Hey, guess what! Each season of "Project Runway" has a certain number of challenges in which our poor, hardworking designers must be slave labor for the judges, and that's begun in earnest tonight. I kind of hate these challenges, mostly because they reek of labor law violations, but also because they usually suck. Remember the mommy and me challenge? The ugly workout clothing challenge? The dressing Nina challenge? Let's hope this one, which is Heidi-centric, at least doesn't force the designers to create plus-size T-shirts for a Walmart line or overalls for NASCAR. You think I'm joking. All I think is that someone in marketing for the show just hasn't made the deal yet.

Anyway, Tim informs the designers that they will be working for a very important client… yeah, yeah, it's Heidi. She's launching a new fragrance, Surprise, which has notes of pink pepper, mandarin and jasmine. It sounds like it could be passable as Chinese food, but nothing I'd put on my skin. In any case, she needs something to wear for the television commercial and for a PR event. 

Tim reminds the designers that this is a HUGE DEAL. Bow before your queen, minions! Sigh. I know Heidi Klum is a big deal, but I for one have personally put her on more worst dress lists than I care to count. For a model, she has an amazing skill for picking ugly ass dresses that make her look out of proportion and flat chested. Getting Heidi Klum to wear your clothes is not what I would consider a career making moment, unless you consider ending up on Go Fug Yourself to be a personal goal. 

Each team must make four options for the TV and print campaign and two options for her PR event. So there will be two winning looks -- one for the ad campaign, the other for the event. Of course, team challenges dictate the winners must come from the same team, and the loser from the other. 

Heidi shows the designers the packaging for her perfume, which kind of reminds me of a Gaultier bottle from the '90s. She likes sexy but not slutty, and she would like them to stay with the pink, black and gold used in the packaging. This is significant, because you'll be amazed by how many people don't bother to follow simple instructions. Then, Heidi asks them to have fun and surprise her, plug, plug, plug. 

After that exhausting onslaught of branding, the designers get to sketch. Funnily enough, Dream Team almost seems to have an advantage because there are six designers to design six outfits -- whereas Team Keeping It Real has to have designers team up. 

Still, everyone is working well together, though you would think at this point in the season we'd have nastiness, especially for the chronic losers. But Cindy actually lets Benjamin give her direction this week (shocking), which shows progress. Over on the "winning" team, Amanda and Joseph have problems. Joseph has historically made ugly ass stuff. I mean, purposefully ugly. Eighties sweaters with cats painted on them. He thinks this is cute. I kind of want to water board Joseph for thinking dressing women in ugly crap is cute. Stand your ground, Amanda!

Tim time! He flits around the room like a concerned butterfly. He looks worried for Benjamin. He senses despair from Matthew. He thinks Cindy's look is too covered up. But he's crazy about Michelle's look. I wonder what would happen if Tim ever got a shot of Botox for that forehead wrinkle. Would we still love him the way we do? 

He flaps his tiny, worried butterfly wings over to Team Keeping It Real. He actually likes what Amanda and Joseph are doing, which means they've come up with something far better than I expected or he's just being nice. Tim thinks Patricia might be too ambitious. He suggests Daniel convert his outfit into a halter. And then, Layana starts complaining about Kate's attachment to pink.

To Kate's credit, she doesn't shriek and cut off Layana's hair to shut her up (though honestly? That would be my first choice). Tim lets her talk, then tells Layana the pink is pretty much exactly what's on Heidi's bottle and it will look fine once they layer black tulle over it. This is Tim's way of saying shut up, you neurotic nut, you have immunity. Tim's way is, of course, better.  

Benjamin is having problems. He's spending too much time thinking about his personal life, and it's interfering with his work. He was in an emotionally abusive relationship, and it's taken a lot for him to build up his confidence as a designer. He cries. A lot. Oh, bunny. I'm still waiting to see great things from Benjamin, and I haven't given up hope yet. 

Patricia is in trouble cutting out little squares of leather. And then she's not. I'm learning that the storyline for Patricia each week is everyone panicking, fretting, "She she has no time! There's no way she an finish! Oh, wait, she's done."

It's runway time! Our judges are Heidi, Zac Posen, Nina Garcia and guest judge Kristin Davis. It's Charlotte from "Sex and the City," bitches!

 

Team Keeping It Real

Daniel - Commercial

This is very nice… oh, wait. No lining, and thus the slit looks raggedy given how lightweight the fabric is. 

Patricia - Press

I can appreciate that she made the leather "mesh," but I kind of hate this. It's a big bag, and it's a big, see-through bag, which does not make it better. Patricia keeps making boxy, unflattering dresses. Does she do anything else?

Joseph/Amanda - Press 

For all the fuss these two made, I was expecting something more fun. The super-duper textile he made? It's black and brown. This is fine, but it's boring. 

Robert - Commercial 

Even he concedes she looks like an exotic chicken. I mean, woof.

