Inappropriate Outfits Worn On Project Runway

Just as Heidi Klum repeatedly told contestants over countless episodes of the show, in fashion, one day you're in and the next you're out. As the most inappropriate outfits to be worn on "Project Runway" also prove, one day you're inappropriate with a design, and the next you live in infamy for it. Be they fabric failures, ill-fitting flops, barely-there body exposures, or just straight up confusing creations, every one of these designs regardless missed the mark of the challenge they were made for. Many of them, it should be said, also cross the very sensitive lines of taste levels and basic decency. So you know that Nina Garcia and Michael Kors — when they were present as judges — had something to say about them. 

So please, join us in your finest Tim Gunn impression: Step back, adjust your glasses, and raise a single hand to your face as you inspect the monstrosities ahead of you with absolute disdain, because these are the most inappropriate outfits worn on "Project Runway." Make it work.

Emilio Sosa's sci-fi design crime

When faced with the challenge of creating an ensemble with whatever scraps could be pulled from a hardware store, "Project Runway" Season 7 runner-up Emilio Sosa ended up sending a model down the runway in a half-finished craft project that looked like something he found down the back of the couch. Naturally, the judges hated the thing. Was it a swimsuit? A bikini? A bubblegum fishing net for lost change? Whatever it was, the "clothing" was nonexistent and his poor model was left practically naked, and it didn't exactly land. "But the simple truth is, she looks cheesy," former "Project Runway" judge Michael Kors told Sosa. "That's a full cheesefest." 

Even so, the designer stood behind the concoction. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Sosa suggested he thought the look "was pretty hot" and "looked great." Which would have been fine had he been designing the look for the saucy confines of his own private boudoir and not a set of cutthroat fashion judges. 

Somehow, the Barbarella-inspired look was enough to shock and horrify, but not enough to kick Sosa from the competition. Regardless, the literally threadbare bodysuit remains one of the most notoriously inappropriate looks in "Project Runway" history. More body than suit, the look may have riffed on the hyper-sexual '60s sci-fi look of Jane Fonda's iconic character, but it swapped out all of the campy innuendo of his muse material for a literal display of sex. Even the sleazy president of Earth would have questioned Sosa's taste levels.

Blayne Walsh's cosmic horror

The stars were most definitely not aligned in favor of whatever hot mess Blayne Walsh and Stella Zotis conjured out of the cosmos and onto the runway for Season 5's Zodiac-themed challenge. Looking more cosmic horror than couture, the lopsided bondage onesie was nothing less than rainbow roadkill that looked like it got tangled in a pile of belts. H. P. Lovecraft definitely has a story about it, and few likely survive its grip. 

The ensemble was pouring three different flavors into the one cup, which was bad enough. But the crown jewel of the misfired look was easily the multicolored specimen consuming the poor model's left arm, which inexplicably winded all the way around to the derriere. Nothing screams "come hither" like a plume of fabric samples exiting the backside, after all. Michael Kors described the offending article as making the model look as though she was "pooping fabric," while Nina Garcia labelled it the "one-legged monster" (via Entertainment Weekly). Both zingers were earned. 

It was enough to give Walsh the boot from the competition. The decision didn't sit well with the designer, who told Entertainment Weekly in his exit interview that he stood by and still "loved" his look. "I met the challenge, and I went above it, but I'm still going home?" he said. "That was shocking for me." Here's hoping this particular cosmic creature is never again allowed to manifest on the runway, or anywhere else. 

Sandro Masamanidi's parachute pileup

While "Project Runway" has had its fair share of fashion disasters dragged down the runway — ill-fitting, half-finished, or seemingly birthed from the Hellmouth itself — Sandro Masamanidi's Season 12 playsuit heralded a new dimension of nightmare. The designer's parachute-fabric playsuit was so horrendously ill-fitting that it caused the model's lower half to hit the eject button and attempt an emergency exit, so to speak.

As recapped by Entertainment Weekly, Heidi Klum was appropriately horrified by Masamanidi's taste level... or lack thereof. Meanwhile, the designer was quick to trot away from any and all accountability. Was there a problem with his garment construction? Of course not. Instead, Masamanidi pointed the blame at his model's nether regions for "dropping" — and as everyone knows, that's an area of the body that can be willfully controlled.

