‘Project Runway’ recap: Designers ‘Sleigh the Runway’ with unconventional materials, but who got run over by a reindeer? [UPDATING LIVE BLOG]

It’s the time we’ve all been waiting for — or at least, the time I’ve been waiting for: this season’s unconventional materials challenge on “Project Runway.” And since it aired on December 19, it was fitting that the challenge was Christmas themed. So who slayed in “Sleigh the Runway,” and who was sent home with coal in their stocking? Find out below in our live blog with all the minute-by-minute developments as they happen.

Unconventional materials mean no trip to Mood for fabric and accessories this week. The designers had to scramble to collect Christmas decorations from around their penthouse and use them to create fashionable cocktail dresses for a holiday party. This competition is usually stressful enough even with familiar fabrics, but swapping out cotton and silk for tinsel, ornaments and ribbons makes matters worse.

I especially had my fingers crossed for Geoffrey Mac, who was overwhelmed in the first challenge of the season but wound up with one of the judges’ favorite looks, and was overwhelmed again in the second challenge but this time landed in the bottom two. More than anything he needed to get out of his own head.

I also hoped for glad tidings for Dayoung Kim, who was so hard on herself over the first two challenges that it literally landed her in the hospital. On the opposite end of the confidence spectrum, I asked Santa to bring Sergio Guadarrama a little more humility after he spent the last two challenges asserting how far above it all he already considers himself to be.

What did you think of the looks this week and the designers who sent them down the runway? Did the judges get it right? Did they miss the mark? Follow along below starting at 9:30pm (times listed are Eastern), and decide for yourself.

9:31pm — “Congrats to Sergio for getting through a streetwear challenge with a ballgown,” says Tyler. He says he doesn’t want to be a “salty bitch” about Sergio’s gown, but “the fact that that was safe was wrong on so many levels.” Oh, salt the earth, Tyler, I’m right there with you. Tyler was in the bottom three, but at least he had a well-constructed look that fit the challenge. The judges should’ve put Sergio on notice.

9:33pm — “It looks like the holidays threw up in our living room,” says Brittany. Christmas elf Christian Siriano has broken into their penthouse and decorated the place overnight. Geoffrey is a little self-conscious coming straight from bed with his “tits out,” but Christian doesn’t seem fazed, though he gives everyone ugly holiday sweaters anyway. They’re making holiday party cocktail dresses for this challenge! … But the decorations all around them will be their materials for the challenge — unconventional materials!!

9:36pm — Victoria’s strategy is no strategy, just grab stuff. ShaVi isn’t a fan of the holidays (or his holiday sweater), but he likes using unconventional materials. He cut his arms on some of them, but that’s alright. At least he didn’t get his nose busted open like Brittany. Delvin stays totally on-brand in that he’s taking his sweet time, but he’s not comfortable using unconventional materials since he sees himself as “an un-and-coming couturier.” Oy. But at least he’s not bleeding (yet).

9:37pm — Sergio’s cool with this challenge because he’s used to up-cycled materials, and I don’t think he said anything arrogant or off-putting in that sentence, so that’s a good start.

9:38pm — Nancy explains how much she loves Christmas, but I’m a little distracted by the dramatic “Jewnicorn” sweater she’s wearing. I kinda love it. Couldn’t we make this an ugly holiday sweater challenge instead?

9:41pm — Geoffrey is trying to “turn all this crap into something that looks expensive,” but hopefully it goes better than last week. His main goal should be not overthinking everything. Meanwhile, there’s no boning available, so “you’re going to have to be creative on how to bone,” Sergio tells Brittany — he made a funny! Are they going to make me like Sergio this week?

9:43pm — Brittany has limited materials because she was dealing with her nose bleed during what I’ll call the Big Grab at the penthouse. Tyler also seems like he’s at a loss with the ornaments he picked up. Alan has too many materials that don’t actually go together. And Nancy is breaking stuff with a hammer, and Delvin is annoyed, but she’s been safe the last two weeks, so I say hammer on!


