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Ready, Set, Design

By kim_messina Fri., Sep. 6, 2013 ,4:09 am EDT

This week starts off at some ridiculous hour with Tim Gunn dressed in some ridiculous umpire outfit. I can't think of another season where Tim has been in so many costumes! (I am crossing my fingers that we have a Renaissance fair challenge this season, or maybe NASCAR...) But, first the designers must compete on a obstacle course in teams of two.

We learn that besides not liking the outdoors and countless other things, Ken does not like or do physical activities. Also, did anyone else notice that all the girls paired their shorts over the leggings? I haven’t seen that since junior high! I believe they were given both as a choice of the leggings or the shorts- but to wear BOTH?! I thought this was supposed to be a group of FASHIONABLE people.

It will not be a team challenge, but the victorious duo will win an extra hour of workroom time. Now, to me this is fun. Not only do I love to workout, but I am also currently designing a workout line that is launching this October, Turn It On Fitness. I almost wish I could ask a designer to tap me in for this challenge!

Dom, the only one who stats that they are athletic, and Justin come up with the win!

Back to the workout, I mean the workroom... Now, workout wear is a huge industry and it ain't easy; there's a lot of thought that goes into materials, and effective use of space. The stretch fabric can also be difficult to sew and fit as well as the large importance in the functionality of the garment. This could be interesting...

Tim comes in, explains the challenge and why there's samples of Heidi's line on the mannequins. (It's for the designers to "reference"). The camera pans to Helen just as a light bulb goes on over her head. She tip-toes out to ask Tim a question. When she re-enters beside the dirty looks from her fellow designers, Ken calls her out for being "shady." So begins this week's installment of the Helen/Ken name calling bitchfest.

Which brings to mind that every drama packed, head exploding, screaming match this season has had two players involved; Helen and Ken. Helen is worried that Ken may be violent. She forgets Ken doesn't do physical activities, he just yells real loud. Tim is called in to council the Drama Queen, and he's allowed to talk to his....what? Mentor? Oh. Wow. I get a little annoyed when he states that you "don’t know what people are going through." Of course he is referencing himself, but I want to suggest that it goes both ways! Maybe that should remind you to not blow up at other people.

Kate's doing a motocross inspired outfit with a jacket. Ken, a motorcycle jacket, with matching tights. Karen an architectural inspired work with fitted pant. Tim comes in with Heidi in tow. Kate gets an "atta boy." The pullover? A wow piece. Do I need to say Top Three? Helen, calm now, shows a 3 piece simplistic outfit. She's called out on her basic garment. She decides to focus on sharpening up the too basic jacket. Justin, some straps. Karen, big problems here. She's come up with some lime green outfit that Heidi calls alien-looking. Panic, redo, this time with more elegance. Dom wants to show some skin. Alexander color blocks tights and top. Jeremy is sunburned. Ken, sees a long top and Heidi see's a scuba suit. Hitting another rough patch. To this day I'm sure that he wakes up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat screaming, "Redesign." For Bradon it's all about optical illusions. Alexandria, who evidently has competed in 50 some marathons, is walking a fine line between form/function with drop crotch tights. Helen, ever the critic, scolds her for repeating herself. This slightly annoys me because at least she is doing something different then the rest of the room.

Overall, I am disappointed by the lack of creativity in the room. No one thought of yoga pants? A running skirt? Maybe just some FLATTERING color blocking?

Alexander is praised in the workroom for his lack of seams. And again this week, he's happy and confident of his output. It is impressive patterning. Karen's model throws out some hints. Karen has gone down the rabbit hole. It happens, and it's magnified on "PR." You start to be so narrowly focused, no matter where you turn someone is telling you something is wrong. Karen, unfortunately, doesn't have the confidence to push ahead with some refinements and make the best out of the situation. That's "Project Runway," and that is how you progress. Karen is in trouble.

Guest judge is Micheal Kors. I have a feeling he is going to be a little disappointed in the designs. Kate goes first; great pullover, nice looking and while not ground-breaking, in this group it's a definite top 3. Bradon, simple top and pant, abet with lime green striping. Applaud the difficulty level but over all not a standout look. Alexandria’s drop crotch is next. Not a favorite of mine. Will the judges be kind?

Helen produces a beautiful jacket with an cut similar to Alexandria's dress from last week. The model looks good in it and she was smart to stick to black (I love how the judges always say no black, but it is consistently the winner). Dom sends out a . I see this look in the top 3. Justin's outfit is simple and he didn’t take Heidi’s advice about not making the neckline so high on the sports bra. It's not a bad look, but I think he had the beginnings of something more interesting in the workroom. Ken sends down Walmart wear and blames his model for the blandness. Jeremy shakes things up by using purple fabric, in place of black. This looks like a bottom 3 look to me but not because of the color, more the fit. Karen comes up with an outfit that has a nice easy feel to it, but the fashion is huge missing element here. Alexander's looks a little wonky to me. We'll see where he ends up.

The top are: Kate, Alexander and Helen. The bottom are Alexandria, Ken and Karen. Kate, flaunts her MX pants. Does that hide the fact they look like run of the mill tights with a stripe? Motocross, I know. My dad raced it. I know the gear I saw nothing in this design to point to a motocross reference. Nice pullover though. Overall a good look. Alexander gets a top spot, but only because there was no one better—the judges made that perfectly clear. Helen, simple top, pant, but the judges love the jacket.

Ken he is likely going home, if not this week then soon. Alexandria, Heidi give's it high marks. But, to the rest of the panel, the outfit becomes a joke. Micheal Kors celebrates his return with a scathing review, including punch lines like, "Pleasure me pockets," while the look is reviled, Heidi likes it.

Tim Gunn save! Wait, it has already been used. But, Gunn wisely points out that Heidi had given Alexandria a big thumbs up on her design. Shrewdly Alexandria has been saved. So, it's Karen thrown to the wolves. The win is between Helen, and Kate. Helen wins! Nina orders! Congrats! As Bradon fades, Kate meanders on and Alexandria goes her own way. Three wins for Helen? A part of me feels like she has the judges fooled.

And it's goodbye to Karen. Now she had an annoying laugh, sloppy sewing skills and facial expressions that looked straight out of a "SNL" episode, but her designs are modern and saleable. Save for Alexandria, Karen probably is the most contemporary designer of any of the contestants. That is something "Project Runway "rarely supports. "PR," and many of its fans, tend to reward referential.