Everyone's favorite third person-talking designer, Suede, was cut from the competition last night, paillettes and all. The former "Project Runway" Season 5 designer chatted with myLifetime.com about his "wearable art" garment, workroom catfights and why he will always be Team Tim Gunn. Check out his Q&A after the jump!
On "Project Runway," one of my favorite challenges every season is when the designers get to create their own fabricI think that it's the one challenge that really lets the designers show off their own aesthetic without being pigeonholed. So I pretty much felt like a kid on Christmas morning when I found out that there was going to be a similar challenge on "PRAS"…with spray paint! How freaking cool! And I think I can safely say that they designers felt the same way. (Really…Andrae's expressions always say it all.)
There's nothing more I love than a spray paint party on the windiest day ever! Seriously, I don't know how the designers came out of creating their fabrics without a speck of spray paint on them! Upon first glance, the fabrics that stood out to me were Althea, Joshua, Uli and Anthony Ryan's. But, per usual, I was curious to see what all the designers were going to do with their new creationsI didn't write anyone off quite just yet!
Say what you want, but I am very Team Laura Kathleen. In my opinion (and feel free to disagree in the comments below!), I like her sassy, sometimes bitchy, yet confident attitude. If she didn't have the designs to support the fact that she's a workroom diva, then I'd be all like, hush. But I think she one of the strongest designers in the competition and she can hold her own. So…all power to her. (And really, who doesn't love a good awkward scene? You know, the kind when you walk into a room and know that people are talking about you? Ivy and Kayne did not do a good job covering that up.)
Speaking of people talking about you, how come Joanna didn't tell Suede that he should really rethink his design?! She cared more about that the model could wear a bra than the fact that the dress was shaping up to look like it could be worn at a 7th grade school dance. I felt like his runway fate was sealed in that moment.
I have to be honest (Okay, when am I not?!), I didn't entirely agree with the judges top and bottom choices. I thought Casanova should have been in the Top 3 instead of Ivy and that Andrae should have been in the Bottom 3 instead of Laura Kathleen. Casanova's did a great job piecing together and embellishing his fabric, and I though Ivy's fabric was weak. I get where she was going with the comic book/Lichtenstein angle, but it came across as weird and Halloweeny to me. As for Laura Kathleen, I don't think a short hemline was grounds to be on the chopping block. Andrae's big purple bow and overall styling was just tacky to me.
I think it could have gone either way between Emilio and Anthony Ryan. I personally liked Anthony Ryan's dress and fabric more, but Emilio did an ambitious jacket and definitely should have been rewarded for that. Well done.
As far as Suede's exit, I think looking back, Suede can see why Suede was sent packing. Had Suede not used paillettes, I'm sure Suede would agree that Suede would have had a fighting chance this challenge. Another Suede bites the dust.
Well, it’s been a rough, weird week for the myLifetime.com team. Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy walloped NYC and the surrounding area but good, and while our group is extremely fortunate to be safe and sound, many of us have gone the past few days without power or an accessible route to the office. Kim has been busy dealing with fallout from the storm (don’t worry&$151;she’s totally fine) so I’m stepping in to recap this week’s ‘70s-themed episode. I hope those of you in Sandy’s path made it out unscathed!
I’m a late-‘80s baby. My understanding of the fashion of the ‘70s is limited to John Travolta’s white polyester suit on the poster for “Saturday Night Fever” and the loud patterns and ill-fitting fabrics that clothed the casts of shows I watched obsessively in re-runs as a kid, like “All in the Family” and “Taxi”. Which is to say that I don’t quite see the allure of a ‘70s-based challenge. Can disco garb be classy? I have my doubts.
Carolyn presents the designers with the challenge parameters at a Nine West showroom: They’ll create a modernized disco party outfit inspired by a shoe from the brand’s collection. The designers grab their heels of choice and start sketching, then make an uneventful trip to Mood. (For a better look at their shoe picks, check out our Rate the Runway slideshow.)
