Joshua McKinley Blog
Category: "episode 9"
After working up a nice sweat last week for Heidi Klum’s New Balance Collection, it was clear that Karen "doesn’t go to the gym" to see what women are wearing while being fit and active but as Michael Kors said perhaps she is “going to a buffet on a cruise?" Mentioning cruising, Heidi; whose killing this leopard top and leather skirt, is looking like a modern day Bam-Bam from the Flintstones, feel the designers need a little leisure and DESERVE the morning off. Hopefully they have a TSA line with a state of the art metal detector at the restaurant because someone needs to check Ken’s pockets. He seems to really be into artillery since a few episodes back he was "bringing out the knives and playing the game how it should be played" and this week he says, "It’s time to pull out the guns and let the games begin." May I remind him that this is "Project Runway" and not a Gettysburg reenactment of the Civil War! He is however "watching my back. I’m watching who I speak with, my guard is up."
Mentioning Gettysburg, one of the many infamous battles of the Civil War between the North and the South, we turn our attention to this week challenge which is designing for the modern, Southern women. She is the Belk customer, but don’t think we are going to be recreating corsets and petticoats with lace that are accessorized with bonnets and fans, we are designing for women that are fashionably put together, who love vibrant color and enjoy expressing themselves through clothing. Ken seems to have this challenge in the bag since he "is a resident of the south" and "sees this woman every day and at every moment," while Jeremy is really thinking hard on how to NOT make this look "mother-of-the-bride." Good luck to them both, I know they will need it. Tim suggests a budget of $200 to $250 and a choice between a look that is for evening of the "lady who lunches."
Helen is worried since she really has no idea who this woman is, so she asks Ken to give her some pointers and all he can respond with is, "It’s a competition and I’m not going to go in depth about who the Belk customer is." Well isn’t that ironic folks…don’t you remember the tantrum that Ken had when Helen wouldn’t fill him in last week on her question to Tim about using the existing pants to use for a sizing and fit standard? Talk about hypocrisy!
Of course at Mood we have another Miranda and Alexander "plaid" fabric scavenger hunt happening between Bradon, Alexander and Alexandria. All I am hoping is that we can see it used in an inventive and creative way this time, because let’s face it, plaid pants are NOT groundbreaking, we have seen them for years at Hot Topic since the 90s, not to mention golf courses around the globe for decades past! What’s so great about this challenge is that the winning look will be produced and sold at Belk stores and Belk.com. It’s becoming one of those "whining" challenges, as I like to call it, where everyone is complaining that they don’t know who this woman is or what she dresses and looks like. It makes me want to scream at the top of my lungs and say, "Just design something fabulous and be confident in what you deliver!" Tim said it best when he was critiquing Bradon: "All that you can do is something that you believe in!"
This has not only been one of the most dramatic and caddy seasons but it has been one of the most unconfident seasons where the designers are always second guessing themselves. From their fabric choices to their designs, it’s made my ears bleed from all the whining. Just because Ken doesn’t believe plaid can be reinvented for the Belk customer doesn’t mean you should listen to someone with no formal training and thinks that eggplant purple is revolutionary. I appreciate people that take risks and the judges do as well which is why prints and plaid trumped boring blocked color this week. The two southern designers Dom, with her "hospital scrubs" and Ken with his "bridesmaid" dress were in the bottom and the Braden and Alexander were in the top. Even though I firmly believe Alexander should have taken home the win with his brush stroke plaid and masterfully crafter sweetheart bodice, Braden took home the win with his darling plaid high-low sleeveless shirt dress.
Although Uli and myself had an hour suicide design remake on "Project Runway All Stars," Heidi thought it would be a good opportunity to give the bottom three designers a chance to remake their looks with the help of one other designer. "60 Minutes" is not only a good show, but it’s a short amount of time to recreate a look, and Dom and Jeremy choose to start completely over, while Ken chooses to make adjustments to his existing look. In the end the transformations were par at best, but Dom really came out the comeback kid also being chosen as a winner for the Belk challenge. She too, like Bradon will now have their garments manufactured and sold!
Zac said it best that "fashion is all about taking those smart risks" and I couldn’t agree more! Do you think the designers have really been taking risks this season or have you been underwhelmed by the design and overwhelmed by all the drama?
