Photo: Mitch Haaseth/Bravo; Barbara Nitke/Bravo
January 03, 2008 12:00 AM

After two weeks of reruns, Project Runway ramped back up with a sweet and creative challenge that unleashed the remaining designers — Charlie And the Chocolate Factory style — on the Hershey’s megastore in Times Square. Let’s ignore the egregious product placement (the candy maker coincidentally sponsored the episode) and the impulse to immediately break any New Year’s-imposed diets (and unwrap a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup) and rejoice. After weeks of serious-to-a-fault challenges, it was finally time for some levity on the runway.

Too bad Elisa didn’t see it that way. Her “sad” brown frock — inspired by some grim version of Hansel and Gretel, she claimed — proved to be her undoing. At least she left in a moment of pure chutzpah, offering a benediction to the judges on the runway (was that Latin?) and the promise that she was going to “wander off,” all while choking back her tears. She also revealed that she had been in a coma after being struck by a car years earlier in London. (Speaking of Elisa, check back here this afternoon to read PEOPLE’s chat with the lovably eccentric designer.) Similarly morose, Sweet P‘s bland confection failed to impress the judges. This week’s panel included a particularly vocal Zac Posen. The designer seemed to really take a shine to Rami, who ultimately won the challenge with his futuristic-meets-pop art inspired dress.

Otherwise, the drama this week came from a frantic Jillian, the only designer bold (or crazy?) enough to actually use candy in her outfit. Despite fretting that she would not finish, Jillian, always a judge’s favorite, turned in a charming red corset and skirt accented with Twizzlers. It was chic and edible. Delish!

Other surprises: Lovable, blowzy Chris, who tends to be too costume-y, really reined it in this week, delivering a sophisticated look that impressed judge Michael Kors. And Victorya, usually at the head of the class, offered an uncharacteristically dull dress, complete with a strange pose she forced her model to adopt to channel an “ice queen” mythology.

So tell us: Was the challenge a fun change of pace? Who created your favorite — and least favorite — outfit? –Brian Orloff

Photo: Mitch Haaseth/Bravo; Barbara Nitke/Bravo

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