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The Project Runway Blog

The Twistiest Challenge Yet

By CaitlinBergmann Thu., Oct. 6, 2011 ,5:01 am EDT

Team Nuts and Bolts do not get along in the HP fabric challengeI was about to write an entire entry on how this challenge was one of those "Here is your inspiration! Now go out and be inspired by it!" scenarios until I realized that this whole series is truly about how one can best find inspiration in sometimes uninspiring situations and conquer it.

Are we as humans usually inspired by dirty gutter water? Discarded newspapers? The U.S. Postal Service? Probably not. But they've managed to help create some fantastic sources of inspired fashion throughout this show's history. I feel like breaking out my inner Wes Bentley in "American Beauty" and declare that there is beauty in ugly things as we all watch plastic grocery store bags dance in the suburban wind, but as far as inspirations go, exotic birds are not so bad. (But apparently owls are. Sorry, guy!) Especially with a $20,000 {cough – $12,000 after taxes} cash incentive!

Once the designers are paired in teams and ready to tackle their respective ravens, Amazon parrots and cockatoo, Tim throws in a twist: The team members are actually working AGAINST each other, not WITH each other.

As Joshua licks his way through fabric at Mood (did anyone ELSE notice that?), the designers run through the aisles repeating the inner monologue, "Do not be literal. Do not be literal ..." while stuffing faux feathers into a shopping bag. Here we go ...

Viktor is creating a look that half reminds me of his own Avant-garde Challenge look and half of Laura Kathleen's color palette (but muted) for the same challenge. I am impressed by his ability to manipulate the organza into a feather-like texture, whereas Laura glued an entire bird's worth of feathers onto the collar of her suited raven look.

Anya, also Team (That's So) Raven, has a beautiful piece of fabric over her dress form that looks like a promising new direction for her this week. Viktor agrees with me by describing it as "hellosexy.com," which, by the way, you should not visit in an office setting. Trust me. He is, however, not intimidated by his Team Cockatoo counterpart, and thinks he has this challenge in the bag.

Joshua McKinley bird challenge orange dressTim appears in the workroom, but clearly it's too early for his workroom visit, so something must be up. Twist #2: You need to create a second look! And your model needs to do a quick change into it! And you still have two days!

As if the designers didn't have enough trouble becoming inspired by a bird the first time, the second time is proving to be even more difficult. Bert, who must have had a weird run-in with a parakeet in his youth, is particularly bothered by this prospect ... until he sees Joshua's first look: the scariest green mess I have ever seen. In my life. Thankfully, Joshua recognizes it too, and switches his focus to Look 2. With a new direction, he asks Anya if he can borrow some additional fabric to completely redo Look 1.

I guess there's two sides to this point of the episode: the first being, yes, as Anya explains it, this is too late in the competition to be pulling favors, and the second, conversely, being that THE PERSON SAYING THAT BORROWED FABRIC LAST WEEK.

Anya may have an abundance of fabric on her side, but she's struggling with construction. She has no idea how to get her model into her second look, and her first look has, as Tim pointed out, two vastly different-sized armholes. Laura, who has now clipped on some great bangs, is betting on her years of training to help come out on top over Anya's sewing snafus.

Kimberly, who after sewing through her finger (Twist #3) and struggling throughout most of the episode, has a much-needed "Come to Jesus" chat with Tim, who revives her spirit and, with a hug, sets her on a new promising path ... until she burns a hole through Look 1 (Twist #4) and has to completely scrap it and create an entirely new dress in three hours (Twist #5). Someone get this girl a beverage!

Tim is back on runway day to brief everyone with a "special announcement": Only one of the two looks will walk the runway (Twist #6). Laura is rejoicing. Anya, Bert and Joshua are struggling with which look to send down.

Anya Ayoung Chee's raven dress reminicent of Viktor's Nina Garcia challenge dress I am screaming "FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, CHOOSE ORANGE" as if Joshua can actually hear me, but I'm more intrigued by the fact that Anya has her model stuck inside of the fashion version of a Chinese Finger Trap.

As the designs finally come down the runway, I'm so distracted by recalling Laura Kathleen's avant-garde look again that I dismiss anything Viktor's look has going for it. Kimberly's three-hour gown has something appealing about it, but the slit is too high (reminding me of Olivier's avant-garde look) and I'm still on the fence about seeing under-cleavage reminiscent of Christina Aguilera's 2002 VMA outfit. But it's still got something really appealing about it.

Also in the "something appealing about it" (stress on the something) category was Bert's. He was right about the length being shy an inch or two, and I wasn't crazy about the makeup or the belt detail, but I didn't hate it. Joshua just happened to come up with a great look that couldn't be topped. He truly does best in this competition when he has the time to edit.

Speaking of "can't be topped," for this raven showdown and what seems to be the entire season, there's Anya's look. Although, and Laura Bennett is in sync with me on this point, that dress is a modified version of Viktor's Nina Garcia Challenge look. The end. I'm surprised he (and Nina) never commented on it. The shoulder treatment on Anya's also leaves something to be desired. They almost looked like they were made out of felt and pinned on there. But overall the look was so strong, and not so literal, that it gave her the win. Again. (That gives her three.)

Backstage, Joshua reminds us again that Anya's model needed to be cut out of the dress at the end of the runway day. Now, I know the designers use tricks to save on time, like not lining a garment ('cause who cares?), but whether cutting a model out of a garment she was sewn into is really a sign of a lack of construction know-how about where to put a closure or a zipper, or is just because these aren't clothes being worn by actual consumers, I'm not quite sure.

As for Bert leaving us now, it's kind of sad, 'cause I was just starting to like him again (Twist #7). Either way, drinks on Anya!