Project Runway 4, Episode Five

By Manolo the Shoeblogger

Manolo says, finally, with this episode, the old make-it-work spirit of Project Runway has returned, and the value is again placed on creativity and not the commercial prospects of the outfits.

This challenge, to take the big lady clothes from the former big ladies and make them into something new and beautiful, was ingenious, especially as it forced the designers out of their comfort zones, and into the world of real peoples.

From the beginning it was good. Witness the moment when the models were paired with the designers. As the choices were made, some of the designers (Elisa in particular) seemed truly happy to meet the model, while others (Jillian, Christian, Victorya) could only manage the most forced of smiles. Such marvelous suffering on the faces of such shallow peoples!

And then it was good bye to the Jack. Yes, the Manolo often found you annoying, but he was still sorry to see you leave in this manner, and he wishes you well. You should be given the chance to come back in the next season, Daniel Franco style.

After that, it was hello again to the Chris, even though it is now clear that your talent cannot overcome your innate desire to make the world your burlesque stage. Forget the Irma La Douce sash. What about the red kick pleat at the back of that skirt? You might as well have installed the feathery bird’s tail back there.

Happily, the loser was not our beloved (but inept) Chris. That honor was reserved for Steve, who produced the steaming pile of drab. The Manolo has nothing else to say but that this was the fully deserved expulsion. (By the way, there must be the entire story behind that woman’s decision to wear her old wedding dress out onto the stage. This story, the Manolo does not wish to hear.)

Speaking of just desserts, Jillian should not have been allowed to make it into the top three. She broke the rules. But, wonderful are her powers of self-justification, and her dress was good, even if it contained virtually none of the original outfit.

As for the winner, Christian, all the Manolo can say is “fierce this, motherfiercer” (insert rude hand gesture here). Your outfit was not all that, honey.

Worse, Christian is so terribly annoying, and his “talent” is nothing special. Yes, he can sew very fast, but then so could the Manolo’s aged granny, and dozens of other old women whom the Manolo knew back in the day. And when they were done sewing, these old ladies would get up and fix you the nice chicken dinner. All Christian is going to do is sit there, stroking his lop-sided noggin, while tossing off witless witticisms in that whining voice of his.

Advantage Grannies!

And yet, it was during the judging of Christian’s outfit that the single best moment of the evening arrived, when Michel Kors paid Christian the highest compliment in his entire arsenal by ecstatically shouting “But it’s Super Commercial.”

“But it’s super commercial!”

“Huzzah! Hip Hip Hooray! Bottle that and we shall sell it to the masses from the back of medicine wagons!”

“But it’s super commercial!”

“Praise the lord and pass the cash register!”

“But it’s super commercial!”

“Art be damned! Give us more Gap!”

“But it’s super commercial!”

Did you know that this is actually the motto on the Micheal Kors coat of arms, etched in gold right above the polecat rampant on the field of Indian head pennies?


33 Responses to “Project Runway 4, Episode Five”

  1. JK Says:

    What amazed me was how could Steve not see how “french maid at a funeral” his design was? And he openly scoffed at the wedding dress in front of the woman who prized it–very rude. I would have loved to see what Chris would have done with that dress.

  2. Manolo the Shoeblogger Says:

    Yes, Steve was unpleasant and showed little imagination. The Manolo was terribly disappointed in this.

  3. Melissa Says:

    My own granny, age 87, would have rejected Steve’s outfit as “too old lady.” And I agree that it was mean to sneer at the “polyester satin” in front of his client. My guess is that she chose her wedding dress as her favorite outfit because it was the garment that made her feel the most beautiful at her old size. That’s nothing to be scoffed at.

    I thought Kevin or Ricky should have won the challenge. (Yes, Ricky. Yes, I know. But his outfit was well-fitted and appealing on his model. He should have been in the top 3 instead of Jillian.) I liked what Christian did, but it looked exactly like what he’s done for every other challenge except the menswear one. How many structured, puffy-sleeved jackets are we going to see out of this boy?

