Originally from Willoughby, Joshua McKinley, a contestant on season nine of Project Runway, currently resides in New York (in fact you can see his abode here!), and has a BFA from The Fashion Institute of Technology. We spoke to the Project Runway alum about producer-induced drama, whether he has gotten any advice from past contestants, what he really thinks about the judges, and more…
The Fashion Spot: Was this your first time trying out for Project Runway or any reality TV design competition?
Joshua McKinley: I had gone to open calls twice before, but this was my first time actually getting to see the judges!
tFS: Do the judges, Tim Gunn, or the producers help you at all after the show has wrapped?
JM: Unfortunately there is not much help from anyone following the show, but what is nice about that is that it really helps to separate the big dogs with ambition and determination from the others. I have always been a go-getter and someone that does not settle until I am satisfied, so it has definitely shown me that with persistence and perseverance, anything is possible.
tFS: Most memorable experience during the show? Was there a day you wish you could forget?
JM: It would be difficult to pinpoint one specific memorable experience from the show because overall the whole experience was amazing! I would have to say I truly loved being a part of the first live outdoor event with the stilt challenge and seeing all the fans that came out to support the event. Regarding a day that I wish I could forget, I don’t think that I would choose any, because I believe life is worth living with no regrets!
tFS: Do you think being on Project Runway can have more of an impact on your career now versus a few seasons ago or have you found the opposite?
JM: I firmly believe it’s all how you take it and what I gave to it. I think that doing Project Runway is an amazing platform to show people my talent and skills and can only help in the long run. It has given me exposure that I would not have been able to get having not done the show. I think that with hard work and a vision great things are about to materialize!
tFS: How much do producers encourage drama?
JM: I don’t think it a question of encourage, but rather, it’s inevitable. This is season 9 and I think the formula that Project Runway, being an Emmy-nominated show, has is that of genius. Drama is bound to happen when you put 16 creative and diverse minds together all vying for a prize! In some ways it’s like Survivor Runway! You have to be on the top of your game and outwit, outlast, out design the others!
tFS: Did you ever question why you signed on to do the show?
JM: Never! I had tried out so many times, because I realized that it would be an amazing platform to showcase my talent if given the opportunity. I have had acquaintances that have been on the show before and their careers seem to be doing very well at the moment and I was hoping for the same opportunity!
tFS: Thoughts on Tim Gumm? The judges?
JM: What I love about Tim is that he is EXACTLY what you see on TV – kind, insanely intelligent, respectful, and a crucial part of the show. He truly does care immensely and becomes extremely attached to each and every one of the designers throughout the competition.
I enjoy each judge for what they brought to the table and the dynamic that they add to the show. I would have to say the judge I was most hoping to impress was Nina Garcia. Being that she is a fashion editor of Marie Claire, she would be the one that can help a career immensely by pulling clothing for editorials or helping to get your clothing into the right stylists hands. Micheal Kors is lovely and a riot, always adding an amazing critique and something important to think about from a designer’s standpoint. And Miss Heidi Klum brings the glamour and beauty! She would be great and is able to give constructive criticism on what it is that appeals to women.
tFS: What was your favorite challenge?
JM: I would say that my favorite challenge was the Petland Challenge. As a designer, I love getting the chance to work with unconventional materials. From a design perspective, it helps me to think outside the box and create something that then can be pulled back into a design or a design element that I might not have otherwise thought of and bring it to a commercial and marketable level.
tFS: Have you stayed in touch with any of the contestants?
JM: Of course! I have created such great bonds with some of the contestants, and friendships that I see lasting for a very long time. When going on the show, I had hoped that being surrounding by such creative individuals that friendships would definitely emerge from the experience, and I am so humbled it has happened.
tFS: What have you been up to since the show has wrapped?
Since wrapping up filming, I have been working on my next collection, doing some amazing freelance projects and meeting the most amazing new people!
Images: Spring 2012 Joshua McKinley images from NYmag