Austin's Exit Interview
I don't know if you guys can read through the subtlety in my blog posts each week, but I'm a huge Austin Scarlett fan, a love that's burned bright since the very first episode of "Project Runway" and only persisted while watching (the greatest show ever created in the history of the world) "On the Road With Austin & Santino." For our exit interview, I talked to the Season 1 designer about his mustache, putting the Star in All Star and the future of the Dead White Lady Collection.
Lisa Raphael: I loved that clip of you saying that you “put the ‘Star’ in ‘All Star’” and I (clearly) agree with that! Austin Scarlett: In terms of the phrase “star,” I’ve always been inspired by classic Hollywood and the whole attitude of just being really the most beautiful, polished, glamorous you can be at all times. I grew up loving as a little boy watching the movies on Turner Classic Movies and I wanted to be a part of that magical world and that's just part of the aesthetic I love as a designer.
I love to have fun with it too. “Project Runway All Stars,” may not have necessarily captured so much of the humor I have when I go on with all my qualities. I never ever ever take myself that seriously I think fashion is something you should have fun with! It should also be something that boosts confidence, and I think as a role model for young designers out there or gay youth or anyone who may feel a bit different in any way, I have always wanted to project a positive, confident personality to the world out there.
Do you get a lot of response from young designers who look up to you or see themselves in you?
I get a lot of beautiful, beautiful letters from young designers! I think people recognize I’ve never followed anyone else’s drum. I just do my own thing and I’m not apologetic about that and I think a lot of people really admire that, I think it’s a threat to a lot of people, honestly, sometimes I get these really horrible letters. People, I think get, frightened to see someone who can be so different and be confident about it and not apologize for being flamboyant or whimsical or anything like that. The letters from the aspiring designers is probably the best part about the experience.
A lot of people thought Mondo was robbed in Season 8 and that “All Stars” was his to lose, but you won the first challenge ever so you were coming from a different place. Elisa Jimenez told me she thought you should win because it would tell the best story to have you, the designer from the first season, be crowned All Star.
You know, a lot of the people on “All Stars” had great hopes to win their respective seasons and, of course, Mondo was one of the more recent ones. I would have loved to have won but I even before going into the show the first season, I knew they probably wanted a more commercial designer, a more ready-to-wear American sportswear-ish designer. That’s what the American fashion industry is about. My voice as a designer is more couture-oriented, but I decided I was going to maintain that whether or not it meant from winning or compromise my sensibility. For “All Stars,” I wasn’t going to go back in time and not stick with what I know which is the glamour and the romance. [“All Stars”] was simply another great chance to share my voice with the world. Whatever happens at the end of the day, “Project Runway” will always be a truly unique and wonderful passport for creative expression. I think that I was successful in maintaining my voice and projecting what the Austin Scarlett line is all about.
Are you working on a line right now?
Yes, I am going to be debuting a new collection of evening dresses and wedding dresses for Fall 2012. It will definitely be in major department stores and luxury boutiques across the country and there are just a lot of incredible developments that just happened these last few days so I’m really excited about all of it. There will be more information about it coming soon.
Were you surprised at the attention your mustache and not-mustache received during the season?
Yes! I think the hilarious thing is how many people were completely divided as to whether they liked it or not. You know, I love both. I shift between growth, I did think it was funny.
Right now it's 66/34 in favor of you without the mustache on myLifetime.com.
Yeah, I don’t know, I thought with the mustache I felt more distinguished and gentlemanly. I guess imperial and David Bowie-like without.
I can’t believe I missed this but a fan said you were wearing an "Austin & Santino" shirt on one episode. Where do we get those?
I wore it for the Nanette Lepore challenge! Those were made exclusively for the cast and crew of "On the Road With Austin & Santino" and they were given out at the wrap party so they’re not available for public sale. If you become my boyfriend, you may have a chance of wearing it on weekends. Other than that...
That’s a lot of pressure! You were the center of a lot of great All Stars moments, including Anthony Williams’ “dead white lady” comment and then the “Austin Starlett” Isaac Mizrahi slip-up. If you had to use one of the moments from “Project Runway All Stars” to be the theme for a new collection, what would to be?
I definitely think the Austin Scarlett Starlett collection would be fun, more of like a younger sort of party dress/girls' night out collection. Dead White Lady Collection could also be an interesting theme at some point. Dead white ladies have always been a tremendous inspiration to me and will continue to be. Although I like living white ladies too.
One of my favorite moments with you on the show was when you won the Pharrell Williams challenge. You seemed genuinely touched when he complimented you.
Oh my God! I was baffled! For someone like Pharrell who works with the most amazingly-talented people in the entertainment industry. He recognizes star quality, he knows what he’s talking about, so that was tremendous. The fact that he just understood the whole story I was trying to tell was really fantastic. I really can’t wait to work on it. I'm so excited to work on [something with him].
Don't miss one of the best Austin Scarlett videos and view his portfolio of work from this season and past collections here! Read my interview with Mondo here and stay tuned to the blog for Michael's later this week!