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The Project Runway Blog

Season 12, Episode 5: Bad, Weird, Funky

By laurareineke Fri., Aug. 16, 2013 ,4:36 am EDT

The designers convene at Gansevoort Plaza in NYC's Meatpacking District, where Tim announces that this will be their third unconventional materials challenge! They'll also be working in teams again! Poor guys. This challenge is a mishmash of (arguably too many) components, so let me try to break it down. In teams of three, the designers must create a luxe mini collection -- one look per person -- out of unconventional materials; they can choose two of three stores (a vintage wallpaper store, a specialty food store, a home goods/party store) from which to get those materials. The looks can be inspired by the new Lexus IS '14s they're given to drive to find supplies, but that's not a requirement. They have one day to work and a suggested spending amount of $1500 per team.

Ken throws shade like a true professional. He slowly turns to gaze upon his enemies with a stare so icy it gives me chills. Forced to work with Alexandria and Sue, he monotones "I'm living a nightmare" and the disdain just radiates from him. The other, more amenable teams: Helen, Dom, and Justin; Alexander, Bradon and Miranda; Jeremy, Karen, and Kate.

After their shopping shenanigans, Sandro pops back in the workroom for an impromptu apology/goodbye session, which the other designers greet with sighs of relief since they don't have to deal with him anymore.

Tim is unusually sassy during critiques. "This makes me sick!" he says of Team Ken/Alexandria/Sue's insistence on using materials that barely qualify as unconventional. He reminds them that teams who don't push themselves to use weird materials in creative ways usually come under fire from the judges. "How do I keep this dress sleek and modern like the car, and then also embellish the shit out of it?" Kate asks, summarizing the contradictions posed by this exercise.

Team Ken/Alexandria/Sue really struggles in the workroom. Alexandria tries multiple times to make executive decisions for their team, only to be met by Ken's aforementioned steely-eyed negativity; Sue prefers to keep her mouth shut and focus on her work, likely because she's hit often with criticism from her teammates regarding her design process. It's no fun to watch, especially when the other teams generally seem to be having fun and making cool stuff.

Runway show! Our guest judge is celebrity stylist/designer June Ambrose.

Top Team: Jeremy, Karen, Kate
Materials: Placemats, drawer liner, shower curtain packaging, poppyseeds, black rice, coconut shavings, glitter
The judges fawn over this collection, dubbed "futuristic Great Gatsby" by Karen. Most impressive to the panel is the incorporation of so many disparate materials. They love the construction of Jeremy's white strapless cocktail dress, and Karen's mod-looking sheath dress earns praise for its texture. Heidi is surprised that Kate designed the minidress with plunging neckline and shoulder details because it's a color she never uses: black. Nina likes that she can immediately tell how the collection relates to the car. Jeremy gets the win.

Bottom Team: Ken, Alexandria, Sue
Materials: Placemats, drawer liner, duct tape, vinyl curtain covering
This team does itself no favors when they can't properly articulate to the judges any relevent info about their garments, like the type of woman they designed for, where they found their inspiration, or even what each designer brought to his or her look. Zac decimates all three immediately. He calls Alexandria's structured jacket "a cocoon without a butterfly." He thinks Ken's dress makes the model look too wide, and calls out Sue for her uneven hem and tailoring problems. Nina: "It all looks bad, weird, funky, ugly. All of it." Sue's credentials come up for discussion again, and that seals the deal. She and Ken are the bottom two. Sue gets auf'd.

What did you think of this week's challenge? Which team do you feel best rose to the occasion? Who deserved the blame for the Alexandria/Ken/Sue blowup? And now that we're a few weeks into the season, which designer strikes you as most promising? Let me know in the comments.