There is one simple word that describes last night€™s episode of Project Runway: SHOCKING. The panic was palpable as the designers learned their models were replaced with real women who had recently lost a significant amount of weight.Of course, it wouldn€™t be Project Runway without a catch. This challenge entailed creating a beautiful new look for the women using their favorite pre-weight loss outfit. The new look must be both wearable and practical, addressing the woman€™s daily needs in addition to reflecting the designer€™s distinctive style. The shock factor didn€™t stop there though. I think a resounding €˜oh my lordy!€™ could be heard far and wide when...Jack revealed that he would be leaving due to health issues, which led to a decision to bring fan favorite Chris back on board to boost morale and up the stakes of the competition! (Note: If I was wearing a hat, I would take it off to Chris right now. I spoke to the designer last week after I thought he was off the show for good, and the outlandish designer didn€™t give even the slightest indication that he€™d be back! In fact, I think he was cracking up on the inside when listening to me lament his departure and how disappointed I was!).The designers each struggled as they tried to reconcile the disparities between their own visions and the needs and preferences of their models, in addition to working with some seemingly hopeless materials. But in the end, Steven was sent home for his inability to work with the hand he was dealt and ultimately "turning a wedding dress into a funeral dress."Stylehive just spoke to Steven to get the scoop on what went down. Stylehive: How did you feel about Jack€™s departure and Chris€™s return?
Steven: Jack leaving was extremely difficult to watch. It was just very hard, but conversely, having Chris come back was a happy surprise, because I did have a bit of guilt about Chris getting kicked off while I was on his team and so on and so forth, so it was good to see him back and it kind of alleviated some of that guilt. Stylehive: Did you think you had an unfair disadvantage since you got stuck with the wedding dress lady, which nobody wanted?
Steven:Well, I don€™t want this to come out the wrong way, so I want to be very careful about how I say this, because Laura, who was the model, is just an absolutely wonderful person, she€™s a delight, she was so sweet and just great. Now we had to design something for the clients to wear in their everyday lives. Well Laura doesn€™t have the glamorous life of the supermodels, she works 10, 12, 13 hours a day and she is, what is considered in most American markets, still within the plus size range, even though she€™s lost a tremendous amount of weight, and I think looks fantastic, but according to how American sizing goes, she€™s still considered in that plus size range. I think it would have been easier to do something more fashion-forward, if you will, and maybe more sexy if it wasn€™t for someone who worked as an accountant and someone whose working 13 hours a day, and so on and so forth. It would have been very, very difficult, I think, for me to win that competition. I don€™t know what outfit for Laura could have won that competition at all. << Steven's Design Slideshow: Check out our Looking Back slideshow to see all of Steven's designs. >>Stylehive: Jillian didn€™t follow the guidelines of this challenge, but the judges didn't really seem to care. Did you think this was unfair?
Steven:No, that never even registered, at the end of the day, in terms of the amount of yardage that she used from the original piece, it was probably about equal to the length of the collar and cuffs that I made out of the wedding dress, so I can€™t really fault her for that, and in her defense, she did use the same red that was in the outfit that she was given, so it€™s not as though she was going totally overboard. I mean hey, I took my hat off to her, she made it through another round! Stylehive: What was it like designing for €˜real women€™ as opposed to the 5€™10 size zero models you€™re used to working with?
Steven: That€™s the funny thing, the only time that I€™ve ever worked with any women, except for a few clients here and there, that were in the 2,4, 6 range was actually on the show. All the work I do for my clients is all custom work, and I don€™t actually mass produce anything. The women who come to me are everyday women, who, let's say they need a dress for work or they need a dress for a cocktail party, or, actually the very first dress that I had to do when I got back from the show was a wedding dress for a woman who was probably a size 22, and so I made what she thought was a beautiful dress, and we were both very happy with the result. So I thought it was kind of ironic that I would be working on a wedding dress, in the plus-size market, as the first thing I did when I returned!Stylehive: How do you feel about the judges' decision?
Steven: Well I can€™t really say someone else should have gone home rather than me, that€™s certainly unfair to say, one way or another. But I did not agree at all with what they had to say. I think that if you really are following the guidelines of the competition, which is to make something that this woman can wear in her everyday life, that was something Laura could have worn and she said she would wear in her everyday life. And I think maybe the judges are just a little bit out of touch with the everyday woman. Stylehive: If you could go back, what would you do differently, aside from not using the glue!
Steven: Yeah, definitely NOT using the glue, good lord! But it€™s hard to say, the fabric itself of the wedding dress, there was so little of it that didn€™t have appliquÃ©s sewn down onto it, so there was a very small amount of fabric, if you really look at the dress, where there was just clean yardage to use. And, there really wasn€™t a whole lot that could have been done. Some people would argue €˜oh you could have done piping on the dress€™ and so on, but in terms of what fabric was actually there, the majority of it was just beaded to death, and there was just no way around that, unless you wanted to sit there with the scissors for hours on end and just clip, clip, clip away at it, and god knows I couldn€™t have time for that! Stylehive: Which remaining designer is your favorite?
Steven: I would have to say, style-wise, Jillian. It€™s more of her background, you know, since she worked for Rugby Ralph Lauren, and since I€™m more into the whole classic American kind of look myself, her aesthetic appeals more to me than say Christian€™s. His work is very, very fashion-forward, very British, which makes sense for the kind of work that he did over at Steve McQueen and Vivienne Westwood and so on. I mean that€™s where his influence comes from, but I supposed I€™m stuck in the American rut! Stylehive: What€™s next for you?
Steven: I€™ve always found, and I don€™t want to sound lazy or for this to come across bad, but I€™ve always found life to be a great adventure and if you just go with the flow of things, you never know where you€™re going to end up. Ten years ago, I was working at a psychological pre-employment testing firm, correcting tests over the phone in French! And, that was after I had quit working at a glue factory- so you just never know what€™s going to happen. It may just so happen that I never move out of the apartment that I€™m in right now, and I end up opening a boutique four blocks south of me or something like that- which would be great, I would love to open up my own store- so if there are any investors out there who want to venture in that way, that would be wonderful! I think life€™s a great ride and you just have to go with the flow of it all. Stylehive: Yup, let the chips fall where they may
Steven:Amen to that!