Project Runway 4, Episode Nine

Manolo says, after studiously avoiding the internets and the television, the Manolo was finally able to see the latest episode of the Project Runway without having heard any results. And now the Manolo can give you his impressions of this moderately amusing episode.

In short, this was yet another good challenge, to take the sack full of Levi’s jeans and jackets and turn them into the “iconic denim look”. Although, what is meant here by the word “iconic” the Manolo does not fully understand.

The truly iconic item appears only rarely, when design and culture achieve perfect symbiosis, and so to ask the designers to produce the iconic item is to ask them to compose the musical masterpiece of enduring importance and popularity. One might be able to maybe, possibly do this, but only if all of the stars are in perfect alignment.

And so it is with the clothing. Clothing designers produce hundreds and thousands of different designs each year, of which none ever become “iconic”. Indeed, if one is very lucky, one might produce one such item over the course of the entire lifetime of design.

Perhaps what was meant was “iconish”, meaning that the final piece was to be vaguely reminiscent of the truly iconic Levi’s 501s.

But, whatever. The Manolo quibbles, as the obvious intention was to produce the piece that could be creditably sold by the Levis Company, something much more achievable than “iconic”.

And so, after being given their instructions, the designers were off and lumbering across the dirty warehouse floor, grabbing up the denim and preparing for the challenge of making this blue-jeansy item.

In the end, the winner was…Ricky???

The Manolo was stunned, as the basic tube dress Ricky produced was blah, blah, blah. Yes it was well fitted, but it was also much less innovative and attractive than either Rami’s sophisticated and flippy little dress, or Christian’s jacket and masterful super-skinny pants.

And while it was mildly amusing to see Ricky get all verklempt on the runway (who could have predicted he would become weepy! He seems so stoical), this small pleasure could not justify selecting this item as the winner.

As the Manolo said, much better were Rami’s little dress, which was complicated and fun, and Christian’s jacket and jeans, which the Manolo liked, although clearly this was something Christian would wear himself.

Every week it is the same, the Manolo finds Christian terribly immature and annoying, indeed slap worthy, but every week, his talent shines through. He is truly gifted as the designer, even if he is the ignorant and deplorable little pipsqueak.

So, to recapitulate, Christian probably should have won, but he’s still the tiny-little, assymetical-headed, nattering jackass.

Speaking of people who annoy the Manolo, Jillian continues to put the Manolo’s teeth on edge, what with her incessant whining and kvetching. On the plus side, this week’s second-from-the-bottom finish will have crushed whatever internal resources and self-confidence she has remaining, meaning she will undoubtedly be unable to function in the coming weeks, thus leading to her quick ejection.

One annoying person who will no longer bother the Manolo is Victorya, who was deservedly sent away this week for her boring and derivative trenchcoat thingy. Good bye, icy queen of tense manipulation and moderate talent.

And now the Manolo has the few words for chubby, sweet, gentle, funny Chris: The first rule of Project Runway is, when Tim Gunn gives you advice you must take it.

Look at Sweet P. She knows that when the Fairy Godfather Tim waves his wand, you must accept his gift, or face the consequences.

That hippy-dippy denim wedding dress she was making was awful; the Manolo could smell the patchouli through his television set. But, with the few choice words, the careful frown, and his signature chin-on-hand, elbow-in-other-hand, look-of-contemplative-disapproval, Tim conveys his doubts. Sweet P listens. Et voila! Sweet P prospers!

21 Responses to “Project Runway 4, Episode Nine”

  1. JK January 26, 2008 at 6:53 pm #

    “As the Manolo said, much better were Rami’s little dress, which was complicated and fun, and Christian’s jacket and jeans, which the Manolo liked, although clearly this was something Christian would wear himself.”

    AHAHAHA that is so true! I wish they had informed the designers that the look was supposed to be commercial, Ricky’s dress was probably picked over Rami’s because the zipper design wouldn’t translate as well into sales.

  2. khazar January 26, 2008 at 7:04 pm #

    I loved Sweet P’s dress. I didn’t think Chris’ was that bad, just a touch off.

    But Jillian and Victorya? Ghastly, just ghastly.

    Ricky had the hoochie momma demographic all sewn up, as it were. I understand Levi put the limited edition of his dress on their site, and it sold out in a matter of hours.

