Heidi Klum sends the designers to South Street Seaport to meet Tim Gunn, who says this is the Lexus challenge. But it's much worse than that: it's the first team challenge. Aside from the way the designers were randomly paired off (they were given keys to a corresponding car) the challenge had nothing to do with Lexus. Nobody even won a Lexus. Oh, it forced some unfortunate color choices since they had to incorporate the color of their car into the design. And about the design: a red carpet look fit for the Emmys. Yeah, this challenge is all over the place. PR might be Emmy-nominated, but this isn't why.
Our teams drive their borrowed cars to meet their clients for the challenge, who turn out to be past Project Runway contestants. After talking with them and getting a feel for their style, they head to the workroom, where almost everything immediately falls apart.
Buffi Jashanmal and Elena Slivnyak are designing for Laura Bennett from season four. Laura has a very clean and classic style that doesn't mesh with Buffi's playfulness or Elena's super-structured superwoman thing. Elena is beginning to unravel; she won't let Buffi eat because she can't make pleats fast enough. She curses and yells and runs away. Christopher Palu describes Elena's personality like this: "It's like she escaped from the woods and she's ravenous and will rip your head off to get what she wants." Elena insists that's not true, she's just from Ukraine. "The weak don't survive," she says. Still, when Elena runs out of the workroom and hides, she leaves us wondering about her strength.
Christopher is paired with Andrea Katz, and he was so sweetly and genuinely excited to work with her that it was heartbreaking when they started butting heads. They are designing for Anya Ayoung Chee, who won season 9. Their Lexus was brown, which is pretty much the worst color for almost anything that's not a jacket. While we wished they would have chosen to use brown as an accent and not the main color, Christopher wished Andrea would stop laughing, start cutting, and learn how to use a sewing machine.
The other team we know is in trouble is Raul Osorio and Alicia Hardesty, who are designing for Mila Hermanovski of season 7. Raul and Alicia are both into menswear. We know this because Raul says so every five seconds. When Mila comes in to check on their progress, she's not thrilled, and we can't blame her. Clearly, neither Raul or Alicia watched Mila's season, because if they did, they would have known to stick with black and white and geometric shapes. They could have slapped that boring red leather belt they had to make because of their red car on pretty much anything.
Gunnar Deatherage and Kooan Kosuke aren't doing so well either. They have the most difficult client, Irina Shabayeva, who won season 6 (anyone who saw season 6 knows this is nothing to be impressed by). However, we would like to thank Irina for seemingly sucking the life out of Gunnar; he was too worried to be so obnoxious. The line of the episode, and perhaps the whole series, came from Kooan when Irina battered him about a bump in the stitching that he didn't seem to care about fixing. "For some reason, I just feel sad, not happy," Kooan said. "And if I'm happy, I can work forever, but if I'm sad, I can't do things, I can't create things."
Well, it's either that or Raul's, "I hate the f***ing red carpet."
Ven Budhu and Fabio Costa are designing for Kenley Collins, the queen of crinoline, from season 5. They see right away that Kenley has a great personality, but things could easily go south if she doesn't get her way. Kenley, sporting a Peter Pan collar and knee socks, tells them she's fashion-forward. It's times like these where Ven's blank stare just works out perfectly. Still, Ven and Fabio are working well together, mainly because Fabio is content to let Ven take charge.
Melissa Fleis and Dmitry Sholokhov are designing for April Johnston from season 8. She's finally taken her hair out of that topknot, but now it's purple. If Melissa and Dmitry were old enough to have a love child April's age, it would be April herself. This is a great match-up in all directions, and we appreciated that they took the time to work with silk charmeuse. Their gown is one of only two we thought were really ready for the Emmys.
The other was the dress Sonjia Williams and Nathan Paul were making for likeable Valerie Mayen from season 8. They chose gold sequins that weren't brassy, and the dress fit their client perfectly. Classy, elegant and exciting. But it didn't make the top 3. Nor did Melissa and Dmitry's gown, which was by far the most interesting, design-wise. And neither did Buffi and Elena's black dress, which came out looking quite nice despite all the drama it took to construct.
The three baffled teams retreated backstage after being told they were safe. We too thought they were in the top. Oh, but no. The judges chose Ven and Fabio's '50s dress and (ugh!) Gunnar and Koonan's terrible wedding gown/prom dress/pageant princess design. What?! Oh, Project Runway. You were so good to us for two episodes. Even Irina is surprised to be standing there, with Michael Kors, Nina Garcia and guest judge Krysten Ritter raving that she looks beautiful. News flash: Irina is beautiful, so she looks beautiful in this hideous outfit. Kooan still takes no credit for the dress, which made him want to eliminate himself. Ven, thank goodness, is declared the winner.
Christopher and Andrea landed in the bottom, along with Alicia and Raul. While the latter readily accept that they both contributed to a poor design, Christopher and Andrea engage in what might be the most heartbreaking fight ever over their sad brown dress. We like both of them, and we really believe that Christopher didn't want to be mean, but he wasn't going to let himself go down for being too nice. Andrea said she felt demeaned, and the entire thing was just depressing.
In the end, Raul is the one who is auf'd, but he might not be the only one who's gone: the next morning, we learn that Andrea is missing. In the previews for next week, everyone is crying and saying they are ready to drop out. This is worrisome, obviously. We hope Andrea is ok! And we hope the next episode is better.