‘Project Runway’ recap: ‘The Ultimate Upcycle’ sent the designers to Goodwill, but which look belonged in the trash? [UPDATING LIVE BLOG]

The first “Project Runway” challenge of the decade, “The Ultimate Upcycle,” was a nod to fashion conservation as the designers had to obtain all their materials not from Mood but from Goodwill, where they raided the racks for secondhand items they could turn into fashion-forward looks. So who brought new life to old clothes, and whose looks would’ve been better off in a landfill? Find out below in our live blog with all the minute-by-minute developments and commentary as it happens.

And there was more pressure in “Upcycle” than just refurbishing thrift-store finds. The looks the designers were creating were intended for host Karlie Kloss herself, who would wear the winning look to a Paris event for the Council of Fashion Designers of America. If that wasn’t enough, this was the season’s first one-day challenge, so the designers had to work twice as fast. Maybe that wasn’t such a challenge for Dayoung Kim, though: she only had one day to work in “Cats of the Urban Jungle” because she spent the first work day recovering from exhaustion in the hospital.

This challenge also seemed like a good fit for Sergio Guadarrama. From day one he has discussed his own use of upcycled materials in his day-to-day work. Though this time he didn’t need any extra advantage; he already had immunity from winning the “Sleigh the Runway” challenge with unconventional materials. And goodness knows he doesn’t need any extra confidence. But Tyler Neasloney and Brittany Allen needed a shot of redemption after their unconventionally bad looks in “Sleigh.”

So who rose to the occasion, and who let Karlie down? Follow along below starting at 9:00pm (times listed are Eastern).

9:01pm — “They won’t give you many more chances, so you’re just going to have to really nail that,” says Sergio right after Tyler narrowly avoided elimination again. He’s such a comforting guy, that one. “At this point I am ‘Project Runway’s’ most popular bottom,” says Tyler, and lines like that are why I hope he stick around awhile longer. With Alan Gonzalez gone, the humor quotient in the workroom has already gone way down.

9:05pm — In comes Christian Siriano right after the results of the last runway with their new challenge right away. Karlie introduces the designers to Karla Welch, Karlie’s very own stylist. Karlie is going to a CFDA event in Paris, and she needs the designers to create her look. “Cool, original, wearable, think ‘An American in Paris,'” says Karla. But it needs to be upcycled: taking discarded clothes and making something new. So no Mood trip for fabrics. They’re going to Goodwill for secondhand clothes. Sergio is thrilled because he already works with upcycled materials. Delvin isn’t a fan because he doesn’t like “used things.” Every week is a race between Sergio and Delvin for the haughtiest designer in the workroom. Delvin is already out front.

9:06pm — Interesting, Karla isn’t a guest judge. Instead, she’ll be the designers’ mentor. I hope this doesn’t mean less Christian.

9:08pm — This is a one-day challenge, so they’re on their way to get fabric right now, and they have to sketch in the van on the way. Victoria is worried she won’t be able to find good material, but she’s shocked you can get a whole suit for just $30. The budget is $150, so you can get a lot of suits for that. Meanwhile, Karla advises Chelsey to make a version of the pants she was wearing on the runway, which Karlie complimented. And she’s going all-American with her thrifty buys.

9:10pm — Meanwhile, Tyler is going for a Jackie O, First Lady look, but Karla isn’t feeling Tyler’s initial idea. Nancy is getting lots of denim and is asking Karla for lots of advice. Lots and lots of advice. And then more advice. Might be a smart move since Karla knows Karlie’s style so well, and though Nancy seems quirky and odd to her fellow designers, I think she has sent dynamite looks down the runway, so more power to her.

9:12pm — Sounds like this challenge is perfect for ShaVi, who used to go to thrift stories with his grandmother to pick up pieces to take apart to learn how to reconstruct them. His grandmother has Alzheimer’s now, so he’s pretty emotional. I hope he can use that connection to make a statement on the runway.

9:14pm — Bravo shared this preview clip of Sergio telling Tyler he’d be terrified if he were a self-taught designer instead of going to “the best fashion schools.” But Tyler’s isn’t having that condescension, and neither am I. I wonder if Sergio’s gonna bother getting any of Karlie’s stylist’s advice when making this week’s look.

9:16pm — Delvin seems to be coming around to this challenge. He likes the material he got, and he’s looking to do an “elevated street style look, a blend of urban and luxury.” Chelsey might have an advantage, though. She’s tall, so she’s used to making adjustments to clothes for long limbs. And Karlie Kloss is about 90% long limbs, so that could be a great fit — literally.

9:17pm — Hmmm, Marquise isn’t going to “deconstruct” his look. He’s going to tailor the jacket he already has. I’m not sure that’s going to cut it for this challenge, and Geoffrey’s not too sure about that approach either.

9:19pm — ShaVi isn’t the only one emotional about this challenge. Melanie Trygg used to go thrift shopping with her mom and even used upcycled materials for her wedding. Her mother passed away less than a year ago, so it’s bringing back memories for her too. I love how these designers are inspired by their histories with Goodwill. It’s like they themselves are upcycled: grew up at thrift stores, leveled up to “Project Runway.”

