‘Project Runway’ recap: Cyndi Lauper saw the designers’ true colors in the ‘Sew 80’s’ team challenge [UPDATING LIVE BLOG]

Project Runwaystarted season 18 by flying to a space station in the future, but this week the show time-traveled in the opposite direction. In “Sew 80’s,” the remaining 11 designers had to create looks inspired by the 1980s aesthetic of legendary musician Cyndi Lauper. But there was a twist: just like in that futuristic episode, this was a dreaded team challenge. So whose true colors shined through? Find out below in our live blog with all the minute-by-minute developments as they happen.

The “Blast Off” team challenge was manageable since it divided the designers into pairs. But challenges get harder the more different viewpoints you’re trying to incorporate into a single collection. So naturally this challenge made it as difficult as possible for the designers, splitting the competitors into just two teams: one with five members, and one with six (stay tuned to find out how they sorted that one out).

Victoria Cocieru was on a roll going into this challenge. Not only did she win last week’s “The Ultimate Upcycle,” luckily giving her immunity in this challenge, she has also gotten high scores from the judges for the last three weeks in a row. That means she’s been at the top more than any other designer. So she could breathe a sigh of relief no matter how the team dynamics turned out.

Looking for redemption, though, were ShaVi Lewis and Marquise Foster, who landed at the bottom of the judges scores last week after they had previously gotten high scores. Foster even won the “Cats of the Urban Jungle” challenge. The judges sent home Tyler Neasloney, though, which gave Lewis and Foster this opportunity to impress (or disappoint) the Tony, Emmy and Grammy winning music star. Follow along below starting at 9:00pm to find out what happened (times listed are Eastern).

9:03pmKarlie Kloss steps out on the runway to give the designers their next challenge. And she’s got company — no, not the Kushners, but Cyndi Lauper, whose style is the inspiration for this challenge. Back in the day she added tulle to her outfits because she felt she was too small and needed to be bigger, and she would mix masculine and feminine elements. Geoffrey is especially thrilled. He has been inspired by Lauper’s art and aesthetic and has even dressed as Lauper in drag: “I am a girl that likes to have fun sometimes.”

9:04pm — But yes, this is a team challenge to create mini-collections inspired by Lauper’s pop-punk 1980s style. God help us all, it’s a team challenge. The button bag comes out for the selection of the teams. “I hate it, I don’t like surprises,” says Delvin. I’m not a huge fan either. I’m not a fan of conflict. There’s an odd number of designers, so Victoria, as last week’s challenge winner, will get to choose which team she joins at the end.

9:05pm — Team One: Geoffrey, Brittany, Delvin, Dayoung and Nancy — hot damn, that sounds like a pretty good team!

9:05pm — Team Two: Melanie, Marquise, Sergio, Chelsey and ShaVi — two previous challenge winners on this team, but Marquise and ShaVi landed at the bottom last week, and I’m not sure I’d want to compete with Sergio’s ego, so I’d definitely choose the first team.

9:05pm — Victoria’s choice is … team number-one! Good choice! … Unless it’s the losing team, then it’s a bad choice. ShaVi thinks they’re a “mixed batch of nuts.”

9:07pm — This is a two-day challenge, and Team One decides to organize themselves around Delvin’s choice of print. Team Two: “Naturally, I’m the leader of my team,” says Sergio, though I’m not sure if he asked anyone if they wanted him to lead. On the plus side, having Sergio strong-arm the team might actually result in a more cohesive collection. They’ve all agreed (which means, Sergio decided) that Sergio would do the collection’s closing look.

9:08pm — Brittany has worked with Betsey Johnson before, which she thinks is a good fit for Cyndi Lauper, and I think she’s probably right. But Team One has a lot of different ideas and no clear leader like Sergio on Team Two, which means no clear artistic direction. Looks and sounds like a big mess. Autocracy seems to be out front.

