Project Runway Recap: Robot Babies and Hilary Duff

Photo: Lifetime

It’s babies on the runway week! The designers meet Heidi and Tim at Babies “R” Us, and immediately, everyone knows why they’re there: It’s a challenge for Truly Scrumptious, Heidi’s new babywear line for the infant in your life who needs a fringed poncho ASAP. Each designer is paired with a toddler and his or her mom, and tasked with designing a head-to-toe look. Dmitry’s immediate response? “We’re all screwed. Those babies are really, really small. I’m not even sure how old they are, but I’m pretty sure they can’t talk. It’s like making an outfit for a cat.”

The challenge will have two winners — a look for boys and a look for girls — and each winning look will be sold at Babies “R” Us. No trip to Mood this week; Heidi provides notions and fabric from the Truly Scrumptious line so that things stay cohesive. Say what you will about Heidi Klum, but she does not mess around with her branding. (That’s not criticism. Good for her.)

After the designers consult with their tiny clients (and their opinionated moms), Heidi sends them back to the workroom with the promise that there’s a special surprise waiting for them. “I know it’s not a surprise,” Elena says. “I know it’s something fucked up.” And it is! They’re RealCare Babies, programmed to cry and scream when they need tending. Tim says, gravely, “We are giving you these babies so that you can understand what goes into creating clothing for infants.” Why do you have to make a liar out of Tim Gunn, Runway? The designers are being given the little robot babies because it’s great — even hilarious — television, and that’s fine, but don’t pretend this is happening for any sort of logical, challenge-related reason.

It’s hard to know where to begin when recounting the high points of the designers’ stints as baby mamas/daddies. Unsurprisingly, Dmitry and Elena had the best banter about the situation, when Dmitry announced, “My baby’s name is Brandon. What’s yours?” and Elena snapped back, “Her name is asshole.” Fabio was very sweet and tender with his tiny robot, explaining in all sincerity at one point, “I’m polite. My kid’s polite. He’s just going through something.” And Christopher proved once again that he’s uniquely qualified at providing Runway’s producers with sound bites when he dramatically dropped his fabric and sighed, “Now I know why Judy went off the deep end with Liza.”

Heidi and Tim come by to check on the designers, and the robot babies stop screaming as soon as they enter the workroom, which I choose to believe is because Tim Gunn has actual magical powers and not because of editing. After a quick critique, Heidi announces that she has another twist: The designers will be making a look for the mothers of the babies, too. The designers put their robot babies into carriers and head to Mood, where Tim makes it clear that the mom isn’t a client; instead, the designers are making her an outfit to wear as she accompanies her baby on the runway.

It’s a good distinction, and it’s one the mother paired with Christopher has no understanding of. When she comes in for the preliminary fitting and they’re looking at the dress for her daughter, she smirks and side-eyes at him until finally, as he’s complimenting her eye makeup to try to break the tension, she mutters, “I don’t like it. Not under any circumstance.” Christopher freaks out until Sonjia tells him that he really doesn’t need to worry about “what Mary J. Blige thinks about anything,” and she’s right, but it’s an unfortunate spot of negativity in an otherwise cute, sweet (and, yes, strange) challenge. Meanwhile, Elena and Melissa struggle to get their looks together — at one point, Elena actually has to ask Dmitry how draping works, and it’s shocking to realize that she’s actually serious.

Down at the runway, Hilary Duff joins the judges’ panel. She’s sweet and very excited to be there, and the entire show is very cute, but Christopher’s white dress with snap-on flowers and Sonjia’s pants and blazer with tiny elbow patches win, and Elena is finally sent home.

Click through the slideshow to see all of this week’s looks. There’s only one challenge left before it’s on to the finale, and I know who my top three are — Christopher, Fabio, and Sonjia. Who are yours?

Project Runway: Robot Babies and Hilary Duff