Project Runway Season 16 Recap: Leap! For My Love

Project Runway shills for a new movie called Leap, while the designers make one of their own to tie it to the challenge. 

This week’s episode of Project Runway, like many, was brought to you by the letters H and T and by the number $$$. Our sponsors this time are not actually Disney, though the movie in question their shilling could easily be one. It’s the animated 2016 French film Ballerina, which was retitled Leap in the US in some vague hope that it would appeal to children of both genders, when the real problem is both that it’s extremely French and it’s an adult level love story between characters who aren’t 14 yet. (The reviews are not kind either.)

When the runway is filled with hip-hopping ballerinas post clip, one might hope for a dancer challenge, but instead this is a challenge with their regular models, that’s inspired by “movement” and “innovation.” The leaps the show makes to tie these sponsors together. Budget is $200 at Mood. It’s a one day challenge, of course.


Staying within budget is a bit of a struggle for the designers — usually the budget is $50-$100 more, and they’re feeling the pinch. Though it’s a little hard to sympathize with some, like the twins who basically stress out in each others general direction about everything. The side eye the other designers throw them when they get back to the workroom suggests that I’m not alone in this opinion.

We have a couple of designers with dance training, who have very solid bases their working from, like Ayana and Batani. Others, like Kentaro, are pulling from other art training. (He was a classically trained pianist.) Just as things are going smoothly, Deyonté has every seamstress’ worse nightmare — he sewed right through his finger on the branded machine. The sudden panic moves from the off-screen medics suggest that it scares everyone more than it actually injures him. (Also, they edit well enough to keep the blood off-screen. Thanks heavens.)

Let’s see what Tim thinks of the flow.

  • Deyonté: He’s moving slow due to his injury, but what concerns me more are the piles of mustard yellow fabric that he wants to make into a ballgown. Beyoncé’s Lemonade, anyone?
  • Brandon: He’s working on a shirt dress and minimalism. Is that really flowy? But tim thinks it timeless.
  • Kenya: Her hip hop ballet and cocktails design is bang on. Tim says “smashing!”
  • Samantha: She’s picturing “Metal ballet.” I see goth cocktails, but close enough.
  • Michael: It’s a kimono. The outfit underneath is better. Good heavens! says Tim.
  • Claire: It’s unyieldingly red. Tim tell her to stop thinking.
  • Aaron: His muslin is sampler platter of techniques. Tim calls it a pupu platter. He’s not wrong.
  • Amy: She made a sweater dress with a jumpsuit underneath. Neat idea, but how does it read on the runway?
  • Shawn: The jacket she’s wearing is more interesting than her design. That’s not a compliment. Tim calls it too literal.
  • Kentaro: He’s pleating. Tim looks perplexed.
  • Batani: I don’t care how it looks on the model. On the floor, it could be a $1000 piece of art that hangs in the MET.
  • Margarita: She’s inspired by bomba dancers, but her garment is very behind schedule. Tim is worried it’s too costume anyway.
  • Ayana: She painted stars on her fabric. Tim worries it’s too much going on and stick to the stars.
  • Kudzanai: His watch word is Carnival. And how. He promises it will be a hoodie, despite the feathers.

Some of the designers are really hung up on the innovation part of this challenge, even if they’re clear on the rest of it. It’s getting in the way of listening to Tim. When the models come in, some of them are really self-conscious about doing dance moves on the runway, which, get over yourselves walking hangers. Be more concerned about Aaron’s inability to make a garment that fits the measurements he’s given. Or the fact that Margarita stuck her model with pins and she bled on the white fabric. Or that Deyonté is bleeding through his bandage, and probably really should go to the hospital for stitches and isn’t.

Day of runway, and Deyonté still hasn’t gone to the hospital. It’s really hard to feel bad for the twins when there’s a dude who really is injured and he’s making better clothes than they are. We wander through the branded makeup studio and don’t bother with the non branded hair salon, because if it’s not branded, we don’t care about it. We do care Kudzanai’s outfit is so tight it knocked his models’ wig off though.

On to the runway!


Heidi forgot to wear pants this week, but hey. She makes it look good. Zac and Nina are here and pleased as punch about it. The guest judge this week is the star of Ballerina (sorry Jump!), Maddie Ziegler, who manages to look like the most ordinary teenager in the world. Heidi does not mention The Tim Gunn Save™ or AnthonyRyan Rule™

Mushy Middle



Michael: She loses the kimono early which is good.



Amy: Sailor suit x2. The stripping is too much.


Claire: A bolt of red fabric.



Shawn: Boring.


Aaron: It looks like what the show usually mistakes for avante garde.


Samantha: Too goth.


Kenya: Melania wishes she were this chic. Totally robbed, should have been in the top.


Ayana: A stunner. Also robbed. Should have been in the top.



Margarita: Sleeves are still costume, but the rest has been solved. Losing some of the fabric to blood was a blessing. Heidi loves the pop of color, but worries about the front. The judges nod approvingly when they learned that used to be the back.


Batani: Winner, winner chicken dinner. If this doesn’t win, I will be so put out. Nina is floored. Zac was the only one who was mixed on it. Heidi compares it to Burning Man. (That’s a compliment.)


Brandon: Half finished bathing suit cover up. He calls it hip hop. The judges love it. This is the second one I haven’t liked from him that the judges love. So weird. He gets the innovation comment too, which suggests he might win. He wins? This wins? Over Batani’s butterfly? UGH.




Kentaro: Too minimalist. It’s too literal — the tutu skirt and the legwarmers. (I mean really?). Zac says it’s just not enough. Nina says all black is not enough. Heidi is at least glad he didn’t hide her curves. He gets sent back to safety first.


Deyonté: Diet Lemonade. Zac hates it. He calls it dull. Maddie says she’s worn this as a dance costume. Heidi sigh “Costume.” The judges are a little sympathetic when they hear about the accident, but they say it doesn’t fix the taste level.


Kudzanai: Sporty carnival! But apparently too much. Heidi says it’s juvenile. Zac liked the color, but that’s about it.  Nina says it’s the flip of Kentaro — too much.

There’s little suspense here. Kudzanai vs the guy who won the first challenge? Sorry Kuzdanai. He’s out.


2 thoughts

  1. I am SOOOO glad you are back, writing on your page. You are the best recapper and smart critic of PR, and I LOVE reading your opinions. I quickly went back and read your posts on the two previous episodes. Wonderful. Nice to have you back.


  2. This is the second outfit of Brandon’s that I have liked — I kind of dig the “deconstructed straight jacket” vibe. But for this to win instead of Batani’s?? I continue to be baffled by the judges’ taste.

    Thank you for explaining the origins of Leap! I couldn’t understand why they would feature Maddie Ziegler, the greatest young dancer of our time, in an animated film rather than a live action one.

    Also: Haired Twin’s design is so awful for the model’s body. It does everything to drag her down and make her look large and droopy! Criminal.


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