Forget that other young "Project Runway" designer you know and love for just a minute, Season 8's April Johnston is the new kid on the block. At age 22 she clocked in as our youngest All Star, but everyone from Lady Gaga to a Tim Burton-costumed-cast, to me dancing alone in my room would be lucky to wear her darkly divine designs. After her exit post-Episode 4's super speedy gelato challenge, April spoke with me here at the "PRAS" Blog to dish some dirt on her time on "All Stars," her beef with Michael C. and her Season 8 BFF.
It was a really emotional goodbye for you too!
Yeah, I mean because it’s a lot to lose, you know? It’s a big opportunity and just to see it kind of flutter away oh, it’s hard.
You were only on "Project Runway" a couple years ago, what did you think the experience would be like this time around?
I pretty much have the same expectations for what it would be like. I just felt like it was going to be the same but also a little faster. The talent’s definitely more up to par, everybody there is obviously super-talented. [There is] more competition. I felt this time around, we were going to be a little more professional, a little less amateur. I felt like it was going to be faster.
So you expected there would be six hour challenges and crazy things like that?
Yeah, I was prepared for that... but obviously I wasn’t! You can expect things but what are you to do whenever it’s actually there in front of you? You do whatever you can.
A lot of the "PRAS" designers have talked about who from their season they expected to see. What did you think when you found out Michael and Mondo were back with you from Season 8?
I expected Michael to be there and obviously Mondo, because Mondo was the hopeful winner of our season. Michael, I expected he would be there because we had some differences beforehand.
Do you mean on your season or between seasons?
Yeah, on our season. I had said some things about how fast he works and we had disagreements. So seeing him wasn’t really a surprise, seeing Mondo wasn’t really a surprise. But me and Michael, since that episode, you know, we’re fine. He does what he does and I do what I do and that’s the name of the game.
You guys definitely had some conflicts this season, picking the same fabrics, same colors. Did you see that coming or were you prepared?
No not at all. Well, he creates a lot of drama and I always tell him that. I wrote on his Facebook wall, I’m like, "Your middle name is 'drama!'" He loves to just start things, no matter what. I’m sorry, I didn’t know that the color red had Michael Costello’s name on it, you know? That’s just bizarre to me. I’m using a color for once and you’re going to bash me on national television for it? I mean, come on, I thought we had gotten over that hump, I thought we had worked out our differences and then to see that play out on TV after I thought we were cool, it was a little bit disappointing and kind of hurtful because I actually thought he was fine. So watching his interviews sucks.
Did you reach out to him at all?
Yeah, I mean we discussed it. At noon he said, “Oh, you’re using red?” and I said “Yeah, why, are you using red?” like, what’s the big deal? And then he just rounded the corner and told the the Mood guy, “Just don’t cut that, somebody else is using effing red,” and that’s why I was, in the interview, like, “If you want to use red, use red!" This is not second grade and Johnny is using the purple crayon! It’s just stupid.
How do you deal with that? You don't like something you see on TV so then do you Facebook him and say like, "Hey, I want to get it off my chest, that bugs me, I hope we’re cool now"? What do you do in that situation?
Well, we discussed it after the challenge, we got that kind of cleared up after the fact, but just watching the show and watching all the interviews that I didn’t get to see, on his part, it’s a little bit shocking how over-dramatic he can be. Sometimes it seems a little bit fake to me. I’m not like that at all so obviously I’m going to call people out on that because I’m a very down-to-earth person and I say it like it is. That’s just how I am.
On the next episode, the designers have to find muses on the streets of NYC, ask them for their clothing and create new looks using them. What kind of people or what clothing items would you look for if you had to do that challenge?
I would probably go for people who were wearing jackets because they have a lot of material and there’s also lining on the inside. And then, also, probably skirts, longer skirts, because you’re looking for the most material. That’s basically what I would have used for my strategy.
Going back to Season 8 for a minute, you and Peach had such a nice mom-daughter-older-younger-sister-friend relationship do you guys keep in touch? I kind of had this vision of you guys spending Easter together.
Totally! Peach is coming to my wedding. She calls me probably two to three times a week. She’s always keeping track of me. She’s so sweet, she’s my number one fan.
Did you make any new, surprising friendships on "All Stars"?
Me and Mila, we got along really well. She was very down-to-earth, very much like me so I loved hanging out with her and she was also a great buddy to run on the treadmill in the morning with because we both run. I would say Mila was the one person I hung out with a lot and Gordana was really, really sweet, I love her too.
Do you think you’d ever want to do something like what Mila does working in film and TV?
Oh my gosh, yes! I would die to do some Tim Burton movies. That would be right up my alley, you know, that’s a huge dream of mine. The only problem is I’m on the east coast.
Would you relocate?