Back in the workroom, the group seems to be in good spirits. The designers compliment each other’s fabrics, chat about garment structure, and bond over stories from home with not a bit of drama to be seen. Wendy Pepper, season one’s notorious villain, becomes automatic besties with Suede, and even sings his praises in a confessional. The designers still throw some shade at each other’s outfits, and of course Joanna dampens the mood a bit when she comes around for her first critique, but to be honest, I prefer a workroom filled with relatively upbeat designers.
Pause for a disco dance break! Back at the apartment, the gang is treated to a video pep talk from Karl Lagerfeld himself. Well, as peppy a talk as Lagerfeld can give.
The designers seemed pleased with their looks as the models walked the runway, but I was underwhelmed. A lot of great individual ideas - Emilio’s color palette, Althea’s bodicecouldn’t compensate for the scattershot quality of the runway show. If I’d come in late to the episode, I doubt I could tell you what the challenge was based on the designers’ final products. I was surprised that no one called them out as a group for their inconsistency.
Kayne’s chevron pants and glam top matched my idea of ‘70s garb the best, but I agree with the judges that Ivy’s green-and-gold number and Uli’s white minidress were the strongest looks. I think they succeeded primarily because they looked modern and party-appropriate in a way that, say, Joshua’s teal pantsuit did not. Ivy and Uli also did a great job having their shoes complement their outfits and vice versa. I suspect the lack of beading on the back of Ivy’s dress may have given Uli the edge in the voting, but to my eye both looks were stellar.
On the other end of the scale was Wendy. Her prints-and-chains combination looked cheap to me - a shame, given how classy and graphic her black-and-white heel was. I wish she’d stayed more in the realm of “tuxedo” and done less with the dismal chains. Andrae, meanwhile, should have listened to Joanna and ditched that embarrassing jacket when he had the chance. Of course, that would have necessitated an overhaul of the boring top-and-skirt combo underneath. He was spared by the judges, but I was torn about Wendy’s elimination given the blandness of Andrae’s contribution. Neither of these looks was “All Star” quality, but which is a worse offense: A look that only works (and even then, just barely) when one of the key pieces is removed, or a look that doesn’t work but that shows some enthusiasm and a hint at a wider vision?
I look forward to hearing your thoughts. For those of you who lived through the ‘70s: How did these looks stack up? Am I being too harsh in my assessment of the decade’s fashion? (Probably.) Who do you think best met the challenge requirements?
They're baaaaaack! Armed with a sharp pair of scissors, 13 of "Project Runway's" best and notorious designers (Um...Wendy freaking Pepper!) are ready for runway redemption. So gear up and get ready, boys are girlsit's going to be one crazy season!
There's nothing more I love than a second chance and as the designers sat in front of the runway to meet new host Carolyn Murphy, they all had their game faces on. In it to win it. Go big or go home. All or nothing. The whole enchilada. However you look at it, they were there to kick some ass and win the biggest prize in "Project Runway" historya spread in "Marie Claire" magazine, the position as a contributing editor at the title for one year, an all-expense paid trip to Fashion Weeks around the world, a HP Intel technology suite for one year, a complete Brothers sewing studio and $150,000 in cash. Oh, and she also told them there will be no immunity. NBD...not!
So just when the designers thought that no immunity was the only curveball being thrown at them this time around, they were then slapped in the face by judge Joanna Coles when she told them that the first challenge would be a group challenge. Cue eye rolling, whining and various forms of, "I didn't sign up for this." Suck it up, All Stars. Don't act like this is your first rodeo.
Once the teams were selected, they had to pick an "attitude" to base their collection on. After much deliberation (or domination by the Laura Kathleens of the world), the two teams settled on "confident" and "bold." No real surprise there..."modest" and "conservative" don't really scream winning looks.
On to Mood. Did anyone else get a kick out of the "Thank You Mood" t-shirts that were in the background of the designers' premiere fabric shopping trip? Lesson learned: Tim Gunn is everywhere, so you better make it work.
