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If It Walks Like a Duck...

By kim_messina Fri., Mar. 8, 2013 ,4:50 am EST

Ducks. Yes, Ducks. Miss Heidi walked out with a DUCK. Last week we had "Mature Ladies" and this week: ducks. When La Klum walked out with a duck this week, I instantly thought "I didn't know Aflac was one of the sponsors of this season and how are they going to make stylish uniforms for Insurance Salesmen?!" I am sure that most of the designers thought the same thing. But, alas, I was wrong...

Unconventional Part Deux
After the "Heidi and Duck Show," the remaining Season 11 designers headed to their 1407 Broadway Workroom, arriving to tables piled high with "pyramids" of Duct Tape. In case it isn't 100% obvious at this point, the challenge for this week--as described by Tim Gunn and Bill Kahl, Executive VP of Marketing at ShurTech Brands—was to create a garment made out of Duct Tape. But not just any ol' garment: a Prom Dress, darlings. In case you're counting, this is the SECOND Unconventional Challenge this season. I am not sure if there has ever been a season with TWO Unconventional Challenges, but it's smart of the producers to do this, since the fans LOVE this stuff.

Duct-a-Licious
Tim tells the designers that the judges want to see "fresh and innovative thinking" in terms of their Prom-a-Licious designs. He also says that they will have one day to do it and that they will later meet with high school students who will vote on their designs, which will count for 20% of the final "Who's In" and "Who's Out" decision. The designers are paired up in 5 teams of two: Stanley/Layana; Kate/Tu; Michelle/Amanda; Richard/Daniel and Patricia/Samantha. There's no Mood shopping; just duct tape and muslin.

Teams Duct Prom
Back in the "Duct Workroom," Mustachioed Daniel is paired with Richard and thinking of Beyoncé for their look—using only gold tape. While Tim makes his requisite visit, those two boys add that there's also a "Mexican Mariachi" inspiration to their dress. Ay Dios Mio! Of the other teams, Layana is not happy that Team Daniel/Richard got all the gold tape and vents to her teammate Stanley who secretly wants to backslap her. Tim likes what they're making and is "not concerned." Samantha is not on the same duct tape-wavelength as her teammate Patricia, but then again, I wouldn't be either: let's just say Patricia has a design aesthetic that is unique to her. When Tim surveys what they're up to, he notices that they are on two different "design pages." He wonders why they're not collaborating and suggests that their design might look like a "Bride of the Tin Woodman." Ouch. In the Kate/Tu team, Kate is the boss and Tu is her assistant. They're making a gown for the prom and Kate is too focused on making the tape look like actual fabric (is that a bad thing?). Tim thinks their end result may be too "flat and lackluster." We'll see.

Short & Slutty
Time to head to a secret NYC high school gym and have privileged NYC high school students judge the creations on how "prom proper" they are. The models saunter down and by the looks of it, all is pretty good. Some of the designers comment about how high school kids these days want "short & slutty" for their proms. PS: When haven't they? The kids interact with the designers and take an up-close look at the creations and cast their votes. Michelle and Amanda feel like the girls with no dates, as no one seems interested in their dress. It looks like Michelle and Amanda are on a fast track to the bottom once again. With that, it's time for everyone to go to bed and get ready for the Runway Day...

Slutty and Puffy
Runway Day and the special guest judge is bubblegum pink haired-fashion designer Chris Benz. I have met Chris several times and he has always been kind, articulate and very intelligent. He was all that and more, during the judging. Immediately, Heidi announces that the top vote getter amongst the prom Kids was Team Patricia/Samantha. At first this seemed like a surprise, but then I realized not so much; the high-low style was very short in the front, so we got the "slutty" out of the way and the students seemed to respond to it's uniqueness. The judges voted and they also liked Patricia and Samantha's look. Heidi loved it and Nina thought it was very "Katy Perry." I liked the ombre duct tape manipulation but the "Jiffy Pop"-looking silhouette was too cartoon-y for me.

Bad Luck Michelle No More...
The next best were Stanley/Layana and Michelle/Amanda. I think Stanley/Layana did a good job. I loved the bubblegum pink waist bow tie but I think it should have been shorter; not hoochie-short, but shorter. The dress looked a bit heavy to me. Michelle and Amanda's was the best. It was a great silhouette with movement and a sense of fun; perfect for the prom Fashionista. I would have removed the jutting point of the bustier and created a one-shoulder strap, but besides that, good job ladies. Michelle gets chosen as the winner of the Challenge and finally "Bad Luck" Michelle has broken her curse.

Steak Restaurant Leftover Gold Aluminum Prom Dress
And now, let's discuss the Beyonce-meets-Mariachi-inspired prom dress courtesy of Daniel and Richard. It was way too obvious from the minute I saw those tacky gold "ruffles" that this would end up on the bottom. Besides the fact that this brought back way too many memories of my mid-80s prom date ensemble, it looked like something you wrap your leftovers in from a steak restaurant. It's one thing to be purposely tacky a la Jeremy Scott but I'm not so sure if they were going for that. Then there was Team Kate/Tu: I actually liked this gown. I agreed with Zac Posen that a long gown is not a bad thing when it comes to proms, especially ones that suggest a serious Red Carpet vibe; and this one did. I get that Tu let Kate be the boss and he was just her "intern", but does that merit an "Auf"? On the "which is the worst" dilemma, I would have given that to Richard or Daniel. Period. But as we know, that's not how it works in "Project Runway Land". The judges look at the whole season and not the challenge at the moment. So with that, it was "Bye-Bye" to Tu... AND Kate! In a season where you might expect double eliminations, it was still a bit of a surprise on this challenge. There have been far worse designs over the season that deserved the "Auf" (I'm talking to you Amanda!), but as everyone predicted with this season of teams, some designers are getting saved based on their partnerships. And let's admit it, the producer's needed to have an even number of designers for next week.

And speaking of next week: Male Strippers. Oh dear....I can't wait!