9:12pm — At Mood, Team One is still all over the place. Brittany can’t even find her team, while Delvin is calm and collected (or aloof and shut-down, depending on your point of view). Team Two seems to have a smoother collaborative process, but Melanie is worried her personal Scandinavian aesthetic doesn’t jibe well with the pop-punk challenge. But still, even Christian can see that Team One doesn’t know what the hell they’re doing and that their fabric choice looks “real crazy.”

9:13pm — Brittany thinks they’re already “on the road to getting f*cking eliminated.” Did I say Team One was the better team? I take it back, they’re all over the place … unless they end up with the better collection.

9:15pm — Team One still killing it: “I don’t have a clue,” says Nancy about her design plan. No one wants to get stuck with the pink that they agreed they should use. A couple of designers wanted to use mostly black — really? Mostly black for a Cyndi Lauper challenge? Sounds a little bleak. Is Cyndi Lauper going to a funeral?

9:16pm — Team Two is actually killing it: Chelsey appreciates how well her team is collaborating given the chaos on Team One, where Geoffrey is freaking out trying to do live up to Cyndi, remembering his struggle as a child with a father who said he wished Gefforey were a boy. Man, I hope Team One pulls it together. He deserves a good challenge.

Christian Consultations

9:18pm — Team Two is first: They mixing masculine and feminine with some pink to emphasize the feminine aspect. They’re using a bold black and white striped fabric, and Christian seems … concerned. He doesn’t want them to be too similar while trying to be cohesive. That feels like the first sign of potential trouble for that group.

9:20pm — Team Chaos (or as I’m starting to think of them, Team Mixed Nuts). Delvin looks bored, but he explains he’s just waiting for Nancy to stop talking. He doesn’t think she knows what she’s doing. Christian warns them that the other team is doing black and white and pink, so they don’t actually have to use the pink fabric they bought that none of them even likes.

9:24pm — Styling is crucial to Cyndi’s ’80s aesthetic, so twist: the designers will be making all of their own accessories (except for shoes). They’ll get another $200 for their accessory materials budget (yay!), but Christian raids their work tables for everything they were planning to use but are no longer allowed to use (noooo!).

9:27pm — Team Two is still negotiating their stripes. Team Chaos, meanwhile, can’t even negotiate how to negotiate. Delvin and Brittany are annoyed by Nancy. Nancy is annoyed that no one is receptive to her. I have not seen a single sign that this collection is going to work out.

9:29pm — Accessory shopping seemed to go more smoothly than that Mood trip. But the workroom is still hot mess. No one on Team Chaos knows what Nancy is making … because Nancy doesn’t exactly know what she’s making, so no one knows how it’s going to fit into the collection. This challenge might turn out to have been a pure lottery: regardless of your design skill, if you’re on a team with compatible styles and personalities you win, and if you don’t you lose. That’s one thing I don’t like about team challenges — it’s just luck of the draw.

Model Fittings

9:32pm — Melanie admits she hates the ’80s while fitting her model. Probably not a good sign for her look. Geoffrey thinks Sergio’s stiff screen-door look is a “mess,” but that might be the pot calling the kettle a mess. Delvin thinks the other team is having problems too with their uniform “Beetlejuice” looks. You know what, maybe this will be the epic misdirect challenge where deceptive editing suggests a disaster for one team, and then the opposite happens on the runway.

9:36pm — Victoria finds that she’s using the same silhouette she has used before. Her looks do run the risk of sameness week after her week because her aesthetic is so specific.

9:38pm — Team Two is having a few conflicts. Melanie doesn’t like the skirt she’s making; she thinks it’s too heavy. So she’s scrapping the whole thing and is starting over with a new concept. But she thinks she’ll be fine because the other team is “flailing” anyway. Well, if she gets complacent because she thinks the other team is a mess and the judges don’t like her collection after all, it could very well be Melanie on the chopping block.

9:41pm — Nancy still feels left out because the team discussed hair and makeup plans without her. They say it wasn’t a team meeting, and they probably didn’t intend to leave her out of a team meeting. The discussion probably just happened while they were out on the balcony. But yeah, they totally left her out of her team meeting. Not cool, Team Chaos.

