After a trip to Universal Studios, the designers create streetwear inspired by King Kong -- totally normal
Credit: Barbara Nitke

Are you ready for a roller coaster of an episode?

Sorry, bad pun. But if the Project Runway editors can start “Welcome to the Urban Jungle” with a creepy TV drama-esque “eight hours earlier” rewind, then I can start with a bad pun.

But I’m gonna start this recap with the eight hours earlier: Heidi asks the designers how they’re feeling, and there’s an air of sadness and defeat in the room. Even though she warned them before this competition started that they’d be exhausted right around this point, she feels bad. So she decides to send them on a vacation.

Just kidding. They’re going to Orlando for less than 24 hours to receive design inspiration for a sponsored challenge. Once at Universal Studios in Florida, the director of Universal Creative tells them about the newest ride, excuse me, multidimensional experience: Skull Island: Reign of Kong. After they take part in this experience, the designers must create fashion-forward streetwear for the “urban jungle.”

At this point, the Universal guy tries to tie in another ride/experience — it’s not relevant to the challenge, but it means the designers will be sketching near a pool. Then they hop on a plane and head back the Big Apple.

They start early at Mood the next morning and then get the rest of the day to work. After a rough design last week, Erin wants to go back to her embroidery roots and recreate the texture of the jungle in her look. Nathalia is inspired by the bats that flew up in the ride. Laurence wants to make a leather jacket in the style of one of the plant-eater monsters. Also, she thinks King Kong is “very sexy.” I’ll just leave that there…

As Tim tells the designers they have until midnight to complete their designs, he tells them to “please take advantage of the Brother sewing room.” Obviously, this is just a sponsorship plug, but now I’m hoping for a challenge where they lock up the sewing room and the designers have to do everything by hand.


That being said, when Tim comes in to do his critiques, the room is eerily silent. Everyone is stretched on time, so they’re incredibly focused. But, of course, that doesn’t mean their designs are where they need to be yet. Tim tells Cornelius his design is veering into a “Broadway version of street”; he tells Dexter he’s not being himself enough; he tells Roberi to be a bit more rough around the edges; and he asks Nathalia, “And streetwear is what you do as a designer?” Ouch.

But his critiques help light a fire under everyone and the room gets decidedly more street. Aside from my girl Erin, who’s still just stitching away at tiny pieces of fabric, no actual piece of clothing in sight. When models come for fittings, Erin has nothing to put on her model… And then there’s one hour left and she still has nothing ready. I’m more nervous than she is.

NEXT: It’s going to be one busy morning

With two hours left the next morning, Erin has to finish her embroidery, make the shorts, and create a completed top. Dexter and Cornelius still have a lot to do and Mah-Jing says Laurence is the only designer with completed designs, but everyone’s able to rush and finish and get to the runway on time. (At least once I’d like to see a naked model on the runway, or at the very least, someone not make it on time.)

Heidi introduces our two guest judges for the week: Rebecca Minkoff, designer and judge of Project Runway: Fashion Startup, and Carly Chaikin, star of Mr. Robot (if you don’t watch that show, fix that NOW).

After the streetwear looks go down the runway, Heidi says Roberi, Rik, Jenni, and Mah-Jing are safe, so the rest get critiques.


Erin wanted to return to the time when the judges loved her, but this, unfortunately, was not the look to do that. Zac appreciates her thought process, but he says it looks more like she just got sick on the ride and puked on her look. Rebecca says the construction isn’t good and the embroidery looks like hay — not something that recalls a jungle. Nina is disappointed in Erin, and Heidi is shocked she spent all day embroidering the shorts.


Dexter did off-beat streetwear with “a little bit of hood in there, too.” Nina loves everything about this girl — the attitude, the hair, the makeup, the earrings, the shoes, the look. But as strongly as Nina feels, Zac feels the opposite. He says this was the wrong theme park. And Heidi is on Zac’s side; she felt Dexter went too avant-garde. Carly says this caught her eye, though.


Every week there’s a look I’m not sure if the designers are going to praise or rip into it… This week, Nathalia’s look is that look. Heidi says she loves this girl — she wants to be this girl. Carly says if she saw this look on a mannequin in a store, she’d buy the whole outfit. Zac says it’s “perfect” and Nina thinks she did a great job. Rebecca says the silhouette feels forward-thinking, and Nathalia is back on track!


Oh, Brik, Brik, Brik. He wanted to channel the “whole experience” and, well…that’s pretty much how it turned out. Rebecca says it looked like the girl got dressed in the dark; Heidi says she can tell he tried really hard, but it didn’t pay off. Zac is worried about his taste level, and Nina says, “Nobody wants an expanding butt.” True story.


Laurence, as always, kills it with the leather. Her monster-inspired bomber jacket is a hit with all the judges — and they enjoy her whole look, but have issues with the drop-crotch. But regardless, it earns a “Kong-tastic” from Zac and an “I love a poopy pant” from Heidi.


Cornelius interpreted the Kong vs. Dinosaurs as ripped-up pants and a loose leather top. Heidi compares it to a school project and goes so far as to say it’s “an eyesore.” Rebecca says it’s good from the knees down, but knees up “doesn’t do any favors.” Nina says he has the opposite problem of Brik: He had a good idea, but bad construction.

Winner: Laurence, who is so happy she actually smiles

Out: Brik

From day one, Brik was living on borrowed time. He was a nice dude and had a good attitude, so it’s sad to see him go, but it’s not totally a surprise. What did you all think? Are you scared next week’s group challenge won’t be as heartwarming as last week’s? (Me, too.) Let’s talk below — or find me on Twitter @realdalener.

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Project Runway

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

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