Barbara Nitke/Lifetime

What's old is new — and part of a team challenge

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August 24, 2017 at 10:32 PM EDT

I imagine the producers of Project Runway holed up in a conference room before each season starts, brainstorming ways to make the designers’ lives more miserable.

“I know! For this year’s unconventional challenge, let’s make it a team challenge!”

“Oh, yes, and let’s make the unconventional materials just straight-up TRASH!”


That’s right — it’s an unconventional team challenge. The designers are terrified enough when they have to meet Tim Gunn at a recycling plant. He walks in with Marie Claire editor-in-chief Anne Fulenwider, who tells them it’s not only the unconventional challenge with trash but also a team challenge. Aaron looks like he’s going to vomit — and it has nothing to do with the smell of refuse.

The one bit of good news is that the winning look will be featured in an upcoming issue of Marie Claire. They’ll be creating five-look mini collections, and everyone will have a new model.

Tim pulls out his trusty button bag and divides up the teams.

Team 1: Kudzanai, Michael, Kentaro, Deyonte, and Margarita

Team 2: Aaron, Batani, Kenya, Brandon, and Ayana

Team 3: Sentell, Amy, Amanda, and The Twins

They get five minutes to gather as much junk — excuse me, materials — as they can. Luckily, it looks like the Project Runway interns (or whoever the poor souls are who have to gather all this garbage) gave them lots of newsprint, vinyl, and other types of fabric that you can shape.

Back in the workroom, the three teams brainstorm design themes and team names. I’ve had a feeling that I like this season’s group of designers, and this episode seals it: They know how to get along like adults or at least the kids of Project Runway Junior season 1. Team 2 quickly comes up with the team name “Ballin’ on a Budget” — it takes them a bit to land on an actual concept, but eventually they decide on a futuristic music festival. Team 1 is doing a “Japanese garden taken over by samurais,” and Kentaro gives them the name Wabi-Sabi, which apparently is too complicated to translate. And Team 3 is focusing on sea glass, waves, and resort wear, so they decide on Team Tsunami.

For the most part, the teams work without issue. The part that is an issue is the twins. Shawn is very concerned about designing for a “larger girl” and she’s also “terrified of the shame of failing.” Her sister, Claire, picks up on that energy and struggles with her look when she’s not running to comfort her sister. Their teammates are very understanding and try to help get them on the same page, but the two just are not “vibing” with that direction.

By the next morning, Shawn still has pieces of a garment. Sentell helps by sewing his teammate’s look and getting everyone out the door in time. (Recap continues on next page)

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