It's Heidi's sweatshop! Well, not really, but this week we were treated to the challenge we see every season, in which one "lucky" designer gets to hand over their work for Heidi's New Balance active wear collection. What a great prize! It's not money or anything, and the designer's name isn't on the label, but he or she will sleep warm and happy knowing that the design is being worn by lots of people who don't have a clue who made it. Huzzah!

Of course, that wasn't the real drama of the episode. It wasn't even seeing Tim Gunn wearing a referee uniform, which almost made me pass out. They couldn't have found him a black-and-white striped suit? They had to give him GYM CLOTHES? It was like seeing the Supreme Court in Speedos and bikinis, or a nude pictorial of Santa. May this never happen again, "Project Runway"!

Still, what was possibly weirder than active wear poopy pants (we'll get to that) was the battle between Ken and Helen in the workroom. It all began when Helen asked Tim about whether the sample clothing from Heidi's latest collection could be used for sizing, and Tim thought it was a great idea, and Helen wasn't exactly eager to share her little discovery. As she later pointed out, duh, this is a competition, not Healing the Hurt Through Sewing adult ed classes. 

Helen's reluctance to share irritated some people, like Alexandria, but really made Ken want to leap out his skin. If you haven't noticed, a lot of things make Ken want to leap out his skin. Exercise. Female designers. Team challenges. Possibly deli meat, marsupials and baked Alaska. I mean, everything pisses this guy off. Given that he's purse sized, you would think everyone would shrug off his outbursts like the yapping of a high strung chihuahua. I think it would be wildly funny if someone just grabbed him and tried to tickle his tummy or baby talk to him, which can be good fun with small dogs. 

Oddly enough, Helen does not think to tickle Ken's tummy and instead freaks out a bit. She didn't come to "Project Runway" to get stabbed, she says, then finds Tim to complain. I suspect she hopes that Ken's outburst might get him kicked off the show, a la Sandro. While there are plenty of sharp and pointy objects in the workroom, I'm not entirely convinced she thinks she's going to get stabbed while a camera crew is there to record the scene. Helen doesn't seem like someone who'd back down from a fight, anyway. 

To Tim's credit, he manages to let Helen vent and get Ken calmed down (although he also called his mom and his spiritual advisor, who must be so proud watching his shriek and swear like a meth addict each week), then gets the two of them to hug. Someone please give Tim Gunn his own talk show so he can conclude each interview with an avuncular nod and a gentle hug. I would absolutely watch that.

Anyway, after the fighting, there was cutting and sewing and lots of leggings, which led us to the runway and the return of MICHAEL KORS! Man, have I missed him. Zac Posen is fine and has strong opinions, but he's kind of a dud when it comes to pithy commentary. No, no one can compare to Kors. Even though I don't always agree with him, he's almost always funny. And this week? There are poopy pants. It's an embarrassment of riches!

Kate

This looks so sharp. The use of red, mesh and the zippered split in the back of the jacket -- she made this in one day? I really think Kate could win this. She's definitely not making grandma designs anymore. 

Bradon

Big, light grey panels on the outer thigh? This is not slimming.

Alexandria

Poopy pants! Noooo! I know she runs marathons and thinks this should be her challenge, but has she ever run a marathon in a saggy diaper? Just wondering.

Helen

The jacket rocks. The T-shirt is a bore and the bottoms are just leggings, so yes, good call to throw the jacket together at the last minute, Helen! 

Dom

I don't love the piping, though the jacket is cute. Loved the ruched bottom. Dom is frustrated that she's always safe but never a winner -- but the fact is, her designs are always safe and never a winner, either. 

Justin

Like the asymmetrical zipper on the jacket, but the shorts may be too short for non-strippers.

Ken

I like the purple, but I don't love the outfit, especially the way her racerback bra shows in the back. And why is the tank so long? It looks like a dress that shrank. 

Jeremy

Okay, the purple pants are gutsy, but all I can think is Barney. 

Karen

This is what you wear after you've been dumped and decided to order a pizza and polish off a pint of Ben & Jerry's, but maybe that's a workout to some people. 

Alexander

This is okay. I don't feel there's any real thought to the blocking. It's well made, but not special.

 

Heidi calls forward Helen, Karen, Alexander, Ken, Alexandria and Kate. Everyone else is safe.

In a nutshell, Kate, Alexander and Helen are in the top, while Alexandria, Ken and Karen are in the bottom. There's a lot of love for Kate's outfit, but Nina looks like she wants to rip the jacket off of Helen's model and run off with it. It's pretty obvious that the judges could give a crap about the rest of the outfit, but they all see a big hit in the jacket. While Zac calls it Elvira Gym, Michael declares it Stevie Nicks Active. Battle of the quips! 

Alexander is given a pat on the head for not sucking. 

Then, it's time to talk about the craptastic stuff. When Ken is invited to talk about his look, he rants about camel toe and sweat areas. Heidi thinks it's safe, Nina thinks the top looks like a girdle, and Michael thinks it looks like a Tina Turner dress. Okay, not his best zinger, but an attempt. He's probably a little rusty. 

Next, Alexandria talks about her poopy pants. Zac doesn't know how she can run or do yoga in the poopy pants. He thinks she's being repetitive. Nina thinks the model couldn't do anything in the poopy pants. She thinks it looks like the model ran into a bear, got her shirt slashed by his claw, and then pooped in her pants. Michael thinks the pants and the pockets are creepy and suggests they're basically masturbation pockets. Heidi thinks she may not be able to let her sons watch this episode. Because, as you know, boys love "Project Runway"! Anyway, she likes the poopy pants! 

Then, it's time to rip up Karen's shlubby look. Michael thinks it looks like what a woman wears to visit a buffet on a cruise. Ah, he's back!

Helen is next. Nina loves the jacket. Michael loves a cool hybrid and feels this is Stevie Nicks active. Zac loves the jacket, too. It's Elvira gym. Heidi thinks it could be a home shopping piece. Helen grimaces, and Michael tells her to shut. 

The judges look over the outfits. Michael declares Alexandria's pockets "pleasure-me pockets." Oh, I have missed him! It's either Ken or Karen, I think. I think Karen might win, simply because Heidi wants to put this into production. But Kate's look? Also great.

Alexander is in. Helen… is the winner. Two in a row! That's nuts! Dom offers her a very unconvincing congrats. Maybe Helen should worry about her coming at her with the pinking shears instead of Ken. 

Alexandria…is in. So… Karen is… out. Ken is in. I'm a little surprised, only because Ken hasn't been able to control his temper and, as Karen points out, he's been in the bottom, like, forever. But then, he's good for drama, and with Sandro gone and everyone else pretty much being civil to one another, the focus may have to go to -- gasp! -- design. And goodness knows, we can't have that, can we?

Do you think Helen was justified in complaining? Was Ken's apology sincere? Whose design did you like best?