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.

26 Responses to “Project Runway 4, Season Eight”

  1. Miss Janey January 17, 2008 at 2:56 pm #

    As the Manolo has pointed out on numerous occasions, it is often the not-gifted-in-the-looks-department who are the most gifted at creating beautiful designs. To wit… skeezy-haired Christian and self-mutilated Sweet P…

  2. Manolo the Shoeblogger January 17, 2008 at 3:00 pm #

    Yes, the ability to appreciate beauty is often present in inverse proportion to personal beauty. Hence the Manolo, who loves beauty intensely, but is objectively not at all handsome.

  3. valawhoo January 17, 2008 at 3:02 pm #

    Loved loved loved!!! Chris and Christian’s work. The avant-garde piece is amazing – I just want to touch it. It has that sort of visual/tactile appeal that a great dress should have – something you just want to run your hands over and admire from every angle. (Insert obvious joke here.) It’s just a good thing I didn’t see this before my wedding, or I would have taken a picture of their piece to my cake designer and announced that, no matter how difficult, I want my cake to look like THIS! (I would never have attempted to wear a dress like that, though – I know my limitations.)

    The other amazing part was that I want to buy their ready-to-wear piece. It was actually… ready-to-wear. And nicely accessorized.

    I wonder if the designers have given any thought to how the colors they use show up (or don’t) on television. The muted colors that Rami, Sweet P, Chris, and Christian all used – I’m sure they’re gorgeous in person, but on my (completely non-HD and older than dirt) TV, they come off as washed out.

  4. JK January 17, 2008 at 3:17 pm #

    Chris and Christian made an amazing team. I thought of them when Kors remarked that the best design teams are often comprised of very different indivduals. A big difference, I think, is that for all his outward cockiness Christian had respect for Chris. Rami clearly had none for Sweet P and she knew it.

  5. Natalie January 17, 2008 at 3:25 pm #

    Finally a good episode this season (and the least “commercial”- oh wait, there was that whole TreSemme thing, whatever). Yes, we will have to watch Ricky’s design come down the Runway at least one more time.

    What was ironic about Rami’s behaviour was that if had let a little more input from Sweet P, they (perhaps) could have stayed out of the bottom two. But then again, PR is very much about avoiding disaster and playing it safe when your design is not stellar.

  6. Joan H. January 17, 2008 at 3:40 pm #

    I loved this episode. Rami should be kissing up to Sweet P, it was her delightful ready-to-wear that saved them both. Well, that and Kit’s monstrosity was so obviously bad.

    I keep waiting for Jillian and Victorya to send an unfinished garment down the runway. Obviously trade-offs must be made between quality of workmanship and time to complete, but both those girls have serious production issues.

    I was so happy for Chris and Christian. They really did make an excellent team, and their avant garde piece was absolutely delicious, even if the RTW was yet-another-Christian-pleated-front, otherwise boring, ensemble.

  7. Melissa B. January 17, 2008 at 3:48 pm #

    Spot-on analysis, Manolo!

    Rami’s awesome candy dress convinced me that he is a very talented designer, but for the rest of the challenges his designs have been alarmingly similar. He’s playing it almost aggressively safe. One more draped gown, Rami, and I’m going to stop caring whether or not you’re auf’d.

  8. wannabe January 17, 2008 at 4:06 pm #

    Trenchant observation vis a vis Chris and Christian, good Manolo. The presence of an adult seems calming and that was the most stupendous garment ever seen on PR. Someone alluded to its texture, I think of it as looking sculptural — as if Miro and Giocometti got tumbled together. Just gorgeous. Kit’s dress was awful, but at least, unlike Ricky, she had an idea. Rami is a princess. Obviously.

  9. STees January 17, 2008 at 4:55 pm #

    OMG! Big Chris and Little Chris were such a cool combination. At first I didn’t think it would work out but there was some real cosmic synergy going on there. Kudos to the boys!

    Snorg

  10. shuzluva January 17, 2008 at 5:14 pm #

    Melissa B. said:

    Rami’s awesome candy dress convinced me that he is a very talented designer, but for the rest of the challenges his designs have been alarmingly similar.

    You hit the nail on the head there, girl! I was also so distracted by Rami’s childish behavior (he reminded me of my 3 year old twins when they start fighting over the Barbies and their dresses) that I was sure he was going down like the Titanic. His dress was disappointing. Sweet P’s was shockingly fabulous! I loved it and would love to wear it!