I think I would, if I had the right contacts and connections, I would definitely move out there. I’m one of those people who are like, "Should I not fear the unknown and just make that move or should I schedule things out, get things prepared and then make that move?"
What do you think is in the future for you and your designs after "All Stars"?
I hope to expand my clientele and maybe get some people on the red carpet dressed. Kind of just get my name out there more. Also, I have a fabric line at Jo-Ann Fabric Stores nationwide now so that’s really a big opportunity for me. People saw what I did on the print challenge on Season 8 so they thought that I was good at that so I kind of ran with that and started my own line. The fabrics are amazing and it’s something new for Jo-Ann’s, it’s a fresh take on fashion fabrics there because they’re trying to expand their clientele and I think what I bring in is very edgy aspects of textile design.
Who do you want to win "All Stars"?
I have said Mila, because I think that she has what it takes. She’s very professional, she’s very talented and has a very fashion-forward eye and I think that’s what "Project Runway" stands for.
On Episode 4, we begin at Flatotel, where dreams are made and Anthony Williams fans himself with the plastic lid of a food-to-go container. Surely there will be other contenders, but just a few seconds in, that is my favorite shot of the episode. (Spoiler alert: It’ll soon be rivaled by a quick camera glance at Rami’s tank top muscles. I had to Google “arm muscles” to make sure, but I think triceps are my favorite in general!)
With the über-sweet influence of Gordana no longer with us, I was hoping for more of a bitch session at the dinner table, but these Gracious Guses just cheer for Michael’s Miss Piggy win and we’re back to the runway, where Angela Lindvall introduces us to our new challenge, which is “all about taste.” The All Stars have to create a look inspired by a gelato flavor, and Ange says “L’Arte de Gelato” with an accent my half-Italian mother, who pronounces America's national treasure Guy Fieri's surname as “Feeeyeearrrrrriiiieeee,” would most likely approve of.
First, the designers must choose their scoop muse and force each other to feel uncomfortable and squirmy like they’re back in junior high gym class wondering if they’ll be picked last for dodgeball teams or if Stephen P. is going to circle yes or no. As the previous challenge winner, Michael gets to go first and pick who goes next. Rami lets at least one claw out when he scoffs that he knows “which way the cookie will crumble,” as in, “Duh! Michael will choose his bestie Mondo.”
He's right! Michael chooses grapefruit and, as suspected, Mondo for next up. Kara is the last one, so she gets chocolate with cayenne pepper flavor. I realize I would do poorly at this challenge, because knowing that we get to actually eat our chosen flavor, I would be like, “Do you have cookie dough with peanut butter swirls and rainbow sprinkles?” So my first instinct is to cheer Kara up by telling her, “Girl, you got the best-tasting flavor!!” but she is sad to be saddled with the inevitable task of making a chocolaty-brown dress. This doesn’t seem insurmountable, considering that a supermodel stands before her WEARING A BROWN DRESS.
Diane von Furstenberg (who’s wearing a part brown-ish dress, I might add) joins Angela to share the news that the designers have only six hours the shortest time in “Project Runway” history to complete their challenge. Plus, she’ll be guest-judging, so the All Stars know they’ll have to really werq it out.
After a truncated fabric-shopping trip (how precious is “Mini Mood” all decked out in the sherbet-y colors that I would happily wear every day!), and during an equally whirlwind visit from Joanna Coles, the designers are shown sewing, ripping, sweating and generally freaking out. They all fare very differently, given the time constraints: Anthony says this challenge has more to do with being a fast seamstress than a talented designer; Kara sews like it’s her last dress ever; Austin slaps himself on the wrist for using a glue gun; April realizes too late that she doesn’t have enough fabric; Michael drapes a beautiful silhouette on his model and pretty much has his dress done; Jerell digs him for it.
Let’s pause here for a sec. I’m confused when Michael’s speedy construction and sewing skills are brought up, so help me work through this, “PRAS” fans. Ms. Coles tells Michael he’s the envy of the other All Stars because of how quick he is in the workroom. Michael says his secret is that he’s been sewing since he was a wee lad. But that’s not his secret to being a great designer. It’s not that which makes this challenge easier than another or his designs desirable, right? His sewing skills were a huge point of contention during Season 8 he spent the first seven episodes being accused of having no skills by the other designers and using fashion tape to construct a dress, and even a since-reformed Mondo did not at first want to be his partner for a team challenge. (Upon finding out the two were paired, Mondo deadpanned to the cameras: “I’m so pissed. I can’t stand it. I feel like I want to scream.”) What I see, in this particular challenge and in most of Michael’s work, is not enviable embroidery. It’s a deep understanding of fabric, of all types of women’s bodies and of how fabric should drape over said bodies in a way that makes both woman and dress look beautiful. But what do I know?
