Jennifer: Staying True To The Vision

Jennifer Diederich defends her choice in color and design in the Olympic challenge.

rate_runway_jennifer_504.jpg What was the inspiration behind your Olympic look?
We had the great opportunity to draw inspiration from the Track & Field Hall of Fame for this challenge. I love to research my designs! I saw an old tracksuit from the 1920s that was teal and white striped and had an embroidered logo of the Track and Field club. I used the logo as an embellished closure on the cardigan and the stripes as an inspiration for the skirt. What were the most important things to remember in order to be successful in this particular challenge?
Well, I think the designers went either one of two ways with this challenge -- a more formal/fashion forward look or a sportier/athletic look. Obviously, the judges were looking for a more athletic design -- everyone else was on the chopping block as soon as their models stepped foot on the runway! Have you ever watched the Olympic opening ceremony?
Yes, I have watched it! The opening ceremony is particularly great, because there is excitement in the air. At that moment, there is still the possibility that anyone can be a winner and everyone has high hopes! Why did you make the decision not to use red in your design?
I chose to use the colors navy, white and gold, as opposed to red, white and blue, with the thought of the Americans "going for the gold." I do see where the judges were coming from with their concern that without the red, the design wasn't immediately recognizable as the American team.

pr_episode_504_pic01.jpg What did you think of having an actual Olympian, Apolo Ohno, as guest judge?
I thought it was an honor to have an Olympian as a guest judge. I should have realized that Apolo would be looking for a design with an athletic point of view. Since my style is very girly, (I never wear pants--just dresses and skirts) I tried to combine a more sporty fabric, the fleece jacket, with a more feminine skirt. I really thought about the athlete's needs by adding a back pocket to the skirt for storage of digital cameras, passes, etc., but it seems it was not enough to impress Apolo or the judges. What did you think of the other designers' designs?
I really liked Korto's design. I thought it was modern, chic and portrayed beautiful American sportswear. Joe's and Terri's designs were what the judges were looking for, but I didn't see too much innovation. Jerell's look was "out there" for the challenge, but he sure knows glamour and how to make a statement. Daniel's didn't really say "Olympic" at all to me. It had similar problems to mine -- it was more fashion than athletic, and the colors were purple and red. I definitely think some of the other designers in the middle range skated through even though they had outfits that didn't fit the challenge. Did you think you would be going home after hearing the judges' comments about all the designs? Do you think that someone else deserved to go home instead of you?
I knew I was on the chopping block after hearing the judges' comments. Ironically, I was told by other designers that they thought I was a contender for the win. I felt my design was well thought out, executed beautifully, (I even embroidered "USA" on the silk bias-cut tank with gold thread from the skirt fabric!) and playful. Did I think it was the worst design? Definitely not! I loved it! I would rather not say if someone should have gone instead of me. Bringing someone else down to lift myself up is not my thing. Nina said that you put too much of what you would want to wear into your designs -- do you agree with that?
What's wrong with that?! Many successful women designers design for themselves. I take into consideration what makes me feel and look my best when designing for my collection. And that's as it should be. I was also trying to stay true to my vision as a designer, even in the Olympic challenge.

jennifer_504_widget.jpg What was the best advice you received during your time on the show?
Actually, Jerry gave me some good advice about business, seeing as he has more experience in owning his own business. He may have gone home first, but he knows a lot! Thanks, Jerry! Do you have a prediction as to who will go all the way? I think Kelli is an innovative designer, who works really hard. I also think Leanne has a new point of view, and Jerell is somebody I root for as a friend. Where can your fans see you in the future?
Visit for more of my line "suite." Are people noticing you? How has life "outside" been? Do people in Italy recognize you?
I am recognized in New York, when I'm there. Twice, on flights from New York and Syracuse, my hometown, Project Runway has been on TV and the person watching it next to me didn't realize I was sitting next to them! I think I was probably the most "normal" looking girl on the show, so I'm not always recognizable right away. I flew back to Italy about a week ago, and while it's beautiful and sunny here, I can't wait to get back to New York! (And no, nobody recognizes me yet in Italy because the fifth season of Project Runway won't air here until next year!) What was the first thing you did after leaving Atlas?
I hopped in a cab and went to a friend's apartment to stay in New York for a few days for a little business and a lot of fun -- without any cameras!

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