    Chris and Christian were a dynamic duo. They worked well together, and while they clearly have different personalities and points of view, the avant garde piece they created was truly stunning and a very collaborative work. It was nice to see Chris’ humor reign in Christian’s hubris. A well deserved win for Christian.

    From the beginning, as the Manolo noted, I thought Jillian and Victorya were going to sink as well, but I was pleasantly surprised by what they managed to pull together. Okay, I hated the pants, but the coat and shirt were superb, and I loved the combination of black with a touch of shocking fuchsia. It very much reminded me of Vivienne Westwood.

    Manolo, you are right (as usual); Ricky is very mediocre. The hubby and I were sure two would be booted this week because both his and Kit’s work were vastly inferior to the others. We look forward to next week, where it looks like Jillian will be having another seizure at the sewing machine!

  11. Periwinkle Susan January 17, 2008 at 7:40 pm #

    I love the Drama, Will Ricky ever stop crying? I hope not he is insecure,but has the talent hidden. It will come out. Sweet Pea, a very surprising Wed Night, happy for her, we all have issues. When I first starting watching PJ, Queen Laura was on. She is not human. But we have all moved on . With Big Hugs, Periwinkle Susan from Vermont

  12. debutaunt January 17, 2008 at 8:19 pm #

    Rami’s work reminds me quite of bit of Uli. She used to produce the same dress over and over. Sadly though, Rami has none of Uli’s class and sweet charm.

    Loved Chris/Chris’ dress. I love Chris’ portfolio. That’s what true fashion is; creative and over the top. Warmest regards Manolo.

  13. Nancy (nanflan) January 17, 2008 at 8:38 pm #

    Chris/Christian were channeling John Galliano this week (and that’s not criticism). The avant-garde dress would have been right at home in Dior’s spring 2007 haute couture show. Loved it.

    The girls drive me nuts too, but I loved their Matrix-enspired ensemble.

  14. Eight January 17, 2008 at 9:23 pm #

    Victorya and Jillian had the coin toss because they each wanted lead, not because they were trying to avoid leadership. Their chat after the flip (and Tim’s Take) makes that pretty clear.

  15. Manolo the Shoeblogger January 17, 2008 at 9:26 pm #

    Victorya and Jillian had the coin toss because they each wanted lead, not because they were trying to avoid leadership.

    If this is the case, then the Manolo apologizes, for he has misinterpreted what appeared to him to be the attempt to avoid responsibility.

  16. Jennie January 17, 2008 at 10:11 pm #

    Both Victorya and Jillian need to do yoga or chant or something to take away the hard inflexible edge. Could something beyond fabulous come out if they were not so constipated???? The two Chris’s complimented each other and pulled the best from each other. Big Chris needs taming. Little Chris need humbling. The combo was dynamic….

  17. Daniela January 17, 2008 at 10:32 pm #

    I still cannot stand Victorya.

    That said, did no one notice Rami’s response to the prom dress judging? I also thought he was talented and as the Manolo so perfectly stated, “the fully-formed adult” until last week. When the judges said that the student looked like a 35 year old going to dinner, not a student going to the prom, he stated, “Well, that IS my clientele.” Unfortunately, no matter whom his clientele actually happens to be, he’s going to design for the 35 year old woman going out to dinner. This proved that he’s going to keep draping and pleating until he gets auf’ed for pleating and draping. Heidi said it herself, “It’s so boooring.” Rami now bores me; he needs to go. Is it me, or do his dress designs now remind anyone of what you’d see on a cruise ship at dinner?

    I love, love LOVE Christian’s RTW version of the avant garde dress. Actually, I love the avant garde dress as well. I also loved Sweet P’s frock. I did like the top half of Kit’s Little House on the Prairie-Dog dress, the skirt was a travesty. I do like the trenchcoat that was sent down the runway, but the jodphurs were predictable, and a mess to boot.

  18. gemdiva January 17, 2008 at 10:38 pm #

    What more is there to say? Loved the Chris Chris Show! Incredible dress! Kit & Ricky should both have been gone. Thumbs down for Rami. It’s OK to maintain your “personal vision” as long as it is one that doesn’t bore people to tears. I am wondering, however if all that pumped up drama was strictly manufactured & staged for the cameras. I am really surprised by Sweet P. Not only is she showing real talent, but she has toned down the wide eyed, innocent naivete routine and is becoming more likeable with every episode.

