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'Project Runway': Fleece is not fashion

The menswear challenge, like a Salem witch trial, involved hysteria, accusations and boring, conservative clothes, but it had its purpose: With Darwinian cruelty, it separated the master designers from the lesser designers. In season 2, we saw promising Nick auf'd when he tried to make a suit for Daniel and this week's first official menswear challenge ever slapped down several well-meaning designers who actually thought they could make a suit -- ha ha! -- in a couple of days. What hubris! Isn't there folklore about tailors stooping over fabric for several weeks in some sort of Geppetto-like workshop? If there isn't, there should be.

I think most of the people who watch "Project Runway" are women and women who don't watch sports, so what was with the Tiki Barber guest spot? That's the best they could do, after the triumph of Sarah Jessica Parker? Who is this Tiki Barber, anyway? He was boring in person and he wanted them, shiver, to make boring clothes. I'm not impressed that he once served as running back for the New York Giants. I'm not even sure what a running back does. Runs? Backward?

Now, we all know that men drew the short stick when it comes to fashion and let's pity them for it. We might make 85 cents to their dollar or whatever, but at least we look good while doing it. On "Project Runway," I don't want to see the designers constrained to menswear, unless they get to make something fabulous and brave. But no one got to do that. Even Kit "Pistol" was reduced to generic sportswear ideas by creating a fleece jacket.

Fleece And Jack, the big winner, what did he do? Made some pinstriped pants and a pinstriped shirt. What a snooze.

The highlight of all this is that apparently, when pressed to make sucky clothes, designers become vicious and strange, like animals locked in a basement during a hurricane. Witness the swipes between Carmen and Ricky, who, not coincidentally, ended up on the chopping block together. There was also that weird, though somewhat endearing, shorts-sharing thing that happened with Jack and some of the others. And finally, Elisa's bizarre refusal to "intimately" fit the male model. I love Elisa, if only because I could have never predicted that she'd be the prude of the group. Handsy Isaac Mizrahi she is not.

Carmen As for Carmen, this week's sacrifice, I saw the Grim Reaper standing behind her sewing machine weeks ago. I dig the junk-store, Madonna-circa-"Desperately Seeking Susan" look, but she just didn't have it. Better luck elsewhere, Carmen.

-- Margaret Wappler

For the record: An earlier version of this Show Tracker said that "Project Runway" has had menswear challenges in the past. Though the show's designers have made menswear items on prior seasons, this was the show's first official challenge.

(Photos courtesy Bravo)

Comments () | Archives (8)

"Each season the challenge..." This was the first time designers were ever challenged to make mens wear, save when they had to deign outfits for themselves. Have you not watched the past seasons? And didn't pay attention last night when Tim announced the challenge was a first in Project runway history? I like your other observations, but pay attention, please!

Ummm I watch sports... I feel offended that some one would imply that just because I'm a girl and am interested in fashion i can't also be interested in sports! and more so Tiki Barber is hot. i don't mind watching him at all. i think this was one of the best challenges because none of those designers could do mens wear it really brought them down to earth. i was so sick of those over inflated egos! just because you make it on the show does not mean you are hands down the best! I'm glad this taught them some humility!

"Project Runway " is such a fun show to watch - and i enjoyed your observations. I am female, and I do watch sports by the way - so I knew who this guest was - and I found that this was an exceptionally challenging episode for the designers. Maybe they designed "boring" clothing( conservative) because they felt that Tiki Barber is a boring person...the designers themselves are far from boring. It has become apparent - that a few of them - mostly the males - have some really great ideas -and are "drama queens' so that makes it so interesting to watch the design process - each week. Some of the design challenges - in past seasons - were TOO easy - in my opinion - and this past week - watching the designers "squirm" and complain - was much more interesting. ALSO - if the writers strike does continue on - thank goodness for this show - and just a few others - because then there will be a a tiny bit of ( new) programming to watch in 2008.

Referencing menswear in women's fashion is as common as a needle and thread. This was a real-world challenge that forced everyone to break from their safety zone habits, often referred to as their signature "look" where every garment is basically the same. We now see how untalented some of these people really are.

Yeah, I wanted to see Austin (Season 1?) do a full on menswear challenge like this episode. Something to just totally blow up the conservative and fatuous tone. Sweet P sort of got there, accidentally, with her shirt collar so horribly botched. But a designer like Austin would have done something funny and amusing and frou frou on purpose.

It also escapes me how these contestants apparently don't prepare for this show: hello, it's season 4. What are the odds you'll have to make men's clothing? Create something from garbage? Actually have to sew? And all on deadline?

BTW a running back is a football player who runs forward. It's called football irony. Surely you have guy friends, or beer-swilling girlfriends who like the game, who could explain all this to you? Perhaps your editor would pay for an early evening of drinks and ribs at some sports bar so you could watch a game and get educated?

Fisrt of all, women DO watch sports. Me and my friends talk about football all the time. Alot of people watch football so i believe thats a sexist comment. Second of all, if u r a fashion designer, u need to be able to cover all aspects of style and fahsion. So, you should be able to do menswear. If you can do menswear, you r a very versital designer. So i completeley dissagree wih this.

--ps.. The rus backwards comment was sexist too

Margaret, I can't believe it. You're covering PR and you have the audacity to say that you think that most of the people who watch PR are women and women who don't watch sports. You have got to be kidding. Half the designers are gay men ... that doesn't give you a BIG clue as to the viewers? Duh. As a gay man, I am pretty darn sure that 50% of the viewers are gay men. Oh, and let me tell you about Tiki Barber ... doesn't matter that the women viewers don't know him. Neither do the gay men, but he's providing the "hot" factor this week. The dude is HOT. That's why Tiki Barber.

Thanks for keeping me honest, Katie R.


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