The designer inexplicably managed to pull his own cord in time to survive his sartorial failure — only to storm off the show three episodes later. As reported by Today, Masamanidi was subsequently disqualified for his behavior which included an aggressive outburst where he reportedly "smashed one of the cameras." That said, he will always be remembered as the man who squeezed a woman's body out of a bodice and didn't get sent straight home for it. 

AJ Thouvenot's crotch affliction party dress

There's showing too much, and then there's drawing attention to an area by covering it up in the most inappropriate manner possible. In the case of A.J. Thouvenot's "Project Runway" Season 8 party dress, the latter was awkwardly true when he chose to drape a series of beads from the crotch of his dress.

As The A.V. Club perfectly quipped in their recap, the campy kawaii party dress wasn't terrible. However, the positioning of the "Mardi Gras beads" had the look of "a performance-art interpretation of venereal disease." Which, depending on your perspective, is either an off-putting statement for a party-themed challenge, or a joyful reminder to play safe with partners — nobody wants to wind up with a bad case of crotch fringe, after all. It's just a shame he didn't throw a condom over the model's eye a la early '90s TLC to really complete the look.

Guest judge and quirky designer Betsey Johnson likewise didn't hate the dress but mused that the issue, if anything, was that Thouvenot didn't go big enough with his execution. The legendary fashion icon suggested she would have liked to have seen the party outfit "a zillion times exploded" (via Fashion Me Fabulous). But is the world really ready to party in crotch beads a zillion times the size of these?

Santino Rice's Grimm lingerie look

By far one of the most eccentric contestants to have appeared on "Project Runway," Santino Rice helped to establish the show as one of the best on TV with his entertaining and divisive run in Season 2. His most notable moment by far arrived courtesy of a lingerie challenge which went horrifically awry in the most madcap way possible.

Wanting to pay tribute to the homeland of host Heidi Klum, the designer made the baffling decision to create three lingerie looks loosely inspired by German lederhosen. The result was three nightmarish takes on 'sexy' which made each model look like a heavily discounted gingerbread cookie from a deeply unpopular mall. The Grimms' fairy tale fever dream of a creation needed another few hours in the oven to bake, and the judges all seemed to be in agreement on that fact. Nina Garcia didn't hold back in her attempt to educate Rice on the basics of lingerie, noting that it should be "sophisticated" and "delicate." Rice, in full defensive mode, jabbed back with the most ludicrous argument possible: "I think lingerie is sexy, and I think it's supposed to come off, is what I think." 

At the very least, the designs were memorable. Years later, Rice's teammate Nick Verreos tweeted a screengrab of the three looks and wrote, "In case you forgot, our Team Challenge Lingerie looks headed by Team leader Santino." When someone noted that the ensembles are unforgettable, Verreos replied, "Tell me about it! Google 'lederhosen" & "antlers.'"

Ping Wu's butt-baring burlap blunder

Every now and then "Project Runway" presents such a dismally difficult challenge to contestants that it borders on sadism. In Season 7, every last designer was set up for failure when they were tasked with creating anything worthwhile from burlap sacks. However, some failed harder than others. With that in mind, spare a thought for poor Ping Wu who attempted to make a cool, edgy dress out of a potato sack — only to expose her model's derriere, in the process.

Truthfully, the dress was a country fair calamity on every possible level. The midriff cut-out was misshapen and the overall finish was so uneven it looked like it had been sewn on the moving floor of a carnival fun-house. As Entertainment Weekly put it in their recap, "All in all, the dress was an ill-fitting, ill-conceived disaster of drab that turned her model into a ghoulish torso severed from her too-wide hips (great look!)." 

From the front it was hideous, but from the back it was laughable. The lengthy slit of the skirt was so ill-fitting that the model's very own behind was in full view with every step the poor woman took. And the judges sure noticed. "I mean, if you turn around," Heidi Klum observed, "we see a butt." Butt wait, there's more: Michael Kors added, "She could go to a party with a thousand people and they'll notice you. They'll notice you, and that your entire a** is hanging out." Talk about a spud, er, dud of a look.

Hester Sunshine's nipple pastie experiment

Season 17's Hester Sunshine was easily one of the greatest designers to have been featured on "Project Runway." On top of bringing some exuberant fun to the competition, Sunshine also had an incredible knack for proving that kitschy, punk rock aesthetics could look sophisticated and elevated in the right hands. So, if anybody could make a set of nipple pasties look elegant, it was her. 

