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The Project Runway Blog

Season 12, Episode 8: Activewear Volcano

By laurareineke Fri., Sep. 6, 2013 ,4:00 am EDT

The designers meet activewear-clad Heidi and Tim at the Upper East Side's Asphalt Green recreation area, where they're tasked with completing an obstacle course consisting of a three-legged race, a tire run, a wheelbarrow race, and a flag grab. They have to complete the race in pairs, but thankfully this isn't a team challenge. But it's one we've seen before: Design an activewear look for Heidi's New Balance line. The pair that wins the obstacle course will choose their fabric first, AND they'll get an extra hour to work on our garments.

Dom and Justin win the thing (and celebrate with an adorable chest-bump); meanwhile, Heidi's screaming at Bradon and Helen: "IT'S A FLAG. IT HAS A STICK ON IT." Jeremy and Alexander come in dead last. The gang grabs their fabric ($50 worth, per person, from stuff approved for Heidi's line) and get to sketching.

Back in the workroom, Ken has a for-real freakout at Helen for...no real reason? I've re-watched it a few times and all I can glean is that he's already frustrated by the usual competition-related things when Helen's weird self-centered melodramatic tendencies start to grate a little too much, so all his crabbiness gets directed her way in a loud, uncomfortable argument. Helen feels threatened (understandably) and asks Tim to intervene. Ken's eventual apology seems sincere, Helen accepts, and that is, thankfully, the end of that.

This week's guest judge is the magical Michael Kors!!! Three exclamation points because Michael is the best.

Top Three
Helen - Black cinch-waisted, flowy zip-up hooded jacket, black and grey mid-calf leggings, and a tee with kangaroo pocket. The jacket gets raves from everyone. Nina loves that it covers the butt and thighs, the gentlemen give it complimentary names (Zac: "Elvira at the gym," Kors: "Stevie Nicks active"), Heidi says she'd wear it in a heartbeat. There's no love for the rest of her outfit, so it's clear the jacket alone is responsible for Helen's win.

Kate - Black pants, long-sleeved kangaroo-pocketed pullover with a zipper up the back and a pop of red at the loose cowl neck. Nina loves the fashion-with-function combination, and Zac -- who has without a doubt taken a liking to Kate's work this season anyway -- digs it, too, noting that Kate understands flattering lines.

Alexander - Black, purple, and heather grey bra top, pant, and jacket. Everyone on the panel loves the fit of the pants -- draped without an outside seam, as is proper for form-fitting fabrics -- but the asymmetry of the top and the color-blocking on the pants gets debated a little bit. "It looks like something you'd see on a sale rack in an active department," Kors says. "It's in a store though! It might be on sale, but it's in a store. It got there."

Bottom Three
Alexandria - Black drop-crotch knee-length pants and long-sleeved zip-up jacket, both with a pop of purple, layered over a light grey tee. Zac is disappointed over the drop-crotch pants (accented by what Kors calls "pleasure-me pockets"), and Nina calls out the silliness of the trio of gashes on the stomach of the t-shirt. Heidi likes this look (no surprise) but not enough to help it land in the top.

Ken - A long purple tank top with black and purple knee-length leggings. Kors thinks Ken thought too much about function and not about fashion. When he gets up close to it, Zac frowns at the harness-y straps in back and the proportion of the top.

Karen - This utterly perfunctory black sweatshirt-sweatpant combo is the direct result of Heidi's awful critique of Karen's original take on the challenge. I'm not convinced Karen's first design would have turned out quite as horrifically as Heidi imagined. Regardless, Karen's actual runway look is unflattering and bo-o-o-ring, so she's auf'd.

What say you? Should Karen have ignored Heidi and risked an even more embarrassing elimination? Was Helen's jacket really special enough to cancel out her so-so shirt and leggings? Were you terrified or just annoyed by Ken's outburst? And now that immunity is off the table, who do you think will be the next to go? Let me know what you think in the comments!