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.