Back in the workroom, I was surprised how the designers really kept to themselves for the most part. In previous seasons any time there was a group challenge , the designers went into panic mode and badgered each other for every misplaced button, uneven hem or poor color choice. Maybe experience played in their favor because I thought the designers were oddly calm.
Of course that didn't stop them from getting cattylit is a competition after all. My personal highlight was when Andrae asked Laura Kathleen to check on his model and she said in the confessional, "I'll step in and fix shit when my shit is done." No wonder she's on Team Bold. Love her candidness.
On the runway, I thought it was very clear which team was the winner. Let me break it down:
Team Bold (Emilio, Peach, Andrae, Suede, Laura Kathleen, Joshua): Laura Kathleen and Emilio had the strongest looks in the collection, no question. The rest of the looks were completely lackluster to me. Andrae's look was just plain 'ol confusing, Peach's dress looked cheap and out of style, Suede's dress looked like something a teenager would wear to a school dance and I feared for Joshua's model that she was going to have a nip slip mid-runway.
Team Confident (Ivy, Althea, Casanova, Anthony Ryan, Wendy, Kayne, Uli) Hands down the stronger collection. I love the incorporation of lace in many of the looks and I thought it exuded confidence. The only look that was questionable was Kayne'sit was very Halloween-chic to me.
Like the judges, I thought it was a toss up between who should be the winner and who should be the loser. Personally I would have picked Ivy to win over Anthony Ryan because I thought the construction of her jacket was impeccable. But Anthony Ryan's win was well-deserved. It really could have went either way. Same for the loser. Both Peach and Andrae had looks that were not very "All Star." I like Peach, so I was sad to see her go. I was excited though (selfishly) that Andrae was saved so I could hear more of his insane vocabulary. (Well that and the fact I hope one of the designers recreates "Where's Andrae?!" from Season 2 in a future episode.)
Your turn: What were your highlight and lowlights of the first episode? Who is your favorite All Star?
In fashion, one day you're in and the next day you're out. But sometimes you're given a second chance to make it work.
That's right! "Project Runway All Stars" is back for a second season with a brand new cast. We're giving thirteen designers from earlier seasons the chance to return to the workroom for another shot at the "Runway" title and the biggest prize in the show's history. Since their respective seasons ended, these designers have created new lines, shown at New York Fashion Week, earned award nominations, landed celebrity clients, and honed their skills and aesthetics. It's a recipe for fierce competition if I've ever seen one.
Season One judges Isaac Mizrahi and Georgina Chapman and mentor Joanna Coles will be joined by a new host, supermodel Carolyn Murphy, as well as an awesome selection of guest judges that includes Katie Holmes, Kylie Minogue, Diane von Furstenberg and Jason Wu.
The new season premieres on Thursday, October 25 at 9.8c. So who's on the roster? Check out the full list below and tell us who you're most excited to see:
Wendy Pepper (Middleburg, VA) – Season One, Second Runner-Up – A villain to remember on the first-ever season of "Project Runway," Wendy made her mark in the workroom and on the runway with her feminine dresses, structural form-fitting jackets, strong patterns and even stronger personality, beating out Austin Scarlett for the final spot to show at fashion week. Since her time on "Project Runway," she opened her own boutique and launched a new line called "Pretty World."
Andrae Gonzalo (New York, NY) – Season Two – Best known for his emotional outbursts on his season, Andrae's designs frequently contrasted elements of poverty and luxury. After the show, Andrae was given the challenge to create an original duffel bag for the "Keep a Child Alive AIDS" charity auction.
Kayne Gillaspie (Nashville, TN) – Season Three – Kayne's pageant sensibilities proved valuable when he won the "Fit for a Queen" challenge and designed an evening gown for Miss USA 2007 Tara Conner to wear at the Miss Universe Pageant. Since his season, Kayne has established the award-winning shoe line "Johnathan Kayne," produced by Benjamin Walk Corporation.
