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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.
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!
Ugh, don't you hate when a precocious kid or adorable animal steals your thunder during an exit interview with a "Project Runway All Stars" designer at a swanky shindig in a SoHo boutique? I stopped to chat with Kenley Collins at the Nanette Lepore "Project Runway All Stars" live screening party last Thursday, while she was being admired by an 8-year-old uberfan. Find out who Kenley really designs for and what was going through the designer's mind when getting teased by the boyz on the show and bonus: meet the winner of "Project Runway" Season 23!
Lisa Raphael: On the show and in an interview for this blog, Isaac Mizrahi said that you design for the "real woman." Do you agree; who do you design with in mind?
Kenley: I think I design for... what’s your name? [Kenley turns to young fan standing next to her] I design for her [young girl], she is my market. Girls like her who are fun and young and cool. That’s who I’m designing for. This one right here. She loves my dress! This is my girl!
Do you agree with Nanette Lepore and the judges that you got too caught up with the peacock print and lost the keyhole from the original sketch?
I love the peacock print, don’t you? [Kenley turns to young girl, who shouts "Yes!"] What would you rather see: the peacock print or the keyhole? ["Peacock!"] Me too. Me too. You have good taste!
What was your favorite look from the season?
My favorite look was the light-up jacket. [To young girl] Did you like when I lit up the room with the lightning jacket? Yeah, we’re going to go with that.
Did you have Nicki Minaj in mind when you were designing that?
I didn’t have Nicki Minaj in mind, I had music video in mind, which is Nicki right now. But when I put the wig on her, I told them Nicki.
How was your experience been different this time around?
It was really fun. I went into it thinking I wanted to have a good time and that’s what I did. I had fun.
It seemed like fun, but then there was also a lot of teasing going on to the point where the boys were always picking on you in the workroom. How did you deal with that!
It actually was funny, they were really funny. They were pointing out my personality and who I am and I thought it was funny, so I laughed. And they kind of meant it as being funny.
[Little girl interrupts and asks: "Were you sad when you didn't make it?"]That's a good question! Maybe I've found my next intern tonight!
I worked so hard and I was so upset. But you know what, you go home and you move on.
Do you have a lot of young designers, like this one, that look up to you?
They want my advice on being a designer; the advice for you [Turns to little girl] is love what you do. And have fun, because if you don’t love what you do, it’s really easy to fall out of it.
Georgina was a guest judge on your season of "Project Runway" and she did not like your look, were you nervous to see her as a permanent judge on "All Stars"?
Yes she was, and it was a horrible gown I did — I was tired. It was a bad gown.
Which look would you have chosen for the win for the Nanette Lepore challenge?
I really like Austin’s coat. It was fabulous like Twiggy!
Photo: Mark Irlando
I know for yall it's cons, but for me, the only pro to seeing one of my favorite designers go home on "Project Runway All Stars," is that it means I get to call them up on the telephone and talk to them about life (Elisa), boys (Anthony), how hot they are (Rami) and clothes, duh (all, definitely Mila). So when Ange announced it was Jerell's time, I put some PJs on, popped some popcorn and got ready to gossip with the designer. Enjoy our sesh!
Lisa: What was your first thought when you heard Pharrell Williams was the guest judge?
Jerell: I really like Pharrell. I think he is extremely talented and I think he single-handedly changed the way people dress in the hip-hop community. He kind of ushered in this change to pastels and all these Easter colors which you know you’re hanging out on the wrong side of the track, it makes it a little more enjoyable, it makes it a little safer, when everyone’s dressed like Easter Sunday.
So true! Did you think you would do well with this challenge? Did you think your aesthetic would line up with Pharrell's?
I did think I would do well with this challenge, not that I’ve ever worked with lights or anything like that, but I’m pretty comfortable working outside of the box. I’ve kind of allowed myself the creative freedom to throw myself at anything. I think maybe for some other designers, they have these very strong ideas of who they are and what they do and this is what it is and I think for me, I’m a lot more flexible in my ability to just go with the flow and have fun.
And in your exit interview, you said that you thought you did the best in terms of working with the actual lights.
I really liked the way I incorporated the lights, more than most of the other outfits. I did think that Austin’s dress was gorgeous but it still looked like Christmas lights sitting on top of a dress and it was kind of the challenge to incorporate these lights. I just don’t feel that in most of the cases, lights were incorporated harmoniously. I think that my downfall was certainly that long-*ss black skirt but I never design things specifically for the blacklight and my intention was to control what the eye saw And also the sandals were super regrettable and I know better than strappy sandals and stockings but we all know that’s gross.. So, did it quite work? Not like I expected clearly but hey, it was what it was.
But I liked the movement of mine. I liked that you had these controlled points of light that didn’t have all these jumper cables and color-packs and all this sh*t everywhere.