In the final three hours, the designers reach a new level of unhinged, fueled only by the two servings of their designated gelato flavors and fear of falling under Austin’s death stare.
Scissors at your side
don’t stab Kara sewing, but
your eyes pierce my heart.
Each week I’m a little more stumped by the judges’ choices for Top 3 and Bottom 3. I’ll give them credit that they’re tasked with ranking exceptional talent and so might be choosing six looks they want to talk more about, rather than choosing the definitive best and worst three, but, y’all, that’s confusing! So here are my top, bottom and middle:
My Top: Jerell, Mondo, Michael, Austin
I couldn’t choose a winner (to reference my indecisiveness, please revisit the discussion of my favorite ice cream flavor above), but I thought Austin’s “rich lady on resort” should have been in the top for capturing the creamy, dreamy, mildly exotic flavors of his gelato.
I have eyeballs and a decent memory, so I’m aware that each week, Jerell does a different version of a dress he has already shown Dresses 2 and 3 were from the same collection, and Dress 4 is plucked from Dress 1’s line. But even so, his Fruit of the Forest frock was so on point with the fabric, the organic objects detailing the trim, all the way down to the hippie-chic styling. It was Katniss Everdeen realness, minus all of “The Hunger Games’” dystopian blah blah blah. And I kinda loved it.
If you don’t know what cantaloupes look like, Google “cantaloupe” (but not “cantaloupe deaths”) IMMEDIATELY and try to tell me that Mondo’s canta-caftan wasn’t a big ol’ honey “do.” If it was shorter, I would move somewhere fabulous and tropical just to wear it every day to tan myself beside my lover’s infinity pool. Very Mondo, very cool, literal but literally awesome.
Isaac didn’t think Michael’s grapefruit dress was as tart as the flavor itself is, but I wouldn’t exactly file full-on cleavage like that in the “sweet” category. Michael takes home his second win in a row for being able to create (in six hours) a sumptuous, sexy dress that makes Diane von Furstenberg purr and will happily clothe a supermodel at an “industry event.” After she’s done breastfeeding.
My Middle: Mila, Anthony and Kenley
Mila’s sour-cherries dress would have benefited the most from more time and nicer fabric. It was cute but looked like a cheap dress that you wear to da club and throw out the next day because it smells like an ashtray and someone (you) spilled Watermelon Pucker on it so you certainly can’t return it.
Some people might emphasize the passion in passion fruit, but Kenley goes the opposite route and sticks to her aesthetic in a punchy, fruity palette. I think the judges would have put her in the bottom if not for April and Kara’s mishaps, but the dress is adorable “adorkable” even! She should be Zooey Deschanel’s personal costume designer and stylist on “New Girl.”
The more you look at Anthony’s dress, the better it really is. The silhouette is not flattering, but it looks like a scoop of ice cream melting on a sugar cone in the prettiest way possible. I’m not sure if he meant it to, but even the folding of the fabric at the bodice looked like origami, similar to Andy South’s final collection, ultimately evoking the “green tea” flavor of his pick.
My Bottom: Rami, April and Kara
Rami’s creation was an eye-assaulting kiwi explosion in dress form. Thank god he shelved the fuzzy brown jacket, right? But I think sweet, passionate, misguided Kara and her pregnant cupcake dress should have been the designer sent packing this week. To quote Jerell, “That’s not the business.”
I’m a big April fan and didn’t want her to go home. Or cry. April, you will be missed! I look forward to following your career, you’re going to do big things, girl!
In this week's episode recap, Laura Bennett busts out her eagle eye/insanely good memory to discus some of the designers' inspirations (hint: they're not just gelato flavors!). You'll never guess whose dress was similar to their decoy fashion week collection read Laura Bennett's Episode 4 to find out and hear what she really thought of Michael at the top and Kara in the bottom!
Who is your favorite former "Project Runway" designer of all time, on "PRAS" or not?!
On last week's episode, the designers created red carpet looks for the Lady in Pink herself! Michael took home the win with his glamorous cocktail dress fit for a lady of any size. We (all of us here at Lifetime's "Project Runway All Stars" headquarters, naturally) got to see a glimpse of Miss Piggy's version of the dress and we can't wait to show it to you all! We can't reveal it just yet it's true what they say about divas coming in all shapes and sizes but stay tuned for the official photo.
Watch Episode 3, Patterning for Piggy online before tomorrow's all-new episode!
What other TV and film characters would you like to see the designers create for on "Project Runway"?
It was sad to see Gordana (or Sweet G as... only I call her) Gehlhausen leave us after Episode 3's Miss Piggy challenge. The designer and mother (who used her exit interview on last week's ep to encourage women of all ages to never forget their passions and dreams), has come a long way since we first fell in love with her feminine fashions and incredibly caring demeanor on Season 6 of "Project Runway." Calling from "sunny California," Gordana spoke with me about her experience on "Project Runway All Stars," including the scary moment we didn't see on TV.
