Two Project Runway designers were eliminated in a surprising decision by the judges in Thursday night's episode of the Lifetime reality competition.
Kate Pankoke and Tu Suthiwat Nakchat were sent home as the result of an unconventional challenge -- the second this season -- that tasked the designers to make a prom dress out of duct tape. Working as a team, the duo chose a denim-patterned tape to create a long dress -- the only one of the five teams not to go with a short garment.
The judges weren't crazy about the pattern or the length and chose to eliminate both of the designers.
On Friday, Chicago-based Kate, 23, told reporters in a conference call that she didn't anticipate their dress losing -- much less the double elimination -- and defended their design.
"We were really only one of the teams that stayed true to the challenge," she said, adding: "We saw everyone else doing a short dress, so we knew a long dress was a risk. But I feel so passionately about the subject; it's such an American coming-of-age tradition, the first long gown you get to wear. … I don't think it's a heinous dress that two people should get sent home for."
She believes that Leyana Aguilar and Stanley Hudson's zebra-print-and-hot-pink design probably was the "least appropriate" for a prom dress because those patterns and colors are "not trending for the prom scene."
Meanwhile, Tu, a 26-year-old from Springfield, Va., added that the group of high school students shown the designs and allowed to vote on their favorite -- their votes counted for 20 percent of the total scores -- actually gave them a good deal of positive feedback.
"One girl was like: 'Oh my God, you made a long dress, and I appreciate that. It's a real prom dress, and I'd love to wear it,' " he said.
He also said viewers didn't see judge Nina Garcia criticizing the fact that they chose to make a mermaid skirt, saying it wasn't a modern concept. But he pointed out that after their last episode taped, Lady Gaga was featured on the cover of Vogue in a mermaid dress.
Both designers said they'd stick with the same design if they had to do it over again, though Kate joked that she might "stage a catfight with Tu and cause a little bit more drama, and maybe I'd still be there for the next episode."
Next up, Kate has a bridal collection coming out April 7 and has been accepted into the Macy's Fashion Incubator in Chicago, while Tu is working on a spring/summer collection that will be finished by month's end.