except Edmond, per usual. He stares and stares and stares at the sequin fabric. It doesn’t talk back, so he decides to go with a very bright, loud purple and lots of tulle. It’s talking loudly to him (sorry). He starts constructing…something. He spends the whole first day creating that…something.

Luckily, Tim comes in on day two for critiques and squashes it. He doesn’t want to see Edmond play it safe, so he tells him to “conquer” the sequins. Tim also thinks Kelly is playing it safe: He loves her pattern, but she’s making it into a gown when he knows she wants to do something else. Jumpsuit it is!

Tim also tells Ashley to create a focal point of her dress and for Candice to nix the gold trim and make sure her look is flawless. He responds positively to all the work in the room, tells them as much, and heads out. With more direction, Edmond puts the sequin fabric on his dress form finally and starts cutting the dress. And he keeps cutting it. And cutting it. And cutting it. It is short. Very short. I am worried.

Kelly puts her jumpsuit pants on the dress form, and they won’t zip up. She didn’t take into consideration the stretch she would lose when she sewed on the leather triangles. I am worried here, too.

NEXT: Best and worst dressed

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