Morning of the Runway Show

9:47pm — “The future of punk is genderless,” says Sergio about his team’s plan. Sounds pretty cool if it translates to the runway. Team Hot Messy Chaos Nuts is working on accessories and don’t seem quite as overwhelmed as yesterday, but Christian is worried their team has no cohesion. He has them stand all their models side-by-side, and oof, Dayoung is in trouble! It’s a bunch of extravagant looks next to her basic black dress. That would be an easy elimination if they land at the bottom.

9:48pm — “Everybody looks like they’re on the brink of a panic attack on the other team,” says Sergio. God help me, but I wanna be on Team Sergio this week — save me, Sergio! Though I think there’s still the chance that his team is overconfident about how well they’re working together. Their looks could be so cohesive that the effect is bland and monotonous.

9:50pm — Dayoung doesn’t think her look stands out enough, and she might be right, though it looks better now than it did a few minutes ago. She’s worried about dragging her team down, but if her team does lose it certainly won’t be her fault. That was a team effort.

Runway Show

9:57pmTEAM TWO is up first. Marquise looks kinda cool, but maybe a little too simple? Great jacket and belt, though. Chelsey’s jumper is … okay. I might have liked it better with even more exaggeration. Melanie’s look is also just okay, and I’m not getting a strong punk vibe from it. I like ShaVi’s shirt dress, which has cool, flirty movement. Sergio’s look has a lot going on and what looks like a sheer parachute on the back? I don’t know what’s going on there. The collection is certainly cohesive, but I didn’t love the individual looks.

9:59pmTEAM CHAOS is next. I actually like Dayoung’s look more than I expected. It’s styled well even if the underlying dress is a little basic. Okay, I actually love Brittany’s look. She used the pink that no one else on her team wanted to use, and she kinda rocked it. My favorite look on the runway so far. Delvin’s look is really cool too, and Cyndi seems lo like the kerchief skirt he created. Victoria’s look is very cool, but it also looks a like the design she made last week. Geoffrey’s all-black look is cool too, it gives me a little more of a Janet Jackson “Rhythm Nation” vibe. Still very ’80s, though. And now Nancy — another really funky, extravagant look. I dig it.

9:59pm — Interesting challenge. Team Two had a lot more cohesion, but I like the individual looks on Team Chaos a lot more. See, I told you guys Team One was better! I never doubted it! … Unless the judges hated them, then they’re worse.


10:04pm — Both teams step onto the runway. Team Chaos … are the WINNERS! Stunning upset, and I think it’s absolutely the right call after that runway show. Their looks were a little all over the place, but their individual looks were so much more impressive.

10:04pm — Brittany, Victoria and Geoffrey are called out from the winning team. Melanie, Marquise and Sergio are called out from the losing team. Sounds like those are our top three and bottom three, respectively. And that will not go over well with Sergio.

Top Looks

VICTORIA — Cyndi likes the black with the splash of color, likens it to 1986. And the boots made it “modern” and “wonderful.” Nina loved the “contrast” with the zippers and rings. It’s a “nod to the ’80s” but still “feels now.” Brandon loves “the sliver of skin in the back.” He praises her for staying true to herself as a designer: “I think I’m in love with you.” Backstage Nancy complains that her look is “the same,” and I kinda agree. How many times are the judges going to praise such similar looks from her?

GEOFFREY — Cyndi thinks it’s “beautiful,” and Karlie would wear it too. Cyndi loves the pant legs too. Brandon raves about the hair and makeup, plus the great tailoring. Elaine thought it was a “nod to the ’80s” but not “costumey … I’m glad to see you back in the game this week.” Nina thinks it “looks expensive” and “refined.” I’m so happy Geoffrey had a good show and good comments, especially from Cyndi.

