On a trip to Austin, the designers take on their THIRD unconventional challenge
RECAP: 12/8/16: ALL CROPS: Project Runway Cornelius Ortiz working on a design in Project Runway season 15, airing Thursday, December 8, at 9pm ET/PT on Lifetime. Photo by Barbara Nitke Copyright 2016
Credit: Barbara Nitke

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

The morning of the runway, Roberi has to make a tube skirt to fit under his rope dress. “Sometimes high fashion is highly nude,” he says trying to convince himself that the barely-there dress is fine. And Cornelius has to whip up his second look jumper basically from scratch. He also adds sunflower seeds to the neckline of his unconventional look at the last minute. This oddly makes my skin crawl too — so much so that I feel like there should have been a trigger warning on the episode. Is this normal?!

Anyway, once on the runway, Heidi introduces this week’s guest designers: Priyanka Chopra, lead actress on ABC’s Quantico, and Georgina Chapman, judge of Project Runway All Stars.

After all the looks walk the runway, the judges applaud the designers for a great show. And then they get down to business with what they didn’t like…

NO CROPS: Project Runway 4
Credit: Lifetime

Laurence used bird food, harnesses, and ropes to create her unconventional look, and a boring mustard fabric to create her second look. The judges are all fans of her first look: Nina thinks it’s extraordinary; Georgina loves that it has a sweet silhouette but a naughty edge; Priyanka thinks it’s unbelievable; and Zac says it’s successful even though it’s a little “Xena Warrior Birdseed.” The second look isn’t as much of a crowd-pleaser.

NO CROPS: Project Runway 2
Credit: Lifetime

Using a black palette, Rik’s two looks are almost indistinguishable. One is made with vinyl records and dog leashes and guitar straps; the other is made with ripped tweed. Priyanka says she would wear the dog leash dress because it’s “dangerous and sexy”; Zac likes the top, but thinks the bottom of the look wasn’t successful. Heidi says both looks are unmemorable. Ouch.

NO CROPS: Project Runway 3
Credit: Lifetime

Roberi’s macramé rope look really could have gone one way or the other. Luckily, the judges are big fans. Priyanka likes that it has something to say; Heidi says it was gutsy, and Zac likes the hippie quality. And the conventional look was popular as well. Georgina thinks it’s “magical,” while Nina just says, “Great job.”

NO CROPS: Project Runway 1
Credit: Lifetime

Erin explains that her unconventional look has mealworms on it and all the judges have to say is “groovy.” Gah! They’re so gross! Georgina says the texture is incredible, and Priyanka says it’s basically couture. The jumpsuit for her conventional look is a hit with most of the judges; both Heidi, Priyanka, and Georgina say they would wear it, but Nina says she expects more from Erin.

NO CROPS: Project Runway 5
Credit: Lifetime

Cornelius really struggled with his unconventional look, but it’s generally approved when it hits the runway. Heidi thinks it seems carefree and likes the 3-D texture; Georgina says it’s nice but wishes the back was more resolved. Nina wishes he had taken more of a chance, but Zac straight up says it looks arts-and-craftsy. But he wins points with his conventional look. Heidi says it’s a nice surprise, and Zac says it’s perfect, which made it all the more sad when…

Winner: Roberi

Out: Cornelius

Cornelius’ Tim Gunn save didn’t help him get to NYFW, but I’m still glad he got a second chance. What do y’all think about the final four? Are you ready for fashion week? Share your thoughts below, or find me on Twitter @realdalener.

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