Lisa: During the challenge you were saying your children were into Miss Piggy growing up, did that have any input on the challenge?
The funny thing is, I don’t know Miss Piggy at all because I grew up in a Communist country so we didn’t have Miss Piggy! When my children were watching it, I never paid attention. So when the challenge came along instead of "what would I like to see Miss Piggy in?" because I didn’t have that relationship so it was a little bit tough for me, I wanted to create something that a girl who might be watching would say, "Oh, this is so pretty!"
Thinking back to your first time on the show, a lot of "Project Runway" fans thought that you got robbed on Season 6 when you were cut right before Fashion Week. Did you feel that way with your experience on "All Stars"?
The reason why I decided to do "All Stars" was because of the first season of "Project Runway" and not being able to show, I thought, well maybe this is my chance for redemption. It is what it is, you know? You have to go into it with an open mind and you never know what can happen. I was so physically drained, that the biggest challenge for me was that I would have to take breaks non-stop and was just exhausted.
Funny you mention I was looking through the photos from the episode and I saw pictures from Episode 1 that showed you fainting (and Rami and Elisa coming to your rescue) on the runway that didn’t make it to the episode.
Maybe I’m happy it didn’t air because there are a lot of people who care about me, I didn’t want to scare them, you know? So its fine, but I read some comments and people were like, "Oh, Gordana looks like someone punched her in the face" and stuff and I’m like, "You don’t know what’s going on there!" In the building the producers chose to film in, they shut off the AC on weekends who would think the AC would be shut off? You can imagine how hot it was in there as if the challenge wasn’t enough for me, oh my God!
The next day I was looking at these blue marks all over me and I’m like, "When did I hit myself?" but it was when the people picked me up [after fainting]. I didn’t even know it was Rami, I just felt this strong hand and I remember hearing the voice saying, “Don’t worry, you are in good hands, you are fine, everybody loves you, we are all here for you.” It was Elisa, I found out. In these kind of situations you really see what humans are made of and that’s what the most touching part of the experience is, seeing how they all came together. And I didn’t even know these people, they were just there for the first episode and I walk away from it having such a tremendous respect and love for all of them.
At the very end of the episode, you said something about women going back to work and following their dreams. Can you kind of expand a little more on that for the fans?
It’s really expected a lot of woman today are really conflicted, a lot of women give up their life, their careers to give the best environment to their children. And then [the children] move on, they go to their own lives and the woman stays behind, [wondering] what am I going to do with myself, you know? I’ve had people comment and come into my store, saying "I admire you so much, in your age, you’re pursuing your passion!" And that’s the message I want, don’t be afraid of judging, don’t be afraid of what anybody’s going to think about something! As long as you find the passion in what you really want to do, even if it’s something that always was in the back of your mind but you never did it because you thought, oh it’s so too complicated and I’m not really good, if you follow it with your heart, I’m telling you, it’s going to be wonderful. When you do something out of love, the energy that comes in between that doing and you is just so beautiful that nothing can stop you. And that’s what I want to tell people: it’s never too late.
People come to me asking for business advice because surprisingly, I’m one of the successful ones from "Project Runway." I have my own business that’s thriving. In February, I’m actually opening in another location in Santa Monica. And I'm on local television teaching "how to's" every week. Last week, I was showing how to go to a closet, take faded shirts and make them beautiful [with dying]. My life is full, I love people around me, people come to me or my shop, I’m so approachable. Would I like to be longer on the show? Of course but it’s not the end of the world.
Do you think your positivity was your secret weapon on the show? I felt like you were portrayed as such a wonderful person #&151; we really saw that you were sweet, you were the voice of reason, you helped out the other contestants.
There is no secret, you just go in there with an open heart and who you are and the weapon is you and whatever comes out of it. I remember, even in Season 6, Tim Gunn would come to me and say, "Gordana, I see you helping everybody and that’s what I love about you but on the other hand, this is a competition." I’m not a competitive person and I know that about myself, I’m more like, "what can I do for you?" I also remember telling Tim, at that time I was 44, I was like, "Tim, I am older and have established who I am as a human being and I’m not going to change for a show." But staying who you are, at the end of the day is really the biggest challenge of everyone. When you love yourself and what you represent, then you end up loving everything and everyone around you.
Who would you love to see win?
I have such a love and respect for every one of them but I want to say, I hope that the ride is smooth enough for them and whoever wins at the end, I’m so tremendously happy for them.
You don’t have a favorite or someone’s clothes that you would love to wear?