I think it’s safe to say that throughout the competition, you’ve exuded a certain (high) level of confidence. Is that the true Jerell or are you panicking on the inside?
No, it really is my approach to life in general. First of all, I think there’s nothing wrong or right in fashion, it’s all a matter of opinion and taste and you just have to create the pieces that inspire you and you like. So that’s really what I do and there are going to be people who love it and there are going to be people who totally don’t love it and there’s not a single designer that’s alive today or ever was alive that everyone loved. If you’re a minimalist, maybe it’s Calvin Klein or maybe you like Prada and you don’t like Calvin Klein. It’s like a form of art, you get to paint what you want to paint, create what you want to create and the audience that appreciates it is going to gravitate toward it.
In a situation like “PRAS,” it’s almost like this amazing day camp experience, you don’t have to worry about what’s going on in real life, you’re there to create your art and that’s such a fun thing. And of course there’s the prize money and the cameras and “Oh, what are they going to think!?” I think maybe some of the other designers have a hard time just being in that moment where for me I’m like, “Nah, okay so we’re going to beg for people’s clothes off the streets and now I’m going to take this stinky shirt and I have to make something cute with it!” That’s where my head is. Not, “What are they going to think, how are they going to react?!”
There’s been a lot of debate about Heidi, Michael and Nina vs. Georgina, Isaac and Angela. Where do you stand in that argument and Joanna vs. Tim?
I really enjoyed this new batch of judges. I have a lot of respect for the original judges as well but it was great having a fresh set of eyes. I mean honestly, like from watching Season 9, the original batch is getting slightly over it. Like, “we’ve seen that, we’ve seen this,” whereas this batch I felt this excitement from them, like they were all excited and wanted to engage.
As far as Joanna vs. Tim: I love Tim, I have so much respect for Tim. I was shocked on my original season to see how genuine he really is. It wasn’t just for the cameras, he cared. He wanted to see you do the best work you could do, which I thought was amazing. However, there was this Tim Gunn curse. If he came around loving what you were doing, then you might want to change some sh*t up because normally what he liked and what the judges liked weren’t quite the same thing.
For Joanna, having her there, she brought a woman’s perspective, which was refreshing, and I think that she helped us look at the clothes in a [new] way. Especially being a gay male designer. For us, it is, like the fantasy of the overall thing, whereas she is also looking at it from a very practical standpoint. She has breasts, she wants a bra. I have to confess I’ve never had to wear a bra a day in my life.
Well, the girls are small they’re perky, but they’re small! So yeah. Also I think she dressed fantastic. I loved all her outfits and she was fun. I really have a lot of respect for her.
In Mila’s exit interview, she talked about the cliques that formed, but from watching, I don’t really know where you fall into them. You seem like you kind of floated with everyone and hung out with everyone. Did you have your own crew on “All Stars”?
I got along with most everyone. Honestly, I will make myself laugh in my studio by myself because that’s just what I am. But I really loved Anthony, he was like my roommate there, he was funny. Rami is cool, he was kind of crazy; he’s like no-nonsense at the beginning when he’s trying to figure out if he can pull it off so he doesn’t want to put up with you until he’s got it figured out. Me and Michael, we would do this thing where we would talk like these two old Jewish women who had it all and lost it and we would go on for hours and hours and hours talking about working at Radioshack and remember when we walked back from the Hamptons.
What about poor Kenley? She puts on such a good face but I feel like she was the punching bag in the workroom!
No! I have to say, she was so pleasant to be around. She was super cool, we got along really well. I have my little jabs and shit and she was just rolling with it and having fun. I’m proud of her because coming off of our original season, I don’t think she was aware of how she came across and I think going into this, she was mindful of what she would say and girl is still loud as f*** but she managed to find her filter and for her, that’s important.
What do you have planned now after All Stars?
Well, I just launched my lower price point line because during the original season, there was a disconnect. I just didn’t have any product that was available at a price point that was attainable. The line is called Catastrophe: Jerell Scott for Everyday Consumption and it’s available on jerell-scott.com. Most women aren’t size 2 or 4, 5’11” models. Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, and want to find things that express their personality that they are comfortable in. That was my objective, to create these pieces that definitely fit into that.
Also one of my big pet peeves is when you spend a lot of money on something and then you go to a party and someone has the same thing on makes me sick! So I’m doing very limited runs so you don’t really have to worry about spending $2000 on this dress or this top and the chances of you running into somebody else wearing the same thing are very slim. I hate when you think you are just the cutest thing and then it’s like, who wore it better, b*tch? Who invited you to the party?!
The question I originally ended these interviews with was the obvious, “who do you want to win?” but you all have been evading the question so instead we’ll do word association; I’ll name the last four designers and then you’re going to tell me the first thing that comes to mind... Mondo?
