Project Runway Season 15 Recap: Prop Up Your Pop Up

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Image via Lifetime

This week’s Project Runway heads back to the team format for a Pop Up Challenge, with diminishing returns on the group harmony this season.

We return to the cattery, already in progress, with another morning in the Branded Hotel before the contestants head out to discover this week’s Branded Challenge. This week’s tie in is not the stretch of last week. Instead it’s the turn of one of our regularly scheduled contributors to have themselves featured. Hello Name Dropping Hair Salon! How are you today? And what exactly have you brought along for your turn at branded challenge bat?

They’ve brought something modern and not seen on the show before: the Pop Up Shop. Considering that they’ve been all the rage for about 3 years now, it’s almost surprisingly how quickly Project Runway managed to incorporate one into the challenge. The Pop Up Shop will be sponsored by the Hair Salon, and they dictate the team themes as well: colors! The button bag somehow magically assigns them thusly:

Team Red Violet: Erin, Dexter, Cornelius
Team New Neutrals: Jenni, Nathalia, Mah-Jing
Team Blue: Roberi, Rik, Laurence

Image via Lifetime

The Pop Up shop will be set up in Soho with lucky invited members of the public (carefully screened, natch) will get to vote on which team’s outfits they like the most. Those votes will account for “20% of their score” during final judging (So basically, a fifth invisible judge who Nina can run over when she doesn’t like their answer.) . Unlike most challenges, the shop won’t actually happen until the very end of Day Two, so instead of this being a one day challenge and a four hour morning, we have a nearly two day challenge on our hands. It’s $600 budget at Mood top cover fabric for three outfits per team.

Teams Red and Neutrals already have all their problems on display before we return with the fabrics, as Cornelius can’t break through the Dexter/Erin nexus, and Mah-Jing and Nathalia putting Jenni in the middle. Roberi, Rik and Laurence fade into the background with their lack of drama.

Let’s skip over the required segment where the Branded Hair People recite the name of their company at every turn, and move on to Tim’s critique, which comes the morning of the second day so there will be minimal time to change course.

Image via Lifetime

  • Team Blue: Despite Roberi’s lack of English referring to their customer as “strange” theirs is the most put together line, with a patented Laurence jacket, a gorgeous blue overcoat and a sweater that screams Roberi from New York to my living room. Tim worries their non-signature pieces are underwhelming though.
  • Team Red Violet: When Tim tries to get Cornelius to admit he’s feeling shunted, Cornelius response by negging on himself, and laughing off his own concerns, so that Erin and Dexter can sell the line. Tim buys it, and makes space for Cornelius to put in his suggestions of mixing their pieces up so that Erin & Dexter hear him.
  • Team New Neutrals: Mah-Jing seems to be the spokesperson, despite the fact that Nathalia’s been shutting him out. Tim looks at the outfits like he smelled something bad, and sneers that it’s boring and basic.

Tim’s critique put the necessary fire under the Blah Neutrals to get over themselves and start working together. But where Dexter may have solved Team Red’s problems, without Tim to give him the space and confidence to speak up, he turns himself into the workhorse muttering to himself that no one is helping him while the others have no idea he wants help.

The Models come, and then go into Hair and Makeup. No one has trouble finishing, which is the glory of having a two day challenge (or nearly two day challenge.) So for once it’s almost like everyone’s on an even playing field as they send their models down to stand in the windows of Soho, which the contestants watch on closed circuit camera back in the Runway Studio. (what, you think they got to be there? Whomp-whomp.

Let’s see what the judges have to say tomorrow when they’re presented with these looks.