Project Runway Season 16 Recap: Wannabe Unconventional Teams

We now return you to our regularly scheduled Project Runway challenge, the one that usually kicks off the season: Unconventional Materials.

Last week, Project Runway changed up the formula a little, by not kicking things off with the traditional “Unconventional Materials” challenge. Due to the introduction (and emphasis) on the plus sized models this season, the show went with the yearly red carpet work to kick things off. Now, in episode two, they’ve backtracked. Except, like many of the even numbers episodes, this will be combined with everyone’s least favorite game: the team challenge.

Heidi-mail and hard hats are provided ahead of leaving the hotel to head to a recycling center. (Boo, I was hoping for a construction site.) Hilariously, Heidi chose not to make the trek to this 21st century junkyard. Instead the poor Editor in Chief of Marie Claire Magazine Anne Fulenwider (Yes, that’s Nina’s boss) is being a *very* good sport about letting Tim drag her there instead. She’s wearing a dress Tim claims was made from “400 recycled plastic bottles.”


Teams are chosen completely by button bag. With 15 contestants, it’s three teams of five:

  • Green Team: Kudzanai, Michael, Kentaro, Deyonte, Margarita
  • Red Team: Aaron, Batani, Brandon, Kenya, Ayana
  • Blue Team: Sentell, Samantha, Amy, Claire, Shawn

One day challenge, winner gets to have their design featured in MCM. The it’s five minutes to dive into the trash piles and grab as much as they can. Tim neglects to say these are five look mini collections until they get back to the workroom and start sketching. Lovely!

The twins were *not* broken up into two different teams, which seems like a massive oversight that the most basic elementary school would have avoided. (Especially since Bald twin Shawn feels like this is her week to have a meltdown.) Yet, as a team, they seem to able to come up with a great through line of water and taking their plastics and turning it into stuff that looks like “seaglass.”

Team Red calls themselves “Ballin On A Budget,” though that doesn’t quite tell us what their theme is. Ayana is concerned about making sure her look is modest, even though she has see-thru plastic. The Green team is all about Japanese influences, and call themselves “Wabi Sabi.” They’re also painting over Donald’s Trump’s face. I approve of this choice. Blue team calls themselves “Team Tsuanmi,” by the way. Let’s not concern ourselves with the oncoming disaster that could be.


Let’s see what Tim thinks:

  • Team Tsuanmi: Their unifying element is braided plastic, but mostly their dummies look like they’ve been covered in plastic bags, and Amy’s looks like what tourists wear when they get off the bus and it’s raining on their twenty-minute historical stops. Tim encourages them to follow Samantha’s lead with the braided look.
  • Wabi-Sabi: Tim loves their newspaper textile from painting over Trump, and their idea of the plastic feathers, even though they don’t have any samples to show. He’s just worried their designs aren’t cohesive, other than the materials, and that’s not enough.
  • Ballin’ On A Budget: They’re aiming for high-end wear, but Tim is very worried about their actual execution, which looks like it belongs on the subway. He’s glad their planning is going well, they need to control the materials instead of letting the materials control them, and figure out how these outfits tie together.

Team Tsunami are focusing on dragging Shawn along with them by the time the models show up, while Ballin on a Budget are basically triaging half their team after Tim’s critique. Wabi Sabi aren’t getting much camera time, which makes me think they’re probably going to mushy middle through.

Day of runway and there is far too much basic work still being made with only two hours left. Tim insists magic can still happen. If he says so…

Perhaps it would be best to just go to the runway, and see how badly some of these looks go over.


Heidi is sporting the very now pyjama look in red and black tiger style stripes. Zac and Nina are in residence. Editor in Chief of Marie Claire Magazine Anne Fulenwider is guest judge number one. Guest judge two is Maggie Q from that Keifer Sutherland-becomes-president show Designated Survivor. We assume The Tim Gunn Save™ is in effect, as Heidi only mentions the AnthonyRyan Rule™.

Mushy Middle



Margarita: The kimono shoulders are futuristic, but the skirt’s cute.


Kentaro: A bit 8-year-old birthday’s dress.


Deyonte: Beyonce Level Trashbag Couture


Kudzanai: The jumpsuit is ok, but the plastic overcoat needs to die.


Michael: The best use of the plastic six pack holders.


Winning Team

Ballin’ On A Budget


Brandon: The bottom is ill-fitting, but the top’s alright.


Aaron: The fringe top is still craft project central.


Batani: Not madly in love with the color blocking, but the neck thing is hilarious. She gets kudos for turning it around from the judges, espeically once Tim reveals how bad her first look was. Anne calls it “Fashion!”



Kenya: The balloon sleeves are so 7 year old, it’s appalling, but it’s fun. All the judges love the newspaper transformation.


Ayana: Hers is the cohesion look, and it’s not a bad evening gown, if a little busy. Nina loves the drama of the fringe, and yet stayed modest. Zac calls her “modest yet ferocious.” She is given the win.

Losing Team

Team Tsuanmi


Samantha: The braided top is ok. The skirt looks like fabric. Everyone loves the braids and the team is scolded for not following her lead. She’s safe anyway.


Amy: The CD cases skirt is clever, but they look like CDs. She’s also safe.


Claire: Weakest link. Samantha and Sentell should have triaged both twins. Heidi is like “Hello, this is Project Runway!” Where is your design? I don’t get why she is safe.


Sentell: It looks like plastic bags. Anne says this is everything wrong with sustainable fashion. No one seems to take into account the fact that he finished early to basically make Shawn’s look.


Shawn: Does this CD case belt make me look fat? When Shawn all but calls her model fat on the runway, the guest judges are appalled. Anne sighs that the model is actually skinnier than she is. Maggie yells at her that if she thinks this is hard, she’s not going to be able to design in the US.

As would be expected, the team instantly divides with the twins on one side, and the other three contestants on the other. Shawn gets called out by Heidi for trying to bus Amy  when she sees herself going down. Claire tries to save Shawn by tossing Sentell under the bus. The other three try to be kind, with Samantha telling Shawn she wants her to do better and lift herself up, but she just doesn’t think she can. Ouch!

The show isn’t ready to end the twin drama, especially after this week, so Sentell is sent home instead. Ugh. I mean, yeah, his dress was a garbage bag, but I already hate both twins and they’re going to have to work seriously hard to not make me root for them to go home every week from here on out.


3 thoughts

  1. The twin co-worker dependency is really appalling. Not to mention the fact that both of them came to the door with a strong vibe of ‘usXthe world’ that is not likely to be appreciated by the current Zeitgeist.

    On a different topic, I don’t know if it’s by a lucky accident, but Kenya’s model this week (Deyonte’s last one) looks great, yet again. She’s the only model that has caught my attention in many seasons, and I’d love for them to keep her on the show.

    Also, I’d wear Kenya’s dress in a heartbeat.


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