A movie-inspired challenge brings out the designers' creativity.
Credit: Barbara Nitke/Lifetime

Let’s leap into another episode of Project Runway.

Not sorry. If Project Runway is going to use a children’s movie as a theme, then I’m going to use bad puns.

That’s right — we got ourselves a sponsor in the new animated film Leap! And to be honest, that Carly Rae Jepsen song is hella catchy, so I’m not that mad about it.

Anyway, Heidi and Tim show the film to the designers and then tell them they need to create a fashionable look inspired by dance, movement, and innovation. They’ll have 30 minutes to sketch, $200 to shop at Mood, and one day to pull it all together.

Before they head off, they get to watch hiplet dancers, who I am absolutely obsessed with. Go watch this video now.

Welcome back. The designers all say how they’re inspired by this challenge: Batani says this is the perfect challenge because she does hip-hop and belly dancing. Deyonté wants to showcase movability in a traditional gown. Margarita hopes to incorporate the style of Bomba, a traditional Puerto Rican dance, into a fashionable look. Ayana plans to create something that looks like stars in the night sky. Kentaro is leaning toward something a bit more classical: the Black Swan from Swan Lake. And Claire and Shawn just run around like chickens with their heads cut off.

The designers this season must have the nerves of steel and the patience of saints because wow, those twins. Claire and Shawn are not the quietest people, and they can’t seem to get through one sentence without using pet names like “punkin” for one another. In a confessional, Kudzanai says, “Project Runway, stop sitting me next to the twins.” Same, Kudzanai. Same.

We learn more about Kudzanai, who is using his African and West Indian roots to create a bright, colorful look. In addition to his backstory, we get Michael’s, who I am not sure was even in the previous episodes? (Commenters, please confirm.) Michael has a lot of sisters and has been designing since he was 10.

Tim comes later to give thoughts: He’s nervous about Deyonté’s chartreuse color and ruffle neckline, he tells Claire to “stay away from Red Bull and coffee,” he warns Aaron against a pu-pu platter of construction, and he advises Margarita to not go full-tilt costume. Tim’s also a bit concerned with Kudzanai’s design being “a lot of look,” but he says it will definitely wake the judges up.

Before leaving, Tim tells the room that he’s happy with the ambitiousness and great work in the room. The models come right after, and Margarita sticks one of her models with a pin and gets a bit of blood on the white garment.

But that’s the least of the blood situations in this workroom. Earlier, while fiddling with the arm on his sewing machine, Deyonté inadvertently puts the needle through his finger. My skin is crawling just writing about this. Medics come and wrap his finger, but obviously it makes finishing more difficult for him, and it throbs nonstop. It’s a real make-it-work moment! (Recap continued on page 2)

The next morning, the models arrive for fittings, makeup, and hair. Kentaro finishes early, so he helps Margarita with her innovative Bomba outfit. That’s when he realizes he forgot the innovation portion of the challenge, but there’s no time to fix it because it’s runway time…

Heidi introduces the designers to guest judge — and star of Leap! — Maddie Ziegler. Over the past few years, I’ve made so many jokes about the ages of young guest judges that I think…I…have nothing left to say about it? Has this show finally broken me?

Anyway, Heidi asks Kentaro, Deyonté, Kudzanai, Margarita, Batani, and Brandon to stay behind for critique. Everyone else goes on to design another week.


Batani was inspired by one of the characters in Leap! who created wings, and she turned that concept into a butterfly-inspired cape dress/jumpsuit/thing. It’s bright and beautiful. Nina says the moment she saw the shadow from behind the runway screen, she knew she loved it. Zac says he was mixed on it because he loves the movement, but doesn’t think the metallic feels elevated enough. He says it’s a bit Flashdance. Heidi says she’s a fan of Burning Man and people wear stuff like that there all the time, and what? Heidi is a fan of Burning Man!? There is way too much going on this episode.


Deyonté took more inspiration from the hiplet dancers than the movie. He says his girl is going out on the town to see them perform in Chicago. He wanted to create something relaxed, vibrant, and sexy. He nailed the vibrant part, Zac says. And “that’s about it.” Maddie says it reminds her of a costume she danced in once, and Heidi says that’s the problem: It’s too costume. Nina says the dress looks uncomfortable and constrained. They all start to question his taste level.


After Kentaro explains his Black Swan look, Maddie says it looks like something she’d warm up in. Ouch. Zac says it doesn’t have much runway impact even though there is refinement in the top. Heidi think it’s too literal, and this is Project Runway, so he’ll need to amp it up. Nina says it would be better in another color or with some other punch. But Heidi does point out that she likes how he accentuated his model’s curves under the see-through skirt.


After Tim’s critique, Margarita wanted to find a way to spice up her look, so she flipped the leotard to give her model a cheeky cut-out front. It pays off. Heidi loves it and says it’s beautiful and sophisticated. Maddie thinks it’s refreshing and likes the “salsa” feel. Nina loves the drama and construction, and Zac applauds her use of fabrication.

Credit: Barbara Nitke/Lifetime

During the premiere, I made fun of ChaCha for saying he designed for a pop star, so I should here too when Brandon says he had someone like Ariana Grande in mind. But he’s just too talented! It works! Nina loves his boldness and creativity. Heidi says he has great taste. Maddie says it’s modern, lyrical, and stunning. And Zac goes so far to say that he waits for moments like this in Project Runway.


And then we have Kudzanai. I was hoping and praying this would be a situation where it looks like he’s designing a mess, but it all comes together in the end. Nope — this is just a mess. Heidi says he took the children’s movie inspiration too far because the look is juvenile and unflattering. Zac says the construction is a mess and Kudzanai was too ambitious. Nina says it’s “maximalist to the max,” and she doesn’t mean that in a good way.

Winner: Brandon, who full-on smiles

Out: Kudzanai

As with Sentell, I hated to see Kudzanai go before we got to know him well, but this challenge really got away from him. Look on the bright side, Kudzanai: Now you’ll never have to sit by the twins again!

What did you guys think of the episode? Were you happy with the winner and who got sent home? Share your thoughts below, or find me on Twitter at @realdalener.

Episode Recaps

Project Runway

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

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