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Season 10 Q&A: Gunnar Deatherage Predicts the Winner

By laurareineke Fri., Sep. 14, 2012 ,4:10 pm EDT

Gunnar Deatherage

His confidence, competitive streak and previous experience as a "Project Runway" Season 9 contestant made Gunnar Deatherage quite the antagonist at the start of Season 10. Over the past few episodes, though, a calmer, friendlier Gunnar emerged, one who seemed dedicated to producing good clothes instead of producing drama. For the HP fabric-design challenge, he dug deep and created a pattern expressing his past as a victim of bullying, but while the judges were moved by his story, they were less impressed with Gunnar's design. Auf he went. Gunnar answered a few of our questions about his time on the show, the best advice he got from the judges, and the origins of his distinct name. Check out what he had to say after the jump.

Q: What made you want to return to the show?
Gunnar: I think originally I wanted to return just to compete. I did get to go to the top 20 and to New York last time, but this time I really wanted to go back just so I could have a chance to do the challenges, you know? It’s so awesome that you’re given the funding and the opportunity to create some of the cool stuff we got to do, so it was kind of a no-brainer for me to go back for it.

Q: What was going through your mind during the judging last night?
Gunnar: I was very much over it. I think at that point the competition was very much wearing me down, and I proved the point I needed to prove. And the only point I felt I needed to prove was to myself. That’s something I didn’t realize I needed until I was there. What was gonna happen was gonna happen, and it was out of my hands at that point.

Q: Can you talk further about the print you made?
Gunnar: I put a lot of myself into the print. I came from a very small town. It was hell growing up and going through school. I figured, how many times am I gonna get the chance to say something on behalf of those who are bullied on national television? Why not do it now? If I have to tell my story to get [the message] out there, I will absolutely do so.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you got from the judges?
Gunnar: It’s hard to say that I got good advice from the judges. And that’s nothing spiteful toward them at all. They’re critiquing each design - I don’t think that necessarily it’s you as a designer, it’s what you’ve presented for them. They always want you to push boundaries and do something different. I think them reiterating that is something that could be pulled from the experience.

Q: How much did Andrea’s and Kooan’s departures affect you?
Gunnar: Obviously it’s a hard competition, and I don’t think if you watch it at home you can ever fully understand how strenuous it is. Very long days, and it takes everything out of you creatively to do it. To see people just walk away and quit…it’s a very easy way out. It was something I think all of us at one point considered. It definitely planted the seed in our minds that it was an option. I think it definitely left an impression on all of us.

Q: Do you think Ven should have gone home instead?
Gunnar: Well, I definitely think his look was worse than mine. How many flowers and fan effects can you have on a dress? It’s not surprising anymore. I can say that I’m really proud that I showed different things every time. None of my looks looked the same. [The judges] didn’t like one and thought it was my time to go, then it was definitely my time to go. But I was proud of my piece.

Q: Who do you predict will win?
Gunnar: Hmm. Well, I always told the boys in 15J — that was the room we were in, me and Dmitry and Fabio — that I would root for them. So I’ll root for them.

Q: Do you feel like you got what you wanted out of the show?
Gunnar: I feel like I got exactly what I wanted out of the show. I pulled things from it that I didn’t ask for. I think going into it, it was about winning, and then a couple challenges in I started to see what it was really about. I think it was more about closure from the last time I was on the show, and proving to myself that I do know what I’m doing with [fashion]. At 22, I think it’s a gift, having never been to school for it, that I had the opportunity to compete in this competition. It looks great to have Project Runway on my resume, and it set me up for a lot of cool things. It also showed me a lot of things that I don’t want out of my career, which is cool. It did a lot of things for me.

Q: Is your name legit? Or did you make it up?
Gunnar: My name is completely real! It’s given. It’s definitely odd and different. Maybe my parents knew I’d be doing something big one day.