Barbara Nitke

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

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October 28, 2016 at 02:51 AM EDT

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.

With the numbers dwindled down to 10, as Laurence notes, the pressure for these designers is intense. But that doesn’t stop them from still enjoying each other’s company. Season 15 truly has a great workroom camaraderie, and I love it so much.

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

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