A team paintball challenge has some designers ready to declare war.
Credit: Barbara Nitke/Lifetime

Project Runway isn’t a show about finding the next great designer. It’s a show about finding ways to torture designers until only one remains … or at least that’s how it seems sometimes.

This week, not only do the contestants have to work in a group; they have to get pelted with paintballs in a spin on capture the flag. And if that weren’t torture enough, they have to pick their teams, schoolyard style.

Last week’s winner, Blake, gets first pick. He goes for Swapnil, who picks Joseph, who picks Jake, who picks Edmond, who picks Merline because there were no men left. So we have the Boys + Merline Team, as the chyron keeps telling us.

On the other side we have Candice, who was pulled from the button bag to choose the other team first. Of course she’s going to pick Ashley. They were partners. They worked well together. There’s no question. Except Candice picks Amanda.

WHAT? Candice says in confessional that she wants to “help” Amanda. Candice, there’s a big difference between being helpful and being stupid, and this is the latter. You should want to set your team up with the best designers — not the designers who need your help.

Anyway, moving on. Amanda chooses Kelly, who chooses Lindsey, who chooses Laurie, who picks the last designer standing: Ashley. I, like Heidi, am baffled. Ashley has won two out of four challenges, and yet she’s the last person picked? It makes no sense.

During the season 14 premiere, I applauded the casting directors for this crop of designers. But watching tonight’s unnecessary game of paintball, I’m prepared to bash whichever producer came up with this crazy idea. Making designers get pelted with paint-bullets and paint-grenades in an effort to claim fabric is just mean. However, when the game ends and Tim tells them they actually had just created their textiles (the white canvas jumpsuits they were wearing), fully on board. The fact that Blake hid behind everyone and refused to get paint on him — and therefore had a plain white canvas — made it even better.

Using the paint-splattered jumpsuits along with the gathered supplemental textiles, each team must create a six-look mini-collection in two days. Back at the workroom, the designers also have access to more paintballs and grenades. (That there was not one mention of Community during this episode is a travesty.) Even with the difficult personalities of Jake, Joseph, and Blake combined, the Boys + Merline Team have a very clear idea: structured Jackson Pollack textiles with a ’50s aesthetic.

Now let’s pause for Blake’s “I’m Not Smart” Moment of the Week — in which he doesn’t believe that Marilyn Monroe was around in the ’50s. Moving on.

The ladies’ team is struggling. They can’t decide on a concept, a cohesive look, or just a plan in general. While the guys are painting shoes, creating fabric, and generally helping one another, the Red Team is just generally being an embarrassment to women. Did Nicki and Taylor teach you nothing!? It’s better when you work together.

But in the midst of Ashley shutting down and being shut out and Candice trying to teach everyone to sew, they end up destroying all of their fabric with too much paint. By the time Tim comes to the workroom, he says it looks like “an Easter egg festival” and that they should be scared.

The guys received an excellent critique from their mentor, so they keep moving on their merry way. The ladies, on the other hand, have a Come to Jesus talk in the break room, where they resolve absolutely nothing. Literally as they’re walking out from their idea session, Lindsey says they still don’t have a “concrete idea” and everyone agrees. Maybe that’s the time when you go right back into your idea session and NAIL DOWN A CONCRETE IDEA???

That idea seemingly never occurs to them, so they just continue working on their Easter dresses with no vision, but throw in some bright purple for good measure. It’s clear many of the women are physically repulsed by their own designs, but they just keep on keeping on.

The day of the runway show, Ashley confides in Laurie that she doesn’t want to go home. Laurie immediately whispers, “I’m not a gossiper, but…” as she goes on to gossip that the other women want to throw Ashley and her design under the bus when they inevitably end up on the bottom.

NEXT: Secondary colors and looks

With all the painted dresses dried and every model’s manicure set, the two collections are finally ready for the runway — featuring guest judges Lisa Perry and Kelly Osbourne.


In addition to just really great designs, the Blue Team (which fittingly went with a blue color palette) went above and beyond. Their textile was exquisite and went over the top with Blake’s hand-painted flowers; they took the time to create matching shoes; and even the Sally Beauty manicures were immaculate.

Nina says the mini collection is sophisticated, yet fun and fresh. The judges love it as a whole, but their favorite looks came from Edmond, Swapnil, and Jake.


Although it is probably just clever editing, the looks on the judges’ faces when the Red Team’s mini-collection walks the runway say it all. When Candice tries to explain the vision, she says it encompasses an entire wardrobe of a woman from San Francisco — which was basically made up on the spot as Kelly points out. Laurie can’t stay silent and admits there was never a clear vision and too many feelings were involved.

Heidi can tell Ashley is upset, so she asks her opinion about the collection. Ashley says she struggled with being picked last and begins crying. It’s heartbreaking to watch — but it’s nice to see Laurie stick up for her. She said that Ashley was never listened to throughout the challenge.

Kelly takes a minute to tell Ashley she’s going to need thicker skin to be in the fashion industry (true) before the judges begin bashing the collection. Heidi calls it “amateur hour”; Nina says it’s “joyless”; and the biggest compliment it receives is for the manicures. Ouch.

When Heidi asks each woman who they think should be sent home, Kelly, Lindsey, and Amanda say Ashley. Nina is doing her signature eye-roll — because Ashley’s look is clearly not the worst — when Kelly butts in. “This seems like a bit of a bitch fest,” she says and I applaud. So Candice changes her answer to Laurie. And Ashley and Laurie say Amanda.

Back in the waiting room, things are getting awkward. Ashley is crying even harder; the other women won’t look at her; and Blake calls them out for being mean girls. He says they acted that way the whole time and “that’s what brought you down.” Umm, guys, do I like Blake now!?

The judges bring the Blue Team back to the runway and announce…

Winner: Edmond

The Red Team get their turn on the runway, where Kelly, Amanda, and Candice are asked to stay as the bottom three. And what we’ve seen coming since week 1 finally happens…

Out: Amanda

After the questionable judges’ decisions over the past couple weeks, it was nice to finally see them get it right, but overall that group challenge was a little disheartening to watch. Were you as surprised as I was at how poorly the women worked together?

Episode Recaps

Project Runway

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

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