If you had to choose any designer right now to make you a red carpet dress, can you possibly say—?
H. Klum Yes. I have to say Christian Siriano because we’ve become friendly over the seasons. He’s a little Jack Russell. He does not give up. He’s the kind of person that jumps up and down on you and then makes it happen. He’s not someone that falls asleep somewhere in his La-Z-Boy. He’s definitely someone, and you have to be like that.
The squeaky wheel gets—what is it? Gets the grease? He squeaks all the time. He’s like, “I got new things.” He’s like, “… Klum I have to send you things. Oh, my God, this is fabulous,” and, “What are you wearing for this event? What are you wearing for that?” He always makes sure that you don’t forget about him too, which is important. And he then also comes up with the goods. He makes beautiful clothes.
So I like his personality. I like that he hustles, because that’s what you have to do. It’s a very competitive world out there and there are many great designers. Yes, I can get big designer names. He calls and he’s like, “I’m going to make something.”
So last season for the EMMYs I wore a Christian Siriano (photo above) and I’m proud to wear his clothes. He worked to the last second to make it special and I love that about him. So I would pick him, I’ve worn many of his outfits over the seasons.
I’m noticing that we don’t have any Portland designers on this season, but we have had several designers from Portland over the seasons, including the two winners; Seth Aaron Henderson and Gretchen Jones. I wanted to ask you, because we here in Portland don’t think of ourselves as very fashionable and we seem so far away from what we think of as the big world of fashion, do you have any idea why people from Portland have done well in terms of getting on a show like Project Runway?
I think that creativity is in a person or it’s not. It doesn’t matter where you come from. You can be from the smallest town somewhere in the middle of nowhere but there’s the Internet. There are books. There’s TV.
Even if you have never traveled the world, you are either interested and you learn about fashion and you want to be part of it or you don’t. So it doesn’t matter if you come from New York City or any other fashion city or if you come from a smaller town.
Michael Kors, for example, he’s from New York City. He grew up here and his mother is very fashionable and he kind of got in there in a different way, but there are a lot of people that have made it in this industry that come from all over the world. So it doesn’t matter if you come from a big city or a small town.
Do you have any advice to the people here in Portland who would love to have a career in fashion? Any advice for them on what they need to do?
I think definitely the people that have been on Project Runway all got a huge casting platform. People had seen them and even if they maybe would’ve not won I think they had a great opportunity to showcase what they can do.
If you’re a designer and if you want to design for the masses or if you want to design for a big fashion house or for a big name, you just have to be where those designers are. If you want to design for Michael Kors or Giorgio Armani or Ralph Lauren you have to be in those places and try. You have to show your book and you have to show what you can do and you have to go to school before. I mean there are definitely things that these places will check off in order for you to work for them, if that is what you want to do.
Some people want to be designers but want to design maybe and have a small line and have a small store within your town. Not everyone wants to design for a big label. Some designers might just want to design for their town. Everyone has a different ambition and everyone wants to design different things. Some people want to design out of old antiques and sit on the flea market every Sunday and Saturday and sell their fashion there. Everyone has different vision, a different point of view on what they want to sell and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Our show is about designers who want to break into the real fashion world, that want to show a New York Fashion week that have the critics criticize them. Someone who designs for a smaller town, say in Portland, might not necessarily hear about it, but that is okay too. That is great too if that’s how you want to make your living and if that’s what fulfills you. It doesn’t have to be all big and in the fashion world. You can also be a designer on a smaller scale.
Is there one memory that stands out in your mind from the first day or from the first season that you knew that you had something special on your hands?
Yes. I always say it was after the very first challenge. The very first challenge I gave the designers $50 and one day and they had to go to the grocery store. I was so worried about this. The producers and I were all sitting together before—because we had other more normal challenges also, but we thought … unconventional material challenge. That will either set the tone and either showcase the designer’s talent or we will just tank because it will all look like arts and crafts projects.
So we were a little bit worried about it, but at the same time we jumped in the cold water and we just gave it a shot. I just have to say afterwards I’m so happy that we did because the very first episode set the tone of what the show’s all about. It’s about creativity, innovation; people who have great talents and can really make clothes out of anything. We wanted to make sure of that.
Not every piece of clothing that they made was supposed to be worn; each challenge is a different challenge. I loved that about the show and I still do. We rack our brains every season to come up with new challenges to surprise the audience, to surprise even our designers.
I don’t want them to sit in front of me and they’re like, “Oh okay, she gives us a few hints. That’s means we’re going to do that.” We don’t want that. So every time we really think about coming up with new things. It is difficult after so many seasons, but I feel like we still do.
Since there are so many trends that are coming back, like the 90s trends with all the neon and even the parachute pants, is there one trend from the 90s that you just don’t want to come back at all?
I was never the biggest fan of the gigantic shoulder pads, for example. I know everyone did it. If it wasn’t overly huge, maybe I did wear one or two of those jackets, but really to me that does not look flattering.
I like the MC Hammer pants. I even like the stonewashed jeans, the ripped jeans when they come and go or the 70s, if they’re low or high wasted or the neon. I do like those trends when they come back because they never really come back exactly how they were. I think the designers today do take those ideas but then they make them new again for this time around. But definitely I never loved those gigantic shoulder pads. I can live without those.