Michael: Ready-to-wear… has-been-worn.
Austin: Upper East Side cotillion!
Well, I know you’re working on your lines but I think we’d all like to see you back on TV. Maybe a little red carpet correspondence or something?
That is definitely something I am wide open to! I think the world needs a little more me!
Who's black and white and red [lipstick-ed] all over? Oh, and not at all an ice queen? MILA HERMANOVSKI! In fact, why don't we dub the flag challenge victim with the more apt titles of: Color Block Countess and/or Lady of Leggings? From the set of her latest project, "Star Trek 2," the Season 7 designer talked to the "Project Runway All Stars" Blog about the show's playground politics, her secret PRASBFFs and her stance on the Joanna vs. Tim, PR vs. PRAS judges debates.
Lisa: You’ve always been in the “Project Runway” Lifetime family. What was it like coming from Season 7 to “All Stars”?
Mila: On one hand, you come in with your eyes a little more open and you sort of know what the rules are, what the game is like, a little bit. When I did Season 7, it was all a mystery to me. They withheld all information and part of the whole bubble we were in was having all your comforts taken away from you the lack of phone and any outside influences at all; any music, any communication with your family and that kind of thing. So, just knowing you’re about to go into that is helpful. Part of that psychological stress is not there, however, there are still the same old mental challenges and physical challenges. And then of course, being with the other twelve designers, there are a lot of strong personalities under one roof.
We definitely saw that this season! Pretty much each episode, you were shown complaining about Kara and Kenley in the workroom.
Yeah, unfortunately, the way I was edited, it made it seem like I was jealous of their friendship or something and that wasn’t the case at all. It’s just when I’m in that environment, I take it very seriously, I really wanted the prize, I really wanted to win and that’s just my kind of ammo when I’m in a competition. It’s not that I didn’t want friendships and I didn’t want to find friendships, but some of the ways they acted in the workroom were just distracting to me and I was like, “don’t you guys take this seriously?” And they kind of went overboard with their antics sometimes and that, to me, was very distracting sometimes and kind of annoying. But, I was just a very serious worker, that’s all.
When I interviewed April, she said that you guys had a kind of “behind-the-scenes friendship” that we didn’t really see. Did you have kind of surprise friendships that came out of doing this?
Absolutely, and April was definitely one of them. I mean, there were definitely cliques that formed and I’m not going to lie, there was drama behind-the-scenes and off camera that definitely caused tension with those cliques but yeah, April and I had more like-personalities and that’s what it boiled down to. There was a little bit of natural segregation not too different to one that would happen on a playground (laughs). Like, me and Michael and Mondo and April and then there was Kara, Kenley, Austin, Anthony, Jerell…
Interesting. It’s funny because you guys are from the last few seasons; maybe that was one of your common bonds.
Yeah, that is interesting. I don’t know if that’s just a coincidence or something deeper than that.
Were there other things behind-the-scenes that we didn’t really get to see, that you were disappointed didn’t make it to air?
I notice there’s a couple of photographs of me actually laughing and having a good time in the workroom and I’m bummed sometimes that that stuff doesn’t make it to air because it doesn’t make me as likeable of a person! Someone who knows me personally knows that I’m not all serious all the time and that I do have a great sense of humor and I like to make friends.
There was definitely a camaraderie, for example, between me and Mondo. It was really sweet when we first met, he said, “I’m a big fan of your work and I really respect what you do.” And that was really touching to me and I think that was really what set the precedent for the rest of our time together. He would sometimes ask me for a second eye, like “what do you think about this?” and vice versa and off camera too, there were a couple moments we spent comforting each other.
A lot of the fans have been adjusting to the "All Stars" judges and Joanna in the workroom. What was your impression of the new panel and your stance on Joanna vs. Tim?
At first, I was very intimidated by Joanna because my experience was with her was a judge [on Season 7] and she’s kind of a ball-buster as a judge. In the workroom, she was a little stand-offish at first, I felt like, and didn’t really offer up much advice and I think a bunch of us would talk about that afterwards, like, “gosh, I wish she would’ve given me a little more advice.” And maybe that was just a warming up period or something because by the time I got to Episode 8 when I was eliminated, I felt she was actually giving more constructive criticism and advice to people and I really grew to respect her and love her. She’s an awesome woman and a powerhouse at what she does.
In fact, that sort of relates a little bit to the judging panel in terms of how much I miss having an editorial point of view there. It was two designers and a model and I really missed having Nina Garcia as a representative who maybe looks at fashion collections and different points of views of fashion designers more objectively than two fashion designers do. I think that when you have your own line and you’re designing all the time, it’s just natural that you’re going to gravitate towards certain things more than others.
