Laura Bennett Blog
Category: "joshua mckinley"
It’s the home visit episode. My second favorite episode of the year, topped only by the unconventional challenge. I love to see not only the direction the designers are taking, but I love seeing where they live and I especially love seeing how they react to Tim Gunn on their turf. Babies, boyfriends, trampolines and turtle poop, it is always a blast. You can learn so much about a person when you visit them at home.
On Kimberly’s home visit, we learn that her collection is about transforming the urban Brooklyn girl. She didn’t say what she is transforming this girl into, but I can only guess the transformation is from urban Brooklyn to suburban Maryland, because her collection is full of way suburban bright colors and large gold earrings from the eighties. Kimberly says she lives in Brooklyn, but it looks like Maryland to me.
Next we go to Anya’s, where we learn that her collection, or lack thereof, is inspired by the islands and not a single viewer from New York to Uzbekistan is surprised. She has photos of the ocean, lagoons, the sky, and palm fronds. And that’s about it — some fabric, but no clothes. We also learn that losing her brother has ignited her love of fashion.
At Viktor’s home visit we learn that he was inspired by the death anniversary of his brother at Guadalajara, Mexico. Photographs from the trip became the fabrics for his collection. The fabrics are so awesome that I don’t really care where the inspiration came from. The garments themselves look awesome, too. Viktor doesn’t really need Tim’s critique.
Joshua, on the other hand, needs Tim’s critique like a suburban Maryland girl needs big gold earrings. He is working with a horrid color palette, and some of the most frightening fabrics I have ever seen hanging on one garment rack. One by one, Tim convinces him to drop them, and props to Josh, he responds.
We knew about Kimberly losing her mother, and god knows we know of Josh’s loss, so basically what we have learned from all of these home visits is that you can’t become a contestant on "Project Runway" and possibly expect to make it to the final four unless you have a dead relative.
The designers return to New York and move into their swank hotel penthouse. In a "Long Island Medium" moment, Joshua mistakes a breeze on the terrace for his mother. The designers pack up their garment bags and their assorted spirits and go to the Piperlime workroom to unveil their collections. Tim comes in to announce that they will be showing three pieces to the judges from which they will decide who will move forward, and he begins his final critiques wit the designers.
Viktor is fine; he doesn’t need Tim’s help. Kimberly is bouncing off the walls and can’t be helped. Anya’s critique doesn’t go well. She is broken because she designed what she designs and won’t surprise the judges. Joshua wins most improved. Seriously, those black and gray neoprene pieces are amazing — so cool and modern. That jacket is amazing. Joshua, please, dump the purple, hot pink, lime green, and that awful vintage fabric that Tim told you to lose that I see hanging on your garment rack, and do an entire collection of these black and gray pieces. Please.
It’s on to the runway, where Joshua is moved on to Fashion Week. I’m telling you, it was the black and gray jacket, once the judges see the other stuff their eyeballs may start to bleed. That jacket was so good, it made the judges forgive the schizophrenic ass-baring gown/catsuit. Viktor is in a bit of trouble because he followed Tim’s advice and put wow-pieces under wow-pieces but the judges want simple pieces under wow-pieces. These are luxury problems and he, too, is moved forward to Fashion Week.
Kimberly and Anya are left on the runway. The judges weren’t happy with either of their collections, but what the hell, let's all go forward. The queen is not amused.
So whether you are drinking the Viktor Kool-Aid or the Anya rum punch (I stole that from a commenter!) or what ever they drink in Queens and Brooklyn/Maryland, everyone’s happy. It’s on to Fashion Week.
Finally! A challenge that allows the designers to design! Three garments, two days, 500 dollars and an assistant! It’s so reasonable. No birds, no stilts and no sheepdogs, just a three-piece mini collection based on the inspiration of their choice; a completely appropriate challenge to choose the designers who will “return to New York with collections.” Notice that Heidi didn’t say “return with collections for Fashion Week,” which means we can look forward to an elimination upon their return, but in a season where jacking the designers around has been the name of the game, this challenge seems refreshingly straightforward.
Another big change in this episode is the queen of mean himself, Joshua. Instead of the straight-out aggressive Joshua, we are treated to the passive-aggressive Joshua, who instead of confronting designers to their faces, chooses to talk about them behind their backs — and by “them” I mean Anya. He still has a problem with her sewing skills and the fact that jackets are not in her repertoire, and he’s not afraid to let Viktor know it. Oddly enough, when asked who should join him at Fashion Week, Joshua chose Viktor and Anya. (?!?) The one thing we have learned this season is that Anya has laser focus and she has her eye on the prize. She may be a bit unaccustomed to not being loved by all, but she didn’t let Joshua trip her up, and girlfriend brought her A-game.
