Strap In For Project Runway's Latest Unconventional Materials Challenge

Lexus is the driving force behind the season's second unconventional materials challenge. Who speeds to victory, and who stalls out on the shoulder?

Our Players

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

The Talk

I wish I were pleased to have guessed based on the talking-head interview Michael gave early on that he would get the auf this week, but I am not -- particularly since he also explicitly mentioned the Tim Gunn Save in said interview, but then did not receive it! And I was legitimately surprised by that; the look was bad -- underthought and dated, and didn't show enough work, like Heidi said -- but I was positive based on his strong performance to date that he would get bailed out by Tim.


Particularly when you consider that two designers got axed on the last challenge, I was ALSO sure Michael would get the Save! There's no question his look was the worst of the batch this week; it was extremely cheap and fit only for costuming a streetwalker in a movie set in a post-gas future when cars are useful only for scavenging parts to make garments. But he just won last week on one of the season's strongest designs! It's weird. Maybe Tim hates a tattletale and this is how he's letting us know.

Or maybe it's Episode 10 and they don't want to carry six designers into next week? I don't know. I thought sure he'd go into the final, too, but now I guess it's Brandon's to lose for sure -- and I'm okay with that. I don't know how innovative his look was this week, but he rallied again to make something I would totally wear (well, the skirt would need about a foot added to it, but still). I would buy the top as a poncho layer today.


This was the first time in a while that Brandon hasn't turned in something that looked like it could walk off the runway and into a beet field at a Trotskyist commune, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that he could push himself to do something more polished; it also helped that the materials forced him to do something that wasn't in his usual unbleached cotton palette. (Would I have liked it better had he skipped the pointless trailing strap? Yes, but I guess when it's a blind runway, you have to get your signature affectation on there somehow.) But the degree to which he pushed himself was nothing compared to Ayana's full Derelicte madness.

Lifetime; Paramount

I take it you didn't dig that one? I love love love the top, the reflectors and the cage netting on the sleeves; I love that she went for it, and it was an attention-getter. I will clock the hard hat at the kicky Wahlberg angle, however. Way too much. Her look was still the clear winner, though, and I'm glad the judges went that way versus giving the win to that hot Marvel mess Margarita sent out. I didn't hate everything about it, but I was still baffled by the praise. THIS isn't costume?!


Oh no, I agree that Ayana was the winner (and also agree that the hard hat was corny). That opening rip of the caution tape was straight out of the Mugatu playbook...


...but it's an unconventional materials challenge, and she leaned into it, as you should, and was appropriately rewarded. Margarita's, I thought, was interesting but could have used some editing; losing the straps around the neck and maybe also covering the boob cups with reflectors would have made it slightly less Sexy Rollerball Player from the Hallowe'en store. And at least hers, unlike Kentaro's, wasn't going to send her model to the dermatologist.


Jesus, poor Liris. And if she can't upsell a look? Again I was with Heidi: half the problem was the styling. Those braids looked gorge on her, but 1) everything does, and 2) yiiiiiikes. It just looked so grade-school pageant. I wouldn't say it's offensive, because Kentaro isn't North American and maybe has a different relationship to those signifiers; I wouldn't say he should have gone home, either. But he may go home soon, which I'm a little taken aback to be considering given that Kenya is still here -- and got away with it big-time this week, in my opinion. Fine, give her a slight pass on the zipper, but that top was just ugly. And excuse me, but since when do we praise designers for putting belts at the...waist? Where belts...go?


Kentaro's execution looked very early '00s Delia's catalogue to me, but like you, I gave him a bit of a pass for not understanding that we don't really do that "Navajo-inspired" shit anymore, though given that he's in the industry, you'd think he'd have noticed that when fashion magazines do still try it, they get dragged online for days. As for Kenya: it seemed like she wisely looked around at the very bold colour concepts everyone else was doing and decided to go in the opposite direction. Honestly, though, she could have just looked at Michael's and realized all she probably needed to do was something just a bit more ladylike. I liked it, but I agree that she's probably next unless she, like Ayana, can prove wrong Margarita's assessment that she's less a designer than a dressmaker.

So we agree that the final is probably Brandon, Margarita, and Kentaro? Or do we think Tim might deploy the Save belatedly, at the top of the next episode, as he has done in the past?

Have we ever seen Tim bring someone back after they've already packed up? I think unless it turns out Brandon's sleeping on some pattern books or something, Michael's gone for good. I also think the third spot in the final really could be a toss-up between Margarita and Ayana, who's really pulling out some interesting work now that it's crunch time. I'm still delighted by her avant-garde doll look from last week.

I like that Ayana shows us looks we don't usually see, because she's using sleeves and floor-length even when she doesn't have to. Not that that means she isn't more of a dressmaker, but it feels fresh to me. I also like that she's not a twin, hee.

Not a what? Sorry, I have no memory for failures justly languishing in the dustbin of history.

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