Over at Parsons, the group meets Tim and All Stars winner Mondo Guerra and find out that they'll be using their HP equipment to create their own textiles and a runway look based on their individual cultural heritages - that should be fun! Why is Mondo there, you might ask? Well, he won this challenge during season 8 as it's when he revealed that he has been HIV+ for the past ten years. It was a pretty lifechanging moment, for sure. He offers them a bit of encouragement, which seems to work, and everyone sets off on their heavily advertised HP equipment to get started. Tim also reveals that they'll get a dossier about their respective backgrounds via "very special delivery". Something tells me we might see some family members turn up soon.
Indeed, it's the designers' mums, partners and sisters there to offer hugs and words of support to their very tired sons and daughters. Tears are shed, embraces are shared and spirits are definitely lifted. The loved ones have brought old photos to jog the designers' memories and hopefully inspire them on bringing their culture into their pieces this week. Everyone gets sketching - they've only got two hours to figure out what direction to go in - before heading to Mood for some other supplies.
In the workroom
Sonjia - who won last week's challenge - is doing a wide leg patterned pant, while Ven is only using his original fabric as an embellishment, which seems sort of besides the point. Even Dmitry is stepping out of his comfort zone by making separates rather than a dress. Chris's ladybug print, which reminds him of his late grandmother, is great, but he can't commit to a design until the material arrives as he can't properly visualise what he wants to do.
Once work is done for the day, everyone heads back to the apartment, where their loved ones are waiting for some much needed social downtime. Christopher, however, is slightly unhappy as he's being "spoiled" by his parents and feels that it might take his head out of the game and keep him from staying motivated.
The next morning, the custom fabrics are waiting for the designers at the workroom, and they're all thrilled with how they turned out. Fabio says that his fabric is a "penis and vagina f**king" and is about copulation and the source of life, while Melissa's looks a bit Caribbean and Chris thinks that Elena's resembles a "kindergarten doodle". As for Christopher himself, his fabric might be okay, but he's completely lost as to what silhouette he wants to use and how to move forward. Meanwhile, Ven's white fabric with a flower drawn on it is incredibly drab, and considering that, he's only using it as an embellishment.
Sonjia asks about the story behind Gunnar's fabric, and he reveals to her and Christopher that he was severely bullied in school. Christopher thinks that this means the wall is coming down between them. Of course, they famously haven't been getting along since the beginning of the competition, but their stories are exactly the same, so it's good for them to find common ground. Another similarity is that incidentally, Gunnar runs into a serious struggle while trying to begin sewing his design, as well, as the fabric doesn't line up and the look isn't what he's going for.
Later in the afternoon, Tim shows up to check in with the designers. He offers some valuable advice to Christopher on the two looks he's started and helps him make a decision on what direction to go in. He believes that Dmitry's work is looking "prim" and advises him to "sex it up" with the top. It's not great news for Ven, whose work, according to Tim, looks like an "homage to a menstrual cycle". Silence falls in the workroom as Tim tells him that he hopes the judges are not offended as the embellishments look like "maxi pads". Ven is upset, of course - and good thing. It's about time he's the one offended rather than everyone else he opens his mouth about.
Tim thinks that Melissa's fabric is really beautiful but wants her to be more ambitious with the dress she's making in order to wow the judges as what she has so far is not enough. At the same time, Elena is aware that her look at the moment resembles hospital scrubs, but she's got a plan, so Tim trusts her. Gunnar is not enthused with his design, and neither is Tim, as the jacket he's made looks heavy rather than buoyant the way his custom fabric suggests. They've only got a few hours left, though, so they'll all have to find a way to make it work. After the model fitting, it's time to call it a night. They'll have a bit of time in the morning, but that's pretty much it.
The runway show
Joining Heidi on the panel are the usual suspects, Nina and Michael, but also Mondo and season 9 winner Anya Ayoung-Chee. After the designs walk the runway, Heidi calls Elena and Fabio forward - their scores have qualified them to go through to the next round. The rest have the highest and lowest scores; one will be the winner and one will be out. But who?
Michael jokes that Melissa has "gone Park Avenue" with her dress, which is excellently tailored with a great design. Heidi knows that it's out of her comfort zone, but likes an edgier look and wishes she injected more coolness into it somehow. Nina thinks it's chic and smart and a bit sexy, adding that it's a dress that would appeal to a lot of girls. Mondo thinks it's a smart design but wishes the styling was a bit less predictable, while Anya agrees that she could have pushed it just a little bit further.
Ven's dress reminds Heidi of a Hawaiian airline hostess. "It's not good," she says, adding that they've seen the layered flower on the skirt many times and it doesn't flow and it's one of the worst today. Michael says that they know that he can do this and wonders when he'll do something new, while Nina thinks that it came off as if he didn't know what to do with print. Anya sees it as three dresses in one, and Mondo sees such a "disconnection" in his work and is visually confused by it.
Dmitry's geometric suit jacket, top and skirt are a big hit with the judges. Michael says that he did exactly what they were looking for by combining design, concept, execution and wearability and did a great job with it. Mondo thinks that his jacket is the "showstopper" and wishes that he could see the print a bit more and that it wasn't so overdesigned. Heidi likes the print, but thinks the whole look is "stunning" and she would buy it because it's "crazy good". Nina calls the jacket "phenomenal" but thinks it's so interesting because of the print, and considering this is a print challenge, it makes her smile.
Unfortunately for Gunnar, his jacket doesn't fare so well. Heidi says that it's not cool, not edgy, not modern and she doesn't understand it - it's "bizarre". Michael understands that it's supposed to be personal, but the design isn't provocative, comparing the model to an "urban twirler" in need of a baton. Nina gets that it represents a struggle, but wonders if you'd want to wear something so depressing. Anya has no idea where it would be bought and calls it "non fashion in every way".
When it comes to Sonjia's pants and top, Heidi thinks it's difficult to make a print on pants, but she succeeded - especially with the fit. Anya also loves the print placement and the detail on the plain black top, while Nina is also a fan, saying that it's young, cool and chic. Mondo dubs it one of the most successful designs on stage and Michael also thinks it's kind of perfect, praising her attention to detail.
Christopher's dress is "just okay" to Heidi, who thinks it's a bit too simple and doesn't show the judges what he's got. "It's perfectly fine, but you're not going to win a challenge with a fine dress," she adds. Anya points out that you can't really see the print since he's covered it up and thinks it looks a bit like a prom dress, while Nina admits that this is the worst execution she's seen from him thus far in the competition. Michael expects more from him and thinks that it looks like kitchen curtains - not so great.
But now we've got to choose a winner and a loser. Dmitry is named the winner of this challenge, while Melissa and Sonjia are safe and allowed to leave the runway, along with Christopher. That means it's down to Ven and Gunnar as to who will be leaving the competition. Eventually, Heidi says goodbye to Gunnar.
"This is the hardest thing I've ever done and I'm extremely proud that I did it this far," he says after his elimination. "It wasn't about the win, for me, it was more about just coming here and committing. I gave it my best effort and that's winning for me."
Project Runway airs Thursday at 9/8c on Lifetime.