Q: When did you realize you had designer potential?
A: There was always an interest in women's dresses. My sister always reminds me of stories when I was about 5 or 6 years old. She said I used to have her or my mom buy me large sheets of white oak tag craft paper at the local store. I would literally sit on the floor, look at the VHS cover of the classic animated movie "Beauty and the Beast" and draw Belle's gown in full-scale, with some embellishments of course. I think I officially knew I wanted to design when I was in elementary school. A passion for evening dresses were evident at a very young age.
Q: First garment you ever made?
A: The first garment I ever made was actually not one, but a small group of seven sequins-and-satin dresses when I was a freshman in high school for the annual student fashion show. A flair for evening dresses was evident.
Q: What's your design training/schooling?
A: I graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology in 2006 with a bachelor's degree in womenswear. I spent my third year of college attending Polimoda in Florence, Italy.
Q: Have you won any awards?
A: Designer of the Year - FIT graduating class of 2006, Critic Award from designer Reem Acra, Cotton Inc. winner for evening wear, Saks Fifth Avenue winner for womenswear, third place from FGI Fashion Group International for women's ready-to-wear.
Q: Strengths as a designer?
A: I think my strength as a designer is that I have the "taste and eye" for design which is something that you cannot learn or acquire. I think these are elements that you are born with. This is what I was born to do and what was meant for me will happen. As Michael Kors would say, you either have it or you don't.
Q: Weaknesses as a designer?
A: I don't think I have weaknesses as a designer. I know how to handle situations and I am always learning something new.
Q: What have been your influences?
A: For me it is about capturing an attitude, a feeling, an emotion, and as a result, creating a stunning visual impact.
Q: What's playing on your iPod while you design?
A: When I am designing, I enjoy listening to New Age and a mixture of instrumental ethereal trance. I enjoy music that provokes a mood - a fantasy.
Q: Favorite material/fabric to work with?
A: I have many favorites, but I love Italian double-faced satin and silk chiffons.
Q: Item you're most proud to have designed?
A: I have a passion for designing extravagant gowns. If a celebrity wore my designs on the red carpet, I guarantee she would own it.
Q: Favorite designer(s)?
A: I love Roberto Cavalli for his edgy, bold, luxurious over-the-top sensibility. I also love Michael Kors for his clean, chic American sportswear.
Q: Sketch or drape?
A: I actually enjoy both. I love to sketch and have been sketching since I was a little boy, which is evident in my fashion illustrations. I also love to drape and create on the dress form.
Q: Patterns or solids?
A: I love patterns and solids, and I like to combine both elements in one look, which is clearly evident in my designs. I like prints that are bold and commands attention.
Q: Favorite colors?
A: I embrace color. I love mixing bright colors with neutrals. Love red, ivory, fuchsia and nude.
Q: Biggest fear as a designer?
A: I am fierce and fearless. No matter what profession you are in, at some point you will experience unfortunate obstacles. It is how you handle the situation and move on that matters.
Q: Fashion must?
A: Every woman should have a little red dress in her closet.
Q: Fashion faux pas that drives you crazy?
A: I don't think I have enough space to answer this question. A fashion faux pas that drives me crazy is when a grown-a## woman tries to look cutesy way tooooo hard. For example 40 years old, size 22, and wears small pink clips with bows in her hair. One literal fashion faux pas that drives me crazy is when I see a working woman wearing a tacky black suit with a tacky cream-looking wing-tip-collared shirt over the jacket collar. First of all the shirt was probably originally white when purchased, and the seams have puckers. It is 2012, ladies. I wish I saw more women at least making an effort when it comes to fashion. They really have the opportunity to embrace a personal style, which can also boost their confidence levels. There is also no excuse, because you can shop on a budget. You don.t need a large budget to look presentable and polished. One not-so-literal fashion faux pas that drives me super crazy is when a designer or editor says "Brown is the new black" or "Green is the new black." Are you serious? Certain colors are just quite popular or trendy, but definitely not "the new black."
Q: Ugliest item of clothing/accessory you've worn?
A I think I've always had a pretty good style.
Q: Favorite style icon?
A: Jennifer Lopez.
Q: How would you dress Michelle Obama?
A: I would love the opportunity to design for the first lady. It is so great that she embraces emerging designers. Because dresses are my passion, I would love to design a very ethereal, romantic, sophisticated evening gown for a gala.
Q: Dream celebrity client? What would you make for him/her?