    I suspect Sweet P’s would’ve sold out in minutes.

  3. Jennie January 26, 2008 at 7:17 pm #

    I agree that Rami & Christeena’s were better but could you see Levi’s making either? They went for the easiest and most commercial. Forget design, let’s talk marketing (she said cynically)………..

  4. Joan H. January 26, 2008 at 8:28 pm #

    Christian makes the same thing every week! Yes, he makes it very well, but really, how different is this from the slimmed-down outfit he made? Also, am I the only one who thought it made his model look like a plank? I appreciate the gorgeous workmanship, but I do find it to be a flattering look at all. Very, very few people could wear it, which IMO disqualifies it from “icon” (or even “iconish”) status.

    ITA on listening to Tim, it’s key.

  5. Joan H. January 26, 2008 at 8:29 pm #

    Sorry, that should be ” I do not find it to be a flattering look at all.”

  6. Lilithcat January 26, 2008 at 10:13 pm #

    Christian? Look at that picture of his outfit. I can’t decide if he’s made the model look pregnant, or merely pot-bellied. Either way, it’s not flattering at all, and not a winner.

  7. K January 27, 2008 at 10:28 am #

    I agree that Rami’s dress was cute, but it was by no means original. The distinguishing feature of that dress was the zipper detail, over which the judges predictably fawned. But what surprised me was that neither the judges nor Tim seemed to notice that the zipper detail was obviously derivative of Jeffrey’s winning collection from last season.

  8. g-dog January 27, 2008 at 11:33 am #

    My problem with rami’s dress was that the design of the top was incongruent with the skirt – she looked like a post-apocolyptic cheerleader!

  9. gordon shumway January 27, 2008 at 11:39 am #

    I agree that Ricky’s win had a lot to do with the simplicity and reproducibility of his design, but mostly it was due to his use of the button fly as a closure on the bodice. You could slap that thing on pretty much any denim dress or top and it would still immediately say “Levi’s 501,” so in that respect Ricky nailed the “iconic” aspect in a way no one else did. It wasn’t so much that he created an iconic garment, but that he isolated and repurposed an element of the jean that symbolizes the weight and history of the 501 brand.

    I wouldn’t be too surprised if Levi’s appropriates that idea for use on their own clothes in the future, which is kind of what they did by selecting that design as contest winner, I guess.

  10. Susan January 27, 2008 at 12:03 pm #

    “So, to recapitulate, Christian probably should have won, but he’s still the tiny-little, assymetical-headed, nattering jackass.”

    Truer words were never spoken.

  11. Melissa January 27, 2008 at 3:12 pm #

    Sadly, Christian reminds me of my annoying 16 year old sister, and worse, he dresses like her. He designs the outfits she yearns to wear. But he IS good at it, even if he is too smug in knowing how great he is.

    I like Sweet P more and more. When we first met her, I thought she was going to be this over-the-top biker chick designer, when in fact, she designs clothes I want to buy!

    And please. We get the fact that you were born in Jerusalem, Rami. We get the fact that you’re special and you design women’s clothes and your clients love you. Has anyone not heard his speech yet? I don’t think he’s as good as he thinks he is.

    The only thing I can hope is that because Ricky came in first this week, he’ll crash and burn next week and hopefully be auf’ed. I can’t stand the crying anymore.

  12. mimi January 27, 2008 at 6:02 pm #

    I must defend Christian — remember = we are only seeing edited portions — He is socially 13, but he is obviously a very loving person as every designer who has left recently adored him (Kit, Victoria, Kevin, Jack) — Even when Chris March left the first time, he spoke about his talent. He is talented but I don’t take what he says that seriously — he’s just a bit spoiled, well loved precocious child on the runway.

  13. eric3000 January 27, 2008 at 7:26 pm #

    I, too, was a little confused by their use of the term “iconic.” Jeans are iconic; a denim jacket is iconic; were the designers supposed to invent an entirely new item of clothing?

    I think the judges made it clear that iconic to them meant “timeless.” I think an article of clothing that is iconic should also be simple and it should be so basic you can wear it all the time. For this reason I think Ricky’s little dress was closer to what they were looking for (as was Sweet P’s). Rami’s was far too complicated to be timeless and after you wore it once it would be too memorable to wear again any time soon.