If you could have your way, would you get Tim back in the workroom and have Joanna on the panel?
Probably I would! If it was either/or, I would choose to have Tim whose background is more in education and mentoring and have Joanna, who has an amazing editorial eye, as a judge.
That’s a really good point. Something Joanna (and both my coworker Caitlin and I) celebrate you for are your amazing pants and leggings.
Thank you, awesome! It just sort of evolved naturally and after I did my Mercedes Benz Fashion Week collection on Season 7, I introduced a couple of leggings with panels on them and after the show I developed and pushed that even further and made what I call the "Bentley of leggings," which is, each leg has 20 pieces in it and four different fabrics and I really just took off with that.
You can find them in my store, which I’m expanding soon, on my website and there’s a couple boutiques in L.A. that are selling them. After my fall collection launches, I’m planning to hit the streets and if nothing else, I can get my leggings into a store and that’s a foot in the door because it’s easier to sell.
And if you want to do, like, a Target diffusion line, I would feel great about that.
I would feel great about that too!
What is next for you after "All Stars," you mentioned that you’re working on a movie now?
Well, I’m booked on “Star Trek 2” until that’s finished shooting. It’s a dream job and what pays my bills and funds my collection. I’m going to be showing the collection first in L.A. then in Palm Springs with other Project Runway Designers at the El Paseo Fashion Week in March.
I don’t think anybody ever realizes how much hustle there is involved in being a fashion designer and actually getting it into the stores. It’s not just about making a collection and putting on a runway show because that doesn’t get you orders. I have to hit the streets and I’m going to start with the boutiques in L.A. and eventually expand beyond that because it’s a growing process. Unless you have a big chunk of money and you can hire everyone to sell for you and market for you. It’s a lot of work for one person.
And you’re working on the movie, so that’s a busy schedule I’m sure.
It’s a minimum of 10-11 hours a day up to 12-13 hours a day with the lovely L.A. commuting.
So when we watch "Star Trek 2," where do we see "Mila"?
The costume designer has given me the domain of creating futuristic looks for the civilians in the film. I’m not really allowed to talk much about it but I can say it’s like a stylized look for people on the street in the movie.
We were happy to ride the emotional rollercoaster along with Kara Janx on "PRAS," but now that the ride has finished, we're hoping the Season 2 vet will just, like, invite us over for a home-cooked family meal or something! After her teary Episode 7 departure, Kara turned on that ol' Southern [African] charm and discussed her friendships on the show, her business persona and which man in her life drops her legendary "Project Runway" "pee pee" line on command.
Do you watch every week?
Oh, of course, of course. I’m completely addicted and hooked. I want to see what went down for sure!
How do you feel about the way you were portrayed this time around?
I look like I’m panicking constantly and for the most part, I am. But a lot of that is my process, a lot of that is sort of how I deal with my creative energy. I anticipate having some self-doubt it’s like, “panic, panic, make beautiful clothes, panic, panic.” I’m so professional and I have such a strong business persona but… it’s very bizarre. It’s also just the difference from my regular life, being in a reality TV format. It’s just a different environment and I handle different things obviously in different ways, so no surprise there.
You mentioned your business persona, and other designers have talked about how you are one of the more successful of the All Stars you actually sell clothing at Neiman Marcus, is that correct?
Yes I do, thank you. Going into the show, my agenda has always been to translate that into more grand equity. For me, it equals sales. It’s how you market yourself. It’s a direct reflection of your business and how you sort of yield the results of the show with the consequences of the show. For me, it’s always been a business consequence. I work really hard, I’m part of that hamster wheel of showing collections to the retailers in that shuffle and it’s really been good for me because that’s really my niche, that commercial space.
On “All Stars,” you talked a lot about your family and we can see what an influence they are in your work and life. I don’t think you seemed “panicked” on the show, but more “emotional.”
That’s a much better word for panicked, you’re right, I’m very emotional by nature. I’m very passionate, I’m very outspoken and I’m just sort of an open book. My family is everything to me as it would be to any mother and I go on the show in the best interest for my family, you know what I mean? You leave your kids and go on a show and it’s such a natural thing to miss them and not be at your peak.
On Season 2, I had nothing to lose and I had no personal attachments on the home front and now I have a great husband and beautiful kids and that’s a massive priority for me so if that’s how I went through the show, so be it. For me, it’s important that my kids know I have integrity and that I work really hard and I do what I do with the utmost passion.
What do they think when they watch the show. Or, are they allowed to watch the show?
They’re allowed to watch a little, they watch the recorded version. I think every time they watch it, my little boy laughs and says “snip your pee pee!” My daughter loves Miss Piggy, every time she sees me, she’s like “I always think it’s cool you were with Miss Piggy!” They know mommy was on a TV show and mommy’s on TV… it’s a very normal thing. Very normal. (laughs)
So they quote your iconic “Project Runway” line?
