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The Project Runway Blog

Menswear Thunderdome

By laurareineke Fri., Mar. 15, 2013 ,4:55 am EDT

This recap is brought to you by Nina's laugh attack. I can't blame her for falling to pieces at this week's utter mess of a runway show, but it was still disconcerting to see the usually-composed judge lose it.

After the surprising double elimination last week, the judges decide to handle the teams shake-up themselves. They place Richard, Layana, Amanda and Samantha on one team, while Stanley, Patricia, Michelle and Daniel make up another. The teams pick new names, too, but they're no improvement from the terrible names earlier this season: Team Slick and Hip and Team Shades of Grey.

This week's clients are the beautiful buff men from Thunder From Down Under, an all-male revue that's essentially the Australian version of Chippendales. (Their website cheekily bills their show as "The ultimate girls' night outback." Wordplay!) The dudes are in need of new outfits for their opening act. "One of the elements must be a suit," says head Thunderer Alex. "The looks need to be suave, sophisticated, and masculine, but overall, flexible and sturdy." Each team will create three full cohesive looks.

There's a lot of drama this week as the ladies of Team Slick and Hip butt up against Richard's growing attitude and his Vegas-y aesthetic. Over on Team Shades of Grey, Patricia is tasked with creating a woven white shirt while the rest of her team handles almost everything else for their looks. Tim notes that the whole process is "chaos and bedlam" as struggles with fit abound and time management is basically nonexistent. The runway show itself is equally messy; the designers look on in horror as the clothes fall apart in front of them.

I don't have a lot of thoughts about this week's looks. Team Shades of Grey wins by being slightly less terrible than Team Slick and Hip, but no one is named an individual winner, and thank goodness for that; if you take a look through our Rate the Runway gallery, you can see how rough these looks are up close. The only two of any interest to me are Michelle's vest and Samantha's "Converse look," but even those could have been improved with very basic, obvious changes. Amanda ended up getting the auf this week. Her elimination has been a long time coming, so I'm anxious to see who winds up on the chopping block next week as we start to whittle into the core group of talent that remains.

I think the real problem with this challenge was the Thunder From Down Under's request for dressier outfits. I can't help but think everyone would have been better off by ignoring that directive. This setup was punishment enough, combining the designers' general lack of menswear experience with strapping action-figure bodies AND a one-day time limit AND a tear-away component. Why make things more complicated by designing suits? A mastery of proportion and tailoring is essential in mens' suiting, and this group of designers had neither the time nor the breadth of knowledge to pull it off in this context. "Project Runway" designers have ignored clients' wishes before, and while it can be a gamble, it seemed silly to me that no one stopped to say, "Hey, I know they asked for dressy suits, but let's try something a little more casual that we know we can do well."

Anyway, how did you feel about the challenge? What kind of looks would you have designed for the Thunder From Down Under? Should Richard have been sent home instead of Amanda? And as we inch closer to the finale, who do you think will make it to Fashion Week? Let me know in the comments!

Next week: Get ready for drama between Michelle and Daniel as the designers refocus on ready-to-wear looks.