9:46pm — Christian thinks Victoria needs to think more outside the box than the decorative pillow fabric she’s using. Brittany has a lot of intricate work to do, and she might not have enough time. I’m worried for her this week; I bet she wishes this was the challenge she had immunity on. Christian loves Tyler’s work in progress, but watch that silhouette so it doesn’t look costumey like last week.

9:47pm — Sergio’s basket petticoat is coming along, but “I don’t really need Christian’s advice on this one because I’m honestly in love with my design. The judges are going to gag when they see this,” he says. Ah, there’s the Sergio we know and … love? Maybe fateful last words, though, because making the judges gag might not be the impression you want to make.

9:52pm — ShaVi is going “dark, romantic, monochromatic,” but he needs to make it “specific” and avoid being bulky and heavy. Delvin’s got a tin-man dress going on while Nancy keeps hammering away, but Delvin needs to figure out how to make it new and unconventional. Alan didn’t have a strategy going into the Big Grab, and it’s “not happy holidays” for him. I hope he pulls it together. I enjoy him too much for him to be eliminated so soon. He has nothing on his mannequin after day one.

9:56pm — On day two Victoria rips some of her fabric. Now Alan is breaking stuff. And Brittany is rushing just to have something to put on her model during the fitting, so this challenge seems like it’s all chaos. Brittany’s not going to have time to do her skirt the way she wanted to, but Sergio offers to help her if he finishes early. Hmmm, I almost like Sergio again.

9:57pm — Delvin is not happy with his “snowy, disgusting-ass” dress, and Tyler is nervous he’s not going to finish in time. “It’s funny, usually I’m not mad about being on the bottom,” says Tyler. This is clearly the double entendre challenge in the work room, and I am here for it. Next, maybe Tyler will help Brittany figure out how to bone.

9:58pm — Alan is basically starting from scratch with blue ribbon and asymmetrical boobs. I kinda like what’s coming together on the mannequin, so fingers crossed. Sergio is thinking about adding bells to his basket (okay, that sounds costumey), while Marquise is already almost done, and there’s still the rest of the day and tomorrow morning! He might be pulling a Delvin.


9:59pm — Marquise likes his look on the model, but even though he has immunity this week he shouldn’t get too comfortable. Somebody is bound to think they’re done early at some point this season and send a hot mess down the runway. Alan’s model may be showing more boob than he wanted, though (“Wrong holiday party!”). And Brittany is still way behind. We definitely haven’t seen Brittany this overwhelmed by a challenge before.

10:05pm — I’m really liking Victoria’s pillowcase-and-berries look so far. It’s unique and flattering. Not sure about Melanie’s corn husks but there’s a much bigger problem with ShaVi’s bodice when he “checks out his boobies”: “These bitches shrank!” Now his cranberries “look like the California Raisins,” so he needs something else to cover his muslin. He totally scraps it instead. Damn berries!

10:08pm — I’m still not sure what Brittany’s design is even supposed to look like because she still has so little of it done. This could be a rough runway for her. Tyler is worried his look is too much like a candy cane, but he might be in better shape than Brittany at least. Ditto Alan, whose look might flash the judges with lots of excess boob exposure; I think he should listen to Delvin’s advice, though, and get a little more coverage for that girl. “I’m not really sure what party she’s going to, but she’s going to be on drugs,” says Geoffrey of Alan’s look. I dunno. I don’t necessarily hate that.

10:09pm — Sigh. Tyler second-guessed his look so much that he ended up having to scrap a lot of fabric, and now he’s left with a “freakum dress,” helpfully defined on-screen for those of us (me) not in the know: “a sexy dress, usually worn to the club, to freak all the boys and make them want you.” So maybe Alan’s “titties on the runway” look will have some company at the holiday yuletide sex club. I worry that Tyler tried too hard to avoid a costumely look and now he’s going to be left with a mess.