A: I want to design looks for many celebrities, but specifically Jennifer Lopez, maybe for the Met Gala. I have always been a fan and admire her bold fashion style. I would design a very bold and romantic ivory/nude evening gown embellished with Swarovski crystals along the body, gradually into a dramatic train. Heads will turn and the paparazzi will photograph her until their camera batteries are burnt out.
Q: Favorite super model muse?
A:Heidi Klum and Kate Moss.
Q: If you had to name your label, you'd call it...
Q: If you weren't designing, you'd be...
A: Honestly, I can't see myself doing anything other than designing. This is not only my dream, but my passion.
Q: Any cultures/places you wish you could design for?
A: I want to design for my own brand, but I draw inspiration from cultures and exotic locations rich in culture and/or history. A dream of mine is to visit the Taj Mahal in Agra, India. My aesthetic is very romantic, and it would be a dream come true to witness this standing monument of eternal love.
Q: Dream place to set up your design business?
A: New York City.
Q: List of websites featuring your work?
Q: How were you described as a kid?
A: I was always described as very artistic.
Q: How are you described now?
A: Everyone would say that I am extremely passionate and driven when it comes to design.A few would say I need an attitude adjustment.
Q: Why are you easy or difficult to live with?
A: I would say I am easy to live with because I get along with mostly everyone and I am very down-to-earth and easygoing.
Q: Favorite hangout?
A: I don.t have a specific hangout spot, but I can tell you that I enjoy going for long walks, either by the pier, the park. I just really enjoy taking in what nature has to offer. I find it refreshing and healthy, especially being a New Yorker living in a fast-paced city where parks and piers are a luxury.
A: Other than actually designing clothes, I enjoy being a fashion illustrator.
Q: Favorite films/TV shows?
A: One of my favorite movies is "The Notebook." TV shows.I am a reality junkie. I love "Project Runway," "America's Next Top Model," "The Apprentice," "The Amazing Race," "Survivor." I guess I am intrigued to see how very diverse personalities mesh together.
Q: Favorite books/authors?
A: Honestly, I am not the type you will find at Barnes & Noble buying books and novels. If I am at Barnes & Noble or a bookstore, it is in the magazine section.
Q: iPhone, Android, or Blackberry?
Q: Fast food or gourmet?
Q: Cooking or takeout?
Q: Favorite food(s)?
A: Thai, Chinese, Indian.
Q: Beer or wine?
A Anything STRONG. Beer.
Q: Guiltiest pleasure?
A: Order takeout and watch reality shows.
Q: Biggest pet peeve?
A: When someone acts and thinks that they are just too good, when in reality they are simply just tacky. Also, when someone is loud and obnoxious for no valid reason simply annoys me.
Q: How'd you end up auditioning for PR?
A: I auditioned once before, for Season 3. I was actually checking my emails and I received one informing me that "Project Runway" was casting for Season 10. I said to myself, "This would be a perfect opportunity," since I had recently finished working on my first collection. I know it is a design competition, but at the end of the day it is a .reality show, so I understand you need an interesting cast. I told myself, "You know what.I am going to audition and WIN." You really have to believe in yourself and your work. I figured this was my time - it was meant for me at this point in my life.
Q: Favorite PR designer?
A: Christian Siriano.
Q: Challenge you hope they bring back?
A: Red carpet challenge for a celebrity.
Q: Challenge you hope they don't bring back?
A: Menswear challenge, because my background is focused on womenswear.
Q: What's your take on team challenges?
A: I like working with people, but I hate team challenges because sometimes you are stuck with a leader who knows absolutely nothing or has bad taste.
Q: What do you look for in a model?
A; With my first glance I usually know if I am interested or not. I like models that are exotic and have a unique look, a signature face, and can evoke a mood with their eyes. Most important to me is the physique, height and a killer signature walk. She must own the runway.
Q: Do you think you can win PR?
A: I don't want to bore you and give you the same answer that everyone else will about how talented and creative they are, etc. I am extremely passionate about being a designer. I strongly believe that like any other artist, musician, poet, actor, etc., it is something you are born with and are meant to do. Skills can be learned, but to have the passion and drive is just something that cannot be acquired. I am not a face that you see or affiliate with Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. I was born in a third-world country, moved to Queens New York at age 4, was drawing and designing at a young age, pursued my passion for design while living in the greatest city in the world, and finally graduated as Designer of the Year from the Fashion Institute of Technology, graduating class of 2006. Now I am seeking every opportunity that I can to make my dream a reality because I know this is what I was meant to do. I hope Project Runway will be the stepping stone of launching my career and I want to show the world that no matter where you are or where you come from, things don't come easy but you have to work hard, take initiative, and make your dream a reality. IT IS POSSIBLE.