I know you spoke about the Rockettes challenge, but can you talk about any other challenges this season that we’ll see on the show?
We did this big one in Times Square. I don’t know if you guys heard about it. My dream was always to bring the show out on the street so fans could stop by and watch the fashion show. I’ve been nagging on about it for many seasons and this season I finally got the yea.
^ Guest judges Patricia Field and Lauren Graham with Nina Garcia, Michael Kors, and Heidi Klum Heidi Klum filming the first episode of Project Runway Season 10 in Times Square. (Photo: Mr. Blue / WENN.com)
So we did our very first episode in Times Square (photo above) where the designers had to make two outfits. One outfit they had to do at home to showcase who they are as a designer and then we gave them a choice when they came to New York City where they had to make another second look and then we showed that.
We had like a big stage in Time Square and we had hundreds and hundreds of fans there. They were really nervous. They didn’t know we were going to do this so they all had shaky knees and they were scared to go out in front of such a big audience. It was a lot of fun.
Are there any other new contestants that we should keep our eye on? Could you point to anyone in particular?
I can’t really tell you; otherwise you know already who’s going to stay a little longer. I can tell you another challenge. We had one where they had to make clothes out of candy. We actually went to Ralph Lauren’s daughter’s store—
So we went to the Dylan Candy Store and they loved it. I loved it too. I love the unconventional challenge when they get to make clothes out of things that are not fabric. .
As a mom, are there any Project Runway designers either from the current season or the past seasons that you would like to see do a kid’s line?
It’s funny you should ask. You definitely have to watch this season because there might be something very interesting about that. There will definitely be something like that incorporated in this tenth season.
I know that some designers have gone into baby clothes. I think Seth Aaron actually did or Jeffrey Sebelia, very punk, a little bit more rock and roll. It’s a little harder. You should definitely watch this season. There will be something along those lines.
As far as your own kids go, do you have as much fun dressing them up as you do yourself or have they kind of developed their own senses of style now?
Well some do and some don’t. I mean Lou and Johan didn’t really care that much about clothes. They like when they have cool things on and they’re in the mirror, but my fashionistas are definitely Henry and Leni.
Henry changes clothes ten times a day and he wants to be very cool. I mean he would wear a t-shirt and then he will wear a tie just around his neck, knotted, and then a belt over the t-shirt. He does very unusual ways of dressing where I’m like, “Really? You want to put the belt over t-shirt and the tie around your neck?” And he’s like, “Yes, mom. I’m cool.”
We have a rule in our house. Rule number one is always to look cool, and rule number two is don’t forget rule number one. Then we have other rules like you can’t walk down the street without holding hands or you can’t go in an elevator without an adult. So we have all these different rules, but rule number one is always to look cool. They know that, and Leni and Henry take that very seriously. But I let them dress the way they want to do it. I don’t really tell them what to wear.
Even the younger ones pick out their outfits sometimes?
Yes, I mean out of their closet but not so much when we go shopping. Lou has one polka dot leopard dress that she loves and then she will say, “Mamma, I have my polka dot leopard dress on.” So she does acknowledge what she’s wearing. She’s … in clothes instead of naked. She will say what she has on if she likes it, but she’s not that fussy about clothes, no.
We have been hearing gossip that a couple of the designers left the show early under unusual circumstances. I wondered if that’s going to be something we’ll see on the show itself and if you could tell us anything about it?
Yes, you will definitely see it on the show. This has never happened to us before. I think they just couldn’t make it work. We always say, “Make it work. Make it work.” They just could not make it work and in the morning they were gone. They literally packed up their bags and ran off in the middle of the night when everyone was sleeping. We just couldn’t believe it either.
You would think that a grownup would say, “Thanks, but I can’t make it work. I’ve got to go early or something. This is something that a kid would do, but we were all very surprised. But if people can’t make it work then leave the spot for someone else that wants to make it work.
I’m sorry you lost the cast but it should make for interesting viewing. I was wondering if the designers will be designing anything for any of your lines?
Yes, yes, yes, yes.
I know you said that you want more challenges out in the street. How else do you see the show evolving for future seasons?
I mean this was already something very difficult for us to go outside. I would love to go overseas maybe for future seasons where we go to other fashion cities, such as Paris or Milan or …. We would love that. It’s difficult.
We are definitely not one of the gigantic budget shows that are out there. We’re still in a way very documentary style. We do everything at Parsons. Parsons is the design school. Right now I’m in a classroom before I go downstairs onto the runway, because it’s summer time right now so there aren’t any classes here at Parsons.
Other shows they have stages and they have budgets to travel all over the place. We don’t. Everything really happens here at the school. Michael and Nina, they’re next door. There’s another classroom. They’re getting ready. I’m getting ready in this classroom and then we meet downstairs on the runway.
It’s very gritty. It’s not very Hollywood let’s say. So it’s hard for us to travel to different countries and that kind of thing. I’m fighting for that. I would love for that to happen, that we can maybe go to Paris … Fashion Week or visit some of the great designers that are more settled over there that we can have as guest judges because some don’t travel here. So I would like to bring my designers over there.
But I feel like with this first challenge that we’re doing in Times Square where we made a big push that cost them a lot of money to put the runway on Times Square and book that spot for a few hours. So we’re making baby steps in the right direction.