Project Runway, Season Five, Episode 3

Manolo says, ayyyyy! It is the season of tulle! The two-in-the-row triumph of the tulle-based outfits would not be so would not be so bad, except that it portends something much more disturbing…the return of the 1980s!

The signs of this fashion apocalypse are all there: last week it was the shorty skirts and tulle petticoats; this week, modified big-shouldered “power-bitch” dress. Add to that anything produced by Stella, who has the Ratt/Twisted Sister aesthetic permanently etched into her cortex (where it is always 1983 and bitchin!) and thus you have the beginnings of the trend, one which must be smothered in its cradle.

Sadly, the Manolo is but one person, the lone voice in the wilderness, desperately wishing for the return of the early 1960s fashions (Michael Kors is trying!), or those of the 1920s, or even better, the Edwardians, anything but the 1980s.

Meanwhile, back at the Project Runway ranch, the designers were dispersed via double-decker tour bus into the rainy Manhattan night and told to return with New York images suitable for turning into the party outfit.

As far as the challenges go, this one was better than most at showing how designers find inspiration and harness it, and in general the dresses it produced were tolerable. For the Manolo, the best outfits were, in descending order of merit, Leanne (who should have won), Korto, Terri (although, the Manolo despises on principle the dresses-over-slacks look), Suede, and Joe.

For many reasons, not the least of which was the 80s inspiration, the Manolo did not care for the winning design, although he has decided that Retro-girl Kenley is among the most competent and capable of the designers, and will likely be one of the finalists.

Indeed, right now the Manolo’s finalist money is on Kenley, Terri, Kelli, and possibly Suede and/or Leanne.

In other matters, Keith the Angry Gay Mormon is not here to make the friends!

And Blayne…

a.k.a Speedy, is trying to act all Krazee-Eyez Killa, hoping that this bizarre behavior will immunize him against the fact that he has little talent for design.

And this brings up something the Manolo has been wanting to talk about for many weeks now, something the Manolo calls “faux eccentricity”, the tendency of among many young fashion designers to adopt outrageous clothing and patently false personas in the hopes that they will mask the fully conventional heart which beats beneath.

Grotesque tattoos, wacky clothing, and affectedly stereotypical personas do not the unconventional mind make.True and original eccentricity is as rare as the white buffalo.

Indeed, from the past Project Runway seasons only Jay and Santino have been well, truly, and uniquely eccentric. And it is not the coincidence that both have been outsiders in every sense of the word.

This season, only Stella, who has decided to live her entire life as if she were in the Whitesnake video, and holds to this position even when evidence suggests otherwise, comes closest to being the true eccentric, although her eccentricity is not in the least ways original.

The Manolo mentions this only because he finds so much of this straining to be different so very tiring. Oh, how he longs to encounter the true original, someone who does not merely look different, but truly thinks different.

22 Responses to “Project Runway, Season Five, Episode 3”

  1. valawhoo July 31, 2008 at 3:25 pm #

    The judges all need a time-out for giving Kenley the win over Leanne.

    Also, Sandra Bernhardt? Ugh.

  2. valawhoo July 31, 2008 at 3:26 pm #

    Oh, and Manolo? When you put “Stella” and “Whitesnake video” in the same sentence, immediately, an image of Stella doing a walkover on the hood of the car popped into my head. I can’t get rid of it now. Thanks a lot.

  3. Emily July 31, 2008 at 3:54 pm #

    I love you, Manolo. I agree that the designers are too “forced.” Yet I’m surprised you, of the referring to himself in the third person, commented on it.

    The image of Blayne is disturbingly similar!

  4. Pippitypup July 31, 2008 at 4:15 pm #

    Sarah Berhardt’s blog comments on Bravo suggest Kenley won because she’s a ‘pretty white girl’. That Kors & Nina liked the work best seems never to have occurred to her.

  5. valawhoo July 31, 2008 at 4:18 pm #

    So which of those isn’t Leanne? Pretty, I guess (although there’s nothing wrong with her that a little makeup and a hairbrush wouldn’t cure). I hate it when affirmative action invades fashion.

