The contestants design their own fabrics; Joshua throws more tantrums

By Annie Barrett
September 09, 2011 at 04:02 AM EDT
Barbara Nitke/Lifetime
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Welcome back to Project Runway, where the concepts are high (“clocks”), the commitment to the concepts is low (“I mean…. probably clocks”), and the entire flow of production depends on the mood of a single, volatile, terribly troubled gay Ryan Reynolds. When Joshua McKinley decides it would behoove his reality character development to buck up and start treating his fellow designers like humans, all is well. This happens once per episode. The rest of the time — watch out.

This week the contestants competed in the HP and Intel Challenge, which involved running their grubby fingers all over some “touchsmart desktops” and attempting to reason with printers that just won’t work (if you’re over 50). Also, they had to create a textile design from scratch, film a video to serve as the backdrop for their fashion shows, choose music, learn from Betsey Johnson how to do a wobbly cartwheel without your weave falling out, etc. Basically they had to produce their own runway events. Quite a tall order for the short-fused.

Of course, Bert was the last to be picked. While Heidi pretended to faint out of embarrassment for him, I wondered — if Joshua hadn’t been pulled first from Heidi’s wizard hat of tricks, would anyone have picked him to be on his or her team? I guess Anya or Laura might have. But it’s become increasingly laughable that even though Bert’s supposed to be the uncooperative curmudgeon to avoid, it’s Joshua who can derail an entire challenge simply by picking a meaningless fight and sashaying into different rooms so that people have to come comfort him OVER NOTHING.

The teams named themselves Chaos and Nuts and Bolts, which was actually really confusing — these names each made perfect sense, but for the opposite team. Last week’s challenge winner Anthony Ryan, along with Anya, Bryce, Viktor, and Olivier, called themselves Chaos and were favorably presented in a soft-focus, slow-motion montage of them laughing and having fun. Anthony even came down with a severe case of the “sh*ts and giggles” because he used to work in graphic design. Meanwhile, Joshua, Kimberly, Becky, Bert, and the love child of Betsey Johnson and Oscar de la Renta (Laura) (she wishes) stood around glaring at each other and waiting for Joshua’s next move. Things got so scary, they were even considering creating designs for five female versions of the Village People. God, I wish they’d done that. “Stop saying ‘fireman’ or I’m gonna keep thinking it, LAURA!” will definitely be haunting me for awhile. Why turn on your last remaining ally like that? And a fireman Village Person is totally plausible. If she’d still been on that “sea amoeba” kick, then I can see him getting upset.

NEXT: Sympathy for the devil? I admit I started tearing up along with Joshua/G.R.R. as he drama-queened it up while chatting with his dad about his late mom’s birthday. I’ve realized I can’t get through any “call home” segment of reality television without crying if the person in the competition — no matter how vile! — is crying. I’m just not that talented. It’s a terrible flaw. So I felt sorry for him then. I’m also sorry that Joshua isn’t aware of the first r in the word frustrated. And I’m sorry it looked like his shirt was entirely unbuttoned during his confessionals, instead of only halfway unbuttoned like a tool. Okay, cool, looks like I’m back to hating on him again.

Joshua even picked a fight with Tim — Tim! — after the worried mentor asked that dreaded question: Where is this jacket going? “I really don’t like this idea of things having to go somewhere. It could be going anywhere, it’s a jacket.” OH MY GOD, JOSHUA, JUST PICK A PLACE. Not a fight. A place. Any place. The Village! There are people there. FIREMAN, FIREMAN, FIREMAN. Things got so tense (and according to Josh, Tim got so “frightened” by his fustration) that Tim asked all the nuts and the rest of the dolts to join hands and vow to communicate.

Two notes that have not much to do with plot: 1) “Frankly, I’m troubled by your jumpsuit” has to be one of the best throwaway Tim Gunn lines ever. 2) Bert calling out “Goodnight, clothes” to the empty workroom after a long day 2 was so cute! I just wish he’d continued with the story. Goodnight stars, goodnight air, goodnight noises everywhere.

Finally, it was runway day. Joshua apologized to everyone and sauntered around sucking up to people and fingering Bert’s dress. “I think a princess would have cut it up even more,” he cooed. He just wanted to move past those bad feelings…and save some face moments before judgment time. Just in case he might flip out again, Laura — or possibly a robot version of Laura — did some damage-control babysitting, replying to Josh’s every utterance with lines like “I completely understand how you feel and echo your sentiments.” Wow, she’s good.

NEXT: Clothing walls and ticking clocks Even though the episode sort of set us up to expect a pants-related disaster from Olivier (who spent most of his time on an impeccably tailored jacket), Team Chaos delivered with a cohesive black, white, and red all over “Rorschach test” collection. I liked the squarish back theme throughout and didn’t find any element of the show redundant. I didn’t even mind Bryce’s less sophisticated shorts and t-shirt look, because I thought the back of that shirt looked so cool. Nina’s only criticism was the sloppy makeup and hair. Guest judge Rose Byrne said she would “totally wear all of these things” — even though she’s scared of prints. I was a little scared of Rose’s winged eyeliner myself, but I enjoyed her and she seemed to be having a blast. The other guest judge (huh? why?), designer Rachel Roy, didn’t get to talk as much.


The judges agreed Anya had a wonderful eye for prints and knew how to use them “in a mixed way that worked,” said top American designer Michael Kors. (I miss that intro!) This dress was great, but I think they went with Anya as the winner because she’s easy to work with and got the most votes from her teammates. Well, two votes. One from Bryce and one from herself. Designers and their egos….

NEXT: Team Nuts and Bolts was a very different story Despite Joshua’s plan to distract the judges with his screaming patterned shirt, they witnessed his group’s collection and hated it. They couldn’t even appreciate the looped video footage of Laura’s feet clomping around taxicabs. “It looked like a hooker convention coming home after a late night,” said Michael. Hooker convention. I love that. Here are the designs they liked the least:


The mid-calf length was terrible (as a fun subtitle pointed out), but the judges recognized that Bert knows how to cut clothes. I hate this large-scale “sunbursts of science” fabric, but really enjoyed the diagonal zipper across the bust and the single diagonal strap across the back. I liked how Bert pointed out that in fact, they had done that when Michael jokingly posed “here, make a gown out of your sheets” as some sort of imaginary task that would be really difficult and pointless.


“I have three separates made impeccably,” scowled Joshua once he realized he was in the bottom. True, he was probably knocked down to the final two with Becky due to attitude instead of design. But as Nina pointed out, “He came up with the most terrible print of all.” And as no one pointed out because they didn’t need to, he’s a psycho hose beast.


“Maybe Kimberly was smart and realized a lot of women didn’t want to have ‘canceled’ written all over their crotch,” suggested Michael. Alas, the third skirt wasn’t the charm for poor Becky, who had three equally horrible fabrics to gather around her model’s crotch. And “the top and the skirt are just so nothing,” added Michael. In the end, the judges decided Becky didn’t have enough design conviction of her own to continue on in the hopes of becoming America’s next top Joshua McKinley babysitter. And to make it worse, Becky’s one-time partner Kimberly called her aesthetic “simple” and asked her to corroborate that, right on the runway! Cringeworthy.

Look for our chat with Becky later today, and vote for the Best ‘Runway’ Stinkface of the Night over at PopWatch.

See you next Friday!

Annie on Twitter

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