QWhat was the first garment you ever made?
ADon't remember . probably a children's design at Parsons.
QWhat's playing on your iPod when you're designing?
ANothing. I listen to the radio . usually classical.
QWhen did you realize you had designer potential?
AIn my last year of high school, when my art teacher commented on my "doodles" in class and suggested I look into attending Parsons School of Design.
AOnes that show on the runway what they actually sell and don't rely on their licenses of handbags, eyewear, shoes, etc. to keep them in business.
AFashion designer. I also freelance, helping a photographer translate his photos into fashion along with an interior designer in Los Angeles
QCan you describe past jobs you've had?
AI worked at Holly Harp, Bill Blass, Arnold Scaasi and Halston.
QWhat is a fashion must?
QWhat is your design training?
AI attended Parsons School for Design and the New School in NYC from 1975-1977, studying fashion design.
QHave you won any awards related to design?
AI was nominated by Bill Blass to become a member of the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America), but I did not pursue this opportunity.
QWhat are your strengths as a designer?
AI am very prolific when it comes to designing . ideas come easily.
QWhat are your weaknesses as a designer?
ANot crazy about working with knits or casual-type sportswear.
QWhat's influenced your designs over the years?
AIn the past nostalgia, romance, history. Now I'd say the modern international woman and her lifestyle.
QWhat's your favorite material or fabric to work with?
AI generally like natural and organic fabrics (cottons, hemp) and knits.
QWhat's the item you're most proud of designing?
AThe first dress I made a few months back. It was my first design I have made completely from beginning to end since I graduated from Parsons in 1977.
QDo you prefer sketching or draping?
QDo you prefer patterns or solids?
AMostly solid fabrics. Texture is important!
QWhat are your favorite colors?
ABlack (even though it's not a color), gray, ivory, red, sapphire, emerald, natural beiges.
QWhat's your biggest fear as a designer?
ALosing control of product quality and integrity.
QWhat fashion faux pas drives you crazy?
AClothes that are too tight and ill-fitting and overdone!
QWhat's the ugliest thing you've ever worn?
AA Nik Nik shirt with peacock motif in the '70s.
QWho are your favorite style icons?
AYves St. Laurent.
QIf you designed for the first lady, what would you design for her?
AAn inaugural gown and evening coat.
QWhat celebrity would you like to design for?
AOprah Winfrey . an amazing gown in a vibrant color.
QWho's your supermodel muse?
QWhat do you look for in a model?
AOf course how she fits is important, but I always look for a certain spark in their eyes or a certain energy in their walk, pose, etc.
QIf you had to name your label, you'd call it . . .
A"Ralph Benton". Ralph is my middle name, and Benton is a family name.
QIf you weren't designing, you'd be . . .
ADoing something I'm not good at!
QDream place to set up your design business?
QHow were you described as a kid?
AHappy, independent and creative.
QHow are you described now?
AHappy. Friendly, fun, helpful and considerate, adventurous.
QCan you describe your family?
AVery small . my sister, three nephews, stepfather and a great-nephew.
QMarriage or kids?
ASingle, no kids.
QDo you have any pets?
AHOPE, a seven-year-old miniature Yorkshire terrier.
QDo you have any nicknames?
AUncle Tight Ass; my nephews gave that one to me. My sister calls me Ralph, my middle name.
QWhy are you (or aren't you) easy to live with?
AI am easygoing, but I enjoy "my space" and can be difficult when I do not get it.
QWhat's your favorite hangout back home?
QWhat are your hobbies besides designing?
ACooking, driving, traveling, reading history and biographies.
QWhat are your favorite movies and TV shows?
AOld ones, TCM, All In the Family, The Jeffersons and travel or cooking shows
QWhat are your favorite books and authors?
AThe Beautiful Fall, Them, The Grand Surprise.
QWhat are your favorite websites?
QiPhone, Android or BlackBerry?
QFast food or gourmet?
QCooking or takeout?
AGood cheese, bread, foie gras (not very PC).
QBeer or wine?
QBiggest pet peeve?
APeople who are self-centered and dishonest on a regular basis.
QFavorite designer from past seasons of Project Runway?
QProject Runway challenge you wish they'd bring back for your season?
ADesigns inspired by art!
QProject Runway challenge you hope they don't bring back?
AAnything to do with the contestants designing for other contestants!
QYour take on team challenges ... love them or hate them?
AThey are a good departure from individual challenges! Create some drama, power struggles between contestants!
QHow did you end up auditioning for Project Runway?
AI had, over about a nine-month period, about six or seven good friends say they felt I should try out. After saying absolutely NO to the first four or so, I began to think "Why not?"
QWhy do you think you will win Project Runway?
AI enjoy working "outside the box" with challenges, I keep an open and upbeat attitude even when being critiqued, and I am a quick study with design concepts.