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Project Runway Recap: Start Your (Creative) Engines

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On Wednesday’s Project Runway, designers were asked to create a chic look out of car parts. Let’s ignore the fact that the challenge was basically an egregious advertisement for Saturn and focus, as the judges did, on innovation. Sent to the roof of a parking garage in Manhattan, the remaining designers found several waiting cars filled with materials like seatbelts, car seat covers and hardware — and were asked to go shopping.

The task begged the questions: Is a seatbelt chic? Can seat covers be avant-garde?

Just ask Korto, who wove seatbelts into a beautifully tailored, interlocking jacket-dress. Or Leanne (pictured), whose shapely dress made a case for the latter, impressing the judges and winning her immunity for its expert tailoring and its body-hugging structure.

With two guest judges — season 3 finalist Laura Bennett and celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe — the designers paraded a generally impressive slate of creations down the runway, drawing on a similar color palette but wildly different shapes.

In the workroom, Stella spoke about taking herself out of her comfort zone. (Translation: She hammered out a skirt from a fabric that was not — gasp! — leather.) Meanwhile, Keith fretted about being in the bottom last week. While the designer has never suffered from a failure of confidence before, this week he actually seemed sort of humbled — meek even. (Are Michael Kors‘ retorts really that barbed?) So, Keith actually took a break from his trademark layers, instead creating a skirt and top, going out of its way to not offend.

Take a guess at the judges’ reactions.

In the bottom yet again, Keith tried to defend himself against the flurry of criticism. Toughest of all, Bennett claimed the outfit suffered from a lack of a cohesive vision. Keith’s retort? Take a look at my past output. Touch ! (Laura replied with a mannered, “Excuse me?”) He found that ego — er, confidence — after all.

But it was too little, too late. Keith’s recovered self-assurance was not enough to keep the Utah-based designer on the show. Instead, he was auf’d in a flurry of tears, while Stella and Blayne, also in the bottom, were sent back to the workroom to continue designing. — Brian Orloff

Read our exit Q&A with Keith.

Tell us: Did you agree with the judges’ decision? Was the car challenge inspiring? And which designers do you believe will make it to the finale?Bravo