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Project Runway: Junior Pairs Up For An En Garde/Avant-Garde Challenge

The season's first team challenge brings out the worst in one designer.

En Garde, Designers!

Oh, hey there, we're back on the runway. Except it's currently being used as a fencing piste, because that's normal. After busting out some impressive moves...

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...Tim unmasks himself. He's the one in white, and, honestly, who knew he was that limber?! After blowing everyone's mind with that reveal, he introduces his fencing parter: Olympian cutie Tom Morehouse. He also introduces the challenge, punnily (that's "pun" + "funnily") entitled, "En Garde, Avant Garde!" as inspired by fencing uniforms, and this so-called "armor" that looks like leather:

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Tieler is into it, but Hawwaa is nervous because she doesn't even know what avant-garde is, really. To which: I feel you, girl. Tim further declares this be a team challenge, and pulls out the button bag for the first time this season; I guess he's doing it because Hannah's sick (or maybe this was filmed during her wedding weekend?). Here are the teams: Hawwaa and A'Kai; Cartier and Izzy; Molly and Tieler; and the sure-to-be atrocious mashup of Chris and Rene.

Free Sketch



Allie reveals that she's Mormon, and that she doesn't like to show lots of skin in her designs. Meanwhile, Team Terrible is off to a great start, with Chris talking and Rene ignoring him as he sketches.

Nerves already seem to be getting the best of A'Kai, who says, "I don't know what we could come up with if we don't compromise well. It could look like a roach that got hit by a car, that fell in a sewer, that got eaten by a horse, and the horse pooped it out and then it fell on to our mannequin." But at least Hawwaa seems inspired when Tom mentions that fencing uniforms are white to show blood.

Get In Loser, We're Going Shopping


At Mood, all of the all teams stick together, except Hawwaa and A'Kai: she insists that they split up, and gives A'Kai a shopping list. This is the only appearance of Swatch:

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Working The Workroom


The only exciting update is that the kids are given structural materials to help build shape and volume. Otherwise, they really just dive straight into working, with most teams splitting looks into different pieces for each to work on solo. Of course, these fools are playing around with a hairdryer:

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Hawwaa gets more and more frustrated with A'Kai and wishes for a different partner, while he complains that she's micromanaging (and she is!). It's semi-heartbreaking to watch because A'Kai is the sweetest version of young Urkel, who really just wants more time to work on his garment and trust from his partner that he'll execute it well. Elsewhere, Chris doesn't know who Frida Kahlo is, and mistakes her for the Chiquita Banana. I only wish I were joking.

Tim Time


Tim pops in, dressed once again in his usual suit as opposed to fencing gear. Chelsea was nervous about the look she and Allie came up with, but when Tim calls it "sensational," she gives him this adorable, relived face:

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Tim does, however, warn that Allie and Chelsea need to be careful with the execution of their pants, or risk their entire outfit looking like a stalk of black asparagus.

He then moves on to Hawwaa and A'Kai, immediately picking up on the -- and I quote -- "die, scum, die" look that Hawwaa is throwing out there. She also throws A'Kai under the bus for taking too long to construct the skirt, but Tim likes the overall look and tries to give them some confidence.

In other news: Chris and Rene's theme is "the functionality of armor."

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Tim avoids giving them direct criticism, but urges them to consider how the look will come together with their planned jacket.

Izzy and Cartier take things in the other direction, giving their look a Victorian vibe:

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Tim wonders if it's avant-garde enough, but encourages them to continue. Then, after highly praising Tieler and Molly's awesome coat...

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...Tim lies to the room that he's excited about all of the work going on. This is Rene's incredulous face:

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Don't those two look just like prototype Ken dolls?

Once Tim leaves, Hawwaa continues to drag A'Kai. "I'm not trying to be negative or anything," she says, "but this is the worst challenge ever."

