"Why I Didn't Win The Spelling Bee"

Talking with Project Runway bad boy Santino Rice

So you felt like the judges were out for you? Definitely. I have an awesome bullshit detector. There were times when I didn't know why I was overlooked, why I didn't get an A, why I didn't win the spelling bee. Whatever.

I called them on the fact that I know my clothes fit. This is another thing that came into play, because they asked me had I seen my clothes on a model before coming to New York. No. One, you had to keep it completely secret. It was part of the contract.

So you couldn't even put them on a model? No, I felt like that would be cheating. And this is the part that gets left out. We see 87 models in Michael Kors's studio during the casting, and all the models I pick consequently are the girls working most in New York during Fashion Week. So none of them show up for me.

Spot the Santino head
photo: Jennifer Snow/jensnow.com
Spot the Santino head


New York Casting Call for Project Runway Season Three: Bravo is now casting for Project Runway Season Three, and will be in New York at Macy's Herald Square on March 25-27, from 8am-5pm. The judging panel will include Daniel Vosovic from Season Two. Please go to this website for application and eligibility information.

You think it was because in the beginning, you argued with the judges a lot? Totally. And Michael Kors later said, "Oh, you just think you're smarter than everybody else, and you think that if you just adding shit onto your garments . . . " There's no doubt that I know fabric, that I know color. I have a vision, I think from a lot of different angles, and I look at what I'm doing from a lot of different perspectives. I don't think any other designer on the show did that, ever.

Bottom line is, I respect judges. But at the same time, who are you to tell me anything? This show is about designers who can think up an idea, make the pattern, cut and sew the fabric, style the look. If you can't do that, than I don't think you should be judging that competition.

So you felt that what Michael Kors said had a lot more credence than what Nina Garcia said? Yes, and still, at that—he doesn't make patterns. I wouldn't even want to guess the last time he sat behind a sewing machine. That's not to say he's any less of a designer in the real world, because he's got an amazing brand and I admire what he's doing.

Do you keep in contact with any of the other contestants? Andraé. And I actually like Zulema. I think she's burnt out from the experience, and I hope she finds a way to come to terms with it. She knows what she wants, she's super talented, but she got caught up in some of the ridiculousness.

Was there any type of secret romance or relationship on set? We never see any of that on Project Runway. In the contract you're not supposed to have any sexual relations with anyone on the show, so there was no sex. That is why it's a pretty amazing tension in the room.

Sexual tension?. I never went that long in my life. You just radiate this crazy power.

You and Andraé seemed so close . . . He's got a boyfriend, and that's the last thing on my mind, as much as I joke about it.

What was up with Guadalupe during the reunion? What was she on? She had about 10 martinis within 15 minutes.

What's up between you and Jay from last season? Do you consider yourself a much better designer? And much funnier. On every level, just more. And that'll come across really nice, I'm sure. Hahaha.

Are there any particular designers you admire for the path they've taken or for their particular aesthetic? I'd say the usual suspects: Adrian, Oscar de la Renta, Valentino, Alexander McQueen. I look at Valentino and de la Renta, and it's so amazingly beautiful; it's always on point.

Who would you love to dress? I keep putting it out there that I want to dress Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. Like, simultaneously.

In WWD, Anna Wintour was quoted as saying, "We were offered Project Runway first, and we turned it down. Vogue is not in the business of making entertainment out of the struggles of new designers." What do you think of that statement? Wow. Wow. That's great. I love Anna Wintour.

I don't know what other designers are going to take from this experience, but I know that with the talent I have, I made the right decision taking this route. Not only do I want people to subscribe to my particular design aesthetic, I also want people to subscribe to my personality, my point of view on everything from politics to religion to how spicy your Thai food should be.

But isn't there the fear of being another throwaway reality star? Even before I did this show, people in L.A. knew me. If you want to look amazing, wear Santino. If you want to have a successful, effective show, then work with Santino.

I could decide to participate in every reality show from now 'til the end of time, and you could never, ever take away anything from my brain and talent. It's there forever.

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