BRITTANY — Nina loved the “details” and the belt. “Opposites and contrast is what makes fashion move forward.” Cyndi thought it was “spectacular” because “young people would wear this.” “The cheese stands alone on this one,” says Brandon. He’s a naysayer on this one. He would have changed a couple of details. ShaVi says backstage it just looks like a corset over a business suit. He does have a point about that.

Bottom Looks

SERGIO — Nina thought “this one did not connect in any way shape or form.” She didn’t understand the ruffles or the pants. It’s “puzzling” to her. Cyndi says there’s a lot going on and she would “never wear it, ever.” Sergio argues that he usually works with an older clientele, so his work is “more sophisticated” and if they don’t like it, “that’s not my problem.” Well, Cyndi is also over 40 and says she’d never wear it, so Sergio basically called Cyndi Lauper unsophisticated. Backstage, Dayoung says, “I think he should stop talking.” Or maybe he could throw in something about the Kushners, that’ll help. Brandon tells him “it’s all over the damn place” and that he doesn’t seem to want to learn from this experience, which is exactly what I expected from a negative critique for Sergio.

MARQUISE — Elaine thought it was too “on-the-nose” for the ’80s challenge and “should be left” in that decade. Karlie thought the details on the jacket were the saving grace — me too! But he didn’t think the jacket was nearly as good as Geoffrey’s right next to him. Cyndi didn’t like the shorts or the shoes, but she liked the top of the look. Brandon points out the problems with the black zipper on the shorts: “If you sweat through that white satin short, we’re in hell.”

MELANIE — Karlie thinks she has “skidded by” and when she has stood out she has seemed “flat.” Brandon thinks the accessory is “totally fine” — damning with faint praise. Melanie says she hasn’t gotten a challenge that she feels is a good fit for her, but Cyndi says, “Don’t blame it on the ’80s.” Cyndi thinks the garment on top is swinging like a car wash. Elaine didn’t get a sense of any ’80s concepts from Melanie’s look even though there’s a whole decade to choose from.

10:18pm — Backstage, Nancy is still upset that she wasn’t included in her team’s decision making. I don’t think she was alone in that team on being the victim of bad communication. She’s not wrong about being left out a couple times, but she was also un-receptive to input from time to time and didn’t give them much to work on from her own look. She should just take the win and move on.

10:20pm — On closer inspection, the judges didn’t like Brittany’s look as much as they did at first, so Victoria and Geoffrey are definitely one and two. I hope Geoffrey wins because Victoria already basically won for this look last week. Brandon thinks Victoria’s look is more new and fresh, and Nina says it would be in Elle Magazine in a minute.

10:21pm — Cyndi wouldn’t wear Melanie’s look “if I was dead.” Brandon thinks Melanie and Marquise are the bottom two, but at least Marquise had an idea. I think Marquise’s jacket will save him. But Nina thinks the elimination is between Sergio and Melanie. She thinks there was no harmony in Sergio’s “confusing” look. Backstage, Sergio says that when you’re confusing, that’s when you’re changing the world. Yeah, he has officially slipped into delusional territory. But given the track records of the bottom three, I think Melanie’s a goner. Too many bad ideas is usually better than no ideas.


10:25pmThe winner of the challenge is … Geoffrey! There is a God! Dreams do come true! And it’s so sweet how shyly he asks Cyndi for a hug after getting the win. This whole messy challenge was worth it for that moment.

10:27pmAnd the eliminated designer is … Melanie. That means Sergio and Marquise are in. But Cyndi tells her that every failure can be a part of future success, so she should learn from this experience and move forward. Melanie doesn’t think the judges got to see who she really is as a designer, and I think she’s right. I don’t think she ever really figured out how to express her artistic point of view. “I’m too scared to put myself out there,” Melanie says about why she might have fallen short.

10:30pm — On next week’s show, the designers get to make any kind of look they want based on their heritage, a welcome relief from this crazy team challenge. But from the clips of that runway show, it looks like a lot of people will be crying, and they can’t all be happy tears.

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