Project Runway, Season 5, Episode One

Manolo says, and so the latest season of the Project Runway begins, not with the exciting dash across the verdant fields of Bryant Park, but with the early morning Festival of Gristedes, the ritual that many of us who have lived in the City of New York know quite well.

Indeed, who among us has not rushed into the Gristedes first thing in morning, and emerged the half hour later with our bags full of plastic shower curtains, rubber gloves, vacuum cleaner bags, mop heads and enough gingham table clothes to go all Christo on the Grand Central Station?

Ayyyyyy! And all the Manolo really wanted was some half-and-the-half for his coffee and maybe the Drake Cake!!

And so the indistinguishable mass of badly-dressed, and bizarrely-coiffed youthful aspirants were off and designing. What followed for the next half hour, was the confusing mass of moving images, as the various designers blended together in one giant hairball of bad material and worse ideas.

Look! There was the sort of cute, almost mousy girl doing something or other with candy, or was that the almost cute, sort of mousy girl, who was doing something with candy? The Manolo could not keep them straight. And there is Retro Girl, looking vaguely Betty Page (as they usually do) and making something fascinating with lawn furniture and beach balls, but then we cut away to the curiously named Suede (who annoying refers to himself in the third person, and the Manolo knows exactly how annoying that can be) who goes all wickety-wack on his creation, because Tim has frowned in his direction.

And poor Tim Gunn, he looks so tired and oppressed, as if the demands of being the kindest, smartest, and most sensible person on television have finally taken their toll. Please, dear Tim, take the few weeks off and go to Bermuda, and let your mighty brain rest and recover. You are the national treasure and these desperate times require you to be in top form.

Speaking of not being in the top form, what has happened to Austin Scarlett? Yes, he was all flouncy and lispy, but he was also nervous and overly cautious. Perhaps it is that old story, the responsibilities of the gainful employment have dampened the enthusiasms and charms of youth. Frankly, the Manolo found him sort of boring, with his serious answers and platitudinous advice.

And so to the final judging, when the various creations were strutted down the runway, accompanied by the exasperated, heavy, angry sighing of Nina Garia, who each season seems to move slightly closer to becoming one of those pinched up, dried apple head dolls, albeit one dressed head-to-toe in Balenciaga.

In the end it was the same old story, the over-the-top, personality-rich designer with the terrible, awful, hideous creation (in this case, Blayne, who looks like the blond, overly-tanned version of Speedy the Alka-Seltzer boy) is kept around, while the sober, serious, hard-working designer who has erred (Jerry) is sent away by the judges. The demands of plot and character development must be respected, even if the result is the minor injustice. But, do not worry, Jerry will be fine. He will have the full and meaningful fashion career. But for the desperate attention-seeking Blayne, it is all down hill from here.