  4. aquafemme Says:

    Well it was indeed rude of him to read her over that awful wedding dress. But he spoke the truth folks – that dress was K-mart-tastic. It had 1986 PWT all over it.

  5. All Natural Diva Says:

    Why oh why was Jillian allowed in the top three? When they called her over, I thought maybe she’d be in the bottom for her obvious defiance of the rules of the challenge.

    My first glance at Steve’s creation made me wonder whether he obtained his inspiration from a Convent. Even the nuns of today have found this look to be outdated and are favoring “street clothes”.

  6. Despina Says:

    I disagree that the task of making something lovely out of the wedding dress, however hideous, was “impossible.” Even after Stephen had purchased that horrid black stretch knit, he could have made a simple sheath with a bolero jacket, a full-skirted party frock–anything but that gawd-awful contraption that made his cute little model look 50 years old!

    And yes, it was a crime that Jillian wound up in the top 3 even though she tossed 98% of her given materials. That was part of the challenge, people. We’ve already had the “buy cheapass fabric and sew the hell out of it” challenge in Episode 2.

    On the plus side, the Tim’s Take blog is back! Bravo, Bravo!

  7. wannabe Says:

    The Manolo calls it perfectly. Chris March just needs an editor he may not have within him. Minus the red splashes where they were, that was a perfectly fine outfit. Steven was never the most imaginative of the designers, looking back at his work. Decent tailoring, but nothing really creative, so he was the most flummoxed by yards of fabric. (And we all agree that his rudeness to complain about it so in front of a woman who obviously loved that dress was beyond deplorable). On the other hand, he may have thought that since Vincent won an everyday woman challenge with a version of that same dress, he’d be in the clear using black.

    Jillian shouldn’t have been in the top 3, but Rami should have been. Ricky did well, but the look was very “Forever 21” and not terribly fresh. For once, Michael Kors showed really what he knows about fashion though (in a good way) by pointing out to Elisa that her client’s body was chopped up by the layers and it made her look dumpy. Though no one will ever accuse La Kors of making fashion-forward looks, his success is due to his ability to dress a lot of people reasonably tastefully. He does, truly, understand how basic shapes and cuts affect a variety of women, and for the first, and perhaps last, time, I need to give him his props as a judge.

  8. Laura V Says:

    I agree with Despina. My position is that 98% of Steve’s difficulty was entirely of his own making.

    I am no designer, and granted I was under no time or competitive pressure, but upon hearing the challenge and seeing the dress, my reaction was “Oh, make a nice camisole or shell for layering out of the dress, and then a nice jersey skirt or something with the $10 of fabric.” I just kept assuming that of course that was what he was going to do, despite all his whining, because — well, what do you see in daily life that has that kind of fabric and trim? Camis and shells under suits or layered under sweaters and so on. (And nighties, though I suppose technically a nightie is not daily wear.)

    Steve shot his own self in the foot. Yes, a wedding dress is a bit harder to wrangle than, say, the green velvet evening dress — but not nearly as much harder as Steve was making it out to be.

  9. daisyj. Says:

    I liked Stephen, but I was very disappointed in him this episode. Not just because he produced the drab and pointless sack dress, but that he refused to apply any ingenuity to his (admittedly substandard) materials. In previous seasons the designers have been able to create lovely things out of produce and peanut sacks and coffee filters, and he couldn’t manage to find a way to use polyester? Weak.

    As for Christian, he turned a black shirt and jeans into. . . drum roll. . . a black shirt and jeans. For this he gets immunity?

    And about Chris’s look, I just have to ask, is “Paris hooker in the fifties” really such a horrible thing? I mean, it isn’t good, but it isn’t exactly “Detroit hooker in the eighties”.

  10. Kim Says:

    This is why the Manolo is the genius. You are so funny and brilliant.

  11. enc Says:

    This recap is so great I don’t even need to see the show!

