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'Project Runway': Fleece is not fashion

November 29, 2007 |  2:07 pm

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)