Barbara Nitke

On a trip to Austin, the designers take on their THIRD unconventional challenge

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December 09, 2016 at 03:08 AM EST

Correct me if I’m wrong, Project Runway historians, but this is the first season where we’ve had three unconventional challenges isn’t it? It felt a bit weird — but that was the theme of the week.

See, Heidi is sending the remaining five designers to Austin, Texas, to get inspiration from the eccentric city. The city’s slogan is “Keep Austin weird,” and Heidi is hoping that weirdness rubs off.

So after jumping on a plane and flying there, the designers head straight to a Best Western, where they meet Tim and “Project Runway family member” Nick Verreos and are given the challenge’s first twist: It’s an unconventional challenge. (This is where I yelled “A third one!?” at the TV, but the designers don’t seem to mind as much as I do.) They’ll be going to shop at Georgetown Farm Supply and Stubb’s BBQ for materials.

Without seeing a bit of the weird city they’re supposed to be inspired by, the designers do their shopping at the two stores. And it’s definitely weird: They grab things like dog treats, records, guitar picks, leather horse straps, and sunshades. But none is as weird as Erin’s dried mealworms. Just the idea of those makes my skin crawl. WHY, ERIN?

Heading straight back to the hotel, still without seeing the weird city they’re supposed to be inspired by, the designers turn in for the night. And then they have an amazing, fantastic breakfast at Best Western. (Please put your favorite brand plug in the comments. My favorite was, “Oh, this bed IS comfortable.”)

Tiny rant: I was born and raised in Oklahoma, which means I was born and raised to hate Texas and everything about it. And yet, I love Austin. It’s a really cool city, and this episode did not do it justice. Y’all should go check it out for yourselves. Rant over.

Back in New York, the designers get to work with all their supplies. (Was anyone else wondering how they schlepped all that crap cross-country? Can you fly with mealworms!?) Roberi starts tying twine to make an “anxiety dress”… since tying knots is what he does when he’s stressed. Lawrence uses bird food to create a pleated skirt and the leather to make a harness-type top. Rik is piecing together dog leashes and guitar straps to make a skirt. And Cornelius tries spray-painting dog food, but he doesn’t like the look and decides to let his hands tell him what to make… okay then.

By day 2, Roberi’s hands are completely covered in tape because he’s ripped them up while tying all the twine. And Cornelius finally gets his inspiration and creates flowers from cups.

His flowers aren’t quite as cool as Erin’s (who made hers with melted guitar picks and gold spray-painted mealworms), but his also don’t make my want to claw my eyeballs out after seeing them.

Tim comes in the morning to tell them that since this is the last challenge before fashion week, the judges really want to challenge the designers. Which, of course, means they have to do more… they have to create a second look; this one will be complementary to the unconventional look, but it can be made with conventional materials.

“I am not feeling this twist at all,” Laurence says in her most emotional state yet, which is still not emotional at all.

After spending $200 at Mood, the designers have about 30 seconds to work on their second look before Tim comes in for critiques. Overall, he’s worried about the designers’ unconventional looks. He basically calls the second looks throwaway looks and tells them to focus their time on the first designs.

The designers fit their models and spend the rest of the day working, so when they come in the next morning, they’ll have only finishing touches to do.

NEXT: Just kidding, they have tons of work to do

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