10:11pm — Sergio calls his boyfriend, who’s “so proud” of him and crying. His boyfriend’s favorite holiday is Christmas, and Sergio has never been a big fan of Christmas. He talks about always feeling guilty at the holidays getting presents when his parents didn’t have much money. Is his heart about to grow three sizes this day?

10:16pm — Models are back! Alan is “super excited,” Brittany is still in crisis mode and needs to improvise a whole new skirt. Tyler is showing a lot of skin and Christian is not loving it. Neither am I. I have a feeling his original idea would have worked out a lot better than what’s happening now.

10:20pm –Jeez! Things are still getting worse and worse for Brittany. Her new skirt is tearing, so she needs to go back to her previous idea. If she even sends a finished look down the runway at this point I’ll be shocked. Alan may be over-accessorizing his look with dramatic snow boots. Christian doesn’t like them. Melanie is iffy about them. I’m agnostic on the boots. But nothing else will go with Alan’s look, so he’s gotta go with them. But it’s still going better for him than it is for Brittany, who is so talented I feel bad for how nothing is working about her look. She’s basically gift-wrapping her model like a last-minute Christmas gift.


10:25pm — Time to see the results! Kiernan Shipka is joining the runway as a guest judge for this challenge, and I’m nervous about a few of the looks she’s about to be subjected to.

10:26pm — I love the clean geometric shape of Sergio’s basket dress. I could do without the jingle bells, and his model doesn’t seem to be walking too comfortably, but I think it looks great. Victoria’s look is nice too; the cranberry sleeves look a little droopier than they did in the workroom, but still solid work.

10:27pm — Redemption for Geoffrey Mac! A really good look that’s flattering and moves comfortably. Tyler’s look is way too short. I really wish I could see what it would have looked like if he stuck to his original design. I can’t imagine this was the better option. Good work from Marquise too, complete with a cute star handbag. I dig it. He’s got immunity, but probably doesn’t need it.

10:29pm — Alan’s turn: It’s not too bad. Kinda revealing, and those snow boots are very extra, but I really like the skirt, and I think following Tyler’s too-short dress actually makes this one look more successful than it might otherwise. Delvin doesn’t think his look shows who he is as a designer, but I think it looks solid, probably a safe look.

10:30pm — Melanie’s corn husk look is … interesting. I think it’s cool and elegant up top, but kinda “Wizard of Oz” scarecrow from the waist down. ShaVi’s look is voluminous … maybe too voluminous? But he likes how it came together, and I’m not mad at it.

10:30pm — Hmmm, Chelsey’s sleeveless dress just kinda looks like her model is wrapped in wrapping paper. It looks well-made to my untrained eye, but maybe a little basic? As for Brittany, her look is actually better than I expected given her disastrous workroom experiences, but she’s right that her model looks stiff and uncomfortable, and the wrapping paper just looks like wrapping paper.

10:31pm — Nancy’s look is fire. We didn’t see much of her workroom experience besides crushing ornaments, so I’d be interested to know more about how she used her unconventional materials, because it does not look like an unconventional-materials outfit, with a dress AND coat. Best of the runway, I think.

10:31pm — And Dayoung … a lovely comeback after landing in the bottom in week one and landing in the hospital in week two. It’s cute, flattering, but the judges seem divided on it. She’d better at least be safe, though considering some of those other looks.


10:36pm — Nancy, Geoffrey, Marquise, Delvin, Chelsea, Melanie, and Dayoung are all safe. I really thought Nancy should’ve been in the top three. It’ll be interesting to see who made it instead. That means the top and bottom designers are Alan, Tyler, Sergio, Brittany, ShaVi and Victoria. I’m glad Nancy is safe, but she belonged in that top three easy.