Even if you have a favorite designer, you don’t necessarily end up loving every one of their designs. And that’s with all of them. There are aspects of all of them that I like and would wear. And it doesn’t mean I would wear every piece they created, you know? I actually like Mila’s designs, I like the clean lines that she does, but then I also like Kara’s and Mondo’s and Michael’s? Michael and I have been doing a lot of stuff together because we make clothes. All of them are really good and really talented.
It's taken a lot to make me pause the loop of Episode 2 judge Mark Badgley saying: “It looks like a dirndl skirt” in order to write this recap, but here I go!
One of my absolute favorite parts about reality competition television shows, dating shows included, is when the contestants are given a hint at an upcoming challenge (or group date — YES, I WATCH “THE BACHELOR,” SUE ME) and they try to guess what the challenge may be. And they fail hilariously.
Example 1: A modeling competition. The aspiring models receive a card, one of them opens it and reads aloud: “You must be fine before the clock strikes 9, but beware: for you mustn’t whine!”
“We wear clocks!” one [aspiring] model yells out. “Yup. It says clocks, so we have to wear clocks. Or be them.”
Example 2: A dating competition. The aspiring wives receive a card, one of them opens it and reads aloud: “Dear Avery, [Avery squeals and mouths “me?” while the hot mean girl purses her lips and swills White Zin from her corner of the wicker furniture-decorated room] They say love is blind. Guess we’ll find out! Love, Rob.”
“You guys are probably going to bungee jump off of a bridge and then act out ‘The Notebook’ on segues and then feed each other pizza that you just made. All blindfolded.” Suggests a girl who’s trying not to cry.
At the top of last night’s episode, Angela Lindvall tells the designers that they’ll be creating a look for the biggest diva of them all. As the blogger/social media gal for “Drop Dead Diva,” I personally hoped for some Lifetime show-to-show integration. Austin thinks maybe it’ll be Madonna, Cher or Lady Gaga. Haha, silly, beautiful, golden-haired, god-like man, it’s not a flesh-and-blood woman. It’s Miss Piggy!
Minus Anthony and Mila’s reactions (snarky and icy, respectively), have you ever seen the designers so adorably giddy over a challenge before? Even April giggled and glowed like there was a sale on patterned black tights and shoulder pads at the Gaga emporium.
Maybe it’s because I grew up a huge “Shop ‘til You Drop” fan or because I’ll never get sick of the stock music used in most "Project Runway" shopping montages, but I love the crazed Mood shopping clips. Seeing the designers sketch or brainstorm in the workroom and then shop for fabrics in Mood are all such cool parts of the creative process and some of my favorite moments from “Project Runway” as a whole. And if you rewatch Episode 3, keep your eyes peeled for Austin’s sassy sunglasses/hair flip move on his way out.
In the workroom, the designers fool us all by pretending to be completely absorbed in work until they get to the private interviews and lash out at their fellow fasionisto/as: April accuses Kenley of making the same dress over and over again (In the words of Kenley during last night’s screening at the Paley Center: “That’s not true!” Also, talk about the kettle calling the pot black, or the black dress calling the polka dot dress poofy, or something.) Mila accuses Kenley and Kara of being too codependent (I’m neutral, but when Mila says the “T-Word” I get excited at the future prospect of a Team Challenge) and Michael says, for the second episode, that this will be Austin’s last challenge (how DARE you, sir!).
But designer-producer trash talk is nothing compared to the throwdown that really occurs when it becomes apparent that everyone wants the same rhinestone-studded heels and long hot pink silk gloves. Have these people never lived with roommates? I would have plastered anything I wanted to use with passive aggressive post-it notes (complete with smiley face endings, aka the WORST) first thing. Because obviously, dear sweet Kara, I’m not going to be the only one to size up that peal bracelet.
Finally, we're graced with Miss Piggy's presence on the judge panel. For this episode, Isaac Mizrahi's substitute is former-"Sex and the City" stylist, current "Gossip Girl" costume designer Eric Daman. There is a weird spark of something akin to sexual tension between Eric and Piggy that causes him to spar about the sow's ears and her to hi-ya him. I wonder if Georgina and Angela felt a little uncomfortable watching their strange, but beautiful song.
The Middle: Jerell’s dresses this week and last are stricken with the same terrible Bottom Half disorder; this one was a nighty-gone-bad below with a merely passable sheer black peekaboo top that looked ripped straight from his Episode 2 dress. I liked the black dresses, but Miss Piggy is not starring in any upcoming Tim Burton flicks (April) nor does she want to look oddly bottom heavy (Anthony). Mondo’s model’s hair was EVERYTHING. It was so insane that Wikipedia is listing it as the Eighth Wonder of the World, but you can’t verify it because of SOPA. You just have to take my word for it.
