Project Runway 4, Episode Ten

Manolo says, Ayyyyyy! Lady wrestlers! Spandex! Tim Gunn!

This challenge, to make the costumes for the modern-day Fabulous Moolahs, out of spandex and spangles, was completely ridiculous and yet also terribly entertaining.

And nothing was more delightful than the lady wrestlers themselves. Yes, they were tacky, with their giant fake breasts, tanning-booth tans, and rigorously gym-toned bodies, but they were also lively and funny and seemed to be genuinely happy. When they entered the sewing room it was as if the lights were turned on, making everything brighter and sharper.

Query: Were the lady wrestlers sexy?

Answer: No.

The wrestling ladies in their tiny costumes and big breasts had all of the signifiers of sexiness, but it was just the simulacrum of eros, as the raw and enthusiastic physicality of their presence, their innocent joy in being young, beautiful, and athletic, and the absolute cartoonishness of professional wrestling, swamps any possibility of the erotic response.

And the top three designers last night (Chris, Christian, and Jillian) understood this central paradox of the lady wrestler, that the sexiness of the skimpy costume is the sham, and that what is actually being projected is the extraordinary physicality and fierceness of the cartoon superhero.
Chris March
Thus the only proper response is to turn up the volume, to make the outfit that fully embraces the cartoonishness and displays the strength and ferocity of those magnificent bodies.

By contrast the three designers who failed (Sweet P, Rami, and Ricki) attempted to soften and regularize the lady wrestlers, tried to make them into ordinary beautiful women with pink lingerie, silvery boudoir sets, and orange swimsuits.

The results were quod erat demonstrandum

Of the course, the Heatherette boys, Richie Rich and Traver Rains, were the perfect celebrity judges for this challenge, as they fully understand the aesthetic of professional wrestling. The only person who could have been better was Galliano, himself the complete master of spectacle and melodrama.

By the comparison, Nina Garcia and Michael Kors were too uncomfortable to fully articulate and understand what was required, although in the end they came to the right decision. And the ferocious Teutonic Brunhilde Valkyrie Heidi was totally at ease with the lady wrestlers, indeed, you know that if her life had taken the slightly different turn, she could have been the champion lady wrestler.

Finally, over the past few weeks the Manolo has been hard on Christian for his arrogance and immaturity and twit-like behavior, and this criticism is justified. But, beyond this, Christian is enormously talented, and he (together with Chris) seems to be enjoying himself. Because of this, the Manolo now thinks that Christian will be the ultimate winner, with Jillian and Chris(!) as the dark horses.

Sweet P is befuddled and overwhelmed and will soon be sent away. Rami is inflexible to the point of near disaster (Ayyyy Last night he was attempting to “drape” spandex!) and the judges are tiring of him. Jillian is on the edge of the nervous breakdown but is capable of pulling through and perhaps doing well. Chris (bless his kind heart) is teetering on the edge, and will succeed only if he can restrain his theatrical impulses and direct his talents towards something more impressive.

This leaves Christian–funny, talented, fast-working, jackassy Christian–as the one who is rising inevitably to the top.