Right because of the commercials, you know in the beginning, now my son just sees and he’s just like “snip your pee pee!” and he just finds it really sort of cute and humorous.
That’s so cute!
It’s so cute. They’re tiny you know? They take it at face value, so it’s nothing. Well, it’s not nothing, it’s just like, “Oh, kids, mommy’s on TV.”
Well, you seem emotional but you also just seem like a mother and that really came across this season. You seemed kind of like the glue that held some of the people in the workroom together.
That’s very complimentary and I love that. I just feel I had some tactic relationships. There was no hidden agenda or malice so I feel like if they asked for advice or if they needed some kind of emotional console, I was there. I didn’t want to be the mother hen and by no means did I set out to do it, but we had such strong bonds and strong friendships. I’m always so gracious to be in that contemporary environment with similar minds. If you go and get those opportunities to be one of the people who are nice about design and competition and all these things, so I definitely like to think that I love them and they love me, so that’s nice.
I heard that you, Rami and Anthony were the Kardashians?
Yeah, my sisters! We were the ‘Dashes. We were our own little family and we loved that because it was our way of leaving that working place and just being our own little thing. It was hilarious, you can imagine how hilarious it was, especially with Anthony. I was Kourtney, you know, I was the one with the kids and the ponytails. I was quite happily Kourtney.
Yes, that’s a good one. Rami said he didn’t know why he was Kim.
He has the physique of Kim! He’s Kim! Like, how do you not know that?! Rami has the physique of Kim, Anthony has the physique of Khloe and I have the psychic of Kourtney. It’s obvious!
You also seemed really close with Kenley.
Kenley and I were best, best buddies. I like that she is just an open book, she’s so emotional and we really sort of connected. We both find each other completely hilarious and we just really enjoyed the experience. We went through the journey together. Watching last night reminded me of our special journey together. We were there for each other and we encouraged each other and picked each other up when we were down and, you know, you need that. She’s just a great girl with a lot of fantastic energy and I think sometimes she gets a bad rep and I just adore her, I just absolutely adore her.
Did you know that Mila was so perturbed by your relationship with Kenley? Watching the show, she talks about it almost every episode; did that come across in person?
Well, everybody has their ideal workspace and I think that everyone has to adjust and insert themselves into the environment that they’re in and I don’t know that Mila wants two girls running around, or that she wants a symbiotic, co-dependent type relationship. I don’t mean we were co-dependent, I just think that’s sort of how we are in our lives. I always say that the TV is a direct reflection of who you are in your life. In my season, I had Santino who was loud and crazy and would sing 24/7 but it was funny too and you just got to sit back and look at the situation and accept it so you can really embrace it. It’s difficult for everyone. Everybody works differently.
Next episode, the designers are creating looks based on flags. What country’s flag would you choose as inspiration?
Oh, I think that’s obvious. I would definitely go with the South African flag, for sure and I know its culture and its history and its change.
Do you have an idea of what you might do?
No, no, no, no! I’m not even going there, it’s always funny because whenever I watch seasons before I even knew I was going to be on “All Stars,” I would be like, I can’t believe I did that! Or, I don’t know how they do it! And when I went back I’m like, “I’m going to do it anyway!” But I’m actually not going to try and do it because I don’t know that anyone could give me a challenge again.
Who would you want to win this season now that you’re out of the running?
You know, I’m going to tell you that everyone can and may the best man win but obviously I’m rooting for my peeps, Kenley and Austin. It’s an exceptional challenge, you know, Mondo, Kenley, Austin, just very exceptional. And not easy.
Get a true-blue "Project Runway" fan to tell you their favorite and/or the most talented designers in the show's history, and Rami Kashou is sure to make the cut. I lovingly devoted significant blog space to my adoration and appreciation for Rami's glorious muscles, but as a serious "PR" fan myself, I'm also a legitimate lover and follower of his work. The kind he does with fashion and fabrics.
I'll speak for all of us (especially after reading the comments here, on Twitter and Facebook) and say that it was beyond shocking to see Rami go last week. Many of us pegged him as someone who would make it to the finals. But just because his time on "All Stars" came to a premature end, definitely doesn't mean Rami's reign as an All Star shared a similar fate. Find out what the gorgeous, multitalented king of draping is up to in his honest exit interview:
Rami: Who am I talking to?
Lisa: I'm Lisa Raphael, I do the "Project Runway All Stars" Blog on myLifetime.com... so I’m the one who Photoshops all those photos of you in your tank top.
Rami: (laughs) Now I know where all that came from!
You’re welcome! Well, I hope you appreciate it and don't think I'm crazy over here.