The Top: In the categories for dress design and accessories, Rami had the win, but I thought his polka dot organza print was better fit for a clown than Kermie’s main squeeze. If he had a more sophisticated, “expensive-looking” (what up, Nina!!) fabric, I think Michael would have had more competition, but Mr. Costello snagged a well-deserved victory with a sexy, shiny cocktail dress that I bet looked smashing on Miss Piggy. And, maybe with a little less bow-on-the-boob, on a lot of women, red carpet or not. The headpiece was fabulous, if a little derivative of Mondo's spherical head decor of yore. Kenley’s pink giraffe dress was fun (it looked like something the Muppet Madam would rock in a Nicki Minaj music video) but I can’t really blame Miss P for not wanting to wear the print of an animal skinnier than she.
The Bottom: As with all-to-most of Mila's clothing, my review is: "I'd wear it!" But that was no Miss Piggy look. I was sad that Austin’s kindred spirit and he did not see eye to snout past hula hoop practicality. His dress was gorgeously constructed, but I understood what the judges and Angela’s eyes said about the choice of color and fabric.
I loved your bows but
the flamboyant cocktail frock
didn’t please the pig.
The room I watched this episode in was full of “aw”s when Gordana left. I will so miss hearing her soothing voice, especially when saying “woman”/”vwho-myen," but her dress looked too much like a pretty nightgown plucked from the pages of "Valley of the Dolls" — very "Miss Piggy sipping martinis in her Hollywood mansion," not "Miss Piggy strutting the red carpet at a movie premiere."
Did you vote for your favorite designer on You Be the Judge last night? Did your #1 designer win last week? Share your Top and Bottom below!
Sweet P's done it all; "Project Runway," Lifetime's "Project Runway All-Star Challenge" and now, "Project Runway All Stars." When I called to chat, she was taking a break from working on a Wes Anderson commercial pretty, well, sweet! Read on to find out which of her "PR" experiences was her favorite, who she wants to win this season and what her new career path is.
Lisa: So you’ve done "Project Runway," "All Stars" and you were even on the "All-Star Challenge" that aired on Lifetime before Season 6. How were your experiences different and similar across the three different shows?
Well, I should try and put this in a nice way, right (laughs)? My first season was great but the "All-Star Challenge" was really cool because there were only eight of us? And we were only there for one week and we had the chance to win $100,000 so it was definitely where our odds were better. My experience was really good because I was Top 3 and received accolades from Diane Von Furstenberg. It was cool, she really understood me and that was great.
On this season, honestly it’s kind of sad for me. I never would’ve expected to go second! I feel like I was sacrificed too soon, I definitely feel like I’m a better designer than some of the people who stayed.
Well, I feel like April’s dress definitely should have sent her home and so does everybody that I’ve spoken to. It was a mess! And also, the challenge was a ball gown. I think if people Google what a ball gown is, they'd see that there was really only three or four ball gowns [made in last week's challenge]. The rest was evening-wear which was not really what we understood the challenge to be. Mila’s dress no offense, I really like her, but I do not think that was a dress you would wear to the opera at all. My experience with ["All Stars"], while it was fun, because I met a lot of people I really like and now have become very good friends with, I felt like I was cheated.
You were in the bottom the first episode and out the second, what do you think was off for you this time on "Runway"?
The judging can go however they want it to go and I don’t know if it’s that the judges don’t really know us or our stuff. On my first challenge they weren’t happy I used wash clothes because it’s fabric, but then Jerell used scarves, which are fabric (and much easier to work with). I feel like he’s more of a character, he talks sh*t about people. I don’t, so I’m not maybe as fascinating to watch on TV.
What is it like watching the episodes and hearing what Jerell said about you or your designs?
Oh, it’s so weird. I think he’s catty so I don’t really care. He’s not someone I would ever hang out with, to be honest with you. I don’t like his clothes. Last week, his dress was awful, we all thought he’d be in the bottom. We called it maternity poop. It made the model look so fat and it was brown. It was so ugly!
You're such a recognizable name and face of "Project Runway"! Do people often recognize you from the show(s)?
Oh my God, I’m working on this commercial and this lady came up to me yesterday on set actually and she’s like, “I know you from somewhere, what’s your name?” And I’m like, “Sweet P...” And she’s like, “Oh my God, you don’t understand!” And she hugs me really hard and says, “I totally love you, and you’re one of the best on there and you’re a nice person!”
A lot of times when people think they know me, especially on set, people come up and say, “Oh, what was that job we worked on together?” I know I’ve never worked with them! Usually, someone I’m with will say I was on "Project Runway." Most of the actors on this [commercial] were embarrassed because they’re like “Oh, I thought I knew you and worked with you,” and I’m like, “But, you kind of do know me.” That’s where it’s interesting, they kind of do know me and what’s nice is they like me, you know?