  19. Lorraine January 17, 2008 at 10:55 pm #

    I can’t dismiss Kit so quickly. One not-great look and she’s banished while Ricky the Blubber Puss has given us nothing but le crap for weeks and is still standing? No. Something is very wrong. Or rather, Ricky has photos. Or something.

    Love love loved Chris/Xtian’s work and for the first time all season did not have itching palms whenever Christian was on camera. He has the chops and as you say, with the proper mentors could be, in fact, as fierce as he keeps telling us he is.

  20. LushLips January 17, 2008 at 11:55 pm #

    I for one am giving Rami a break, I don’t think he’s difficult, I think he was truly frustrated over the way Sweet Pea was constructing those pants, he’s a very organized and time-oriented designer (also a perfectionist). I would be huffy too if Sweet Pea differed to me to be the team leader (meaning its my ass not hers if this bombs) and then proceeded to annoy me w/ a less than stellar job on part of the advant garde outfit. She can whip up a cute dress, but tailoring pants is not her thing. She’s a so-so talent who was paired w/ a designer who already has a thriving career, IMO it was a mismatch. In regards to Rami’s advant garde dress, I think he’s so used to editing and making clothes very wearable, that it threw him to create an over the top piece.

  21. Ali January 18, 2008 at 10:36 am #

    If Rami does one more drapey thing, I’d be happy if he went before Ricky. His “avant guarde” was not over the top. It was boring. And he was on Sweet P’s ass even as she was making that gorgeous ready to wear, the best ready to wear of the evening IMO. And he did not say one positive thing to her, as far as we can tell, even about her ready to wear. He also was very resistant to any of Sweet P’s input in regard to how to save that drapey thing from utter runway boredom.

    I also have been pleasantly surprised by Sweet P on the past to weeks, and I agree with comments above that Rami’s behavior and lack of self-reflection last week was also utterly annoying.

  22. TexasSnow January 18, 2008 at 12:16 pm #

    Another fantastic Chrissy-Chris moment was that, after Tim Gunn dissed their ready to wear piece, they agreed to ditch the puffy sleeves on the pleated blouse. A great example of “Make It Work”.

  23. angelhair January 18, 2008 at 12:50 pm #

    Ah Manolo, I see that others have already corrected your misperception of the Jillian/Victorya coin toss. They both wanted to be team leader – neither wanted to relinquish control -and they flipped a coin to decide who got the nod. As well, Victorya had immunity so she was in no danger of going home. I thought their work was amazing. I would have been happy to have it win especially since I think their RTW look was much better than C & C’s but the Gallianoesque confection C & C produced was breathtaking so it probably deserved the win – but just by a bit.

    Kit’s concept could have been really interesting and avant garde but she produced something that was downright embarrassing. She was the right choice to go. Her work never quite reflected her personal style and was always pretty middle-of-the-pack so I won’t miss her. Ricky and Sweet P should have already gone.

  24. roz January 18, 2008 at 7:26 pm #

    San Fransciso says “GO CHRIS!!!”

    Love him.

  25. khazar January 19, 2008 at 3:40 pm #

    The Chris Duo was a fantastic collaborative effort. I wasn’t as fond of the RTW but that AG dress was spectacular. See, kiddies, THIS is why you want to work with costume designers–we know how to make those kinds of thing work!

    Too bad they aren’t both immune for the next challenge.

    Sweet P has really grown on me. Her prom dress was gorgeous & her RTW was lucious.

    Rami is on a downhill trajectory. He has none of the creativity of a Santino or the class of a Laura. I don’t recall Laura abusing her teammates in the manner which Rami humiliated & attacked Sweet P.

    VictorYa & Ricky must both have photos of Kors doing something inappropriate to a tanning bed.

    Jillian is OK, but Kit’s dress…that would earn a nice fat F in a 7th grade Home Ec class.

  26. maria January 23, 2008 at 7:14 pm #

    The person behind the design has so much influence on me, you have no idea! I made myself a promise..if I will ever have money I will have something done by Sweet P! She is such a darling!!
    And I’m glad Christian is not the b…he used to be anymore.I hate drama queens .
    For me Victorya’s design was the winner..cause it was modern and had a certain degree of wearability to it. The girl has it!!