I would venture to say that Anya’s mini collection was the only slam-dunk on the runway. All three pieces were modern and effortlessly chic — nothing fussy or overworked. Asymmetry was the thread that held them all together — undoubtedly with some of Bert’s construction skills. There was a lot of talk about how complicated the ivory dress was, and how it needed instructions, but it didn’t come off that way at all. Yes, you had to have beautiful coloring, be six feet tall and be thin as a rail for the dress to work, but her model was all of those and looked fabulous in the dress. The short black dress was flawless, and the rust-colored wrap pants were a clever twist on the two dresses. I haven’t been drinking the Anya Kool-Aid all season, and I have questioned many of her wins, but this week she definitely deserved the first slot in the finals.
Next to move on up was Viktor. (It’s the Viktor Kool-Aid I’ve been drinking this season.) I find his designs to be modern and classic and elegant and sexy, all at the same time — not to mention his superb construction and craftsmanship. I also think his designs appeal to women of varying ages; I can see his pieces being worn by both mothers and daughters. All that said, while there was nothing inherently wrong with his mini collection, there was no wow factor either. It was all certainly done in great taste, and the fabric choice that represented the city skyline was brilliant, but there was no there there. Luckily for Viktor, the other designer didn’t bring it, so his second slot in the finals was secured.
This is where I’m glad I wasn’t sitting in one of those judge’s chairs. The last three designers were completely equal, in my opinion. If I had to choose which two would stay and which one to send home, based solely on the garments on the runway for this challenge only, I would be hard pressed. They each had exactly two duds and one decent piece.
Joshua’s winner was his white dress with the net top. I wasn’t crazy about the plastic netting he chose; the edges didn’t finish well, and on a garment this simple, flawless construction is mandatory. It was nice enough and it was clean-lined, but things went south from there. I’m not sure why Joshua keeps dragging out that circle skirt, because it always comes off as costumey. It could only be worse if black felt poodles were appliquéd on. This week’s version was especially horrendous. The length, the layered netting, and topping it off with the studded striped tank just added insult to injury. Even he admitted that the pieces didn’t work together. Only slightly better was his one-shoulder Lurex gown. I liked the idea of a gown layered over a tank, but not that gown in that fabric with that plastic belt, and not that tank. Despite the fact that he needs to edit (translation: he has bad taste), the judges like the idea that he has ideas, and he moves forward.
Kimberly’s silver cocktail dress was her success. It was a bit heavy-looking, probably due to the fabric, but the diagonal draping was interesting and, I would imagine, flattering on women who are not model-sized, and the proportions were spot-on. Her other two pieces, not so much. The coat didn’t immediately remind me of a Dutch exchange student like it did Heidi, but it did come off as very pedestrian-looking, and the color was unfortunate. The sculpted silver skirt was a valid attempt at a unique silhouette, but it just didn’t get there. For her dress Kimberly earns 1 point, enough for her to make it to the next round.
Laura Kathleen had only her graphic circle gown between her and the auf. I thought the design was strong, and as guest judge Zoe Saldana pointed out, the circles were gracefully placed. I think that this gown was potentially the best piece in all three of the remaining designers’ mini collections. If it had been executed with better craftsmanship, Laura would be in the finals and Kimberly would be packing up her puffy metallic brocade, but the poor fit and the weak construction (the overlay circle fabric didn’t lay properly on the lining) were just too distracting. Laura is sent packing after getting so close. (She may have the last laugh. I hear her decoy collection at Lincoln Center was one of the strongest.)
Next episode, home visits! Who doesn’t love seeing where everyone lives?
Coming this fall to Lifetime, it's "Project Joshua"! Joshua struggles personally and professionally to make his dream of becoming a fashion designer come true! Watch as he develops a pattern of behaving badly toward others, and then insincerely apologizing! Be amazed as he simultaneously plays the bully and the victim! Talks tough and then cries! Curses and then admonishes others for cursing! And most astounding of all, watch as this designer uses the death of his mother to explain away all of his antics! It's tasteless fashion! It's blatant insecurity! It's "Project Joshua"! Viewer discretion is advised.
I can't think of a more annoying character from "Project Runway" to be the focus of an episode, much less an entire season. This week, right out of the gate he irritates me by declaring how angry he is that his burning bush didn't win the last challenge. His exact quote was "The fact that I came in second in the avant-garde challenge is still pissing the shit out of me." In a season where every week's winner is merely the least crappy garment on the runway, just hanging in there should be your goal. Trust me, in any previous season, a faux-bois neoprene circle skirt in flames, complete with smoke netting headdress, would have been in the bottom.
Joshua seamlessly segues into trying to appoint himself leader of a team challenge with no leaders, continuing his irksome behavior. He then gives good reason for a Tacky Hall of Fame nomination by suggesting that the team's inspiration be the Village People. I can already hear Michael Kors with that one "It looks like a bunch of drunk transvestites threw up on the Village People!" I'm not sure, but I think he may have also failed Gay 101 by not knowing what costumes the Village People wear. I'll have to consult my gays.
