Bring us up to speed!
Ooooooh, my goodness, to say that this has been an amazing adventure is such an understatement! Since Season 2 aired in 2006, there have been some insane highs as well as some abysmal lows. I've been lucky to work for some sublime private clients who really believed in my abilities, but there were also companies that hired me, hoping to trade in on the popularity of the show, only to fire me when they didn.t profit instantly. There's been rewarding work for the theater, as well as funds raised for causes that are dear to me, like gender equality and environmental preservation. I met Debra Messing, but I still need health insurance. Even so, I know there are millions of creative professionals in the same boat, that weren't on "Project Runway." AND, things are on the upswing! Last year, I relocated to New York (I'm not "SO L.A." anymore), and I'm establishing a design operation in Brooklyn, under my own name. I'm excited about engaging with long-standing fans and friends of the show, in addition to those who aren.t familiar with the earlier seasons.
What garment from your season of "Runway" do fans compliment you on the most?
Folks always remember the dress I made that was inspired by some filthy New York City gutter water. Using design to create beauty where people don't expect to find it still excites me, and it's fantastic to be remembered for doing this kind of work on the show.
What do you think you are best remembered for from your season?
Well, there's the aforementioned "gutter-water dress," which is what folks reference when they come up to me on the street aaaaaaand yet, I know I.m remembered for breaking down emotionally on the runway. Although I still find it inordinately unpleasant being judged and filmed under the hot lights, I'm glad to say that since Season 2 aired, I've learned to "use my words" a whole lot more.
Who has been your favorite client to design for?
My favorite client has got to be Jamie Benson (my choreographer boyfriend). While we were in Los Angeles, we collaborated on several acclaimed dance pieces and of course I designed the looks worn by the performers. I love creating clothes that invoke thoughts and ideas. Costumes are, by definition, wearable communication devices, and it's always refreshing to do work that says something else besides, "Don't I have great boobs?"
What celebrities would you love to dress?
Oh, man, Michelle Obama, one thousand times! It's an election year, for heaven's sake, and as a designer who appreciates fashion for its communicative possibilities, I would love to have the opportunity to help her accomplish everything that she's been attempting for the last four years, and hopefully, for the next four on the way!
What are your strengths as a designer at this point in your career?
I'm a communicator, and I love conversation. As a designer, my best work conveys interesting ideas or simply just gets people talking. When I was a kid, I was shy. However, I learned that fashion can be effectively employed as an icebreaker in new situations. I still get shy sometimes, so when I.m about to enter uncharted territory, I arm myself with a compelling garment or a remarkable accessory, and I always approach anyone who is wearing something intriguing to ask them about it.
How has your design aesthetic changed since your time on the show, if at all?
I've become increasingly inspired by the concept of "modularity" since my time on the show, and I think I find a lot more inspiration in knits than I used to. The advances made in the development of knitted textiles during the last 30 years of the 20th century are arguably more significant than all of the fashion innovations made in the first 70 combined. I don't think that I'll never quite exhaust my fascination with the miracle that is "bias construction"; however, I'm currently struggling with finding a way to "work on the bias" without creating garments that are overtly ethereal and conventionally romantic. When you look at some of Vionnet's work from the '50s, you can see her struggling with this too, so I guess I'm in good company.
What are your favorite pieces/staple items in your closet?
I always champion choosing a focal point! Every outfit should have a singular thing that directs attention in a deliberate way. Hence, my favorite items tend to be accessories. I'm expressive, so I have a robust collection of scarves, neckties, and eyewear that I wear to focus visual attention on my face.
Which fashion rule do you think is begging to be broken?
"Begging to be broken"???!!!! Breaking rules is all that people do these days! I think I decided to leave Los Angeles the night I saw someone wearing jeans at the opera, and don.t get me started on HAIR EXTENSIONS!!!! Ladies, no one is fooled. That being said, I don.t think that there is such a thing as a "bad" color combination. Color creates emphasis, and it's only "bad" when it garners stares instead of composing a "look."
How do you choose what to pack for "All Stars"?
I'm a big proponent of uniform dressing, and I didn't want the clothes I was wearing on the show to distract from the things I created. I also decided upon a comprehensive "Easter-eggish" color scheme, so the clothes I brought mixed well with each other.
What "Project Runway" challenges do you think are the best and worst of all time?
Huh. I guess, like the viewers of the show, I enjoy the unconventional challenges where the designers have to make clothes out of materials that aren.t traditionally used in garment construction. I loved it when they had to take things from the 99-cent store and make clothes that belied their origins. These challenges always showcase the designers who really know how to wield the principles of design in their favor. The worst challenges are when the designers have to make clothes for clients who are not the same size as their mannequins. Without a mannequin that has comparable dimensions, it's exceedingly difficult to create a well-fitting garment, and it's no surprise that I don.t enjoy seeing people cry on television.
Who is your favorite fellow "Project Runway" designer from any season?
You know, once I met Nora Caliguri, and I thought she was pretty cool. I wouldn't mind running into her in Manhattan again sometime.
What goes through your head when you see yourself on television?
I always think, "I bet he.s marvelous at a dinner party."
What is the one thing fans still would be surprised to find out about you?
I have a page on my website that maps my location 24 hours a day, should anyone ever wonder where I am.
What makes you "All Star" material?
A "Project Runway All Star" is someone from the show that folks enjoyed having around, for better or worse. It's nice to learn that they still wanna hang out with me.