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Mondo's Exit Interview

By LisaRaphael Mon., Mar. 26, 2012 ,12:56 pm EDT

Mondo Guerra Project Runway All StarsSeason 8 was the first season of "Project Runway" that I got the opportunity to work on, so my love for Mondo Guerra is most definitely there, even if I haven't written him weekly love letters (okay, okay, or haikus) on this blog. On Friday afternoon, I finally got the chance to have a convo with Mondo — who I've admittedly been at events with for the past two years but am always too shy to chat up. While small in stature, the designer is intimidating in person, always wearing a super cool, crazy outfit, flanked by fabulously-dressed Gaga-lookalikes (his "Little Mondsters," he explains). But really, Mondo is one of the funniest, nicest people I've ever chatted with. Maybe it was because he admitted he was doing the interview in his underwear. Maybe he just really wanted a poem, but either way: my haiku for the deserving "PRAS" winner and below that, my interview with him.

Polka-dotted prince
of my grinning houndstooth-ed dreams,
next time I'll say hi!

Lisa Raphael: When all is said and done, what is the most exciting part about the win for you?
Mondo Guerra:
One of the most exciting parts was being able to share the experience with Michael Costello.

Tell the fans a little bit more about your friendship — did doing "All Stars" together hurt or strengthen your relationship?
We talk or at least text each other every day! "All Stars" definitely strengthened our friendship. I mean, we were holding each other up throughout the season. I think people kind of got the impression that I was taking advantage of our friendship, but that isn’t the case. I really do value our friendship and Michael understands me quite a bit and I understand him. He understood that I had to take a step back and I wasn’t trying to be disrespectful to him or Austin, I just needed some space.

In one of the videos on myLifetime.com, you talk about the inspiration you get from people who send you letters. Where do you find that pick-me-up at that eleventh hour?
On this particular challenge, it just came from all that anxiety and depression and anger and not wanting to be in the competition. I took all of that negative energy and really applied it to something positive, which was the collection which came together really beautifully and I created this “therapy” with everything I was going through. Playing with the ink, and the Rorschach print and being able to do some more artistic stuff, it was very fitting and I think it came off really beautiful.

My favorite dress was the tight number with the Rorschach print on the front with the one red sleeve. Was there any significance with just the red peaking through on the sleeves of some of your looks? I really liked that detail.
Yeah, I had this idea to make it kind of clinical. This is a little morbid, but it was kind of like blood. You got that right? It was cool because initially I was going to put this blue color into it, like this grey-ish blue because it reminded me of walls in a clinic and the old chairs you sit in when you wait. But I ended up leaving that out. I thought it was really strong to be just three colors.

Mondo Guerra Project Runway All StarsYes! It was really cool and I bet having Mila there helped pull the black-white-red aesthetic together. I don’t know if you read her exit interview on the blog, but she brought up your friendship and how we didn't really get to see that on camera.
I didn’t read the exit interviews because I didn’t want to hear who the other designers wanted to win! [Laughs] Mila and I had a great friendship. I think they wanted to keep Mila as this cold, distant person and she’s actually not that person at all, she’s really fun! She’s very calm, and she’s very professional and she doesn’t have to put on a showcase to impress people because it’s not about her, it’s about her work.

I went to the finale runway and I knew who the top three were at the time and I knew your collection immediately when I saw it come out. I think anyone in the audience who saw knew it was you. Did you kind of see this as a continuation of your Season 8 Fashion Week collection?
The Rorschach dress was kind of a tribute to the original bubble dress I created for my Fashion Week collection in Season 8 — which I got a lot of sh*t for from the judges but the audience loved it.
But Heidi and Jessica Simpson both wore it.
Right, so it’s like whatever. You know who gave me the courage to go there? It was Georgina. She said, "You know, it’s okay to revisit places that you’ve been before." So there are definitely some things that can be recognized from past work.

Mondo Guerra Project Runway All StarsAre we going to see a lot of your finale collection in the collection you're now working on for Neiman Marcus? Are we going to see your purses or other accessories?
Yeah, I think we’re definitely going to revisit some of the looks that we saw, at least similar silhouettes. The price points are a little bit more boutique-based but we are definitely putting in some items — I talked to Ken about how there should be some pieces in the collection that are a little more accessible, one size fits all. So bags, special-edition t-shirt because not all the fans and the lovers of fashion can afford a $150 skirt so we wanted to make something really accessible to that customer who wants something and takes part of that experience but can’t necessarily afford to pay the amount that it's marked at. So you’ll see some pieces like that. I mean, yes, the other pieces will definitely be "Mondo" — you’ll see a lot of print, there are going to be polka-dots again, as well as houndstooth and stripes. People have been asking for certain things and they like what they saw on the show so I’m kind of playing off of what I’ve already heard. As much as I’m doing it for myself, I’m doing it for the fans of "Project Runway" and the fans of my work.

Don't miss Mondo's video exit interview and view his portfolio of work from this season and past collections here! PLUS, stay tuned to the blog for exit interviews with Austin and Michael later this week!