  12. gemdiva Says:

    I will not weep over the loss of Stephen. It might not have been super suptious fabric, but from the lining to the lace trim there was miles of fabric and any number of directions he could have gone in so buh bye. On another note, the “I’m just an innocent bystander and butter wouldn’t melt in my mouth” routine that Sweet Pea has decided to go with is getting to be like nails on a blackboard. She is so phoney that she’s making regular phonies look sincere. Umm….. does that last sentence make sense?

  13. Sarah Says:

    I am with the Manolo here; Christian’s outfit was ugly, and the only thing that made it work was his model/client’s body shape. Christian should not have won that challenge. He ego compensates for his lack of true creativity. I would have given it to Kevin, who designed an outfit that was original (meaning nothing like what he was given to work with) and looked awesome on his model. She completely rocked that look. This is the second time we’ve seen Kevin come out with something that was snappy, with a clear perspective (Tiki’s outfit being the first) and have him get passed over for something that wasn’t nearly as good. I also agree about Jillian; the dress was nice, but the color was not something to wear all over and the tailoring looked bad, and she shouldn’t have gotten away with not using the fabric; She and Steven should both have been at the bottom there.

    I am going to miss Steven, if only because he was SO GOOD at coming up with great one-liners delivered in a delightfully droll manner. But his dress was terrible. There was a lot he could have done with the (admittedly cheap) satin that would have been creative and beautiful, and even in keeping with his idea of using it as cuffs and collar. And she wouldn’t have looked anything like a French maid.

    I’m glad Jack was wise enough to take care of his health, and I’m glad Chris is back!

  14. Imelda Says:

    NOOOOOO, this is the fucking second time in a row that I’ve hit your PR spoiler. Fuck it, I need to remember that Friday mornings a recap on PR!!!!

    Damn lazy Australian programers haven’t even given this season a time slot. But thanks anyway….

  15. desertwind Says:

    I question the imagination level this season.

  16. Jillian Says:

    I was so glad to see Chris back, but so sad to share my name with Jillian–is it just me or was the cut of her dress really, really wrong for her model?
    Christian continues to remind me of a character Andy Dick would come up with, and, leggings or no, I also think the winner should have been Kevin!

  17. daisyj. Says:

    I really think that if Kevin had substituted a pencil skirt for those leggings, he would have been a shoo-in for the win. Should have been, anyway.

  18. Style Bite Says:

    I was pretty bummed I missed it, thanks for the thorough recap!

  19. Eilish Says:

    Every time I see Christian, I just want to take a weed wacker to his hair. It would have to be an improvement no matter what happened.

    Kevin should have won.
    daisyj–well called on the pencil skirt! I would buy that outfit.

  20. bittybis Says:

    Evidently, Steven was not paying attention last season when Laura got reamed for making a black dress with white at the collar and cuffs. His snobbery was his downfall.

  21. Rebekah Says:

    Laura Bennett would have grabbed that wedding dress and thrashed it into a chic cocktail dress in an instant. It would have been all over lace and pearls, had a plunging neckline, and she would have bought $75 worth of rhinestones and fringe to sew to the hem. It would have been awesome.

    It seems to me that Steven was thrown by the “everyday” aspect. Every woman needs the “everyday” go-to cocktail dress. What was the big deal?

  22. Joan H. Says:

    I would’ve loved to have seen a kicky A-line swing dress with a barely embellished hem, and a matching gorgeous wrap with just a bit of beading on the ends. Heck, there was enough fabric there, he could’ve made a suit: pencil skirt, cute short jacket with embellished plackets, lace cami underneath. There’s a million things Steven could’ve done with that dress, but he was too stuck and, more crucially, too slow. I think he was hampered by what he thought he could finish. Finishing has always been an issue for him, and I think that’s what really got in the way of his design. It had to be simple so he could actually make it… instead it was simple and he still couldn’t finish! What a disappointment. He really deserved to go. (How sweet was it that the others were helping him? I loved that.)

