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.