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The Project Runway Blog

Let's Have A (Ping-Pong) Ball

By laurareineke Fri., Feb. 1, 2013 ,4:38 am EST

Academy Award-winning actress Susan Sarandon co-owns a New York-based table tennis club called SPiN. It sounds like the start of a weird joke, but it's totally true. Fresh off their first elimination in a team-based season, the "Project Runway" designers get to spend a few hours working in the bar/ping-pong lounge/restaurant before they're tasked with their next big challenge. The goal: create cohesive, fashionable, upbeat new uniforms for SPiN's coed serving staff and ball boys. The designers have taken relatively quickly to the concept of working in teams, and they get started right away on divvying up responsibility and figuring out their collective visions for the uniforms.

I liked this episode a lot, and not just because it could easily be turned into a drinking game. Take a shot every time someone says "balls"! Take a shot every time Patricia says "leggins"! Take a shot every time Matthew talks about his personal creativity! Boom, you're drunk.

One good thing about the team setup is that it makes trips to Mood far more interesting. There's a lot of collaboration during the fabric-finding process, notably between Cindy and Benjamin, who are paired together to create a look despite the fact that they don't get along and have wildly different aesthetics. James, worried about the negative impact his team's advice had on his look last week, makes every effort to close himself off from the group by taking on the creation of a full look himself. (Foreshadowing! Ahem.) And in the workroom, Layana and Daniel work adorably together while Benjamin and Cindy continue to clash. Matthew and Patricia separately try to figure out how to best incorporate their specific aesthetics into basic (but necessary) pieces for their teams.

The runway show is judged by Heidi, Nina, Zac Posen (who definitely steps up his game this weeK—go Zac!), and the incredible Ms. Sarandon herself.

Team Keeping It Real - Top Three
Daniel/Layana - The utility of the skort is really smart, and in a nice athletic touch, the black-and-white combo and the cut of the vest echos a referee's uniform. Casual, theme-appropriate, sexy but not over-the-top. An easy win. One caveat: The asymmtery on the back strap is great, but the same effect on the lapel is too floral-looking for my taste.
Stanley - Making a drop-crotch pant look good isn't easy for the designer or the wearer, but in this case it came off extremely well. The easy, clean cut of the top (good fabric choice!) complemented the pants nicely.
Joseph/Richard - I didn't love this look. The harness for the ball-catching contraption was super smart and the judges were good to acknowledge it, but the typographic treatment on the pockets and chest made my eyes bleed (I blame that terrible boxy font). On a separate note, I really liked watching Joe and Richard work together and I hope they do so more in the future. Something about their laid-back personalities and good humor made me smile.

Dream Team - Bottom Three (Again! Womp womp)
James - The vaguely alarmed look on Nina's face as James exposited about this look said it all. This isn't a bad look, per se, but not for a food service employee (no sleeves = no go) and not for an indoor club-type atmosphere.
Benjamin/Cindy - Again, not a terrible look overall, but absolutely not appropriate for the setting. The puff sleeves and short-cropped torso on the jacket looked very "lady ringmaster at the circus" to me.
Benjamin/Matthew - I understand why this look doesn't work visually (and why it wouldn't work for SPiN's purposes) and yeah, that screen printed crotch overlay was tasteless, but Matthew gets many many bonus points in my book for going with his gut and making a kilt instead of standard jeans. Had the other parts of the look been stronger I think the judges would have responded to this a lot more favorably, if not for the ball boy than perhaps for a server or host.

Dream Team carried a lot of negatives this week, but Cindy's lame jacket, Benjamin's below-average contributions and Matthew's borderline-annoying kilt were no match for the utter blandness of James' look. He seems like a chill, talented guy, but a little too chill and not quite talented enough to move forward in the competition.

Next week: More shenanigans! And a Heidi-focused challenge, which is always fun. Until then, holler back in the comments about your thoughts on the episode. What's the most important quality for a restaurant/bar uniform to have? Which team presented the best collection of looks? If you were Susan Sarandon, which look would you have chosen for your employees? How quickly do you think the animosity between Cindy and Benjamin will devolve into a knock-down drag-out fight?

Also, are you any good at ping-pong? Because I am terrible.