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Joshua McKinley Blog
Category: "episode 2"
A rainy June afternoon in the Big Apple. An armored truck approaches the Parsons School of Design. Two muscular men armed with guns and bullet-proof vests exit the truck, carrying in hand millions of dollars' worth of jewels. It all sounds like plot for new blockbuster movie, but is in fact the suspenseful build up to the reveal of our second challenge: Eveningwear! Impactful, I must say, and definitely dramatic. With a prize package of nearly half a million dollars, these designers better get used to dealing with "green," and not in the sense that Timothy has so comically displayed.
Heidi hits the catwalk looking like a million bucks holding the infamous button bag that ravished the runway last season while bringing chaos and fear to the idea of team challenges. I donít know about you, but I was picturing a dÈj‡ vu moment developing, triggered by all the new changes, but Heidi reveals the button bag has been dusted off for its customary purpose to identify in which order the designers will choose the jewels and which model that will be their new best friend.
While their names are being called and the designers are choosing with such an upbeat tone in all of their voices, I question if any of the designers even really look at the jewelry, or are instead more focused on which model they want to work with. To be honest, screw the jewels. I would have dropped them into the ocean, just like the old lady did in the end! As beautiful as they are, in this game, your model is way more crucial than a tear-drop earring and a choker from Harry Winston. Leave those for the broad on Fifth Ave. who needs to cover up a botched facelift while trying to get a deal on her "cosmetic updates" in Mexico. This show is all about a ton of talent and whole lot of strategy.
Speaking of strategy, I am captivated by the new element of the designers being in control of their own GoBank account throughout the season, giving them the opportunity to decide how much they want to spend on each challenge. It's absolutely fabulous. However, 45 minutes is too long to shop at Mood! It's a very calm checkout process. No one has even broken a sweat running up and down the stairs and aisles to find what they need! It may be awful but I am secretly praying that someone will pull a Cher in "Clueless" and blow through their money faster than expected so we get to watch what happens. Come on, show me who the shopaholics are! Let's face it, we are going to need some form of entertainment after Timothy is no longer on the show shopping for remnants in the garbage bags, explaining his stance on sustainability and dissing Benjamin Franklin's hard work.
Back in the workroom and aware of the challenge only being one day, tensions rise high and it doesn't take long before Sandro and Ken are going at it in the sewing room. The confrontation truly starts out as catty gay banter that quickly turns into a "reading" war between the two. True "Rupaul's Drag Race" realness. But all of Sandro's frustration is sparked by the machines he has been working at being messed up every time he returns, and rightfully so. It's clear there are people in the competition who don't even know how to properly thread the machine and bobbin, like Sue, who reaches out to Dom and seems less than appreciative of her help. Question: How in Godís name can you enter a competition of this level and not know how to use an industrial sewing machine?
I promote taking risks in this competition, but so early on in the game it's important to make sure the ones that the designers decide to take are strategic. For example, Kahindo decides to work in a very graphic print. This is a great way to stay true to your roots and to what defines you as a designer, but to work in a fabrication such as silk charmeuse for the very first time is a HUGE risk. The fabric alone is enough to make an impactful dress, but then to go and add a horrendous circle cutout detail with shirring is just over-working. Mentioning "over-working," Helen, who has an eveningwear background, is confident that she will do extremely well in this challenge. It's great to say you love one specific area of design and that it's your forte but you better be able to back it up with masterful work! For someone who is in the eveningwear market, a bust cup and boned bodice is essential to most strapless gowns, and the fact that Helen is attempting one for the first time makes me curious to know where she was trained.
Kate may be designing a dress that bears a resemblance to Vivienne Westwood, as Alexander points out. I do applaud Alexander for being realistic and honest, stating, "I could repeat designers left and right, but I came here to be original!" Isnít originality what being a designer is all about? While Sandro may be extremely referential in his designs, at least he knows his history of fashion, but learning to use the equipment such as a steamer is clearly a task for the minions in his studio to handle. Maybe the steamer isn't working since Sandro clearly let all his steam out on Ken the day before. I'm in utter shock as we see Sandro pull a crew member onto the set to help him. Learning to troubleshoot during this competition is all part of the process, but Sandro seems to be above discovering that.
The diamonds might be the only flawless element of the runway show, which is more or less predictable and ordinary. Pretty dresses, I get it, but where is the fashion and something interesting to discuss with the coworkers over the lunch break the day after the show?! The viewers are craving something to rave about and all they can get, as Zac puts it, is a "dress from a sale rack!" Hands down, Kate's dress and her narrative about Versailles and fleeing with diamonds in the middle of the night is absolutely stunning, while Helen, on the other hand, is having a nervous breakdown during the runway show. It's so uncontrollable that Tim has to go over to calm her down. I mean, why so upset? You're only on national television showing everyone how horribly you built bust cups; it's only the end of your career! Entirely said in jest, but let's call a spade a spade. There seems to be some very unstable contestants on the show this season and it's only the second episode!
Helen receives some great words of advice from our judges this episode that every designer should hear:
Zac Posen: "Fashion is black and white. You can put as much love, sweat, tears, and hours into something, but if you don't deliver, you don't deliver."
Eric Daman: "You have to time manage, and understand the competition before taking on a huge amount of work."
Heidi Klum: "You have to be careful not to bite off more than you can chew!"
In the end it's the veteran from Season 11, Kate, who takes the win, even with Alexandria thinking there is "only drama to the dress, but no originality." Well, Alexandria, people donít go to the theatre to be bored, they go expecting drama or else the show wouldnít make it past previews! And with Nina being one of the toughest critics, she still is smart enough to "celebrate the ambition" of the designers and the blood, sweat, and tears they put into their work.
What are your thoughts? Would you have chosen to send Kahindo's bargain-basement look home over Timothy's dumpster-diving eco-friendly ensemble?
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.