Keeping in character, Joshua attacks Bert for of all things using a "swear word." He feels that people who use "swear words" are unintelligent. Note his exact quote above. I didn't go back through any previous episodes, but I bet I could find more than a few additional examples. Joshua, frustrated by Bert's existence, threatens to forfeit the whole thing. I am hopeful, but alas, his buddy Laura talks him down. Damn, so close. For a moment there I thought we could just get back to bad fashion.
Next Joshua treats us to his 27th insincere apology of the season. No one is buying it, but Bert graciously accepts it anyway. Joshua claims this ugly person is not who he is, but this is who we keep seeing.
The climax of "Project Joshua" comes when he has an emotional breakdown during a call to his father. On our normal show the climax might happen on the runway, but not this season. Joshua misses his mother. He wasn't able to travel home as often as he would have liked. Pursuing his dream in New York prevented him from being with his mom when she died. I believe his emotions are real. I believe he regrets not spending more time with his mother. I believe he is in pain. I do not believe any of this is an excuse for his bad behavior.
Joshua's emotional catharsis is helpful, and the team pulls together for a moment, but not soon enough to save the fashion. Not surprisingly, Team Joshua's Nuts is in the bottom. Good Joshua disappears, and Evil Joshua rears his ugly head again as he explains to Becky that she doesn't deserve to be there because, unlike him, she doesn't have a clear vision. We are to assume that tacky circle skirts are now visionary. Kimberly, Bert and Laura are safe. In the smackdown of the season, Joshua is standing there on the runway with Becky, waiting to see who gets aufed. Becky is sent to the workroom to turn off the light switch (that doesn't exist) underneath the table.
You might think I would be disappointed with the outcome and scream "producer interference," but jacket for jacket, I admit that Joshua's jacket was more interesting than Becky's. I am actually more confounded as to why Anya won for Team Chaos. Her dress wasn't as good as Olivier's jacket or Viktor's gown. The inspiration idea was Anthony's. Why didn't they get the win? Tune in next week, same time, same place, to "Project Joshua" and find out.
A Note to Commenters: I do read your comments! Every single one! Just like you, I am a fan of the show and I love to read your opinions, even when you disagree with me. I am constantly amazed by how funny your comments are, and by the great observations you make that I totally missed.
I have always been realistic about "Project Runway." When fans tell me, "I hate all the drama, I just watch it for the fashion," I remind them that as great as "Project Runway" is, the show is not really about finding the next great fashion designer. If it were, there would be a lot of new famous and successful designers out there, and I doubt that even three of the previous eight season winners are still in the business. The goal of the producers is to create great television, and the show works because season after season it is a mix of interesting characters interacting with each other and managing to remain creative despite a lack of time, materials, money, sleep and whatever else the producers can think of to throw at them. The fighting, backbiting, jealousy and smack-talking are all normal reactions to the stressful environment of the designers, and it's tolerable, as long as we get our fashion. Take the fashion away and we might as well be watching "Temptation Island."
With very few exceptions, I find the fashions of this season to be very, in the words of the Great Orange One, underwhelming, so it's the bickering and drama that stand out. Perhaps great design is there, and when a few more of the less talented contestants get eliminated I will be able to focus on the good work but not this week. This week's episode featured drab greige fabrics in bunched, shredded and wrinkled pedestrian gym-to-grocery-store designs. Viktor and Kimberly's entries were exceptions. I found them to be polished and professional-looking, perhaps because of the well-made jackets. I also liked Bert's asymmetrical top or I think I did. Anything would have looked good next to this week's craptastic work of Anthony Ryan and Laura. Again, what's bad is so bad that I have trouble focusing on what's good.
Making the designers run for team leadership positions didn't help. Whose idea was that, anyway? "Project Runway" is a design competition, not a physical competition. Did anyone really think the four youngest males were not going to win? And the paramedic scene with poor Olivier was just embarrassing truly a low moment in "PR" history.
I don't want to be completely negative. There were some redeeming personality moments in this episode. Cecelia stepped aside because she felt she was taking an opportunity away from a more passionate designer, and Heidi handled the situation well. Viktor and Olivier were given the opportunity to bring back an eliminated designer; they chose Josh C. because they felt he would appreciate the opportunity to learn more, and not for some calculating competitive reason like they didn't see him as a personal threat. Josh M., sincere or not, apologized to Becky for the way he treated her, and jumped in to take responsibility for the design of her garment when it looked like she was in trouble on the runway. And lastly, Anya and Becky didn't bitch when Josh M. won because of a garment he neither designed nor sewed.
It isn't much, but it does give me hope for the human race, and it's enough to keep me watching the rest of the season.