Uli Herzner (Miami, FL) – Season Three, First Runner-up – Uli's designs are feminine, flowy and colorful, inspired by the beaches and climate of her hometown Miami. She currently has continued success with her designs and even has her own show called "It’s Very Uli" on Plum TV.
Suede (Barryville, NY) – Season Five – Known for his confidence, brightly colored hair and speaking about himself in the third person, Suede's dynamic personality and eye-catching style attracted a major following. His designs can be seen on celebrities such as Britney Spears, Brooke Burke, Jennifer Aniston, Jessica Simpson and Christina Aguilera.
Althea Harper (New Haven, CT) – Season Six, First Runner-up – As stunning as one of her own models, Althea's design aesthetic emphasizes draping, silhouette and tailoring that flatters the curves of a strong woman. Since "Project Runway," Althea was invited to become part of the Tory Burch design team and she has since designed full-time for her own successful line "Althea Harper." She is currently the head designer for Quincy.
Emilio Sosa (New York, NY) – Season Seven, First Runner-up – With a record-breaking three consecutive challenge wins and more wins in the season than any other designer, Emilio was the favorite to win. But his jaw-dropping defeat to season seven winner Seth Aaron left him speechless. This year, he was nominated for a Tony® Award for Best Costume Design of a Musical for The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess.
Peach Carr (Lake Forest, IL) - Season Eight – A favorite among the designers and fans who enjoyed her refreshingly positive, bubbly personality, her athletic design styles have built a strong following and loyal buyers. Peach's designs can often be seen on "Real Housewives of NYC" castmember Alex McCord on red carpets.
Casanova (New York, NY) – Season Eight – Chock full of personality, Casanova was the underdog everyone rooted for and the first Puerto Rican fashion designer to ever participate on "Project Runway." Casanova is a spokesperson for Microsoft’s HP Touchsmart PC and continues to show his designs at Fashion Week.
Ivy Higa (New York, NY) – Season Eight – Big on attitude, high in self-esteem and full of talent, Ivy's opinionated and headstrong personality was the source of many conflicts during her season. In 2009, after "Project Runway," Ivy was chosen by NBC New York's ThreadNY as designer to watch and has dressed celebrities such as Olivia Munn.
Anthony Ryan Auld (Baton Rouge, LA) – Season Nine – Cancer survivor Anthony's sense of humor and sharp one-liners were memorable, but it was his unconventional birdseed dress that made him a fan favorite. Anthony founded his own charity ROCKONE1, a movement to fight cancer with fashion, and founded the first fashion week in Baton Rouge.
Laura Kathleen (St. Louis, MO) – Season Nine – A self-proclaimed girly-girl with a sharp tongue and strong personality, Laura's designs are inspired by vintage style, tailoring techniques and the manipulation of fabric. Laura recently opened her own business and released her ready-to-wear collection.
Joshua McKinley (New York, NY) – Season Nine, First Runner-up – Loud and bold with a no-holds-barred opinion on everyone else and their designs, he’s ready for another walk down the "Runway." Joshua is currently developing his own line and continues to design for his private clients.
Do you want to be on "Project Runway All Stars"? Now is your chance! Every picture tells a story, and your photo could be the inspiration for a new fashion trend.
Follow @projectrunway and tweet us a photo using #fashionablefan. Your photo should tell a story that could inspire the designers to turn it into a fashion look. Keep a close eye on your Twitter direct message inbox for a chance to join the show. Deadline to enter is 6/12.
What do you think Michael Costello was up to after the “Project Runway All Stars” Season 1 Finale? Crying in a corner over his third place finish? Hell no! Homeboy was sipping piña coladas poolside in Hawaii as he took a phone call with yours truly. In an exit interview, I get Michael to name drop a little, forgive me for any shortage of bloggy adoration and shares some pictures of him and some familiar faces.
Lisa Raphael: When I met you at the Miss Piggy/Paley Center event, you talked to me about your experience on “Project Runway” Season 8, where you were open about your mother’s acceptance of you; how has your relationship been with your mom since?
