“Project Runway” recap: “Welcome Back (or Not) to the Runway” (Ep. 10.3)


This week on Project Runway is a dream for those of us who have been watching for all previous nine seasons, as some of our favorite ladies from the past are going to be coming back to be the clients for the challenge. It’s also going to be a partner challenge, which is almost always absolute hell for everyone! Rejoice in the drama!

Heidi meets the contestants on the runway rocking a shiny gold top – she is the best! – and says their challenge this week will involve making an “elegant” runway look, which Kooan says makes him nervous. Oh, Kooan. Kooan is this season’s token kooky designer, and I normally always find the kooky designers enjoyable. They make things interesting. Still, even the kooky designers should be able to do elegant – or at least believe they can do elegant.

She also reminds them of Ven’s immunity this week since he won last week’s challenge. Then they are off to meet Tim at South Street Seaport to find out more. The contestants meeting Tim at different places around the city for various challenges is one of my favorite parts of Project Runway, because I feel like New York City is such a vital part of the whole experience of the show and of American fashion in general. Project Runway has five essential characters: Tim Gunn, Heidi Klum, Nina Garcia, Michael Kors, and New York City. Remember that brief, foolish period of time when they were in LA instead of New York? Nothing against LA, but praise be that that dark time in our history is over.

Anyway. At the seaport, while standing in front of a bunch of cars, Tim announces that this is the Lexus challenge! Oh, Project Runway and your corporate whoredom. It would bother me more if I didn’t love you so much. Each pair will be assigned to a car and they have to incorporate the color of the car into the design – which is a pretty weak link. You can try harder with your corporate whoredom, Project Runway.

There is another very exciting announcement about the challenge, though. Their look will be elegant for sure, because they are designing for the red carpet at the Emmy’s. Whoa! This is a big challenge!

They’re paired up and swept away in their Lexuses to meet their clients, who are still a mystery to them. Predictably, some of the pairs are happy about who they end up with, others, not so much. There are still so many contestants at this point that it’s hard to know them all well as to how things will really go, but this is how things stack up:

Michael, the happy-go-lucky guy, and Andrea, resident oldie, meet up with Anya, the winner of last season with all those flowy tropical dresses. This is a team full of light: they all seem to be generally happy people who are open to working with each other. And in case you were worried: Anya is still super hot.

Alicia, our tomboy lesbian, and Raul, the one with the pointy cowlick, are assigned with Mila, one of the finalists from season 7. Mila was an older, kind of edgy and tough type of designer, which I believe is the opposite of Alicia and Raul’s aesthetics. That said, both Alicia and Raul seem to be some of the quieter, more laid back designers, who I can see working well with others, so I feel hopeful about them.

Kooan and Gunnar, the token bitchy queen of this season, meet with Irina, winner of season 6. Kooan and Gunnar are already a super odd pair, and Irina somewhat haughtily tells them that it “must be fabulous” as she preciously sips her espresso at the cafe. Everyone seems nervous. I sense disaster looming!

Melissa and Dmitry, both of whom I feel like I don’t know well enough yet, meet April, a designer from season 8 who has a gothic aesthetic and who is currently rocking some purple hair. Their meeting seems to go smoothly.

Sonjia and Nathan, team Super Hip and Chill and Awesome, meet with Valerie, another designer from season 8. Valerie is more girly than April was on that season, but also has a super warm, friendly personality–I remember liking her a lot. I feel like this team is going to rock it. By the way I am in love with Sonjia and so I may or may not have somewhat of a bias in these recaps because she is just so outstandingly lovely, I mean, right?!

Next up, Elena, super intense Ukranian chick who never smiles, and Buffi, super bright and bouncy chick who smiles all the time, are teamed up with Laura, a finalist from season 3. Laura is a slightly older but hip and friendly designer, but it’s already clear that this pairing of Elena and Buffi, polar opposites, is not going to go well.

Finally, I-Am-The-Best Ven and Fabio meet with Kenley, finalist from season 5 who is all about the vintage. Kenley can be fun and vibrant but also a little intense, from what I remember, and I can’t see Ven working well with others, because, you know, he is The Best. I don’t know how this is going to go either.

However, when everyone returns to the workroom and starts to do their thang, there seem to be no meltdowns thus far. Tim comes into the room to mention that the winner of this challenge will get to accompany their client TO THE EMMY’S with their look. This challenge is rad. At the next commercial break, there is also an ad that oh-so-casually congratulates Project Runway for their four Emmy nominations this year. Smooth one, PR.

As their designs get more fully underway, Alicia mentions that she has never actually designed a gown before. Her partner Raul isn’t comfortable with womenswear either. Uh oh. Their check-in with Mila also goes pretty awkwardly. I feel nervous!

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