    I’ll speak up for Chris: I loved the top, and I thought the skirt was OK, too. I didn’t like the red accents at all, but if they were black (or was that skirt navy?) they probably would’ve been adorable. Just the red was too contrasty for me.

    Christian: meh. Kors & co keep saying he’s young and fresh, but all I’m seeing is 80s retreads. I didn’t like them then and I don’t like them now; very few people can wear that style and look good in it. Yes, Christian has fabulous tailoring skills and he’s fast, which serves him well in these challenges, but when is he going to make something that doesn’t look like it escaped from Desperately Seeking Susan?

    Kevin (yellow bustier, right?) was robbed. I loved Romi’s look, too. And Jillian should have been in the bottom 3 for disregarding the rules so completely.

  23. Kareika Says:

    Did no one else see “Pilgrim” instead of “French Maid” in Steven outfit?
    Perhaps French Maid-Pilgrim?

    She can clean and cook a turkey…

  24. deborah Says:

    What does it say when the gut-busting and spot-on recaps of The Manolo and Jay McCarroll far surpass the quality of season 4’s episodes so far?

  25. Kristina Says:

    Not only is Christian a feral misguided elf,his talent is limited to THAT STUPID JACKET!!!!! But in true PR style if he remains annoying he’ll be in the final three.

  26. chasgoose Says:

    While Christian was kind of stank towards his assigned model, she was kind of a bitchface too with all her demands about how she only wears black and jeans.

  27. DavidDust Says:

    Nice summary of the action and drama!

    Click here for DavidDust’s Project Runway recap.

  28. Thu Says:

    I found Christian’s outfit very blah, and if he does these tall, rectangular poofy shoulders again, I shall kick the fierce-ness out of him. Kevin deserved to win, wholeheartedly. He worked wonders with that blazer.

  29. Thu Says:

    Also, Steven’s outfit was a little Amish/kindergarten Pilgrim.

  30. MercyX Says:

    Eh, so much love for Kevin, so much vitriol for Christian. Allow me to play devil’s advocate: Kevin’s design was not age appropriate for his model, nor for her cleavage if I may make so bold. His look was also not suitable for everyday wear, which was the thrust of the challenge. (In Tim’s words, “Everyday? I don’t think so.”) Say what you will about Christian and his jacket, but he did work within the very strict limitations set by his client and he did so with panache and without complaint. And he met the obligations of the challenge! For heaven’s sake, given the number of designers who seem to stumble over following simple directions, maybe he should win a medal for it. Also, he didn’t use leggings. ‘Nuff said.

  31. Grace Says:

    I agree with the assessments that Jillian should have been penalized for failure to use the original garment. During last season’s black-and-white challenge, Kayne was booted in large part because he only used black fabric. I did agree that Stephen should go: boring garment, poor execution, and no imagination in using the original material of the dress.

    Assuming his health permits, I wonder if Jack may get a chance to return. Last season, every booted designer who had previously won a challenge was allowed to return and compete for a chance to make the finals. We haven’t had any hints about extra benefits to “winning”, but I think the producers will keep this as an option, particularly if they don’t like the way the finals are shaping up.

  32. Deb Says:

    The thing that bugged me most about this challenge is that the designers were to come up with a new “everyday” type of outfit. Most of the designers were given everyday clothes to work with. Granted Steve has the creativity of a lemur but I think part of his problem was that he was given miles of polyester satin farbic to turn into an “everyday” outfit. Who wears polyester satin during the day except brides? Even a cute skirt or a bolero jacket is going to look like it came from a wedding dress. And the poor woman would have looked awful in a white shell even if he had the time or the budget to do a skirt and jacket combo. The same goes for the velvet evening dress for Victoria’s model but at least you can do a bit more with green velvet.

  33. Emily Says:

    You’re right MercyX. His outfit wasn’t “age appropriate.” It made her look ten years younger at least. That outfit was great and if I had anything close to the figure for it, I would have already attempted one myself.

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