Michael Costello: She’s a little more involved now. She always comes up to me [and my designs] and is like, “you should put sleeves on this,” “you should make the sleeve longer,” “you shouldn’t show so much skin because God’s going to get mad.” Yeah that’s what she tells me, she’s like, “why does the slit on that have to be so high?” “Can you put a lining so her nipples don’t show.”
So she’s like your Joanna Coles when Joanna Coles isn’t around?
She is! My mom is so Joanna Coles, except without the Joanna Coles' style.
The fans always seem really touched by your friendship with Mondo. Did your time on “All Stars” strengthen or hurt your relationship?
It definitely strengthened the relationship. We went in it to win it, both of us. From day one, we said this is all about me and you, our goal is just to keep beating everyone out and us making it to the final. We made a pact.
People didn’t know that we couldn’t talk about it before. I didn’t call him and ask him if he got the call to be on “All Stars” and he didn’t call me and ask me if I got the call. We would mention little things here and there, like I’d throw certain dates at him and say “hey, are you going to be in New York at this time? Are you going to be in L.A. at this time? I’m booked for this, I’m booked for that, can you come?” We were both thinking exactly the same thing but we never gave into it. So when we did see each other [that first moment on “PRAS”], what you saw was real and we were just really happy to see each other!
We’re both divas, a kind of odd “Bert and Ernie married couple.” When we’re around each other, we want to do everything together; we want to drink together, go out together, shop together, hang out with the same people together and we do all the same things together. Totally different aesthetics, totally different personalities but our friendship really is genuine. The thing is, I wish I could’ve won and he didn’t! [Laughs]
But you have some other things up your sleeve. You’re always on the go, always!
Oh my God, I’m so not disappointed about not winning. It’s not bothering me; I think the thing that bothers me is because I just wanted to work closer with Ken Downing, who I do keep in contact with. And that is all because of Joanna Coles.
At the final “Project Runway All Stars” fashion show, Joanna came up to me and said, “If you’re smart, which I know you are and you probably already have a trick up your sleeve, the best thing for you to do is go and talk to Ken Downing. Get his phone number because he talked to me personally and told me how much he loved your collection, so you should talk to him.” And I did. I don’t have fear about talking to people or any of that kind of stuff so I went up to him and said, “Listen. I love the critique you gave me, I thought it was wonderful and I’d still love to do something with you. When I went back to New York in September for the “Project Runway” Season 9 Finale Fashion Show during Fashion Week, we were at the Tommy Hilfiger show together.
I remember when you won the Miranda Kerr challenge, one of the other designers said to you, “oh now you can say that you designed for a celebrity” but you’ve had celebrity clientele for years, correct?
Yes. I opened up a store when I was 15-years-old and met Toni Braxton. She came in one day when she was in Palm Springs and she was looking around and she had a little baseball cap on and I didn’t know it was her and then she was on the phone arguing with somebody about something and I looked at her and I was blown away. I was like, “I’d love to work with you!” And now we have an 11-year relationship together.
Then with Celine Dion, I went to her concert in Los Angeles and my mom was with me and we were really persistent and I made this sketchbook with her face in every illustration and somehow we were able to get a picture with Celine Dion and her assistant was there. My mom went up to the assistant and she said, “Michael would really like to do something for her” and she said, “well who’s Michael?” and she said, “that’s my son, he’s 14-years-old.” And the assistant was blown away. So I met her and Celine was asking me if I sew and I said I didn’t, I can only drape and cut and that sort of thing but I made six dresses for her for two years and she wore them to different places.
What years was that?
This was like ’97 and ’98. That’s going way back but since then, I’ve worked with Michelle Williams, Paulina Rubio in a Dr. Pepper commercial.
Did you do stuff with Paris Hilton too?
Yeah I did, in 2002, I made a dress for her to wear to the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards. In 2004, I made a dress for her to wear to her book signing in Los Angeles. In 2007, Nicole Richie came and shopped at my boutique… you want the date? It was June 8th, 2007. Do you want to hear something funny? I know the date because it’s posted in MySpace pictures.
