Project Runway recap: 'An Unconventional Recycling'
What's old is new — and part of a team challenge
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)
On the runway, Heidi introduces the designers to Maggie Q of ABC’s Designated Survivor and formerly of The CW’s Nikita (never forget!). After the three collections walk the runway, Heidi says some looks blew the judges’ minds; others…not so much. She announces that Ballin’ on a Budget is the winning team and Team Tsunami is the loser.
Ayana explains Ballin’ on a Budget’s concept and gives credit to Brandon’s print for inspiring most of the collection; she says they married it with the newsprint Kenya used and Aaron’s fringe to create the cohesive collection. She also points out how Batani and Aaron successfully redesigned their looks quickly after critiques from Tim.
Heidi loves how the looks are different but work so well together, and she applauds Batani for turning her designs around so much from last week. Zac says he loves that Brandon’s print holds the collection together. Anne says the print was transformative and she thought, “Yes [as in yasss], fashion” when Batani’s look walked the runway.
Nina is particularly obsessed with Ayana’s look, specifically the bottle cap button back, which made her say, “Oh, there goes my heart” when it came down the runway. She loves that it’s dramatic while modest; Zac points out that it’s ferocious.
Heidi asks the designers who should win and Kenya and Batani say Ayana; the boys say each other; and Ayana says Kenya.
Amy explains to the judges that Team Tsunami created a resortwear collection with found materials. Heidi says she just sees garbage. She doesn’t believe that Sentell took nearly the whole time to make his design when it looks like something thrown together in 10 minutes. Sentell says he wanted to create structure, but Zac says there’s no structure in sight.
Shawn tells the judges she struggled on this challenge because she hasn’t designed for a “curvy woman” before and Maggie calls. her. out. “If you think that’s curvy, you’re going to have a real problem designing in the United States,” she says. If I didn’t love Maggie Q before…
In addition to getting blasted by Maggie Q, Shawn also gets dressed down by Sentell. He calls out that he made her top when Heidi says she likes it. Claire and Shawn get very annoyed, cock their heads, and say, “If I may” about a hundred times. It is the new “indeed.”
Out of nowhere, Shawn says that she didn’t like Amy’s look. So Heidi tells them to go ahead and keep that bus rolling down the runway and asks the other designers who they thought was the weakest link. Everyone says Shawn except Claire, who says Sentell.
Do I think Sentell’s dress was bad? Yes. Do I think the judges kept the twins because they’re better television? Also yes. I guess those are the dangers of playing in reality TV. At least Sentell can go spend time with his husband!
What did you guys think of the episode? Were you excited that it was a team challenge where adults actually got along? Were you happy with the winner and loser? Let us know in the comments below or find me on Twitter @realdalener (particularly if you can explain why Claire wore a soccer mom visor the whole episode).