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The Project Runway All Stars Blog

Season 3, Episode 4: Get Back to Class!

By laurareineke Fri., Nov. 15, 2013 ,4:13 am EST

It's not a real season of "Project Runway" until the designers are forced to make fashion (or something approximating it) out of distinctly unfashionable materials, so we find ourselves once again at the Unconventional Materials Challenge. The designers pile onto a bright yellow school bus that shuttles them to P.S. 212 in midtown Manhattan. At first they suspect their clients might be kids, but Alyssa's on hand to let them know that the real challenge is to create "high-impact runway fashion" using materials that would normally be found in a school. This is as good a time as any to lower your expectations.

The group has four minutes to grab everything they think they'll need to create a look. The classroom turns into a ransacked hellscape pretty quickly as they rummage through school supplies. There are crayons all over the floor, rulers being thrown through the air, glitter and pencils as far as the eye can see. The free-for-all continues in the workroom, where the designers discover that this undertaking is considerably more difficult than it sounded at the outset. Elena criest to Zanna, again, because it's all very overwhelming. "This isn't novelas," Viktor says, exasperated. "Stop crying!"

But Mychael understands her pain. "The materials, they just suck," he says. A "make it work" attitude is a major tenet of "Runway," but seriously, there's only so much ANY designer can do with (a) a severely limited amount of time, (b) no real fabric, and (c) stubborn, hard-to-manipulate materials. "Did you have fun?" Alyssa chirps before the start of the runway show. "No," Elena answers sullenly. I feel you, girl.

Anyway, let's talk runway. Our guest judges are hilarious actors Gabourey Sidibe and Michael Urie.

Top Three
Christopher - A warrior-esque black number made from binders, toy magnets, and scissors. Christopher tries to explain the anti-bullying message behind the look but the judges aren't really here for it. "Who hasn't been bullied?" Isaac scoffs. But the panel likes it anyway. Christopher gets the win.

Elena - Round four of Elena's typical output: Sheath-y, color-block-y, strong shoulders, details at the bust. It's made from rulers, binders, and protractors. The judges really like it. Isaac calls the bust "Mansard roof goes safari pocket" in a complimentary way. Georgina's less impressed but can't deny the garment is good.

Viktor - A geometric patterned dress of rubber bands and thumb tacks surrounded by fringe made from rulers. Michael calls it "timeless." Gabourey delightfully admits that she judges clothing based on whether or not Beyonce would wear it, and that this look definitely fits the criteria.

Bottom Three
Mychael - A dress made from construction paper and jump ropes that totally looks like a dress made from construction paper and jump ropes. Gabourey notices the detail in the bustier and Isaac approves of the color scheme but otherwise...meh.

Korto - "Oh, god. Don't judge me," Korto mutters as her look takes to the runway. It's a halter top with a mini skirt made from rubber bands, bean bags, and rulers, and while the top is nicely detailed, the skirt is a mess. Isaac calls out the proportions and Georgina doesn't even say anything, just sort of gestures at it and says, "You know." Korto does indeed know that this is awful.

Jeffrey - Floor mats, folders, and jump ropes make up this look, which Jeffrey says is supposed to be "anime girl in a sundress mid-twirl." "I'm not sure it fits?" Michael asks, perplexed. Jeffrey gets defensive. The judges note that the garment barely covered the model's body and Jeffrey can't argue with that.

The judges hem and haw over the bottom three looks, all of which seem to settle at the same level of bad-ness. Finally Alyssa announces that all three designers are safe.

My real question: How did Irina's look not land her in the top? It's floofy and uber-feminine, perhaps bordering on the arts-and-crafts aesthetic they were warned against, but it also looks like real clothing, which is more than I can say for the other safe look that belonged to Seth Aaron.

What do you think? Should someone have gone home, and if so, which of the bottom three most deserved it? Were you as crabby as Elena was when Viktor cribbed her design idea? Did you appreciate that this was a proper unconventional materials challenge or do you think the designers should have had access to more fabric options? Let me know in the comments.