    Emily, as for Manolo referring to himself in the third person, you might want to refer back to his first post of the season.

  6. Lisa July 31, 2008 at 4:22 pm #

    THANK YOU! Leanne should’ve won — hands down. Her dress was actually the first thing on PR, after watching the last three season, that I would say, “I’d wear that.”

    Kenley’s was hideous.

  7. Jennie July 31, 2008 at 5:58 pm #

    Project Runway has ceased to be about design. It is now about good TV. How else would one justify Stella “Leeaahther” or Suede, the occassional third person (consistancy dude! if you must be in the third person, ALWAYS, be in the third person. Otherwise it’s just pretentious..er ? word???) Betty Page and the Blond have talent as well as one of the guys but their names escape me because of the blatant bullshit of the TV characters.

  8. Jennie July 31, 2008 at 6:02 pm #

    Oh! Manolo, what about the Chris March? Human hair is no different than fox, weasel, pig, or cow. I lurved him and think he lost because he was either too nice or too portly.

  9. tommytimp July 31, 2008 at 6:09 pm #

    Sorry y’all, Project Runmay has always been a TV Show first and foremost. The clash (or the producers’ hope of clash) of personalities is as integral a part of the show as the fashion, which is why so many of these folks seem contrived or “false.” (Was Elisa from last year faking it?) The Bravo people and the folks at Magical Elves want to amp up the drama and/or tension and/or variety and/or comedy as much a possible, which is why certain contestants get the edits they do. Of course if the fashion becomes dull and uninspiring for a whole year the show will have jumped the shark. But if the personalities aren’t interesting either, we could just as easily read about the show and look at the pictures on Women’s Wear Daily’s web site. Or something.

  10. valawhoo July 31, 2008 at 8:14 pm #

    I agree on Chris March, but I think he was uneven trying to fit his own sensibility into the constraints of the show. Jay did a much better job of that.

  11. Jennie July 31, 2008 at 8:57 pm #

    No prob with Jay but Romy was a one note pretentious ass. I love draped, grecian clothes but after the R I had to just say no. Chris intriged me. He lost for being too inovative whereas Jeffrey the Prick won for being an SOB. Sad…

  12. La BellaDonna August 1, 2008 at 3:17 pm #

    La BellaDonna, she sends the internet kisses to the so-discerning Manolo! The Project Runway, it seems somewhat sorry this season – drab and interchangeable – but The Manolo, he has passed his blessing on the Edwardian fashions!

    La BellaDonna, who is also the “freelance designer” – but not one desperate to stand out from the crowd for the Michael Kors and the Nina – happily makes and wears the clothes from the Edwardian patterns. She will wear them the more happily thinking of The Manolo!

  13. Brad August 1, 2008 at 4:26 pm #

    Kenley took the risk and deserved the win, Leanne’s, pretty but safe, and according to Sandra Bernherdt, Terri should of won because she’s black. Does it ever end?

  14. elise - All Or Nothing August 1, 2008 at 6:34 pm #

    I felt like this was truly one of the only times the judges on Project Runway have bowed to what MUST be producer urging to keep the crazies (Stella,Blayne) on the show. I think it sucks, because in the past ProRun has always done an excellent job of eliminating the worse contestant. I was sad to see poor Emily taking the brunt of a supremely unfair judging session.

    And Kenley’s dress? A WINNER? I think not. Leeann or Terri should have had that win, 100%.

    Check out my recap HERE.

  15. Alison August 1, 2008 at 9:09 pm #

    Really? I haven’t seen any of the episodes because my cable was out. So I am not up on all the personalities of this season. But I just looked at Kenley’s dress and Leanne. Manolo…. I adore you. But I disagree with you here. Leanne’s was totally safe, boring and conventional. I am assuming her inspirtation was the Guggenheim? I thought she conveyed this in a very literal way. Kenley’s design, funny enough, was eccentric! Surprising. Original. I wouldn’t wear it myself but I think it is wearable for someone (including the model) and a breath of fresh air.