I worked on the website for "Project Runway" Season 8 so I had to do all this research on you and I remember that and being really blown away by the people you’ve worked with. But then I watched Season 8 and when people were kind of picking on you, I was like, “Why doesn’t he say, ‘Eff you guys! I did billboards for Toni Braxton where she’s wearing my designs!” Why didn’t you do that?
I don’t know, I just didn’t want to be that guy who just brags about my work because I just always thought it was so unprofessional. But you know, I wish I was a little more of a diva on Season 8. I probably would’ve made it to the finale.
You have a very interesting quality; where you seem dramatic on TV but then you also have this incredibly calming power. Especially when you were between Austin and Mondo in the finale you weren’t throwing anyone under the bus, you didn’t rat people out, you stayed true and kind of diffused the situation.
I think it all has to do with how I was raised. I don’t like to make trouble, I don’t know why but I always try to fix things. I’ve noticed that now about myself in the past year that I’m always trying to fix something. I’m always trying to make sure everything’s okay with everyone. I think it’s more of a comforting thing so I can be able to finish my stuff better. I hate tension and drama and yelling, it’s really uncomfortable and it’s always unimportant.
With me being dramatic, I think that has a lot to do with facial expressions but people have to understand that this is not a small thing, this is f***ing “Project Runway”! It’s a huge deal and there are some who don’t get and they need to stop and get it. So of course when Diane von Furstenberg compliments your work, it’s something I’ve always dreamed of, it’s kind of like a smack in the face. It’s like, wow, that happened. I guess that would be dramatic.
Did Diane von Furstenberg end up contacting you?
I ran into her September at Fashion Week in the Meatpacking District right outside her store this is the best story ever, I love this. My friend was with me, my model, and we were going out for Fashion’s Night Out. We were driving towards Diane’s place, we look outside and I see her just getting ready to cross the street so I tell the cab driver, “Stop the car!” And he’s like, “I can’t stop here!” And I’m like, “Uh yeah you can so we jumped off the car and I ran up and gave her a hug and she got so scared but then she looked at my face and was like, “Oh, hi baby, how are you? Great to see you.” I said, “It’s so good to see you and I’m going to call you!” And she said, “You better call me!”
That’s exciting, do you think you will really work with her?
Now that I think about it, I’m so involved in my own thing and my own career. I am getting by, I’m doing good, things are wonderful… I don’t know if I would drop all of that for the position to work for Diane because I know I wouldn’t be working directly with her. I mean, I said before it was my goal to move to New York, get a job with Diane von Furstenberg, work under her for so long and chalk up some experience but I don’t think of the qualifications you’d need to get that job. You would have to be an expert pattern maker, a graduate of Parsons or some design school thing. The way I do things would never work there unless I was working directly with Diane.
Well you seem to be doing your own thing and doing well with it!
Yeah, I don’t want to stop. I feel like I’m on a roll.
Hey, NYC "Project Runway All Star" fans got Scarlett fever? Well, we have your cure! Austin will be joining Time Warner Cable at the upcoming Tribeca Film Festival, giving his fans the ultimate red carpet experience! Attendees will be able to meet Austin at the Tribeca Drive-In event to take photos with him, get Austin's autograph and walk the red carpet just like a celebrity. Afterward, there will be an outdoor screening of "Jaws." Hmm — wonder if "Jaws" will inspire Austin's newest designs?!
Who: Austin Scarlett
What: Special appearance with Time Warner Cable at Tribeca Film Festival Drive-In
Where: World Financial Center, North Cove
200 Liberty Street (corner of Liberty St & South End Ave)
New York, NY
When: Thursday, April 19
6pm - 7:30pm (VIP meet and greet), 8pm ("Jaws" screening)
Bonus: Austin will be signing autographs and taking pictures with fans!
More Info: Visit Time Warner Cable on Facebook or follow @TWCable
Comment below or Tweet us pics of your photo with Austin!
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!
Season 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.
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.
Yes! 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.
Are 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!