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Joshua McKinley Blog
Category: "season 11"
The verdict came in last week and it was no "surprise" the judges sent Cindy's iridescent shantung pink disaster to the morgue. Those that have been avid viewers of "Project Runway" and fans of Heidi Klum's specifically know her style, and even though Cindy hit on the short, exposed, and shiny, it was all rancid and frankly far off from the level of work we should expect from designers on the 11th season. Fisheye darts and princess-seam shift dresses just don't cut it anymore. So if you are interested in stampeding on set with a "self-taught" design degree and a bag full of vintage McCall's patterns you better have a spoon full of sugar ready to help the reality go down!
Speaking of reality, Team Keeping it Real was once again on top for the third straight week, while Dream Team is depleting faster than vials of Botox on the set of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills". While pumped-up looks and personalities can definitely get some people to advance in life and in this competition, they ultimately won’t save you when you have a piece of junk garment on the runway.
Speaking of "junk on the runway," thank the Lord that Glade 2-in-1 candles are on set to freshen up the workroom and lend the inspiration for this week's challenge! It's my favorite, and I am sure one of yours: the unconventional challenge!
Definition: "unconventional" adj. - not based on or conforming to what is generally done or believed
With that definition leading this week's challenge, I am hoping it really starts to separate the design directors from the design interns. Now what is important to remember about this challenge is to keep an open mind. The designers are working with materials from a hardware store and a floral market. These two things alone are insane and unrealistic, but what it will show you is who really has the ideas and the skill to execute something that ultimately could pass for a ready-to-wear garment. As Kate states, "You don’t tell someone to make a dress out of floral and hardware and expect it to look normal!" I return with "Why the hell not?" Making a garment for this challenge wearable and sustainable for a long period of time might not be feasable, but making it look normal is entirely the idea.
With Stanley and Layana recruited to the Dream Team, spirits already seem to be lifted; the team have gone from a depletion of Botox to a facelift. Meanwhile, Team Keeping It Real has gained Michelle, which I think is a plus for them. She is definitely one of the strong designers with a solid point of view who has been overlooked due to the that fact she has been on the bottom team for the first three challenges. It's definitely a nice change to see the teams mixed up, but now what lies ahead is creating a cohesive collection. It's hard enough to get cohesion using real fabrics, so Lord knows it's going to be a challenge to achieve that with unconventional materials.
We have "Dior 1950s New Look"* in one corner and "no idea" in the other, except for Richard's direction of "RuPaul meets 'Gilligan's Island.'” Thank you, Richard. I'm finally awake -- especially after that hair flip with Michelle -- but darling, don't let me down now because it would not be cute to see you "sashay away."
*Design note: Dior's 1950's “New Look” is characterized by a small, nipped-in waist and full skirt falling below mid-calf length, which helped to emphasize the bust and hips.
Amanda confesses, "I just don't like flowers, I don't get the lines, and they totally bore me,” while Joe is rather intrigued by them, especially "weird flowers that look like brains that kind of eat the model." So basically we have Seymour Krelborn and Morticia Addams on the same team.
With immunity and her refilled tank of helium, Kate is determined to go big, and we all are made aware of it with her dramatic display of bending chicken wire. Ben is determined to leave the shipwreck from last week and impress us with his training in basket weaving, and it's working! I think it's a genius idea, and I can imagine how insanely time-consuming it is.
The judges and I were definitely on the same wavelength this week. It was a very difficult runway to decide the top and bottom team. I think equally the teams really pulled out some lovely looks, but in terms of really stepping out of the box and delivering originality, I think both teams fell flat. I know the possibilities that a hardware store contains, and it seems most designers relied on the floral side of the challenge to carry their designs. Michelle and Richard had the winning look in my eyes, but unfortunately they were on the losing team. I congratulate Samantha on her win. I would like to point out that she did take Layana's advice in the end to cover the muslin with mesh, however she took it one step further and sandwiched large-scale leaves in between the two.
