Tim Gunn visits you while you're working on your collection -- first of all, what was it like having Tim Gunn in your apt and hanging out with your friends?
It was wonderful --Tim is such a benevolent and loving presence, everyone is made happier just by the fact that he exists. I love Tim (!).
How closely did you heed Tim Gunn's advice? What did you really think of his monkey house anecdote?
I took some of his advice, but I also wanted to do some things that would provoke -- because it's not all about winning or losing, it's about being who you are in spite of popular opinion. People who take risks are the ones who change the world. I guess I'm just wired that way.
I think his monkey house anecdote is brilliant -- I think we all have our own version of being "too close" to something.
OK -- let's talk about the human hair, probably the most provocative piece to your ensembles. How did you come up with this idea? Did you have any reservations? Is it something you will work with in the future?
I have used human hair in the past to simulate monkey fur and yak hair. We were not allowed to use animal fur of any kind so this fit the bill. (By the way, Fashion Week was full of this look in goat and yak hair, yet people really flipped out over my human hair looks). I love the look, the movement, and what the look evokes. I have no reservations about it -- I think it was stunning on many levels.
Your line was very dark -- is this something that inspires you in your designing in general?
No, it was just something I was into and inspired by at the time I was conceiving the collection. But yes, I do have a dark side (insert sly smile here)!
After seeing Rami's collection, did you know who would be going home? The judges' comments seemed pretty deadlocked between the two of you.
Well, to be completely honest, this whole thing was very difficult to navigate. I so wanted to do a collection more along the lines of Christian's (complete over-the-top couture fantasy) but we all know the judges would slaughter me for it. If I was TOO safe, I would get nailed the other way. To be completely honest with myself, I don't know if my heart was completely in it. I never thought they would let the "costume designer" guy into the finals. I guess it's my own fault, and I feel like I let down so many people who were rooting for me. Rami is a wonderful man who lives and breathes fashion. After I was eliminated, we were backstage and Rami hugged me and asked if I was OK, and I told him I was fine and that I was happy that he won, because it was what he needed, not what I needed. I am so proud to have lost to Rami. I hope people understand that.
Were you surprised with the decision?
No, not at all. It was the pure and right choice. And trust me, to have made it that far after being brought back and hearing such praise of my work was so gratifying. I always felt I had to do my best with this incredible gift the producers gave me. I will be eternally grateful.
What have you been up to since Fashion Week?
Time off. Meeting fans. Fielding offers. Trying to fathom the whole situation. Thanking my lucky stars.