Rami: Not at all, you’re marketing my arms for me, what can I say?
Yes, I would like a commission. Are you getting arm and muscle endorsements now?
Well, I booked an Effen Vodka campaign, which was amazing. They wanted to cast me after the episode when you saw me in the first tank top, I guess. A few days later I got a call from them and they said, "we like your look, we like your aesthetic, we like your designs, we want you to be in one of our ad campaigns." And now it’s coming out in April! So maybe you had something to do with it, who knows?
Perhaps! You can send me a bottle of vodka, that works for me. So it’s going to be your person, it’s not like you’re designing something for it?
It’s myself as a designer, and it’s literally a whole studio that was set up with a sewing machine and everything and my designs, and it’s basically me being myself as a designer, so … I saw some of the pictures, they look really cool.
Wow, congratulations! Is that something you ever thought about doing, like modeling or featuring yourself as a person rather than your designs being center stage?
I mean, I don’t think of myself as a model necessarily, definitely not, but when it comes down to merging that with my work, I think it’s great. I never thought of it, but if opportunities like this come to me, I’m very open to them. It’s great to merge with cool brands and cool aesthetics. Effen Vodka is all about creativity and fashionable people, it’s a growing brand. It’s flattering and it’s exciting, and it’s a great way to infuse your work in different areas of the creative field.
Can't wait to see them and sip some cocktails! Now I have to ask: What is your actual workout routine? You go to Crunch in NYC, right?
I go to Crunch in New York when I’m there. In L.A., I go to Gold's Gym. I go five times a week, and it’s an hour and a half of exercise, not big on cardio, more on lifting. And then of course lots of vitamins and protein and all that stuff.
How did it feel being — I don’t know if you saw that little video mashup that we have on the site — how does it feel to be labeled as the eye candy of "Project Runway All Stars"?
It’s very flattering. I mean of course, who wouldn’t want that kind of compliment? The video’s funny, especially the background music and the slow-mo, but it was great, it was like a nice little parting gift.
Well, let’s talk about another parting gift, which was, your designs featured at the Super Bowl.
I know, that was amazing, it was an amazing experience. The stylist was — this happened before "All Stars" aired — Madonna’s stylist was doing the entire performance and she was looking for Grecian costumes and she just wasn't happy with what she was seeing, and somehow she remembered my name when it came to draping and she instantly said, "Rami has to do it!" So she called me and she said, “Honestly, I know it’s very last-minute and we’re out of time but I can’t picture anyone else doing it, I would love for you to do it,” and of course I said yes, even though I was worried about time because there really wasn’t much time for approving the first sample, for re-doing it, till Madonna approved it and Madonna looked at the sketches, etc.
It was definitely an interesting experience to taste a little piece of Madonna’s world and how to operate under that amount of pressure. [The whole process] was two weeks. The first few days were sketching, and then the next week it was sending the sample to New York, then having it approved, and then her putting in her comments and what she wanted changed and us having to go in with new materials and redo the sample and send it in again. In the end, we had three days to finish those six gowns — and those chiffon gowns, they were 32 pieces each. You can’t just cut chiffon on a surface, you have to put the tissue paper underneath and cut it very gently so literally in like, 15 hours, everything had to be cut so it could go to the sewers. Everybody was freaking out as far as time, and then in three days we had six chiffon gowns with gold corsets finished, which I don’t know how we did it. It was worth it, of course.
And in the end, I had no idea they were going to be the first six that walked out who led Madonna and the gladiators! When I saw that, I was like “Oh my God, that is even bigger than I thought,” so it’s one of those moments where you’re like, I have to pinch myself, this is so amazing, I love what I do and it just makes everything worth it. It’s one of those moments where you’re like, I’m on the right track! So that was really cool.
How does the high-stress world of Madonna compare to "All Stars"? It sounds like kind of a similar thing, where you had a limited amount of time.
It’s similar and it’s probably even more intense in other ways. It’s just the way things work. You saw it, it was a huge performance. The main thing about her, honestly, is that she has to see and approve every single thing on everyone. Even down to the sketches. But just the fact that she saw my sketches, and I got her notes through the stylist, was pretty crazy.
Are you going to frame those?
Yeah, I think I should. I have lots of them because I kept re-doing them until she was happy.
Wow, so she’s a tougher judge than Angela and Isaac and Georgina?
We, the fans, all really felt you were going to make it to the very end for "All Stars." Did you also feel that you left too soon?
Absolutely, definitely I felt like I was just getting started, I was like, oh wow, okay. But yeah, I mean of course I wanted to show more of my work and felt like there wasn’t much encouragement from the judges during that challenge. I felt it from Georgina for sure. But it seemed like the others were adamant about me being out. I’m like, okay, let’s do this.