Christian Consultations

9:19pm — Christian announces guest judge Laverne Cox for the challenge. Laverne first started shopping for women’s clothes at Goodwill, yet another emotional connection to the challenge.

9:21pm — Christian thinks Tyler’s idea is too much like a sailor outfit. Another costumey look? Christian is worried. Tyler is maybe not worried enough.

9:26pm — ShaVi needs detailing so his look isn’t just another suit on the runway. Brittany needs a “redemption” and she’s not sure her look is “wow enough,” but Christian says it’s “upcycled to the max.” I think she’s on the right track.

9:28pm — Christian is worried that Chelsey only got denim from Goodwill. Christian seems to like her ideas, but she’s worried about not knowing where she stands with the judges since she hasn’t gotten a critique yet this season. Sounds like foreshadowing. I’m guessing she’s getting a critique.

9:29pm — Chelsey is throwing a little shade at ShaVi for talking to himself in the workroom, kind of negotiating his decision-making aloud. Don’t hate, Chelsey, some of the smartest people in the world talk to themselves. At least, that’s what I say aloud while talking to myself.

9:31pm — Sergio is giving Tyler some advice. He says he’s always open to lending a hand because “no matter what I know, it should all be shared.” He’s afraid of dying without sharing his specific knowledge with the world. Maybe he should upcycle some stone tablets for that. But Delvin doesn’t think Sergio is giving Tyler sound advice. He thinks Sergio is trying to sabotage Tyler’s look. Okay, even I’m not sure Sergio is that cynical, but we’ll see.

Model Fittings

9:35pm — In comes the army of tall leggy blond Karlie Klones! Understandably, this challenge doesn’t have the diverse body types we usually get because they’re designing for a specific client, who only has the one body that we know of.

9:36pm — Christian thinks Nancy’s pleats look “crazy” when they go on the model. He kinda likes what Melanie is doing. He likes Victoria’s look; he thinks the top is too big, but Victoria is into it. Meanwhile, he’s giving Marquise the side-eye for his “Britney schoolteacher look,” but Marquise loves it.

9:37pm — And there go the Karlie Klones. See you tomorrow, Karlies!

9:40pm — Victoria is done early — put that in your pipe and smoke it, Delvin! She works fast too. “Also, I don’t like slow people.” Ouch. But I think she’s got a pretty cool look. However, ShaVi put a hole in his skirt, and he doesn’t a whole lot of time, and now he’s got to lose five inches of his skirt. Yikes, sounds like what Tyler went through in “Sleigh,” and we saw how tragically short his look ended up being.

Morning of the Runway

9:46pm — Christian arrives, and so do the Karlie Klones. “I’m a little bit pissed and a little bit flustered right now,” says ShaVi about repairing his mistake, followed by many bleeps from the censors. Even Christian is scared off by that.

9:48pm — Karla is back too! She seems to love Nancy’s look, and she thinks Victoria’s outfit is “incredible.” But Marquise has some fit problems, so he’s giving his garment a breast lift with some double-sided tape.

9:50pm — Tyler seems to have gotten his confidence back. He doesn’t think other people have done nearly enough to upcycle their looks, and with one or two of the other looks, he’s not wrong necessarily.

Runway Show

9:57pm — I really like Geoffrey’s two-tone look with jodhpur sleeves: sexy, simple but not simplistic. Victoria’s look seems to be going over well with the judges; I love the creativity, but there is a lot going on. I’m always a little ambivalent about her, but she has a singular aesthetic that I admire. Nancy’s look is dynamite. I like the cutouts in the skirt and the pink ruffly top. Can she finally get a high score from the judges? But Karlie doesn’t seem to like the holes in the skirt.

9:58pm — Delvin’s look is okay, I like the top, but I’m not a fan of the pants — not as flattering, look almost like pajama pants. But the judges love his fabrics. Dayoung’s deconstructed suit isn’t bad. Karlie thinks it’s “so Karla,” which sounds like it might be good for Karlie. But it’s not one of my favorites so far. But Tyler did a really good job with his look. Another simple-but-chic look.

10:00pm — Sergio’s suit is pretty good. The shape of the jacket is great. But is it much more than just a suit? Laverne sure loves the jacket. I really like Melanie’s dress. Even the asymmetrical skirt, which could be a hot mess, looks polished. I think Marquise really missed the mark with those cutout suit shoulders and saggy fit (the judges definitely noticed the double sided tape).

10:01pm — Brittany really had a nice comeback this week. It’s a unique look that stands out from the others. Chelsey’s look also stands out, but … I’m not sure how I feel about all that denim, that little top over those big voluminous pants, and the straps criss-crossed around the back. I don’t think it’s all that flattering. Not my cup of tea. And then there’s ShaVi, whose model is walking incredibly show because her skirt is too tight, but I like the top.


