The greatest thing about "Project Runway" is the sheer creativity (no pun intended) of the challenges, which goes a long way toward keeping the show feeling fresh year after year. But sometimes, the challenges are a little too far outside of the box. In the history of the show, there have been a handful of challenges that were weird, dumb, or just plain wrong. Pity the poor designers who had to cope with these challenges.
The post-office challengeIn the show's very first season, the designers were asked to reimagine the classic look of the U.S. Postal Service's uniforms. In some ways, it was a clever challenge: The designers had to create a functional garment within some strict parameters. But for a show about fashion, the constraints of making the frumpy USPS uniforms look good was too much of a stretch. Perhaps if the designers were tasked with making USPS uniforms for different historical eras, the resulting designs would have been memorable.
The Divas challengeIn Season 4, the designers had to make skintight costumes for a group of WWE Divas. Not only was the challenge way outside the comfort zone of most of the designers, but it wasn't interesting to the majority of viewers. There isn't a lot of crossover between pro wrestling fans and fashion fanatics. As a result, the judges could barely keep a straight face as the Divas walked during the runway show.
The lingerie challengeThe Season 3 challenge to design some classy lingerie sounded good on paper -- but boy, the results were just a hot mess. One day and just $200 wasn't enough to create lingerie that had both class and distinction. Who could forget those tacky, ruffled "auf wiedersehen" panties?
The stilt challengeSeason 9's infamous stilt challenge got one thing right: It was interesting that the show finally held a runway outdoors in a public place. But the Battery Park showcase was too gimmicky and didn't allow the designers to create looks that really represented their individuality. Creating designs that only worked on professional stilt walkers was kind of odd. Sure, it created a spectacle, but the looks were far from high fashion.
The ping-pong challengeThe second episode of the controversial "Teams Season" of "Runway" didn't inspire much confidence among viewers. The teams were asked to "serve up" some ball-boy outfits and waitstaff uniforms for a ping-pong social club. Who came up with this wack-a-doo challenge concept? There was an interesting celeb component, as Susan Sarandon owned the club. However, designing service uniforms isn't exactly thrilling for viewers. It's "Project Runway," not "Project Uniform."
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