Oh, that’s so sad. If you could’ve gone back and chosen who you faced off against, would you have picked another designer?
I don’t think, oh, if I faced off so-and-so, it would have made a difference. I don’t think it honestly had anything to do with that. I’m not delusional, my top could have been a little bit better but in all honesty, let’s face it, my design was not about the top. Only the neck of the top was showing. Ironically enough, Isaac insisted on seeing the blouse and suddenly my design became about the blouse, when, in all fairness, let’s be honest, some other designers in other challenges, when they were suffering, they helped them out. So I found that really interesting, but you know what, in the end, it’s a game show and you take it with a grain of salt and move on. I am grateful for the exposure, I don’t think it’s about, oh my design was so horrible and I went home, I think there are a lot of different elements that play a part of it and that’s fine.
Well, you definitely seemed to rebound really well! It sounds like you came out of it with some surprise friendships too. I talked to Anthony and he said you two have become really close during the show.
Yes, and Kara and Jerell. Those were some pretty good outcomes.
Did you expect going into "All Stars" that you would make these sort of lasting friendships?
You never know what to expect and those sort of strong bonds you have with people, you don’t expect them to happen during a competition reality show because it’s such an intense process. But I think Anthony and Jerell and Kara, it just somehow happened. I don’t know who came up with it, whether it was Kara or Anthony, they decided to create a group called the Kardashians and suddenly I was Kim, and Kara was Kourtney and Anthony was Khloe and that just became the inside joke. (laughs) There were fun moments!
Wait, why are you Kim Kardashian?
I don’t know, that’s what they decided. I didn’t insist on being Kim.
So continuing to look ahead for you, you have so much going on — you have Madonna, you have the vodka campaign coming up ... What else is on your horizon?
I am launching a Bebe Bridal collection! I hope and aim for it to grow and become a huge project. I’ve been working on that collection for the past three to four months. That’s launching March 8, and for me to have an official bridal collection — it’s going to be Rami Kashou for Bebe with bridesmaids dresses — that’s probably one of the biggest endorsements that I’ve gotten and I’m very excited for that. And I think the part of having my line of greeting cards at Papyrus shows that my creativity can hopefully extend to different avenues and not simply clothes. I think that just proves that my brand has potential to become one day a lifestyle brand, so that’s my aim. Obviously Effen Vodka came after ["All Stars"], so I’m hoping exposure will give me opportunities like that. I think when people see it, they decide whether they want to work with you or not, so I hope my passion and my professionalism in what I do and the way I speak about my brand and maybe my design aesthetic will get me new opportunities like that, because that’s the one thing I think will be good from "All Stars," the exposure.
Still not enough Rami "exposure" for you? Watch his video exit interview here and view his portfolio of work from this season and past collections!
Super Bowl Photo: Getty Images
Last week's elimination was the weepiest in the short history of "Project Runway All Stars" — for almost-out contestant Michael Costello and the fans, who were not ready to send home our sweet, hilarious Anthony Williams. Especially after a challenge he had in the bag. At least in execution and making us laugh. But life's a sewing machine-littered stage for Mr. Williams, who, post-departure, chatted with me about his haters, his lovers and how he can help me get a man. Because "Hi, Hot White Guy!" will apparently only get me so far.
Lisa: Have you gotten a good response from people since Episode 5 aired? This is the first “All Stars” elimination of that the fans were really upset about FYI.
Anthony: Everybody has been so amazingly positive and supportive and I did not know how people were going to respond to the whole situation. I was very pleased with the way I came off on television and I think that people really got the message so I was happy about that.
Well that’s good! But what was the message?
The message that it could’ve gone any way. You know, it’s all about perspective. From the perspective of “Project Runway” and Lifetime, I did not obey — oh, that’s such a strong word — I did not follow the rules but the rules were… you know, I say this all the time: if you do not put it in ink, I think that rules are subject to miscommunication in some way because I thought something different at the beginning of the challenge and then Joanna Coles said something different in the workroom and then on the runway, it became something else so this could have gone any way. I’m not going to say that I should have stayed and someone else should have gone home but from a different perspective, everything could’ve been different.
You said you liked the way you came across; did you mean just the last episode, or all season?
No, the whole entire season. I thought I looked amazing, you could see that I lost weight, there is an obvious improvement in my work and my confidence. I didn’t have an agenda, I wasn’t looking for anybody to give me anything, you know, I came in with just Anthony and that’s all I had to offer. I came in with Anthony and I walked away with just Anthony.
There was something you said at the end of the episode when you were consoling Michael, that “All Stars” gave you what you needed and you’re ready to go on to the next path. What is the next part of your journey?