10:05pm — Victoria, Nancy, Chelsey, ShaVi, Tyler and Marquise are the highest and lowest scorers. That means everyone else is safe: Brittany, Sergio, Delvin, Melanie, Dayoung, and Geoffrey. Nancy and Chelsey were the last designers who had never been in the top or bottom, so now everyone will have gotten a critique … for better or worse.

CHELSEY — Nina thinks it was “very smart” to pick denim since it is so “identifiable as American” and it’s “extraordinary.” Karlie “loved” it because it looked expensive, effortless and cool. Brandon thought the top had fit problems, but he loves the pants and the waist band. Laverne loves the concept and the “inventiveness.” TOP LOOK. Backstage, Delvin argues, “no one’s going to buy that.” Honestly, as much as I dislike designers trashing each other’s finished looks, I’m kinda with Delvin on this one. I like Chelsey, but that is not a look I was fond of.

MARQUISE — Not surprised that this is a BOTTOM LOOK. Karlie thinks the double-sided tape looks like it’s holding up the whole look. Nina think the outfit “looks forced” instead of “stylish and practical.” Brandon doesn’t think tailoring is his strongest suit. Laverne thinks there are “cool elements” and “great ideas,” but it’s “over-designed.”

VICTORIA — Karlie “loved it.” Nina likes that it took Karlie’s aesthetic but still with Victoria’s own style. Elaine thought the proportions were flattering, and it’s a “fully-formed idea” “executed with perfection.” That’s what makes Victoria cry from gratitude. She used to watch “Project Runway” in Russian with her mom, and this is such a lovely, wonderful moment for her. Laverne “gasped” when it came down the runway. Suffice it to say, It’s a TOP LOOK. Which makes three top looks for Victoria in a row. I have a feeling she’s winning.

TYLER — Here we go … Brandon thinks it’s wearable, but not appropriate for Paris and he can’t see Karlie wearing it. “Not even to dinner with the Kushners?” says Tyler. Oof, maybe a little too far, Tyler! The designers backstage are covering their faces. Karlie is uncomfortable. Welp, that’s obviously a BOTTOM LOOK. Karlie says it’s not what she asked for. The fabrics look cheap: “You really missed the mark here on all accounts.” Elaine is surprised that Tyler is proud of his look, but honestly I like it way more than Chelsey’s denim. There’s no way he’s not going home.

NANCY — Laverne thinks the look is “wonderful.” Karlie thought it was “refreshing,” she thinks the backwards shirt looks unusually good, and she wants to twirl down the streets of Paris in it. Nina gave her one of her highest scores for the “effortless” look. Elaine thought it was “a little too conservative,” but Brandon totally disagrees for her “light and fresh” look. It’s a TOP LOOK, and I’m thrilled for her. I think she should have had one or two high scores before this already, and it’s a relief after that awkward critique with Tyler.

SHAVI — That means this is going to be a BOTTOM LOOK, but I think Tyler’s gonna break his fall. Laverne calls it “dystopian bargain-basement office party, and it’s not a party I want to go to” Yeesh. I like it better than that. Karlie thought it was “uninspiring.” Brandon articulates what we all knew but had to be said: the skirt was too tight. Pretty sure he’ll be okay, though.

10:19pm — Even without those terrible critiques from the judges and that uncomfortable Kushner comment, this is Tyler’s third time in a row at the bottom, and ShaVi and Marquise have been in the top before, so Tyler’s a goner.

10:20pm — Chelsey’s in the top three, but not top two. So the win is between Victoria and Nancy. Nina liked Nancy’s look, but Laverne thought Victoria was the “clear winner.” Elaine also thought Victoria’s was a cooler, sexier look that’s more appropriate for Karlie.

10:22pm — Man, they seemed to hate all three of the bottom looks. The only one of those I personally thought was a complete fail was Marquise’s, but Laverne also thought there was nothing redeemable about ShaVi’s look. But I don’t want to see either of them go, though. But I don’t think I have to worry about that. Nevertheless, if Tyler is eliminated it’ll be for a look way better than his “Sleigh the Runway” look.


10:25pmThe winner of the challenge is … Victoria! Good for her! I’m not always on her wavelength, but she has a singular style that I appreciate. I still 100% don’t get Chelsey’s look, but I’m glad she’s safe too.

10:28pmAnd the designer going home is … Tyler. No surprise at all there. ShaVi and Marquise are both in. I was worried for a second that we were going to get a double or triple elimination. Tyler apologized for the Kushner comment after he eliminated (so not just to try to convince them to keep him), which was a classy move. I really don’t think he had a bad look.

10:29pm — Tyler says he wishes Christian would use his Siriano Save on him, and there’s a dramatic pause … but no Siriano Save. I’m not a fan of fake-outs, guys, can we not? Especially when it would have been really weird for Christian to use his Save now after Tyler had been at the bottom so many times.

10:30pm — Ugh, next week is going to be another team challenge to make looks for Cyndi Lauper. Couldn’t we go a little longer before another team challenge? I’m dreading the sniping and conflict.

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