After all the drama of last week’s “Project Runway,” when local designer Anthony Ryan Auld just barely escaped elimination, it looks like the contestants might get to have a little fun in Thursday’s show.

That’s not to say there won’t be a meltdown or two. After all, it is “Project Runway,” and we wouldn’t keep watching if there wasn’t.

For this week’s challenge, the designers visit with students at The Harlem School of the Arts.

“This was a very exciting challenge,” said Auld, 28. “I love kids. I have nieces and nephews. And I’ve painted and drawn since I was a kid. Anything with art, I love.”

Are the designers teamed up with the students or inspired by their art?

As usual, no one is saying.

Auld did confirm that this week’s is an “avant garde challenge,” which certainly should allow the designers more leeway in creating their visions.

But the previews seem to suggest there could be a scandal when mentor Tim Gunn declares a rules violation, and the announcer lets us know that “one designer will crash and burn.”

Can your nails take any more chewing after last week’s angst-filled finale?

Auld was in the bottom two with contestant Danielle Everine after the challenge of creating an outfit to go with a new line of sneakers judge Heidi Klum has produced with New Balance.

And Klum made it clear that had it been up to her alone, Baton Rouge’s hometown guy would have been sent packing.

Even the LSU alum admitted his baggy shorts and top were a “hot mess.”

Fortunately, judge Nina Garcia, who has been the most critical of Auld in past challenges, came to his defense.

“He’s got more promise as a designer,” argued Garcia.

But as Auld and Everine stood on the runway, the announcement of who would be auffed seemed to take forever.

“I was very scared,” said Auld of the long wait. “I had so many emotions running through me. I was dog tired and I was sick.”

After learning he was safe, Auld broke down in tears.

The tense elimination came at the conclusion of one of the show’s most contentious episodes ever.

First contestant Cecelia Motwani quit the competition.

“I was kind of flabbergasted,” said Auld, noting that thousands of people had tried out for the show. “For me, quitting is never an option.”

Then the designers had to race around a track, with the top four finishers designated as team leaders. Auld, a cross-country runner in high school, came in third.

And that’s where the trouble started. None of the other team leaders chose Bert Keeter, who, at 57, is the oldest designer in the competition, and, in past weeks, has proven to be the most difficult to work with. Keeter ended up on Auld’s team, along with Laura Kathleen, with whom Auld had won an earlier challenge.

In creating their three-piece collection, the team never seemed to agree.

When Klum and Gunn told the trio that their initial looks were too dressy, “we essentially regrouped,” Auld said. “We wanted to make the looks more like they go with tennis shoes. But Bert wouldn’t compromise. That just completely threw Laura and I. … In the end, I did a crappy design, and you have to own what you make.”

Auld said Keeter, who at one point said he couldn’t be bothered to learn the other contestants’ names, later apologized for his behavior.

“I don’t have any hard feelings,” Auld said.

The winners of last week‘s challenge -— Viktor Luna and Joshua McKinley — will have their designs produced for Klum’s New Balance line and sold on

And the competition goes on.

The winner of “Project Runway” will get $100,000 from L’Oreal Paris to start his or her own line, a fashion spread in Marie Claire magazine, a $50,000 technology suite by HP and Intel, and the opportunity to design and sell an exclusive collection on

Fans can visit Auld’s hashtag — #PR9anthonyryan — to tweet their support. The winner, as chosen by the fans, will get a $10,000 prize. You can log into Twitter within the “Project Runway” Season 9 site at and tweet from each designers’ page.