It's sad to see Joe go because his design philosophy embodies the challenge perfectly, but apparently the "foreign land" in he was designing was too far off from what the judges wanted. With such a short time on the show, I'm not exactly sure what he is capable of, but I find comfort in knowing that I will be keeping my eyes peeled for his mountain-of-cats screen prints. Simply purr-fect!
The rooster hasn’t even cleared its throat yet but the designers are already up and primping for their third challenge. We enter into the infamous Atlas Apartments where the designers have barely had enough time to gulp down a "haute" cup of Joe and wipe Mr. Sandman from their eyes before they start pointing out the "weakest links" of their respective teams. LORD, "Can a girl get some breakfast and put on her bronzer game face before you start throwing her under the bus?" Following last week’s challenge it's clear the designers are still "SPiNning" out of control trying to measure up one another’s skills and talents. Cindy is certain that her team is in "a world of hurt," while Michelle’s considering a visit to the doctor for a prescription of a "happy drug." Psst Michelle, let me know who your doctor is. I’m going to need a double dosage on my end as well!
Amid brushing her Rapunzel hair and applying CoverGirl, Kate is taping up her fists and throwing on the boxing gloves to join Mike Tyson in the ring. Let's just hope the fighter in her doesn’t bring out the inner Hannibal Lector because blood stains on couture is just a down right shame, and frankly should be a felony. Speaking of boxing, over in the boys room they are quick to point out all the "lightweights" of the competition. Quoting Daniel, "Patricia is weak, Joe is weak and Kate is weak." In my mind, weak is a state of mind and strength comes from within. Now certainly one can be keen on pointing out whose craft is not as polished as theirs, however "Project Runway" is more than about being strong. It's about having a solid vision and a perspective in design. It's about having the courage and the conviction to stand tall, believe in what you do, have faith that out there in this massive world someone believes in you even more then you do and know that what you are doing on whatever scale that may be is IN FACT helping to change and aid the world to be a better, more inspired place.
This week there's a big "surprise' in more ways than one. Heidi Klum is the designer's client and she's launching a new fragrance "Surprise."
Side note: On Season 9, Episode 5, we had the pleasure of designing looks for Heidi Klum for New Balance, having won that challenge, from experience I can guarantee you she is a woman who knows what she wants and her demographic is NOT "40 to death!"
The designers are informed that they are not only designing looks for the campaign commercial, but also press options. I realize she was describing the scents notes of pink pepper, mandarin and jasmine, however I couldn’t help but wonder if the scent was born during a recent trip to a Las Vegas all-you-can-eat buffet. Just like the licks to the center of a Tootsie Pop, "the world my never know."
In Mood we discover that Matthew is intimidated by the challenge because he is not a dressmaker, ironically did anyone hear Heidi say she was opposed to a pant option for press? It’s upsetting to always see the designers resort to dresses. However Matthew, who is afraid of being "generic," had the perfect opportunity to separate himself from the pack and instead chose to bore us with a tube dress!
Design note: a tube dress on Season 11 of "Project Runway," really? As a viewer you should feel cheated and if you don’t, well…you should have higher expectations.
Even Matthew’s words verbatim: "The colors are boring, the material is boring, my idea is boring." Well handsome, switch it up a bit and have some fun, but to waste this opportunity boring you, and us, is design robbery!
On the contrary, Benjamin is terrified because he feels this challenge is completely in his comfort zone. Never a good thing seeing how there is anything but comfort when designing, cutting, constructing and fitting a gown in one day. Honestly all the rules are out the window and with such tight parameters for each challenge you have to act on impulse and have an immaculate focus on time management and precision. Case in point: Cindy said hunched over the machine, "This is so much harder than it looks on TV!"
Viewer note: the time that is specified by Tim for each challenge is actual, there is no off-camera work time given to the designers.
Perhaps if Cindy was made aware of that she would have reconsidered? Then again, her shantung fabric choice this week could have used a bit of "micro-management." However she seems to have scared her team off last with her vocalization of not wanting help and it seems she got it, having returned to 1407 with the most appalling shades of iridescent pink shantung, it is truly a "Make it Work" moment!
