‘Project Runway’ recap: ‘The Future is Here,’ but was it a fashion utopia or a tragic dystopia? [UPDATING LIVE BLOG]

There was plenty of excitement in the season 17 premiere of “Project Runway” with the show’s return to Bravo, a new host and mentor, new judges and a new crop of 16 designers vying for a prize package worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. So did things settle down as the 15 remaining contestants settled into the workroom in episode two, “The Future is Here,” or did the drama intensify? Find out below in our minute-by-minute blog with all the developments as they happen.

The season premiere had a controversial ending when Cavanagh Baker was eliminated for a bland black look instead of Frankie Lewis, whose bodysuit made of blue straps was practically falling off her model. New host Karlie Kloss and new judges Brandon Maxwell and Elaine Welteroth made a bad “First Impression” on some fans by eliminating the more competently constructed look. For these judges, apparently an epic fail is better than epic stale — go big or go home.

Well, there was certainly plenty of potential for epic failure in “The Future.” If the designers thought their first challenge of the season was difficult, they were really thrown into the lion’s den when Kloss randomly arranged them into teams to create mini-collections inspired by the body modification art of Simon Huck‘s “A. Human” exhibit. Hell hath no fury like temperamental designers forced to cooperate and compromise.

So which designers worked best together, and who was hopelessly mismatched? Was Frankie able to redeem herself after last week’s near-elimination? And was Tessa Clark able to follow last week’s challenge win with another triumphant look? She had immunity from elimination this week, but that’s no reason to get complacent. Follow along below starting at 8:00pm (all times listed are Eastern).

8:00pm — I’m excited to see if “Project Runway” will be as controversial in week two as it was in week one when they booted Cavanagh. That was an … interesting call by the judges.

8:03pm — Designers awaken on a cold morning before 7:00am after the first elimination. Bishme lotions his knees, Kovid is dancing, and Renee is still reeling from being near the top in the first episode when she was up against so many other talented designers. She’s 51 and has raised multiple children, so she thinks her life experiences give her an “advantage.” Meanwhile, Afa is just getting started on his parenting journey. He has a newborn daughter at home. “I just want to hold her,” he says.

8:05pm — “What is happening?” says Tessa as she and the other designers enter the workroom. There is already some weirdness going on: fog rolling in on the floor, models’ sticking out of freaky pedestals. “I think maybe it’s an alien situation,” Sebastian theorizes. In comes Karlie Kloss to (hopefully) explain the weird museum of human heads.

8:05pm — “What you’re looking at is the world of A. Human,” Karlie says. It’s an installation founded by Simon Huck, who describes it as a fashion line exploring body modifications. “If you could change your body as easily as you change your clothing, would you?” he says. I don’t know, man, that didn’t go so well on “Orphan Black.”

8:05pm — Hester is totally into it. She has gotten piercings and even a sad-face tattoo inside her lip, so she’s fully ready to modify some models.

8:07pm — This is going to be a team challenge, so the 15 teams will be broken up into 5 groups of 3.

Team Shoulder Horns: Garo Sparo, Hester and Nadine — Garo digs his team, but he’s worried blue-haired Hester is too high-strung

Team Neck Ruffles: Afa, Sebastian and Tessa — Afa clearly likes having last week’s challenge champ on his team.

Team Back Scaffolding — Lela, Venny and Bishme

Team Chest Feathers — Kovid, Renee and Frankie — Renee is nervous about being on Frankie’s team, for obvious reasons, but hopefully Renee can bring her up instead of Frankie pulling her down.

Team Necklace: Sonia, Jamall and Rakan

8:08pm — This is a two-day challenge, and every team gets $750 dollars for their mini-collection, so basically $250 per look. But while Hester has collaborated with people in the past, she admits, “I am not a team player.” I’m a bit worried she’s going to steamroll over her team, which won’t be good for group cohesion or fashion cohesion.

8:10pm — Frankie proposes a strapless look to accentuate their model’s chest wings; that seems to go over well with her teammates. Meanwhile, there seems to be some surprising conflict from Tessa’s team. She’s a minimalist, so she’s not on-board with any of Afa’s ideas or with the the gowns she has seen from Sebastian before. If their aesthetics are so diametrically opposed, that’s the worst thing that could happen.

8:12pm — Time for shopping at Mood, where Christian Siriano reminds them that they need to be true to themselves while also being cohesive with each other, so fabric choice is key. And right there you’ve got a problem when Hester forces her team into accepting lots and lots tulle, which the other two are not into; even Christian Siriano is worried about the tulle resulting in terrible bridesmaid looks. And Tessa’s team takes forever to find any fabrics that will work for themselves and everyone else. Sonia’s teammates has gone AWOL.