Tim Talks



When Hawwaa gets upset with A'Kai's plan to sew their model into the skirt, she declares her portion of the work compete, and storms off into a mystery room past the SMEG refrigerator in the break room. She eventually comes back, but while she's gone, A'Kai goes to speak with Tim in the shoe closet (not a euphemism).

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Tim advises A'Kai to shut out Hawwaa's negative energy, and then says something that, frankly, a lot more adults should say to thirteen-year-olds: "I respect you." It's sweet, and seems to help.

The Morning Of


The next morning brings with it the usual scramble, but also the important revelation that Molly doesn't know who David Bowie is. Literally. I thought it was editing for the sake of the joke, but then she's directly asked, and no, she has not heard of "Major Tom."

Also, Hawwaa realizes that A'Kai made decision to put organza inside their skirt, instead of outside. All of the other kids stare as they argue.

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Literally.

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They all stare.

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It's terrible behavior, but also terribly good television.

Runaway Runway



Hannah's perky face returns to greet the kids from the runway, but not even her sunny mood can disguise the fact that something
awful is going on with Christian's hair:

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It's like a bad toupee just crawled into a ball on the top of his head, yet, I think that's all his natural hair? Why is this happening?

Anyway: on to the show. Chelsea and Allie send down this stunning ninja look that's sure to be used as the villain's costume in the next Ninja Turtles movie. (Don't get it twisted: I love this with all my heart).

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Chris and Rene's look feels dated, like something that some old lady with gray hair and a million hoop piercings running up a single ear has worn in Chelsea.

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Surprisingly, Hawwaa and A'Kai's look is a modern Asian princess dream, at least from far away:

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Izzy and Cartier's Victorian dress is so amazing that Helena Bonham Carter's already put in an order:

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And, of course, Tieler and Molly's coat kills it:

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Altogether though, it is interesting that there's a trend in high necks and dramatically larger skirts. Almost like the kids all used the same reference books off-screen, eh?

Judgey Judges Gonna Judge



Since this is a team challenge, only one pair is declared safe: Cartier and Izzy. They squeal in delight and leave the runway...and then there are four teams left standing.

It's pretty clear that Chelsea & Allie and Tieler & Molly are the top two teams, with Aya going so far as to say that Tieler and Molly should be partners for life. You can even kind of see it:

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Then the race starts to shape up for last place. Aya and Christian ding Hawwaa and A'Kai for construction, with Kelly calling the two out for their frequent arguments. The poor model looks like she wants to escape.

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Yet, as awful as that all is, the weird painted heart detail on Chris and Rene's jumpsuit seems to want to give it all a run for its money...

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...and the completely unnecessary, matching weird painted heart detail on the back of their coat seems willing to back it up:

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This is what we call "over-designing."

Winner and Losers


After the standard internal debate, Hannah announces the news that the newlyweds are, in fact, the winners.

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Since Tieler was more directly responsible for the coat, he'll continue holding immunity throughout the next challenge.

And then comes the sads: despite Hannah and Aya's fierce protests, A'Kai is sent home.

...Except he's not! Tim uses his Tim Gunn Save, and really, this pic alone is worth all the drama:

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The hug, the suit, the hat pattern, the genuine emotion! It's all there, along with a measured voiceover that sounds suspiciously like it was recorded after the fact, in which Tim says he would have saved Hawwaa too, had the judges gone in the other direction. Would he have? The starched sound of his voice makes it an open-ended question.

Verdict



This was emotionally draining! Even as a semi-adult, it's hard not to feel crushed by the weight of a bossy teammate, earning A'Kai immense empathy from me and maybe even an undeserved save; his work isn't the cleanest, but he has a higher level of sophistication than either Rene or Chris (who, to be clear, remain the worst, despite being overshadowed in pettiness this week). But as stressful as the Hawwaa/A'Kai pairing was to watch, Chelsea and Allie, along with Tieler and Molly, delivered amazingly fresh work with adorable attitudes. And that's the whole point, right? The designers all feel bonded now and it should be exciting to see how they influence each other from here on out.

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