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Project Runway Makes It Weird In Its Latest Unconventional Materials Challenge

Weirder than usual, even! The designers source materials at two legendary locations in Austin, Texas, but who's the Best (Western)? Your editors discuss!

Our Players

Hello, I'm East Coast Editor Sarah D. Bunting.
Hello, I'm West Coast Editor Tara Ariano.

The Talk

...Another unconventional materials challenge, one right after the other, in the episode that determines who gets into the Project Runway final? Never mind not getting what in the Boot Hill that has to do with Best Western or Austin, TX, since we would be obliged to waste two minutes of our lives watching Erin use the BW waffle bar regardless -- can they really not think of any other challenge to do? There isn't one idea involving two looks in two days that they could go with? A technique? A decade? Something that won't put five thumbs on the scale for Erin's craf-twee creations? I liked the flowers fine, but good grief.

As someone who, as you well know, loves Austin, Texas, I was so bummed that when the show sent the designers there, it wasn't to use the city as inspiration for their looks, as opposed to just sourcing (Keep Austin) weird materials there. Austin encompasses so many different communities and traditions that it could easily be as inspirational as New York, but I guess breaking up a vinyl blues album and using it to embellish a bodice is just as interesting. ...Okay, I'm not really picking on Rik. That look was cool. But I agree, it was literally such a long way to go to work in product placement, and in such a dull way.

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It was, but I agreed with the bee-yoo-tiful Georgina Chapman: the harness bits making the heart/bodice thingy made it look downmarket, and Rik's second look should have got him sent home, in my opinion. Poorly made, dated, much too junior, and the back looked like an outtake from Madonna's "Rescue Me" video.

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True, and that tweed did not tie thematically with his unconventional look either (in addition to looking like it came off a clearance rack at 5-7-9). If we're talking poorly made, let's talk about Laurence. Her unconventional look was a puckery mess! Up close you could kind of appreciate the work that went into it, but from far away it might as well have been a burlap sack with a belt on it.

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And while I appreciate the strategic thinking behind her conventional look in terms of its simplicity: so boring. But she didn't like it either, so at least she and I agree.

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Yeah, I kind of shut down on that one because of all the rope, which looked so chafey. The birdseed is an interesting idea, but why pair that with that weird grey? I liked the asymmetry at the neckline, but that's one feature, not a whole look. I suspect Laurence got rewarded as much for resisting doing The Laurence Sleeve again as for anything she actually did.

How do you feel about Roberi's win? I'm relieved that he's going through to Fashion Week because I think he's been low-key solid all season without being particularly memorable as a personality, but his unconventional look barely qualified as a garment. Like, if his model stepped onto the sidewalk in it to have a cigarette, she'd get arrested for sure.

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I'm okay with it! I agree that a macramé plant hanger over a tube "skirt" is pushing the definition of the word "garment," but it is high fashion, in that jolie-laide "nobody can/would wear that but it's interesting to look at" sense. The second look I liked, though I thought it was overpraised; it's like he made a necktie skirt and turned it 45 degrees. And if it was that or Erin's? That, for sure.

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As a basic bitch, I was in love with his conventional look, and I think that more than his primary outfit got him through, honestly. But Erin...yeah, I don't know. I thought her use of the worms in her unconventional look was an interesting idea, but that bodice just came out looking like she'd strapped a bar tray to her model's chest.

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The conventional jumpsuit was fine -- and I think she really benefited from having chanced upon a print that was very similar to what Heidi wore to the runway -- but the fabric did all the work. (edited)

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Exactly what my notes said about Erin's conventional look, and not for nothing, but it's called "a hem." Make one. And that sleeve, woof. How does that get slavered over, but then Cornelius's jumpsuit looks expensive, has a cool sleeve that hits in the right place (unlike Erin's), and is a departure for him, but he goes home?

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I mean, not that he or Rik is in contention for a win, IMO. Who do you think's going to take the S15 crown?

Poor Cornelius. His unconventional look was second only to Rik's in my opinion.

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In terms of the likeliest winner, as opposed to the most deserving: Erin. You said yourself that the judging has been weighted in her favour, even through all her bottom looks for which she still skated by. I'd love it to be Roberi, and I think his collection will be the most interesting and unpredictable, but that's not what the editing is pointing me to.

Nor I. Roberi is more sophisticated and theoretical, probably, in how he approaches design -- but that's not what the show is interested in anymore, if it ever was. I'd like to think Laurence has a shot at it, but she's more fashion-able than innovative.

And Erin's fine, I guess. It won't be a Gretchen outrage. I just wish we could have gotten to her win more quickly given that it was telegraphed in, like, the season premiere.

God forbid we should have seen just twenty-three embellished, shapeless coats instead of the full two dozen.

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