It's time for the beloved/dreaded Unconventional Challenge!

by Dalene Rovenstine@RealDaleneR

(Barbara Nitke/Lifetime)

Project Runway

Season 14, Ep. 2 | Aired Aug 13
Posted August 13 2015 — 10:32 PM EDT

It’s here! It’s here! Heidi’s favorite challenge! America’s favorite challenge! The dreaded-by-designers, loved-by-fans Unconventional Challenge! This year it’s sponsored by Hallmark, and while I’m sure it’s difficult to design with paper, I wasn’t incredibly excited about this medium for season 14’s Unconventional episode. True there were all different kinds of paper, but it was still ALL paper. That’s not quite the same as designers being able to pull items from a grocery store, a candy store, or a Saturn hybrid. But, regardless, as the Hallmark director of branding tells us, their cards are “pieces of art,” so I’m sure that’s why this challenge was chosen—not because Hallmark wanted to be a sponsor…

The designers get two minutes to raid the store for whatever they can put into their bags. (I feel bad for whoever had to clean up that ransacked store after the PR crew left.) Most of the designers grabbed things so quickly, they’re not even sure what they have. So back in the workroom, they all sort cards and share and trade. Blake says it’s great that they’re already like a family. Edmond says none of the designers have realized they’re in a competition yet. Somehow I agree with both.

With cards sorted, the designers take their muslin (Is Merline still calling it “Muslim”?) and get to work. Kelly says her mother owns a craft store, so she’s got this in the bag; she’s using lightweight paper from an envelope inside to create a textured fringe skirt. Candice is also using the inside of an envelope to create a silver metallic bodycon. Edmond is so secretive about his work that he won’t even tell the producer coaxing his talking head. He finally agrees to spill when she convinces him that no one will hear his interview before the challenge. He says that he wants “to do something that makes a woman feel special, that reflects a special day, like uniqueness, like the cards.” This either means he has no idea what he’s doing or that he doesn’t trust the producer to keep his secret.

This adorable little of family of designers is working away, all happy together until Swapnil can’t understand Blake mumbling something. When Swapnil asks, “What?” Blake responds, “I don’t know how to speak Indian, so I can’t say it.” NO. No no no no no no. The whole room — rightfully — loses it and yells at Blake for being an idiot. I would give Blake the benefit of the doubt that it was a really bad attempt at a joke, but he doesn’t apologize (or it was edited out if he did). Hopefully he cleans up his act quickly or else Project Runway could have a Big Brother 15 situation on its hands.

When Tim comes to do his critiques, there are a lot of half-naked dress forms in the room.

The designers instead have to explain their visions: Swapnil is doing Alice in Wonderland on acid. Hanmaio is doing a dress that just looks like cards and envelopes pasted onto it. And Amanda has a black lace-looking top with an awesome skirt, but Tim says it’s going to be too much work for her to get done in time. That’s his message to all the designers: “There’s a lot of ambition in the room, but people need to think of the economy of time.”

So Amanda scraps her skirt, David re-sets his whole vision, and Blake starts to just douse his look in glitter. Meanwhile, Edmond has kept his look secret essentially the whole time.

When he puts his giant white paper skirt onto the dress form, he gets wows from around the room. (Were the designers provided reams of paper like that, or was there an oversized card I somehow missed? Or was that muslin? It was beautiful, but I was a little confused about where it came from.)

The clock strikes midnight and a lot of unfinished designs are left in the workroom. In the morning — with only two hours to get their models prepped — way too many designers are finishing up their looks. But just like every episode ever, the designers are somehow able to get done in time for the runway.

Swapnil, David, Blake, Amanda, Kelly, and Edmond are called to receive runway critiques from the judges (along with guest judge Ashley Tisdale), but in a weird twist it’s actually four high looks and two low.

**Special note: I don’t usually discuss the middle of the pack looks, but I just want to say how surprised I was with how Hanmaio’s look turned out. It was actually very cool.**