I’m overcome with annoyance that Kate has the audacity to call Daniel out for not using a "silk" for his gorgeous gown. What Kate has failed to realize is that Daniel politely stepped in and gave her and Layana money towards their deficit of over 100 dollars!
Fabric note: with superior fabric technologies today, some polyester blends are extremely difficult to differentiate from the real thing and at times even carry a better "hand."
Speaking of the eveningwear duo, who else was completely uncomfortable with their critique? From Layana’s erratic, marionette doll movements to high pitched shrieks regarding the fabric color, as a viewer I felt awkward watchingthe kind of awkward you feel when you realize your zipper has been down and you can't recall for how long and how many people noticed. And ironically in turn I found myself feeling bad for Kate being totally caught off guard by Layana’s rant.
Patricia worked out a very tedious fabric textile and the potential it would have had with more time would be mind-blowing! However it still looked very much unfinished to me, but I do applaud her out-of-the-box design and I look forward to seeing what else she has in her design technique Rolodex!
Side note: I’ve said in seasons past, "Don’t always rely on an expensive fabric to do your design work."
In the case of Stanley and Richard this challenge, they both gravitated to the "over a 100 dollar a yard sequin fabrics" and with such over-styling on Stanley's end (I know it all too well!) and over-designing on Richard's end (and again, I know it all too well!), it really shows how difficult it is to find a balance with some over-the-top fabrics without relying too heavily on the fabric alone to make the design.
Joshua note: I LOVE a little glitz and glam! As well as anything that sparkles and shines!
I think Heidi and the gang made the right decision by choosing to go with Daniel's look for her press events, even though Daniel had originally designed for the campaign commercial. His dress was stunning and I loved the juxtaposition of the leather against the slinky jersey. So Heidi! So sexy!
Benjamin clearly missed the mark here and Kiera Knightley is now without a costume for the "Pirates of the Caribbean" reunion special. But what gives me faith is that he knows it himself and you could feel the devastation and pain he lived over the course of this challenge. Chin up doll!
In closing, we say goodbye to the lovely Cindy and we stand up and applaud her for following her dream of design. It indeed is "much harder than it looks on TV," but what is easy about it is that you get to discover more about your dream every day, and that my dear is a gift!
Well Kate, congratulations. Brad Pitt calledwelcome to the "Fight Club!"
Following the first elimination the designers settle their stomachs with a chilled Pepto Bismol martini, and it’s a sigh of relief for the remaining 15 realizing they don’t have to return home crowned with the scarlet message of "I’ve been Auf Wiedersehen’ed!" For some, the uncertainty has begun to set in with the realization of the difficulty of the competition. Cindy says she’s feeling like she has been "run over by a truck"…well my love, if that’s how you feel after the first challenge, I’d advise you to put some diesel into it and step on the gas or pull off into the truck stop for an eternal cup of coffee! This is not "Freeway" with Reese Witherspoon and Keifer Sutherland; no one is holding you hostage. Over in the boys bunk, we have an episode of "Dr. Phil" on and Richard is giving James the best advice one could give after being in the bottom three last week which is, "Forget about the first challenge and move forward or else your creative energy will be destroyed." Well said Richard! There is a silence in the room when Heidi delivers the news that Team Keeping It Real and Dream Team will remain the as is. The expressions from the designers are that of utter shock and I can image a change of underwear for some!
There may be no "I" in "Team," but there IS an "I" in "SPiN"! SPiN New York that is, and "Balls" are their "business," so naturally I’m intriguedwho wouldn’t be! We are transported to an innovative social club surrounded by…none other than ping pong! I must be out of the NYC loop because apparently this is the new craze happening in New York and making waves across the country with its mixture of booze, burgers, boys, black lights, and booty! Definitely not my idea of Christiansingles.com, but it involves paddles, so I am down for the entertainment! I’m open to the idea of being impressed by a competitive gentleman that can kill a ping pong tournament while being intoxicated on Corona and shots of Tequila! My kind of man! "Hey! I’ll have another Corona Tu, and I’d prefer to drink it rather than wear it!"
