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The Project Runway Blog

Season 10 Q&A: Nathan Paul Doesn't Believe in Client-Blaming

By laurareineke Fri., Aug. 24, 2012 ,4:55 pm EDT

Nathan Paul

Being able to tailor one's personal aesthetic to meet the needs and desires of a client is arguably the biggest test for a real fashion designer. But garments that don't meet the judges' standards — even those put together by the happiest of designer-client teams — won't cut it on "Project Runway," as Nathan Paul unfortunately found out last night. Nathan opened up about his reasons for being on the show, what he could have done differently in this week's challenge and his pick for the winner of Season 10. Check out the Q&A after the jump!

Q: What got you interested in "Project Runway"?
Nathan: I’ve always wanted to be a designer, and I didn’t always have the support of my family to do that because it was just something that was completely foreign to them. It was actually my father who found "Project Runway" on TV. My father was one of the ones who’d lagged behind in supporting me in fashion. He wanted me to go into a traditional field and have something stable — you know, big house, white picket fence, that American dream. But he saw Project Runway on TV, started watching it, called me and got me watching it. It changed his mind to where he was able to accept fashion as a valid occupation. He started understanding the industry more. It changed his viewpoint and now he’s one of my supporters. So for me being on Project Runway was something I wanted to do because it brought my father and I together and aligned our views. It was something that would complete the whole cycle for me.

Q: Do you think your look was weaker than Ven or Sonjia’s?
Nathan: I don’t know about "weaker." I think it would’ve been unfair for one of them to go home in my place knowing how the judges felt about my garment. I don’t think the decision should’ve been different. Knowing that the three of us were in the bottom, I kind of expected that, because my garment was so far off the path of everything else shown that evening. It was one that would stick out. I put myself at risk for doing that.

Q: You’re obviously very client-focused. How did you feel about the way Ven treated his client?
Nathan: I would never have treated my client in that manner. I respect everyone. I do clothing for sizes that are not normally catered to and I’m very sensitive to that woman or that man. I thought it was a bit disrespectful to approach the challenge from that viewpoint of not wanting to accept the person for who they are.

Q: If you could design your look again, what would you have done differently?
Nathan: There were several things I could have changed. One, the fabric. I understand what Michael Kors was talking about in terms of the fabric. I don’t want to make excuses for it because it was my responsibility to choose the fabric, but I was looking for something different and I couldn’t find what I needed. I think I was so stuck in what I wanted this look to accomplish, in terms of a stage-ready fabric, that I should have veered differently than that. In terms of the silhouette, I would have stuck to something similar. That was the silhouette my client was comfortable with. I think we came to a great compromise with the cutouts, and at the end of the day she felt very comfortable with that garment. If it pleased the client, that is my measure of success.

Q: Do you think you’d still be around if you’d had a different client?
Nathan: I think that’s always a possibility, but you never know. You deal with the cards you’re dealt. I’m not gonna say my client was more difficult than any other client. You’re dealing with an individual who has a point of view, and as a designer you have your own point of view. There are always obstacles you have to overcome to get to a point where you own the garment, it speaks to your aesthetic, and it pleases the client.

Q: What was your favorite challenge this season?
Nathan: I think my favorite was the candy challenge. It was the most challenging, but it was also whimsical and fanciful. I find it interesting to think outside the box in terms of unconventional materials, and I’m always trying to find a way to repurpose things. Doing that candy challenge was in the line of things I like to do to stretch myself as a designer.

Q: Do you have any predictions regarding who might win?
Nathan: You know, that vacillates from challenge to challenge. You start off with an opinion. When I went into the competition I thought Ven would be the one to win, but seeing his progression through the competition, my mind has changed. At this point in time, I think Chris is going to be the final winner. I think he has enough of the qualities all-around in terms of a package: He has a great personality, he has a stronger design point of view, and he has done a good job in this competition of managing under pressure. At this point in time, Chris is my choice.