In the workroom, "Project Runway" winner and mentor Christian Siriano rightfully had his concerns. "I like the idea," he said, "but I still want you to make something fashionable and cool" (via Bravo). Admittedly, she did. However, the fashionable and cool element only existed below the waist where a mint silk floor-length gown fulfilled the elegance quota of the challenge. Everything above that point? Not so much. While Sunshine explained her look to the judges with the caveat "I think there's nothing more elegant than going topless," Elaine Welteroth countered that though the idea was there, the execution fell short — specifically, in the way that the taffeta pasties were made to look "puckered" (via Bravo).

The color certainly didn't help, and left the model looking like some burlesque DC super villain who'd covered herself in Kryptonite to take down Superman once and for all. It wasn't elegant, and it definitely wasn't appropriate. As Culturess noted, Sunshine had immunity that week, so hey, at least you've gotta admire her for using that opportunity to take such a wild swing.

Kara Saun's sexy Halloween costume

Like Hester Sunshine, Season 1 runner-up Kara Saun is one of the best designers to have come from "Project Runway." Likewise, her own time in the inappropriate design limelight came courtesy of an outfit which isn't necessarily bad. In fact, the military-themed ensemble she created for the season's "Envy" challenge actually won the challenge that week. But that's not to say it doesn't continue to divide opinion among fans. The Project Runway Rankings Tumblr called it the sixth-best look of the episode, writing, "Let's just chalk that one up to 'The early 2000s were a strange time in fashion' and move on"; Vulture's Hazel Cills singled it out as one of the many designs of the season that were "wearable and hold up even by 2014 standards."

Though the execution was flawless, the design was still a little odd. Somewhere between the nipple-grazing sheer fabric, deep neckline, cleavage ruffles, and cropped cap worn at a jaunty angle, there was a sexy Halloween costume waiting to break out. On the one hand, the look gave off the come hither hospitality of an air hostess on the mile high club. On the other, the delicate shade of khaki evoked the hard-working and resourceful pep of the Girl Scouts uniform. Somewhere in between, the model was left looking like she was selling cookies on board Playboy Airlines. 

Was it still utterly fabulous? Of course. But could anyone realistically conceive of comfortably wearing the entire thing — hat included — outside of sexy costume parties? Probably not. 

Laura Kathleen's hippie bloodbath top

For "Project Runway" Season 9's team challenge, the contestants were tasked with creating looks for the unsigned band The Sheepdogs — a group of affable, hairy fellows who appeared to evoke feelings of intense '60s nostalgia in the designers. Naturally, that meant the runway saw lots of flared jeans and fringe walk upon it — and one instance of tie dye gone wrong.

While just about every look left the band members looking like retro cult members of one variety or another, Laura Kathleen's misfired attempt to make a cool, colorful vest was arguably the most successful on that front. As Entertainment Weekly recapped, it looked like a "Baker who makes red velvet cupcakes out of blood." Michael Kors suggested the crimson spatter effect of the dye made it look like the band member had "cut himself shaving." Or, you know, like he'd been hanging out with Charles Manson. Meanwhile, Nina Garcia said the jacket seemed like something you could easily scoop up "from a mall."

Still, all accidental mall rats and bloodshed aside, Heidi Klum praised the ensemble for being "unique, worn-in, and stylish." Which is true — what could be more worn-in or unique than wearing a potential crime scene investigation evidence piece?

Amy Sarabi's Bigfoot-esque décolletage

In "Project Runway" Season 7, the contestants were tasked with creating ensembles inspired by the four elements: air, water, earth, and fire. For Amy Sarabi, that translated to creating a pitch black dress of scorched drama with one bemusing centerpiece — a cleavage stuffed thick with blonde hair. It wasn't the most scandalous look of all time, but it did make viewers clutch their chests. "That hair that Amy used on her design was truly horrific," Reality Wanted observed. "It looked like the hair was growing right out of her chest." No lies detected here. In their recap of the episode, Entertainment Weekly called the look "the horror-movie offspring of Cousin It and Pamela Anderson," which is honestly more readable than Sarabi's original concept for the dress. 

