Project Runway 4, Episode Four

Manolo says, ayyyy! Poor Chris, the Manolo was not ready for you to leave. Indeed, he found you to be among the most tolerable of this season’s personalities, especially when compared to the perpetually weepy/bitchy/whiney/annoying/moderately- untalented Ricky.

Chris, you were the sweet and charmingly funny grown-up person, and the Manolo devoutly wishes you had done better. Your outfit was not great, but it was by no means the worst, and your challenge (to make shoulder pads acceptable) was among the most difficult of all. The mistake in this case was to decide in favor of the 80s evening wear shoulder pads, instead of the much more trendy, 1940’s pencil skirt and shoulder pads. You went for Alexis Carrington when you should have aimed at Jane Russell and Barbara Stanwyk.

And so you were frog-marched off stage by Heidi, with the mocking jackal’s voice of Donna Karan (with her phoney-baloney, fake sincere smile) ringing in your ears.

Oh, how the Manolo wept bitter tears for 3.6 milliseconds, the exact amount of time he devoted to your made-for-television plight, before he returned to loathing Ricky.

As for the contest, this has the orange-stained hands of Michael Kors all over. Take three outdated and awful trends and revamp them in something anodyne that can be sold to the unsuspecting masses of fashion dunderheads. Brilliant!

Sadly, the outfits produced by this challenge were mostly forgettable, and the Manolo can only recall them by making continual reference to the photos. Outfits from Project Runway 4, Episode 4

As for the final product, the winning ensemble, crafted by Jillian and Remi and Kevin, looked exactly like something Jillian herself would wear, meaning the sort of predictable, safe, utilitarian, mildly modish style favored by early Rumer Willis. It is not unattractive, just boring and somewhat boyish. Most of her personal outfits cry out for the addition of the newsboy cap. Newsies!

Nonetheless, Jillian led the team that produced the strongest ensemble, and Remi and Kevin demonstrated that they have some real talent for design, although they are ultimately conventional and safe designers, producing safe and conventional designs.

As for the rest, the outfits were nothing special. Neither horrible enough to make the Manolo wince, nor good enough for him to devote much time or attention to, just blah. Yes, for entertainment purposes there was the bitchfest between Victorya and Ricky, but then the Manolo suspects that anyone who spent more than fifteen minutes with Ricky would come to dislike him. Although, Victorya, with her hyper-competitive, superior way, is no prize sow, either.

Finally, the Manolo has been thinking that perhaps his biggest complaint about the Season 4, is that all of the challenges thus far have been terribly commercial.

“Designers, make something that Sarah Jessica Parker’s indentured workers in Myanmar can produce for $1.28, to be sold at $19.99 in the bargain outlets in Kansas.”

“Designers, make something that can be worn by the handsome former sports star that will not cause the Today Show audience to spit their Shredded Wheat all over the kitchen.”

“Designers, make something that Michael Kors can rip off and sell under his discount label.”

This incessant focus on the boringly commercial has meant that this season has yet to produce one, single, drop-dead beautiful piece. Think back to the past seasons, when challenges featuring coffee-filters, and garden trimmings, and, literally, garbage resulted in outfits that made you gasp with pleasure, made you question your assumptions about what you might wear to the office Christmas party.

This season, nearly everything that has gone down the runway has been work-a-day, or if not work-a-day, just unattractive.

The Manolo suspects that some of these designers are far more odd than the challenges have thus far allowed them to be. Indeed, even though Eliza grinds on the Manolo’s nerves, it cannot be denied that there is something here worth paying attention to, something the Manolo wishes to see more fully explored.

And so, the Manolo awaits the appearance of the piece of great beauty, growing discontented as each week passes and it does not appear.

P.S. Random Manolo Note: Christian. If you use the word “fierce” one more time in reference to anything that is not related to either a) Viking warriors, or b)exceptional geophysical events, such as hurricanes or tsunamis, the Manolo will hunt you down and kill you, slowly.