Do you have any regrets for doing "All Stars," are you happy that you did it?
I’m still happy I did it because I got really close with Kara, Kenley and Austin and that was really worth it. Gordana is a really, really nice person as well. So that’s part of it, you know, I always like to walk away from it and take the positives. To win, it would have been crazy for me because I did just change careers. I don’t really want to be in that business anymore and if I won that prize, I would have felt obligated to do a line again and honestly I’m not really interested in doing that anymore.
When did you last put out a fashion line?
I didn’t put out my own line, but I worked for two companies in 2010 where we designed for Forever 21 and other major retailers; Macy’s Nordstrom’s, Windsor. I did lines for them and I’m talking about cranking out three racks of clothing a month.
It’s interesting because on the show there’s only a few of us who have actually worked in the industry selling clothes. Kara sells her stuff, Gordana sells her own stuff, but she has her own store. I’m talking bigger, like selling through major retailers, and it seems like Kara and I are really the only designers with that experience on the show. It’s interesting because you see more "student-y" kind of stuff, very fresh. Things that are on the runway aren’t necessarily things that would really make it in this business. Selling one dress to Kim Kardashian is not necessarily the same as selling a dress to 20,000 girls. And that’s what I’m used to doing. I’ve worked in this business for 20 years and I’m so programmed into what really sells and what women buy.
You said that you quit doing fashion about a year ago. What are you doing now?
I was talking to my husband and I was like, “What am going to do where I can make the same money and I’m still be in the world of fashion?” I didn’t want to do wardrobe anymore because it’s really back-breaking work and my husband said, “What about makeup?” I was like “BOOM! Oh, that’ll be great!” I got out of school at the end of January 2011 and I started working in March. I did Roman Coppola’s next film, I’m working on a Wes Anderson commercial. I definitely feel like it’s a good career choice. I love bringing beauty to the face and I love being somewhere new all the time, being really close with people. I really get close with my actors, especially for a film because you spend a lot of time with them and they sort of feel like family.
Did you get your hands a little dirty in the L’Oreal room for the two challenges you were on "All Stars" for?
No, but I talked a lot to Scott and the other makeup artists a lot. It’s funny because some of the contestants would say they didn’t like their hair or makeup and I would always ask, “Were you specific with what you were talking about?” because I feel like they’re a great team, they know what they’re doing and if you’re specific, you get what you want.
On this week's episode, the designers are creating a look for Miss Piggy what would you have created for her?
I would probably do some kind of smashing red carpet look for sure! I’d do something playful but I don’t know her that well, to be honest with you! I never watched Sesame Street because it was after my time but that’s the only reason I’m not into her because I didn’t grow up with it.
So the million dollar question, who do you want to see win?
I would want someone I love to win, so I would love to see Kenley win. I would love to see Kara I feel like Kara and I have a really close aesthetic, I’d like to see her win but I feel like her stuff is too "sellable," so I don’t think she has a chance. Austin is somebody I would like to see win. And, I could see Mondo winning; I loved his line on his season. I’m surprised someone didn’t snap him up and do a collection, you know, like Mondo for Target or Mondo for Forever 21 because he’s very junior.
You don't need to be a supermodel (or a muppet) judge on "Project Runway All Stars" to own one of the incredible looks you see strut down the catwalk at the end of each episode. Every week after a new ep airs, the designs from that night are put up for auction on Seenon.com. You have a week to bid for your All Star garments so what are you waiting for?!
Start your bidding now and come back each week for the new episode's designs!
I know you guys already had this figured out by reading a little bit about my interest in muscles and teen pop culture, but I am very classy! So a “night at the opera” challenge is where my tastebuds reside — why, just recently I rocked a last-minute black tie event with a $37 dress purchased four hours earlier at Loehmann’s, so…
Unfortunately I couldn’t pencil in a day of “PRAS” judging, so I suggested my good friends Mark Badgley and James Mischka for the job. The adorable couple — “partners in life and business,” according to their Wikipedia page (deal with it!) — announce the challenge, and the designers feel the pressure. Except Michael Costello, who is a big fan of the type of opera that we’re all a big fan of.
Can someone help me with Kara’s statement of the night/week/world? The camera cuts to her and she says, “Evening wear I can do. But it’s not my ‘pabboo’ moment. Whereas it’s Austin’s ‘pappoon.’” HELP! What do those words mean? I won’t even Google them spelled 500 ways, can you guys just let me know in the comments?