  14. Anna January 27, 2008 at 9:15 pm #

    It’s one thing to make a dress out of dark denim that looks structured and formal, and it’s another, and perhaps more challenging, thing to make a denim dress that is light and flattering and fashionable. I think that Sweet P’s dress stood out so positively from the rest that she deserved the win, but I’m hoping it’s a ratings strategy to hold out on her and give the win to someone who hopefully will “crash and burn” (as someone said earlier) next week.

    I agree with what someone earlier said about fitting body types; Christian’s outfit was…nice…but it was for skinny girls only. Also, this is at least the fourth time I’m seeing the puffy shoulder seam thing from him. Sweet P’s dress appeared to be a more forgiving style. I especially liked the strategic placement of dark denim panels right at the waist/hips that is definitely slimming.

  15. Linda January 28, 2008 at 11:31 am #

    I’ve always found the secret to these reconstruction from pre-made clothing challenges is thus: make bottoms into tops. Make tops into bottoms. Be sure to turn all pieces upside down and sideways, and be sure the judges can see that something is upside down and sideways. This way they can praise you for being creative and innovative. Nothing says creative like wearing pants as a shirt and a jacket as a skirt (add sarcasm here!) The surest way to lose a reconstruction challenge: Use a top as top. Use a bottom as a bottom. Leave everything right-side up. Do the judges realize this has become a cliché and it’s no longer innovative?

  16. Mable January 28, 2008 at 12:17 pm #

    If I see another poofy sleeved jacket from the Christian, I will go mental. While talented, yes, he needs to step outside of his box. I must say that I loved his skinny jean, though. It was innovative and sassy.

    The Manolo hit the nail on the head, though. You MUST listen to the Tim Gunn.

  17. jcc January 28, 2008 at 3:23 pm #

    I thought we’d see Rami crash and burn without the use of his beloved “drape”. Alas, no.

  18. chernevik January 28, 2008 at 4:52 pm #

    Christian’s chatter is more nervous energy than malice. His opinions of the others’ skills are sharp and resourceful — in the avant-garde challenge he welcomed Chris’ costume approach because the project called for something outrageous. I think he’s got a sense of humor, and his self-caricature makes him both hyper-opinionated and approachable. I don’t think he’s ungenerous, or dismissive of others. He’s often annoying, but he’s often amusing, and he’s often right. The Manolo should lighten up and give the boy time to sort out the amusing from the annoying.

  19. shuzluva January 28, 2008 at 5:42 pm #

    I was slightly nonplussed by the judges this week. While I thought that Sweet P’s shorter dress was vastly superior than the godawful wedding gown she was initially designing, I still thought it was too patchworky and I could still hear Janis Joplin when I looked at it. I didn’t think that Chris’ dress was so horrid – it was just boring…about as boring as Ricky’s dress.

    Speaking of which, there was nothing special about that dress except (as someone previously commented) the button-fly closure. Yes, it was cute, but so was Rami’s. And the zippers on Rami’s? Yep, a Jeffery Sebelia derivation, also previously noted by another commenter. Christian’s jeans were fantastic. If they were stretch (and I was 20 lbs thinner) I’d buy them in a nanosecond.

    I thought that Victorya’s design was, simply stated, LAME. Jillian is annoying, and her design had much to be desired, but it was creative. While the remainder of the judging left me a bit confused, I was glad that they auf’d the right girl.

  20. supersam January 29, 2008 at 7:01 am #

    I am sorry to disagree with the Manolo, however I think Christians jacket is horrible, ugly and not in any way flattering. His jeans were wonderful, amazing, and could be flattering (especially if they were produced in denim with a bit of stretch).

    As for the garment I think should have one… it would be a tie between Christians pants and Rami’s top. I didn’t like his skirt very much, but that top was lovely, and would look good on many women, and could be worn in so many different ways!!! Alright enough gushing. I’ve voiced my opinion and feel contented. Thank you Manolo for your wonderful website!!!

  21. Melissa B. January 29, 2008 at 9:55 am #

    Honestly, nothing this episode really made me sit up and say “wow, cool!” I liked Rami’s dress the best, but I agree with the poster who said that it wasn’t really “iconic” because it’s too unusual. At least they auf’d the right person — Victorya’s garment was truly ugly and completely lacking in creativity.