8:15pm — The Hester steamroller continues. Her team is overbudget at Mood, so she puts back some of their other fabric so they can keep all her tulle. Nadine is switching up her ideas, going from a gown to a pant. Hopefully it won’t all be made of tulle.

8:18pm — Frankie has an idea for a backwards coat that you wear “almost straitjacket style.” Renee is, shall we say, concerned. But she wants her teammates to express themselves without putting too much pressure on them. I like her philosophy, but hopefully the team won’t be flying with their body wings in too many different directions. But Tessa’s team is in the opposite situation: Tessa has taken the decisive lead, which hopefully won’t overwhelm the creative voices of her teammates.

8:19pm — Tensions rise between Hester and Nadine, who is already cross about all that excess tulle and now wants to make sure Hester gets to work instead of discussing theories about the future of fashion with other teams.

8:23pm — Lela, Venny and Bishme seem to be getting along well. Not much drama in their plans to create looks that would work for one woman, but going different places. This challenge will be an interesting object lesson in what kind of team dynamic will work for optimal fashion, and which will be disastrous. I’m a little worried about everybody. Some have a lot of intense focus, some are a little disorganized.

8:26pm — Tessa puts Sebastian to work on her own designs, so now Sebastian is behind on her own look. Garo Sparo thinks it’s because Tessa doesn’t have the technical skill or the speed she needs to execute. But day one is over, and Sebastian has hardly gotten anywhere with his look yet.

8:28pm — On DAY TWO, Sebastian is planning to be “selfish” with his time so he can get his own work done at last — you do you, Sebastian! And Kovid is still living his best life; he’s “feeling like such a lady” today. Kovid has always been inspired by women, especially his mother. He wants to create armor for a warrior woman, and he’s dancing with joy in the workroom. Okay, Kovid, I love you, but you gotta go sew something.

Christian Siriano Consultations — Team Necklace needs stronger ideas than just nude colors; Christian doesn’t think they have a solid concept beyond color and fabric to marry their looks together.

8:35pm — Meanwhile, Christian worries that Team Chest Feathers has fabric that looks “old” and their looks aren’t cohesive. “They’re quite different,” he says. Renee’s confused by their direction too.

8:36pm — Team Back Scaffolding is working on a collection idea they’re calling “edgy aquatic,” and Christian thinks the idea is “cool” as long as they don’t make “old lady power suits.”

8:37pm — Team “Horny Shoulders” is designing in varieties of blue, but Christian doesn’t think all the judges will necessarily like it, and he’s still getting a “dated bridesmaid” vibe. “I’m a little nervous,” Christian tells them. So am I, Christian. So am I.

8:38pm — And Team Neck Ruffles is going for a theory that the future of fashion is a monochromatic wardrobe and Christian thinks they have a great “story”; it sounds like they’re on the right track. “I’m excited,” he tells them.

8:40pm — Guess what, after their consultation with Christian, Hester now wants to dump all the tulle from her design. Nadine is upset because of how much they had to give up just so she could get her tulle in the first place. I’m with Nadine on this one, but she eventually, grudgingly agrees to change her plans to give Hester the fabric she needs. She doesn’t want her team at the bottom, and she doesn’t want anyone to fail.

8:44pm — During model fittings, Kovid is experiencing a “horror story” because nothing fits the way he was hoping — and “everything needs to be reworked” — and Christian is “a little worried over here” because he, Renee and Frankie don’t seem to be helping each other very much. And Christian is worried that Hester’s team’s fabric issues are making all their designs look “tortured.”

8:47pm — Hester is going all in with her tulle after all, so now Nadine has changed her idea for Hester only to have Hester reverse herself again, costing Nadine the fabric she needed. Nadine is even angrier than she was before (justifiably, I think) now that “Freddy Kreuger” has cut up her fabric and didn’t use it.

8:49pm — Kovid is no longer living his best life. He’s having problems and he only has an hour to fix it, so he’s crying out of fear that he’s letting down himself and his team. He gets a much needed hug from Afa, and I wish I could give him a hug too. Half the teams seem to be falling apart at this point, so it’ll be a miracle if there are any clothes on the models during the actual runway show.

8:50pm — “Hester is a high-strung baby … it’s kind of embarrassing,” says Nadine. She has run out of f’s to give. She is so over Hester, and she’s not hiding it. It’s rough, but Hester put her teammates in some tough positions with her indecisiveness.