  16. Anonymous August 1, 2008 at 10:08 pm #

    Alison: Leanne’s inspiration was a wet planter grate around a tree, the kind found all around New York. I found the dress to be the best one this season. I don’t think it plays very well on a computer monitor, you may need to see it on the TV screen to appreciate it. Kenley’s dress looked… old-ladyish. Eccentric old lady, but still old lady. Like everyone else, I think Leanne or Terri should have won the challenge. My personal hope was on Leanne, but considering the high praise they gave Terri, I really expected her to win. “Fierce, sexy and in control.” “She’s the type of girl you want to know.” What happened between these remarks and the final judging that made them choose Kenley’s fugly dress? Also, whatever else can be said, I do agree with Emily being out… hideous dress, uninteresting and uninspired. Blayne’s was equally hideous, but it at least was vaguely interesting.

    The sooner Stella is off the show the better. I can’t wait for whatever knit challenge they have, Stella will die. “I don’t woik with this fabric! I woik with letha!”

  17. Anonymous August 3, 2008 at 12:45 am #

    I sensed at what Leanne was getting at, but agree with the judges that it turned out to be matronly. And you think she should have won? Kenley really has done interesting stuff so far. She’s not like Rami who basically cranks out the same dress for every challenge, but comes up with a unique interpretation of every challenge so far.

    I love reading your take on each episode. Every time you so eloquently put into words exactly what I was feeling after watching each episode.

  18. eric3000 August 4, 2008 at 4:17 pm #

    I think Suede is the perfect example of faux eccentricity. I’m afraid Blayne, however, may actually have something wrong with him.

  19. SB August 5, 2008 at 2:36 pm #

    Are there any designers in the world who don’t have their entire bodies defaced with ugly tattoos?

    Women – this is not a good look. Get a grip about it. Why make yourself look like a trashy old trucker? Especially when you’re attempting to be cute in a nice little mini dress or retro outfit.

    Guys – understand the point where “funky rebel” tattoo morphs into “every stinkin’ inch of my bod is ruined by ugly ass attempts at ‘art,’ which will forever mortify future girlfriends.” Or boyfriends for that matter. There is a line that should not be crossed.

    SB

  20. Eklectic1 August 6, 2008 at 9:22 pm #

    Agree with SB! Thank you for saying this! This tattoo stuff is just a cliche now. It’s sad because there is some be-you-tiful tattoo art out there, but people are just clogging up their skinscapes nowadays with a lotta stuff that doesn’t allow you to appreciate the individual artworks. They’re just saying “Hi, I’m different”, as if looking like an ugly skin art experiment looks good on any man or woman, and is even…in way…different. There’s just too damn’ much of it on people. It’s like people covered with ugly neon, like a walking red-light district. C’mon folks. Enough already. It’s done. Give it back to the pirates, sailors, and bikers now. They always knew what to do with it and could wear it with bitchin’ style. And the fact that not everybody was wearing it, back then, meant something about people. That they were really daring to be different. Now, everybody being the same kinda different…means that people are just being the same, dig? It’s turned around. Dare not to be tattooed. Especially women. Please. And remember, you may live to be 80. With a tattoo. And you may not like it when you’re 80…

  21. Cambiata August 7, 2008 at 12:10 am #

    Anonymous #2 (who responded to my Anonymous comment above): The judges never called Leanne’s dress matronly. They called her dress chic and had nothing but good things to say about it. It was Jennifer’s dress that was deemed matronly, and boy was it ever! I wonder how Jennifer even made it on project runway… she must have had one hell of a video resume.

  22. rb August 12, 2008 at 1:13 pm #

    I am entering this discussion very late because I am catching up on TiVoed PRs after vacation.

    I was very surprised that Kenley’s dress won after I actually thought it might be in the bottom three – particularly when the judges started out talking about it fitting someone with a “goiter” on her leg. (wtf??)

    I, too, preferred both Leannes’ and Terri’s designs. However, in hindsight I think Kenley might have recieved points for difficulty. That dress with its high neck, fitted bodice and set-in sleeves was much more difficult to tailor in one day than a sleeveless shell or a flowy top.