After excusing everyone from the Runway chopping block, the designers have extra pressure to make the bye week count. Particularly Gunnar, whose near miss inspired a wave of inspiration and stoked his dislike for Chris. Tim tells the designers that the next challenge will involve negotiation skills, which is pretty much bad news for the designers with big personalities—read: everyone but Alicia.
Turns out that the designers need to raise money to buy fabric for the next challenge, a feat they will accomplish by making and selling t-shirts on the streets of New York. Elena starts kvetching before she even learns that they’re going to be split into teams, at which point she goes apoplectic. “Ugly ass shit with glitter?” Elena faux-weeps. “It’s not my thing.” There are no team leaders, so it’s back to the dreaded button bag. Of course, Gunnar lands on a team with Chris and Elena on one with Dmitry, each designer quietly seething. “What did I do in my past life to deserve this?” Dmitry pleads. Sonjia goes to team Gunnar, Alicia to team Elena, and Ven, Fabio, and Melissa are left on the last, most hospitable team.
Elena, as you might guess, is an awful salesperson. After the arts and crafts with shirts portion of the day, she tries hard to sell shirts by admitting outright that they’re terrible. “She’s like walking depression,” Dmitry despairs. It’s unclear if they are allowed to tell people that they’re on Project Runway. At least if Celebrity Apprentice is any indication, New Yorkers are a bit more hospitable when they know what reality show is involved. In any case, all three teams manage to drum up funds.
Turns out that what they need fabric for is a miniature fall collection, creating two fall looks per team that will impress Nina Garcia. One look has to include outerwear, an expensive and risky element.
Sonjia practically weeps for joy. This is her wheelhouse, and she revels in the tailoring and construction. Despite the tension between Gunnar and Chris, their team works together surprisingly well. Sonjia’s jacket is gorgeous, Gunnar’s dresses steal the show, and even Chris’ dubious sounding camelhair trench coat doesn’t turn out like an “ugly-ass Snuggie,” as Elena predicts. On the runway, there’s no competition. “Your team is the clear winner,” Heidi assures them. Guest judge Anna Sui, who must also act as a therapist for design firms on her time off, approves of their group dynamic. Sonjia wins, but all three have glowing reviews from the judges
The other teams are not so lucky. Things start to get bad when Dmitry decides that exposed darts will be his signature on a dress he’s making, a decision that makes Tim almost break into a sweat. Elena is both pushy and passive somehow, and Alicia fades into the background, working on a boring shirt and pants combination. Elena’s boxy coat is atrocious. Nina give her the kiss of death adjective “inexpensive.” Kors think it looks “like it was sewn with her feet,” which can’t be good. Dmitry’s look just gets a raspberry from Kors, but it’s still better than Alicia. Hers barely gets a glance. Let it be a lesson to future Runway contestants. Bad and bold is still better than unremarkable.
Heidi has a particular vengeance for Team Fabio, though, as they had the most money and spent it the least effectively. “It looks horrible,” she says. And it does. It’s like a gang of factory mistakes from H&M. Melissa’s pants have a serious case of wonky crotch. “It looks like something should have been in that crotch that a girl doesn’t have,” Kors jokes.
In the end, Alicia’s quiet but awful garment is worse than anyone else’s mistakes, and she gets sent to pack up her things. Ven practically swears an oath of retaliation on his way off the runway.