8:53pm — On the morning of the runway show, Garo Sparo is looking forward to the end of this challenge. Frankly, so am I. No one seems to be happy during this team challenge, and the personal drama is overwhelming the fashion. Make it work, guys!

8:56pm — Frankie is making a last-minute change with some extra leather. “I hate this,” she says about the look she was working on. She’s desperate to prove herself after last week’s disaster. And Kovid is in trouble too; Christian Siriano freaks out when he finds out Kovid hasn’t made a bottom with two hours left to go before the runway show, and he’s still not getting enough help from his teammates.

8:58pm — Time’s up, and “I’m a little nervous,” says Christian. He’s been saying that a lot tonight, and for good reason. I have no idea how this runway is going to work out at all.


9:02pm — Team Back Scaffolding up first. Bishme even brings some shoulder horn to it. Venny and Lela’s looks are strong too. A good collection that showcases the body modification quite well, and it’s very cohesive. No drama from this team in the workroom too, so I’m even more of a fan.

9:04pm — Team Shoulder Horns is next. Hester isn’t happy with her look, but I think it’s passable after all is said and done. Nadine also hates her look. Garo Sparo is the only one on his team who likes his own “sculptural” look, and he’s breathing a sign of relief. “That was certainly interesting,” says judge Brandon Maxwell. Doesn’t sound like a good sign.

9:05pm — Team Necklace is third to present. Sonia’s look is pretty and intricate. Rakan’s design looks a little too plain and boxy for my tastes. And Jamall’s big poofy coat isn’t great for me either. I think this might be the losing team, not Hester’s.

9:06pm — Team Neck Ruffles is actually pretty dynamite. Afa, Sebastian and Tessa all have great looks with great details that give visual interest to their shared cream color. They all look different but cohesive, and they show off their neck ruffles well. Maybe the winner?

9:07pm — Team Chest Feathers is better than Frankie, Kovid and Renee seem to think it is. It’s not the best collection, and there are some problems with every look, but I don’t think it’s the worst.


9:11pm — Team Neck Ruffles and Team Back Scaffolding had the two highest scores, and I totally agree with that assessment And the winning team is … Team Neck Ruffles! Team Back Scaffolding, Team Necklace and Team Shoulder Horns are also safe. Which means Team Chest Feathers is the worst team, and that actually surprises me. I didn’t think their looks were that bad.

9:14pm — Team Neck Ruffles — Elaine thought Tessa did a “great job” leading their team to success (“There’s no such thing as a bossy woman, just a boss woman”), but ironically Tessa’s look was the judges’ least favorite of the three, though Nina Garcia thought it was “organic.” Afa’s look is “well done,” and his pants were “unbelievable” and “perfection.” The cape was “beautiful.” And Sebastian’s dress is one the best from the entire season so far — “phenomenal”!

9:18pm — Team Chest Feathers — The collection doesn’t feel futuristic at all to Brandon: “The clothes feel old.” Nina was disappointed by the unimaginative club girl looks. Renee’s model looks like her arms are tied behind her back and her wings have been clipped, and “it’s so not you.” Meanwhile, Kovid’s dress has some movement, but has execution problems. The judges seem to be a little more forgiving of Kovid’s errors, though, since they can tell he cares about his work. But the judges blast Frankie for giving the judges a basic black dress after they eliminated Cavanagh’s basic black look last week to keep Frankie, especially the jacket that’s partially covering her chest feathers. “I’m going to be medicated when this season is over,” says Brandon.

9:19pm — I think the judges will want to keep Renee and Kovid, so I have a feeling Frankie will get the boot. It was charitable for the judges to save Frankie last week, but I don’t think they’ll have any reason to give her the benefit of the doubt twice in a row.

9:24pm — During judges’ deliberations, they love Sebastian’s look AND the work he did on Tessa’s look. I think he should be the clear winner of this challenge, which would be an amazing result given how it seemed like Tessa was stretching him too thin during the challenge.

9:25pm — Up close, the judges hate the construction of Kovid’s look even more, but Frankie seems to make them even angrier after they fought for her last week. Brandon thinks she has basic problems understanding the female form, especially since her specialty is supposed to be full-figured women.


9:26pmThe winner of the challenge is … Sebastian! Absolutely the right call, kudos judges!

9:28pm — Renee had a low score, but she’s safe, and Karlie warns her never to compromise her vision. So the eliminated designer is … Frankie. That’s fair. But Kovid is heartbroken for Frankie, and seeing Kovid sad makes me sad. Making him cry should be a class A felony.

9:30pm — This challenge was all over the place. Looking forward to seeing the designers work on their own again next week, and their challenge next week is a head-to-toe print, so the keys will probably be fabric choice and construction.

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