'Project Runway' Hits the beach!

mitchellhall_projectrunway_s6_290.jpgTonight, 'Project Runway' brought out one of its most dreaded weapons: the team challenge.

The designers are taken to the beach where Tim meets them dressed appropriately in sandals and sunglasses. And a blazer. He's trying! They are designing beach wear and Shirin, last week's winner, is automatically a team captain while the rest are chosen through random name pulling.

No sooner have the team captains made their selections than the problems start. Qrystil feels Epperson is treating her like a student so she responds by being passive aggressive. Ra'Mon feels like a target paired with Mitchell, who thinks Ra'Mon picks ugly fabrics. Tim arrives to interrupt the in-fighting to inform the designers that they need to add an "avant garde" look and only one member of each team will go to Mood the next day.

Tim also tells Carol her model took another opportunity and won't be able to be at the fitting, so Carol opts to replace her with an eliminated model. He tells Althea and Louise that their look is adorable. He's less supportive towards Ra'Mon and Mitchell as he looks at their two pieces and states "I feel like I'm in a cartoon with a superhero and a Greek goddess", leading Ra'Mon to scrap his wet suit inspired idea. A decision he comes to regret when Tim checks in on his progress and suggests he may want to "resurrect the scuba suit".

The judges are joined this week by Max Azria, whom I love so much I can barely focus on the runway myself! But I made as many notes I could in the 15 seconds each look was on screen. I need faster fingers, I think.

Qristyl & Epperson's first dress features a classic looking print with a perfectly fit bodice and a skirt that is cleverly gathered but does little to invoke the sort of movement beachwear should have. Their avant garde look is questionable at best, with a swimsuit that would flatter no body type I can imagine and a wrap that covered little more than one shoulder with a huge poof of brown and green tulle. It's sloppy and rather depressing, while bearing no real connection to their print dress.

Johnny & Irina's first look is really perfect, with a lightweight, off the shoulder shirt that offers a glimpse of an intricate macrame back that is a sublime pop of color. Paired with this is a simple, off-white skirt that is young and flirty - great for the beach. Their avant garde piece feels related to the macrame of their first look, with a woven bodice. Amazingly for all it's flaws in regards to workmanship, it still manages to look well thought out and conceptual with an inspirational ease that could easily translate across a clothing line.

Ra'Mon & Mitchell's first look is a lovely ombre fabric that has exactly the sort of movement and clean lines that a cover up garment needs, even if it doesn't offer much in forward thinking. The second look? Whoa, momma. I have no idea how Ra'Mon did it, because when he decided to hand dye that neoprene 45 minutes before the runway I figured he was lost. But the literal splash of color the dye creates to break up the green combined with the structural ease of the dress is perfection. It's modernity is juxtaposed with the classic Greek look, but somehow it works.

Shirin & Carol's first look is a wrap pulled up right beneath the bandeau bikini top, creating a look that feels like a dress while not completely obscuring the bathing suit. The wrap flows well with the suit and moves perfectly on the model, with her removal of the wrap feeling both playful and practical on the runway. Their avant garde look is more an evening gown than anything. It's well made and I can see the inspiration of the waves in the gathers of the floor length skirt. But the look is so overwhelmingly blue that I wish there was another color to break up the space.

Althea & Louise's first look is exactly as Tim described it; adorable. It's simple and classic with strong prints, but there is nothing that is memorable about. It seems like I should be able to go into the mall and find it on the rack already. Their avant garde look is also more evening gown, with a fitted bodice that offers some dazzling sparkle and a skirt that cascades into a dramatic train of ruffles in the back that brings to mind the ocean at midnight.

Nicolas & Gordana's first look is a lovely hand dyed macrame swimsuit with cut outs that reveal almost as much as a bikini would, paired with white, wrap around pants that are actually really nice in concept. Unfortunately their execution is sloppy at best. Their avant garde look is one of the most awful things I have ever seen on Project Runway. It looks like something you might see on a movie star...portraying a Las Vegas hooker...who has fallen on hard times. It's all skin tight white lace, too short skirt, and a garter belt worn ON TOP of it all. It falls below trashy.

Logan & Christopher are really off the radar this week. Their first look features white skinny pants with a metallic touch, but I just can't imagine pulling a skinny pant over a wet bathing suit. This ispaired with a simple t-shirt and a big floppy hat, neither of which are interesting. Their avant garde look is...well, very avant garde, I suppose. It's got a voluminous skirt of tulle in various shades of white all gathered up in a single layer of black tulle. It's the addition of a piece of black fabric hanging haphazardly from one hip that makes it feel less conceptual design and more first-year-student-attempt.

The designers are told right away that Qristyl & Epperson, Nicolas and Gordana are the lowest scores. Johnny & Irina and Ra'Mon and Mitchell are the highest. And it is Ra'Mon's avant garde look that puts them over the edge. When it is revealed that all Mitchell did was sew the suit (which can't even be seen in beneath the Greek cover up), Ra'Mon is declared this week's winner.

It also is quickly clear that Qristyl & Epperson fought the whole time and that Nicolas has good concepts but needs some editing. Which means that none of them really did anything terrifically wrong so much as misstep this week. Which is perhaps why, for the first time in Project Runway history, half of the winning team is eliminated as Mitchell is sent home for doing next to nothing as team captain. He takes it graciously, as well he should since he announced at the start of the hour that he chose Ra'Mon as his partner so he could have someone carry him this week.