Project Runway 4, Season Eight

Manolo says, this week gave us yet another admirable challenge, to produce the avant-garde work based upon the wacky hairdo of the model, and then to take this look of avant gardedness and turn it into the ready-to-wear outfit.

This was perhaps the smartest challenge yet presented to the designers, as it allowed them the most freedom to explore their art. And because this sort of detailed and extravagant work takes so much time, the Manolo did not resent the natural decision to divide the designers up into teams, even though such team challenges are patently unfair to whomever is chosen to be the leader. Of course, the designers clearly know it is unfair. Witness the cowardly, passive-aggressive behavior of Victorya and Jillian as they tried to avoid the burdens of leadership.

It was also the burdens of leadership that gave us the biggest revelation of the week, that the character of Rami proved to be so inflexible and pissy (there is no other word for it). Prior to this the Manolo had assumed him to be the fully formed adult, possessed of grace and good humor. Now we know that he is not someone you would wish to work for, as he is given to acting out, even when things are going well.

The second biggest revelation of the week was that Sweet P.’s elegant prom dress of the last week was not the fluke. Her ready-to-wear interpretation of Rami’s wickety-wack-covered, Rami-drapery thingy, was wonderful; so fresh and fun. She is turning out to have far more talent than either her earlier performance, or her loathsome and disfiguring tattoos would indicate.

In the end, the Manolo completely agreed with the decisions of the judges, the thing so rare as to be worthy of comment. But, the Manolo should note that the decisions about who should be rewarded and who should be banished were quite obvious the instant the models strutted down the runway.

Chris and Christian’s piece was stunning, so far over the top and exuberant, and yet it maintained the conceptual feel that the Manolo loved. There seemed to be actual ideas and perhaps theories behind it, which is what makes the true avant-garde.

The pairing of Chris with Christian also pleased the Manolo greatly, as the good example of Chris–of the adult who maintains grace and good humor and kindness even under pressure–tamed Christian and made his conduct tolerable and gave him direction. Allow the Manolo to stipulate that Christian has great talent and could become the important designer, but only if he has the right mentors and influences, as otherwise his evident insecurity and powerful ego would be continually at war.

As for the second place finishers, Victorya and Jillian, they are so annoying and pinched that the Manolo cannot stand to watch them work. Yet, in their favor, this enormous caution sometimes produces clothes that are the opposite of exuberant, clothes that are the model of restraint, and can be handsome in their severity. And so it was not surprising to the Manolo that they came up with the black, post-apocalyptic trenchcoat, as it is clear that these two always believe that disaster, the personal apocalypse, is looming. Indeed, they never stop whining about it.

As for the loser, Kit, the less said about her dress the better. It was junk, and not worthy of comment, except to note that this failure allowed the very mediocre Ricky to survive yet another week.

At the end, the Manolo was happy to see Rami punished for his bad behavior (and for the dumb decision to put pants under that dress…so last year). The personal inflexibility he demonstrated in his relationship to Sweet P. explains much about him as the designer. He does what he does, the drapery thing, and that is all, and he is not about to change now to suit others.

In all, this was the marvelous and satisfying episode, one of the best of this season.