Fifteen designers did their best to make treasure from trash in “Project Runway” season 16, episode 2, “An Unconventional Recycling.” As is tradition for the series, the challenge for the episode was an “unconventional materials” challenge requiring the contestants to create high-fashion looks using recycled goods. If that wasn’t daunting enough, it was also the first team challenge of the season! So which designers excelled in this curveball of a challenge? Read our “Project Runway” recap below to find out.
On-site at the recycling center where they’d pick up the materials for their designs, Tim Gunn divided the contestants into three groups of five: Kudzanai Karidza, Michael Brambila, Kentaro Kameyama, Deyonte Weather, and Margarita Alvarez (Team 1); Aaron Myers, Batani-Khalfani, Brandon Kee, Kenya Freeman, and Ayana Ife (Team 2); Sentell McDonald, Samantha Rei, Amy Bond, Claire Buitendorp, and Shawn Buitendorp (Team 3). Shortly after, Tim let the designers loose for five minutes to collect as many materials as they could to use for their creations — among the items were raffle tickets, bottles, bubble wrap, wrapping paper, tray covers, and of course paper.
Back in the workroom Tim made it clear that each team of five would be responsible for creating a five-look mini-collection and reminded them that this season each designer would be paired with a different model of a different body type each week determined by a rotation. With only one day to finish their look, the designers jumped right into their work. Team 2 decided on a theme for their collection, “Ballin’ on a Budget,” aimed at a socialite-party girl, while Team 1 formed their ideas around design, using origami as inspiration for a Japanese style collection — “Team Wabi-Sabi.” Team 3 decided on a resort collection inspired directly by their translucent materials that reminded them of the sea — “Team Tsunami.”
Of all the designers, Shawn was the most immediately overwhelmed by the pressure of the challenge. From her perspective, after being in the bottom in the previous week, the weight of a team challenge on top of unconventional materials on top of having to work with a plus-sized model for the first time was almost too much to handle. Meanwhile, Ayana of Team Ballin’ on a Budget was unsure about how she was going to maintain her modest aesthetic with the materials available to her.
During midday critiques with Tim, Team Tsunami was told that though the materials were cohesive there was a disconnect between their looks across the collection. Team Wabi-Sabi received positive feedback from Tim on their vision in theory, but they too lacked cohesion based on their execution. Tim was most concerned for Team Ballin’ on a Budget based on Batani’s look, which prompted him to remind them that the point of the challenge is to make sure that they control the materials rather than the materials controlling their design.
For Team Tsunami’s Amy, the dynamic of having both the twins on her team while one them, Shawn, continued to struggle meant that Claire was sacrificing time on her own look to help her sister, ultimately hurting the team as a whole. As such, and with only two hours to go on the day of the runway, Sentell and Samantha, already done with their looks, were employed to help Shawn finish hers.
At the runway, series judges Heidi Klum, Zac Posen and Nina Garcia were joined by actress Maggie Q and editor-in-chief of Marie Claire magazine, Anne Fulenwider. Of the three teams, Ballin’ on a Budget was declared the winner, so one of their designers would be chosen as the overall winner, and Tsunami was the loser, so one of them would be eliminated. When asked which designer from Ballin’ should win, Ayana got two votes for her peers and later received the support of the judges, who named her the challenge winner.
With regard to Team Tsunami, Heidi’s main critique was that the materials weren’t transformed and still looked like garbage. Sentell came under fire for looking like he didn’t spend enough time working on a basic look, but that was echoed on both Claire and Shawn’s looks as well. Shawn gave the judges a lot of excuses — a curvy model, fear, etc. — none of which they were buying. In fact, Maggie Q and Anne stopped the twins from mentioning “curvy model” again to point out that their perspective on her model’s body was off. When asked who should go home, Sentell, Amy and Samantha all singled out Shawn, while the twins split their opinions between Amy and Sentell. Ultimately, the judges felt that Shawn’s design had a better fit than Sentell’s and so Sentell was deemed “out” this week and eliminated from the competition.
Here are the answers to Gold Derby’s predictions event questions for “Project Runway” #16.02:
Who will be eliminated? Sentell McDonald
Who will be in bottom 2, but safe? Shawn Buitendorp
Who will win the challenge? Ayana Ife
Who will be challenge’s runner-up? Aaron Myers, Batani-Khalfani, Brandon Kee and Kenya Freeman
Will Tim Gunn use his save? No
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