What makes SPiN New York ever more interesting is one of the famous creators behind it all. She’s an Oscar winner, a ball-buster herself for liberal social and political activism causes, and our favorite Louise of all time: the timeless beauty and untouchable talent that is Susan Sarandon!
Tim informs the designers that they will be challenged to give a facelift to the ball boys and servers uniforms, which need to be functional yet fashionable. What better way to understand the intensity of the job, then to experience it! So the designers pull up their panties and get to work delivering cocktails and running around chasing ping pong balls. Now coming from a boy that worked in an insanely fashionable gay bar in Chelsea for four years while slinging drinks and checking coats while trying to balance my nightly ensembles for functionality with a fashion focus, I find it hard to believe chasing around balls can ever be glamorous, unless of course you are Marilyn Monroe and in that case we are speaking about a completely different set of them!
We head to Mood and it seems as though each team is waiting around for Disney’s "Fantasia" to happen and for their fabric to magically appear! Get on it (insert Tim Gunn’s voice) designers. It’s the most crucial 30 minutes and you are standing there letting your nails dry! From experience I used to leave Mood needing a Xanax and a touch up of bronzer. Bible!
Back at 1407, the Brother sewing machines are fired up and purring with anticipation as the teams begin to nail down their designs. Side note: when someone says that the machine keeps messing up and blames it on the machine, you can be sure it’s the designer that clearly doesn’t know how to properly use the machine, because Brother is top of the line and brilliant!
I’m curious to find out what else Daniel has learned "on the streets" because his skills and knowledge are solid, and let’s face it, you don’t just wake up with a moustache like that living under a rock and if you do, it’s a cultured glamorous one! Cindy fills us in on the fact that jackets are her "favorite thing to construct," and her least favorite thing is to NOT be "micromanaged"! Ben got it, we got it, and the universe got it! Now focus on your shawl "lapel" NOT "collar." Fact: there is no "collar" at all. James is off the starting blocks and quickly into work, unfazed that the group is still consulting with one another, but remember James said, "No biggie. It’s menswear. It’ simple!" We shall see James, don’t give me some button-up with a resemblance to a Hefty bagI’ll be very disappointed!
Design note: a basic pair of denim is the quickest way to show "generic."
I’m immediately drawn to Joe’s energy and design sense. I enjoy the fact that he likes the "fun side of fashion" and is into "bold colors, textures and interesting patterns." He and Daniel are really taking the time to think about the client and the needs of these ball boys. I mean HELLO, who wouldn’t want to wear a harness at work? I’ve already sent in my application! Fingers-crossed!
Patricia! Girl! There may be no "I" in "team," but there is an "I" in "confidence," and you are missing that in your team. Look around, there are some really solid ideas on Team Keeping It Real, and you are boring us with the fact that you want to make a pair of leggings interesting with all this intricate seam detailing. Daniel was giving you the best advice possible and you looked over it like a homeless man begging for money on the streets. Word of advice, you will have your time to "shine bright like a diamond," but for now, concentrate on making another pair of leggings the world doesn’t need while a child starves somewhere.
Watching the runway show I felt like a schizophrenic going through highs and lows for each collection. However, in my personal opinion, I think that Team Keeping It Real was rightly on top, while the Dream Team will, well, keep dreaming for another week even though they pulled it together the day of the show. I loved Layana’s functional and fashionable skort and the fact that Daniel was so gracious to lend her the win. However, Michelle had my favorite look of the evening and I think would have been a clear winner had her team been in the top! Keep your head up doll, and remember being on the bottom only gives you one way to go, and that’s up!
James, remember: designing menswear isn’t as "simple" as it seems, packing your bags, "no biggie!"
(in the tone of Miranda from "The Devil Wears Prada")...That’s all.