Layana/Kate - Commercial

After all Kate's bitching, this is great. It absolutely captures the bottle, it's flattering, it's just plain beautiful. I don't even mind that it has a lot going on in both the front and the back. It's just pretty. I wish the pink wasn't just highlighted over her tummy, though. Not usually the thing you want to highlight. 

Stanley - Commercial

What's with all the jewelry? It's like he didn't trust his design. And I can't say he should have, either. It's a boring dress with an interesting neckline -- which he gummed up with ugly jewelry. Fail for styling. And fail for fabric. Just… fail. 

 

Dream Team

Michelle - Press

I actually like this. The leather at the top and along the back is kind of beautiful. Do I wish pink were involved? Yes, but this is solid.

Matthew - Press

When the designer says he hates it, you have to think he's on to something. I am not a fan of this. The fake collar? Meh. And it's brown and black. Why is there so much brown? I didn't see that on the bottle at all. Fit issues, too. 

Cindy - Commercial

I do love the fabric, but not this much of it -- this looks cheap and shows every mistake. There are definitely fit issues. This is a wreck.

Samantha - Commercial

I think this is great… until I see it close-up. There seem to be some raggedy edges and bumps where we do not want bumps. But from a distance it's nice. Maybe if Heidi stands in a field for the commercial and is shot from very far away.

Benjamin - Commercial

You know when you're a kid and you have a piece of string and you tie it around your finger until it turns red? Yeah, that. 

Tu - Commercial

This is actually very nice. I like the cut outs and the skirt is gorgeous. 

I think Kate/Layana have to win. But who will come in second on their team? Maybe Daniel, but he's also commercial. Patricia? That thing's hideous. And Joseph and Amanda's dress is dull as dishwater. 

Team Keeping It Real… wins again! Oh, this is almost mean. 

Losers first! How nice. Anyway, Matthew, Cindy and Benjamin are the worst of the worst. Matthew is first on the block. Zac thinks the leather strap up the middle looks trashy. Heidi thinks it says, where is my whip? It's too sexual. Kristin Davis would die if she had to wear that. Nina doesn't understand what his problem was. 

Cindy tells them she tried to sex it up. Heidi tells her it isn't sexy. It doesn't hug the body. Zac tells her shantung silk is hard to photograph, and Nina thinks it looks cheap. Kristin says she wore similar dresses on "Sex and the City." So, you know, 10, 15 years ago.

Poor Benjamin. Kristin thought the breast part was hard to look at. Heidi thought the model had sad, droopy boobs. Nina declares that it's the worst construction she's seen. Benjamin had a time management problem, and I guess he says more than that, because Zac tells him to slow down on the excuses. 

On to the winning team. Heidi did not like Stanley and Richard's designs at all. The judges declare Stanley's too glitzy and Richard's too poffy.

The top three Patricia, Kate/Layana and Daniel are the top scorers. Patricia talks first. Nina really likes this look. Zac enjoys her fabric manipulation. Heidi says it's something they haven't seen before. Kristin was worried if it was flattering. Zac thinks it's more appropriate for a younger actress, which pisses Heidi off. 

Everyone seems awfully impressed with Patricia, and I don't get it. Hey, I can make a boxy dress, too. If she's going to keep cruising along just because she is patient enough to cut out squares of fabric, I think I need to stop watching this season. 

On to Layana and Kate. Heidi loves the hardness and the softness. Zac likes the dimension and shadow. Nina thought it had beautiful movement. Kristin loves the pink and thinks it feels ballet. Who should win? Kate cries, so I think she gets it. And besides, Layana won last week.  

Daniel give Patricia credit for giving him the black leather. Kristin thinks it's flattering. Nina says the material isn't her favorite for an evening dress, and it looks inexpensive. Zac thinks the color isn't great for a commercial. 

I think Benjamin's going home. Such a shame. I want him to get his confidence back!

Kate… is the winner. Layana is win. Daniel… is also the winner! Hey, that is a huge relief, because man, Patricia's dress was wretched. He's kicking ass on this show, by the way. But I'm a little unnerved. If he's always in the top three, great -- but this week he made a dress out of the wrong fabric (at least, too light for that slit without a lining). That seems like a beginner mistake. It just makes me feel like this season is not going to be one of the better ones.

Matt is safe… so it's down to Cindy and Benjamin. Kick Cindy to the curb! And yes, she's out. Benjamin dodged a bullet, but let's face it. Cindy can make cute, dowdy jackets that probably play well for people who have boring office jobs, and her skill set seems limited. She is one step removed from a sweet old lady who tortures her relatives with those ugly Christmas sweaters that light up. 

She walks away from the experience with great gratitude, and she's an inspiration. Tim doesn't feel prepared to send her home, and she tells him that because of him she's s fashion designer. It's all very touching, but let's face it. Cindy has done drab, crappy stuff from the jump. Even what she's wearing looks like a tablecloth. Good luck, Cindy, but please, design elsewhere. 

 

Do you still like or loathe the team challenges? Do you think they'll mix things up next week? Do you think it's been fair for some designers to be stuck on the chronically losing team?