(Almost) 20 Questions with Santino Rice

The designer dishes on firsts, favorites and what he loves about Austin Scarlett!

What was the first garment you ever made?

The first garment I made was for Barbie.

Who was your first real client?

My first real client was a friend in high school. I made her homecoming dress.

What is the item you’re most proud of designing?

I’m proud of just about everything I’ve designed. It’s so incredibly hard to pick one or even a few.

Who is your favorite style icon?

Catherine Deneuve and Grace Jones, to name two.

Who are your favorite designers?

Yohji Yamamoto, Azzedine Alaïa, James Galanos.

What are your design influences?

God, nature, pop culture, music.

Who is the woman you design for?

Confident, sexy, one of a kind.

What is your favorite material or fabric to work with?

It’s hard to pick just one, but I would say satin-faced mousseline.

What are your favorite pieces in your closet?

Diesel leather jacket, Margiela tuxedo pants, Etro blazer.

If you could design anything for anybody, who and what would it be?

I would love to design an entire wardrobe for my mother. She deserves it.

How has your career changed since "Project Runway"?

Everyone knows who I am now, and in a career that’s a huge thing. I rarely ever have to introduce myself to anyone, which is nice.

Have any of the places you’ve visited for the show reminded you of where you grew up?

Oh yeah. Pretty much every place has reminded me of where I grew up. I grew up in St. Charles, Missouri, which at the time was a small town. My dad used to hunt deer and fish. I was into archery, I’m pretty handy with a compound bow and I’m deft at skeet shooting.

Has working on this show changed your outlook/approach to designing?

No, because at the end of the day, regardless of whether I’m designing for a celebrity or an everyday woman, people are people and all women want to look beautiful.

What are your hobbies besides designing?

Making music, anything where I’m using my hands.

Why are you (or aren’t you) easy to travel or live with?

I think I’m very easy to travel with because I believe in letting people be and giving people their space when they need it. Also, and maybe most importantly, I can drive!

You do so much traveling for the show. What are your on-the-road essentials?

Dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap, my MacBook pro, lots of clean underwear.

What are Austin’s strengths as a designer? What are the best parts of his personality?

Austin’s unique point of view, his eye for detail and quality, and his love of beauty. Austin has too many amazing attributes to list, but he has surprised me with his willingness and daring to engage in off-the-wall activities that I otherwise wouldn’t think he’d be up for.