Season 3 Q&A: New Host Alyssa Milano Talks "All Stars"
Alyssa Milano"Who's the Boss?" ingenue and premonition-having "Charmed" witchtakes the reins as host of "Project Runway All Stars" Season 3 this week. The actress dished on her love affair with fashion, her favorite Season 3 challenges, and the surprising ways her work on "All Stars" affected her; check out the full Q&A after the jump, and be sure to tune in for a brand new season of "Project Runway All Stars" this Thursday, October 24 at 9.8c!
Can you tell us how you reacted when the producers contacted you about hosting this edition of "All Stars"? I'm assuming you were probably a big fan of the show before.
Yes, a huge fan. And I guess it kind of happened in a very backwards kind of way. Harvey Weinstein had actually seen the episode of "Fashion Police" that I had co-hosted and sort of, you know, decided with Georgina Chapman that maybe I would be a good fit for the show. So it was a very big surprise when I got that phone call. And my initial response was excitement but I wanted to make sure that we were on the same page. So I went in for a meeting with Lifetime and people from Harvey's company, from Weinstein.
And I basically just said, you know, I love fashion. I do not want to come across like I'm trying to be a fashion expert, but really I want to be the voice of that audience member that might love fashion but who isn’t an insider. And they were all on the same page with that. So it was a very, very exciting thing to be a part of. And a little scary too, obviously, because it's so outside of my wheelhouse in what I am used to. But I loved it.
"Project Runway All Stars" is different in that it's a lot more competitive. The stakes are higher. We expect more from the designers because they've been through this before. So we sort of hold them really responsible for their work and a little tougher. I went into this with the hope that I could just sort of be myself and bring my love of fashion and my passion for creativity to the show. I think that you'll find that the energy is a little different because I've been in the public eye since I was a little girl, so people know who I am. I really try to stay true to that and bring an energy to it.
When did your love affair with fashion first begin?
My mom was a fashion designer when I was a little girl. She was sold in Bloomingdale's and then she had a store in Brooklyn called Me and We. I grew up with patterns all over the house and stick pins in my feet, all of that. And my grandmother was actually a very successful milliner -- she was a hat designer. So I don't remember a time where I wasn’t into fashion. My mom used to design my clothes when I was a little girl. I was actually looking at pictures a couple of weeks ago. She just did the coolest stuff, stuff that, you know, I wish I could still fit into, because it holds up. And obviously the '80s were a big part of my career. '80s fashion is so specific. I remember so vividly wanting that sweater with the big shoulder pads, and the ripped jeans with the laces in them and all of that. I don’t really remember a time that I didn't love fashion.
Can you preview a couple of this season's challenges?
Sure, I'd love to. I loved the first challenge, which was a punk challenge. Debbie Harry was the guest judge on that. She is such an icon in many respects, but to actually see how blown away the designers were by just her presence and the possibility of her choosing one of their outfits to wear on tour, it just such a great tone for the whole season that was the first step with her.
I really quickly understood how important this experience was to these designers. And I don't mean the just the experience of that episode, I mean the entire season. These guys, I mean, yes, it's entertaining and it's a program, but honestly these designers, their dreams are made and shattered. And the emotion is so raw and real. So that was really great to see and it was great to see in the first episode and it was great to see with someone like Debbie Harry judging.
I also love the unconventional challenge this year, which takes place in an elementary school in New York. And basically the designers go in and their only materials they have to design from are school room objects and classroom things. So obviously that was very, very difficult. And they did an amazing job. And then I would say our finale is really, really special. Our finalists had to design a collection with the inspiration being their country of origin and it was really, really beautiful and spectacular. And that took place in the UN.
What have you learned from fellow judges Isaac Mizrahi and Georgina Chapman?
Oh, everything. They are so amazing and I'm so madly in love with both of them. It was such an amazing experience to sit next to them. They are really good at their jobs! And just watching them taught me so much. You know, for instance, there is nobody that gives a critique like Isaac Mizrahi. He always starts out with the loveliest thing you could possibly say and then just like goes for the jugular. It's the most amazing thing to watch. I don't know how he gets away with it. But he is so honest and real and, most of the time, right, although he and I disagreed most of the time on every single challenge, which was pretty funny. But he'd be like, "Oh, darling, I can't believe how you accomplished this in just 10 hours. It's just unbelievable the work that you put into it; it's so unfortunate how hideous it is." Oh, it was absolutely amazing to watch.
And then Georgina comes at things from her experience in a very sort of technical background. The points that she made were just dead on and she does it in such a classy, beautiful, elegant way, you know, not to mention the fact that she is gorgeous and has that amazing accent, you know, everything. She is just spectacular. So yes, I learned a lot from them and I was so grateful.
What qualities do you think someone should have to be a great designer?
I think that they should be fearless. I think they need to really, really, really be confident in themselves. Confidence is probably the biggest thing. I have a lot of designer friends that have to deal with a certain amount of heartache of the business side of what they do. And what I mean by that is they could absolutely love something but not produce it because buyers won't buy it. So that there is a lot of heartache in that. And I would think that it would be very easy to conform to what we consider mainstream fashion. To me it's really important for designers to continue to push the envelope and to express themselves creatively regardless of the outcome.
Did anything really surprise you about how "Project Runway" is done, or how it affected you?
You know, I am surprised that I miss everyone so much. It's really intensive. You spend a lot of time with these people in a very short amount of time and then all of a sudden it's over. I think as an outsider who is not a huge reality TV fan, you hear so much about whether or not reality TV is real. I have to tell you my experience is that this show is totally real. There is no time to fabricate anything. These designers had 10 hours to create a design to walk down the runway. And the stakes are so high that the emotion is just really, really raw and just out there. For me I think that was probably the most surprising thing being an outsider coming into a reality show not knowing what that really meant with how real reality really is.