Inspired by fire, the designer told the judges that she wanted the dress to riff on the concept of "contained chaos" by illustrating some form of inner combustion. Instead, she made what looks to be a thirsty retelling of Rapunzel, wherein her golden hair has been woven into a plump décolletage for the prince to climb. It's enough to argue that the old witch might've been onto something when she chopped those golden locks off in the original story. 

Unfortunately for her, the chaos wasn't quite as contained as her original idea, and that inner explosion she hoped to depict resulted in an outer follicle blast that left her model looking like Ms. Chewbacca.

Blayne Walsh's oversized maxi pad

If there's one particular challenge guaranteed to highlight the sartorial maniacs among the designers it's the foolproof grocery store challenge. The task pushes contestants to essentially Yassify the scraps of everyday garbage they find in the local store. Basically, the grocery store challenge is to "Project Runway" what marbles are to "Squid Game." Every year, few fare well in said challenge, and Blayne Walsh's bizarre feathered crotch effort of the Season 5 premiere is certainly no different — but it is one of the worst. 

On a construction side, the overall proportions of the outfit and the fit of the thing aren't helping matters. But you barely even notice those issues because of the huge white critter making a home between the model's groin and sternum. The Los Angeles Times described it as looking like "a diaper-romper thing that made absolutely no sense," and Entertainment Weekly astutely recognized the look as having "a huge, white Astroturf maxi-pad" fixed to the front of it — which is appropriate given that the challenge can be something of a bloodsport. 

For whatever reason, Walsh thought it appropriate to finish the look by adding red and green accents to the top and center of the white beast. Maybe he thought those details were chic? But at the right angle they simply serve to make it look vaguely anthropomorphic, like an owl in a bandana and a nice belt who has chosen a human crotch for a perch.

Wendy Pepper's chaotic candy bikini

Blayne Walsh's oversized outer merkin was one of the worst ever outcomes of the grocery store challenge, but Wendy Pepper set the precedent for it with her unparalleled Season 1 disaster. The designer's shocker of a grocery store supplies look happened in the first ever episode of "Project Runway" and thus set the tone for future catastrophes for years to come. 

In Pepper's defense, the flimsy bikini was made using the most useless of materials: rope candy, breath mints, and red and green peppers. The result was a messy two-piece of inexplicable design which looked as though it were going to drop off the model's body with the slightest flinch. It left the model looking like a burlesque performer who'd half finished a balloon-popping performance before falling into a vat of used party supplies. Perhaps the worst part of the outfit? As Entertainment Weekly recalled, she spent a whopping $50 on the materials. Where that money and time went is anyone's guess. But at the very least, the inappropriate outfit has managed to maintain its infamy all these years later.

The look has been on more than one "worst of 'Project Runway'" roundups, including a Vulture list that said it looked like "she'd covered herself in glue and rolled through the expelled contents of a birthday party piñata before rolling right onto the runway." Talk about a swing and a miss.

Carlos Casanova's disrobed dress

If you know "Project Runway," then you'll be aware of guest judge Nina Garcia's proclivity for slapping the "questionable in taste" tag on scantily clad looks. Look up the phrase in the fashion bible and you'll likely find Carlos Casanova's "fascinatingly bad" Season 8 premiere dress, which boasted both boob and butt. 

Constructed from a fellow contestant's blouse, Tim Gunn admitted the resulting effort was impressive, but also expressed unease with how Casanova's flimsy frock was showing a little too much skin. "Is it sexy?" he asked of the look. "Or is it vulgar?" The answer, sadly, seemed to be the latter. As Democracy Diva wrote in their episode recap, Casanova's "terrible idea" appeared to center around making "a dress that no woman could possibly feel comfortable wearing in public." Sideboob might be a little more fashionable now than it was in 2010, but not when it's paired with butt cleavage too. 

Guest judge Selma Blair reasoned that while she "loved how low it was in the back," that she "also loathed it" at the same time. Meanwhile Michael Kors was beside himself with confusion about who this dress was even for. "She's like a mother of the bride who's a belly dancer," he quipped, "I mean, she's sex-a-holic but she's conservative." Amazingly, the "half-dress, half-loincloth" sold for $47 after being auctioned off from the show's official website afterwards, according to Glamour – a price tag which is somehow both a bargain and wildly overpriced.