If you’re like me, we have all had a week to cool ourselves down from last week’s episode, where the only thing that kept us watching was to get a glimpse of the beautiful bodies of the Thunder from Down Under boys! I was sad to start this episode with the absence of Amanda, but I imagine she is already making waves somewhere, even if it is in the tub! I know Nashville is ready to embrace her talent and I look forward to seeing what she does.
I prayed we would have less whining this week so we could get back to creating some glamorous fashion and of course we start the show out with Richard and Layana not being able to share toys in the sandbox! I mean honestly dolls, didn’t you ever learn to kill you enemies with kindness!? It’s the first rule of the fashion world, heck of the world in general, don’t be fooled by the fancy parties and the double kisses photographed during fashion week. They all go back to the office and chatter with annoyance and aggravation about their competition and "frenemies!"
One aspect that has begun to emerge is that the judges are an integral part of pairing the designers for the following challenge! I absolutely love this seeing how they have no idea what happens in the workroom on the day to day basis and are merely matching the designers on what they think can be interesting collaborations. It makes for a fabulous new dimension to the show and one that makes us all antsy in our seats.
With this being the Lord & Taylor challenge, it’s specific, and within lies the challenge to create a look that embodies not only the Lord & Taylor style, but the trick is to design something they will crave. Like most department stores, the consumer is oversaturated with choices, so this is a tricky challenge to design for knowing you will really have to hone in on your design and mold it to be something that you could see this specific customer wanting to spend $250 on.
Side note: It’s easy to get caught up on making it within the budget, but the truth of the matter is, if the judges love it and they want it, they will (no pun intended) "Make it work!"
It’s the point of the season where we certainly see designers at a lack of ideas and Richard is taking the top prize for being drained creatively. Heck, I’d rather see "tacky," in the words of Layana, then boring and seen before! Talking about his color blocked maxi dress as if it’s never been done before? Umm hello, did we not see Prabal Gurung three seasons ago!? And "Miss I need a pacifier to suck on" Layana feeding us from her hard and soft birdbath…Groundbreaking, leather and chiffon! Puke! And by puke I’m talking about her fabric choice. I don’t know, perhaps it reminded her of her abuela's sofa!?
Meanwhile in the far corner we are having a "he said, she said" battle following Tim’s departure from Michelle and Daniel. I mean it made for an interesting moment, but I just had to giggle knowing that it’s all recorded by the court room stenographer, and can be replay to sort out this debacle. They are both strong designers in the competition and can be of asset to one another, leave all the drama up to Layana and Richard for today, because you’re drawing to much attention to yourselves.
Side note: It’s great to finally see some sort of friction, even if its childish, it’s making for a far better ending to a rather slow and tedious, "OMG, we are all going to be friends here," beginning! Don’t you agree?
I was disappointed to not see Zac Posen in his chair this week, not only because he’s so handsome, but I think he would have been such an integral point of view for the designers to here from regarding retail and the salability of a garment. He has built a huge fashion design house in less than 15 years, Impressive!
Remembering it’s the Lord & Taylor event I realized I wasn’t going to be "blown away" by the runway show. But it’s the most realistic challenge we might see all season, because when the cameras stop rolling and the microphones are off, this is what it’s all about loves…SELLING! It’s what makes a business and it’s what grows a business. Frankly without selling your clothes might as well be a plumber. These designers are here to do just that, design, get picked up by stores, and create seasonal collections.
It’s definitely a diverse runway show and it gave the judges a lot to discuss. It was by far one of the first challenges that truly became a subjective numbers game and what Bonnie and the judges find the most attractive and sellable for that moment. That’s the tricky thing with fashion, one day you might be on the plus and nail all the right trends, and the next season, you might be completely off. Regardless you have to own what you do and believe in it!
Talking about believing in what you do, I applaud Samantha like a 13 year old girl at a Justin Beiber concert for this week! She took a risk to design for a more junior Lord & Taylor consumer and it didn’t work, but she stood by her design with conviction. With Lord & Taylor in the works to revamp the customer base for the store, I wouldn’t have taken such a risk to try and reach a new demographic for them, in terms of design, let them take that risk first and see if it’s profitable or not. I would have amped up a design as Michelle did for their current customer, which it was a gorgeous shift and what ultimately landed her the win. Remember: design and deliver who and what you are as a designer and let them come to you, because it’s tricky to try and make people see your vision especially when what they are looking at and for are dollar signs.