SERGIO — “Sergio, you’re really feeling yourself today,” says Brandon. Man, you have no idea. Elaine says the tailoring is “insane” and Kiernan thought it’s fit especially well for wrapping paper. Elaine could see Kiernan wearing it to a cocktail party, and so does Kiernan. The guest judge thinks it’s “fun” and “flirty.” It’s a TOP LOOK and, credit where it’s due, it’s well deserved.

TYLER — Nina thinks Tyler is “cute and funny,” but the dress has “construction problems, fit problems” and it “reads like a costume.” After all that, and he still gets dinged for costume. Karlie says it’s definitely “too short.” Brandon thinks it’s “conceptually and technically” poor. BOTTOM LOOK, which is disappointing because I think he might have initially had at least a safe look if he stuck to his guns.

BRITTANY — The judges were shocked that this was Brittany’s look. Brandon doesn’t think she should have felt so defeated with wrapping paper given Sergio’s success with it. Nina likes the concept, but the model looked “stiff and uncomfortable.” She even liked the berry fringe. BOTTOM LOOK, and I feel for her. She could survive since Tyler is at the bottom for the second week in a row.

VICTORIA — Nina “loved” the dress with its texture, sexiness, dimension and drama. Keirnan says it’s “vibrant” and “eye-catching.” TOP LOOK, not one of my personal faves of the challenge, but I’m not mad at the judges’ choice.

SHAVI — Brandon had misgivings when he saw it behind the screen, but then he “loved it” when it came out on the runway. Nina loves the color and proportion, and he “defined her waist right away.” Elaine thinks it’s a “couture piece … job well done!” Kiernan says it’s the second outfit in this challenge he would wear. TOP LOOK, again, not one of my personal faves, but not a bad choice for the top.

ALAN — That means he’s definitely a BOTTOM LOOK, but I don’t think he deserves the go home for it. Nina doesn’t like that this is the second time she’s heard “a lot of excuses” from Alan. There’s “very little construction.” Elaine thinks he’d be in the top three “if this were the Burning Man challenge.” It’s a “half-baked idea.” Brandon thinks he “spray-painted a bird and stuffed it on her breast. It’s not tasteful.”

10:47pm — I think Brittany might actually survive since this is the second trip to the bottom for both Alan and Tyler. Of the two of them, I think Alan had a better look.

10:49pm — As the judges deliberate, it’s once again Victoria in the top three but not the top two. It’s ShaVi or Sergio for the win. Kiernan is on Team ShaVi because it’s the dress she most wants to wear. Brandon is Team Sergio because of how well he handled the wrapping paper.

10:51pm — Brandon still hates Brittany’s “underarm cranberry waterfall” even though Nina and Elaine liked it. Kiernan didn’t like it either. Tyler’s look got worse when Brandon got closer to it, and Kiernan didn’t think it was creative. And they thought Alan disregarded the challenge and kept giving excuses. It sounds like all three at the bottom are pretty even. Not sure who’s going home.


10:55pmSergio is the winner of this challenge. I don’t think it’s a bad choice for the win, but man I’m not looking forward to his ego getting any bigger next week when he as immunity. “As soon as Yuen walked down the runway, I knew I won this challenge,” he says. Ugh, man, take it down a notch. If his heart grew three sizes this week, his ego grew five times.

10:57pm — Brittany is safe, not too surprising since she won a previous challenge and they probably took this to be a fluke for her. But if anybody else had sent that look down the runway, they’d be out. I’m glad she’s staying, though. So the designer who is out is … Alan! Dammit! I was hoping Alan would stick around, and I thought Alan’s skirt was really good. He’s taking the result well, but the workroom is going to be so much less jolly going forward — and all those macaroons are just going to go to waste now.

10:30pm — Next week the designers will be going to Good Will to design a look for Karlie Kloss to attend a Council of Fashion Designers of America event with Laverne Cox as guest judge. With the Good Will angle, I’m looking forward to Sergio saving the world with political fashion. He may be disappointed if the challenge doesn’t come with a Nobel Prize.

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