Well I want my own show that shows me in my whole capacity and uses me as a catalyst to work with people and celebrate other individuals. So that’s what I wanted to do, I wanted to see how I evolved and see if I was proud of myself and mostly see if I could maintain an audience with just my presence alone, and I could. They could have blocked out everyone on that show and I guarantee I could’ve maintained that audience.
It’s funny that you mention that because when I was watching you going around and talking to people to get their clothes, that did seem like what you were doing, like you were just hosting your own show. A show were you go around and asked people for their clothes off the street.
That’s what I did and it’s interesting because I was the only person on the runway to say the exact name of the person who I received the clothes from because I learned a long time ago that it is so important to remember a person’s name and the reality of it is that I need them, it is very important in the moment that I celebrate them because at the end, they’re doing me a favor so I will always find a way to connect with you in some aspect.
Then really, in this challenge, you feel like you kind of won it in your own way?
Most definitely, I think that you just hit the nail on the head! I won it because I remained Anthony, I didn’t have to step outside my box, it wasn’t a challenge to talk to other human beings, I was really just myself.
Diego was the other breakout star of the episode. I want you to give me lessons on how to get a man!
Well the first thing you have to do is get your confidence in check and don’t let his body be the focus. Did you notice? Everybody was surrounding his body. I was like, “I don’t give a damn about your body, give me the pants!”
Should I take this advice into the dating world?
Yes, you should. I went out with a guy on a date and he was very muscular and he flexed his arm and he was like, “Do you like that? Do you think that’s sexy?” and I’m like, “No, sweetie, you must think I’m the average. I don’t give a damn about you having muscles.”
Are you currently dating and looking for a man?
I’m looking for someone who understands that I’m really just a person. Don’t get caught up with what you see on television, I still have to check my account before I go to the mall. I want to be with a guy who sees me for me and understands that I’m not perfect, and I need a guy who gives me a little room to flip out. And I’ll tell you this is so interesting, but I love nerds. I date nerds and we get along so well. I love nerdy men. I love corny jokes. I love nerdy guys.
Sometimes opposites attract!
Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. We are opposites. The only time it’s become a conflict is when it’s time to go somewhere formal and they still pull out their old New Balance sneakers and I’m like, “Take them off!”
You said that in this competition you were taking daggers for having a personality. Who was giving you any crap for having a good personality?
Mila. We were standing and talking about something and Mila’s like “Designers over here and personalities over there,” and I’m like, you know what, I hate that. Nobody gives a damn about watching a show where people are sitting in front of a sewing machine and just stitching dresses. At the end of the day, television is about entertainment. There is nothing entertaining about watching somebody stitch a dress. If so, they can just take a camera and they can just set it up at any sweatshop in China and just film the women showing there. And even though people say [Mila] doesn’t have a personality, the reality of it is, that is still her personality. And part of your talent is your personality. I have found in this world that your personality will sustain what your talent can’t even get you.
During your time on “All Stars,” did you make any surprise friendships, obviously not with Mila, but with any of the other contestants?
I can’t get mad at Mila for being who she is but I really connected with Kara and Rami and I wasn’t too sure we’d click at all. Rami and I actually talk every day and he’s been to Atlanta to visit me, I love Rami and Kara! Kara is… let me tell you what I think is interesting about that. They edit Kara to make her look like she’s crazy and all over the place and blah, blah, blah but she’s the only one of us who’s selling her clothing at Neiman Marcus. Kara is a good person and so is Rami.
I don’t know if you saw, but there’s an Anthony vs. Jerell video on myLifetime.com right now and it’s a mashup of your one-liners and hilarious comments (yall can watch it below!). Did you feel in competition with him, like who’s the wittiest, who’s the funniest?
Oh no. Jerell is funny as hell, I did not know he is as funny as he is because you don’t get to hear what other people say in their interviews. One thing I can’t compete with is the wittiness and the frankness and the bluntness and the factness, all of that is me, I can’t ever compete with somebody else and be the best Anthony I can be so no, we weren’t ever in competition. But did I laugh at him as much as I laughed at myself? Yes I did, he is hilarious.
The preview for the next episode shows Jerell and Michael going head-to-head with a similar look. If you got to choose what one designer to go up against, who would it be?
Michael Costello. I would want to go against him because he’s been getting a lot of praise for some very mediocre work and I think that the work is beautiful but I think that when you sign up for “All Stars,” it’s not just a title, it’s a responsibility. I don’t know if it’s something about his work but he’s judged really unfairly against the ones who really put time and attention into what they’re doing and taking all of the technicalities of the situation. I really think that somebody could beat him in a challenge.
And who do you want to see win?
I would love to see Rami or Austin Scarlett win. I think they not only have the work ethic but they have the character. You got to have the character that will allow you to build a bigger business and I think that they have the work ethic and the character to allow them to do so, especially Rami.
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.