Everyone has their money on Austin, who understands that he must win in order to keep his King of Couture crown and sash earned in Season 1. (Although we all know I’ll be there, like a hybrid creepy stalker/beauty-pageant host with a bouquet of roses, either way.) Mondo admits that he saw an evening gown challenge coming and brings up a good point: Evening gowns without polka dots are not his forte, and this challenge is also not his “pabboo” moment. April answers my prayers from last week and says she’ll do a color this week for her gown. Unfortunately, that color is red/oxblood.
Mood is where the Great Red Debacle (As Seen In the Preview) of ’12 happens. AND IT IS TENSE. Michael is flustered by April’s choice to use red and feathers, so he ends up going with THE MOST GORGEOUS black matte jersey material ever, because surely no one else in this EVENING GOWN challenge is doing a black dress.
Back in the workroom, we see that April isn’t even doing a full oxblood dress, she’s actually dyeing part of the dress for an ombre effect, which has all of the designers concerned. I’m trying to visualize April’s ombre “corpse bride” opera dress and am wondering if this would have been a great time for her to do a dramatic black dress with maybe serious shoulders, sleeves and intricate details.
Joanna returns to the workroom, and I think we can all agree that the best part of her visit is when Austin overhears Rami say that he is his biggest competition in this challenge and I get to make a screengrab of this:
At the end of the day, the designers don’t sleep like in other seasons, but swill a glass or two of bubbly chased down with some self-doubt. Anthony suggests that instead of “couture” they be encouraged to make “really, really pumped-up prom dresses,” which may or may not be Foster the People’s new single feat. Anthony Williams.
Let's start with... The Middle: I know there are haters in the crowd, but unfortunately for y’all, I love things that Kenley creates. Her dress is a little prom, but “Pretty in Pink”/cool-edgy girl prom. Rami’s fuchsia frock, on the other hand, is what 16-year-old Lisa would have begged her mom to let her wear to prom. And not that I wasn’t a tastemaker at 16, but high school was a time when I wore more platforms and belly-baring shirts than Geri Halliwell at the height of her career.
I’m surprised that Gordana doesn’t make it to the top or bottom. I personally LOVE the flapper look and the sexy illusion skirt on her gown. (Heidi and the regular PR judges would be really into that styling, dontcha think?) I really like Mondo’s mod dress from the front, but think the bow/obi at the back looks a little tacky and costume-y.
I don’t hate Jerell’s dress, but the giant, pregnant, are-my-legs-moving-or-am-I-floating silhouette, which appears here and on Kara and Sweet P’s dresses, has got to stop. For all of Mila’s workroom jabs, her dress, although slinky and sexy, looks like something you could get at any department store. Don’t forget your color-blocking roots, girl!
The Top: Austin’s earlier comment about Michael’s dress being too much celebrity and not enough socialite feels truer the second someone mentions Kim Kardashian at the opera (also, don’t give that family any ideas!). Plus, Badgley & Mishka warned, “If you do a black dress, it should be the most dazzling black dress we’ve ever seen,” and I can’t imagine that that is it. Well-fitting, yes, but so is everything I own from American Apparel.
I am falling more in love with Anthony Williams and his crystal-encrusted accessorizing each day. And speaking of accessories, if he keeps making boobies look like that in dresses, he’s going to win this whole thang hands down!
The win goes to the lovely Austin Scarlett for a luscious SGD (Serious Gold Dress) that looked like liquid gold on his model. Beautiful, flattering, sexy — I imagine most women, myself included, would line up for a chance to wear that. Lopsided tulle or not. This week’s Austin Scarlett Haiku shall celebrate his win:
King of Couture crown
Rests upon his flaxen hair
Beneath the halo.
The Bottom: Kara is saved after she wins the judges over with the pockets in her comforter-cover couture, and thankfully, despite a sad top on an otherwise interesting dress, April makes it through.
I love Sweet P. I think she’s pretty and wears beautiful clothing, but unfortunately I haven’t liked either of her designs from this season. The things that become evident to me while I’m watching “Project Runway All Stars” are:
1) I love all of these designers!
2) Every week will be sad with one of our friends leaving.
3) It’s never a good idea to attend a “PRAS” viewing party when you have to write a blog about the show. Ah well, better luck next week!
P.S.: Miss Piggy next week!?!?!
Calling all designers! Do you think you have what it takes to be the next "Project Runway" contestant? "Project Runway All Stars" judge Isaac Mizrahi recently launched "Project Sketch," a contest (and a call-to-action!) to find the next great designer. All you have to do to enter is sketch your best design for Harry (Isaac's dog, pictured above). Your design can be anything; formal wear, a beach look, a wedding outfit anything for Harry!
Email sketched design submissions to: firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: PROJECT SKETCH. Isaac will choose his favorite design sketches and the top 3 finalists will be posted on Facebook before the winner is revealed. Stay tuned for more information about the grand prize and a look at the finalists.
Visit Isaac Mizrahi's Official Facebook page for more info!