With the final three “Project Runway” contestants — Kenley, Korto and Leanne — set to show their collections in the season finale tonight, TODAYshow.com gets the inside scoop from fellow cast member Suede. Suede, the last designer kicked off during the regular season, fills us in about which contestants he expected to see at New York Fashion Week, the truth behind season five villain Kenley, and life after "Runway."
Q: Any thoughts on the final three contestants?
A: Well, it was an amazing experience and I would have loved to be in the top three. I did think Jerell was going to make it to the top. But everybody this season was so incredibly talented, I really think it was anybody's game. I am really proud of everyone from this season, I think everyone gave it their all. I am really looking forward to the finale, and can tell you that I'm really excited with who won.
Q: What are you up to now?
A: I’m getting ready to go to Los Angeles to find an agent. I’m moving into film and TV, hopefully. I will still keep designing, but will try and get into anything in film and TV — maybe another reality show, or soap opera or a movie. I will see what interest is out there.
Q: Do you think “Project Runway” changed you as a designer?
A: Of course. One of the biggest things I learned is to listen to my instincts. Nine out of 10 times I got called out on runway, it was for probably the same things I was thinking. It reinforces that you have to listen to instincts and follow what you are feeling.
Q: What did you think of last week's wedding gown and bridesmaid challenge? What would you have designed?
A: Well, I did have to do wedding dress because the top six [contestants] got to show at Bryant Park. The bridesmaid dress might have been easier than the actual wedding look, because it can be more traditional cocktail rather than true wedding. My vision of a wedding is dreamy and glamorous. My wedding dress was very young and very flirty. I did separates not typical of a wedding look. People have already e-mailed me asking if I could make something similar for their wedding.
Q: What was it like to show at Bryant Park?
A: It was a dream come true. I never thought in my entire life that I’d show at Bryant Park. I never thought I’d be at “Project Runway.” I’ve been in the industry for 15 years and none of the companies I have worked for have ever shown there. It was my first time being at Bryant Park aside from walking through when there were no tents and having lunch. My mom was front row. I am so close to her — it meant the world to me. I know not everyone got the collection, but I am so proud of myself. It was a huge accomplishment and I was really excited to show.
Q: Is Kenley as bad as she seems on the show?
A: Everyone is who they are on the show. What you see is what you get. Kenley is very young and has a lot of growing to do. She is who you are seeing.
Q: What was your favorite challenge?
A: My favorite one was where I won the green challenge with Natalie Portman. The dress sold out in less than three hours on bluefly.com.
Q: Is there anything you would have done differently in your last challenge?
A: Hindsight is 20/20. Knowing they wanted something a little more over the top, I probably would have done that. But that is not where I see modern-day rockers — they are not costume-y any more. What I did is right on the spot and the response I’ve gotten on my Web site has been amazing. Really believe in what I did, but I would have changed it. I mean, no one wants to get voted off.
Q: What was your worst moment on the show?
A: It certainly wasn’t easy being sent home, but a lot of the challenges were very difficult. You don’t get much rest at all, depending on the challenge. I had a really hard time with the car-parts challenge. The materials I chose to use were not able to be sewn so I did everything by hand. I had cuts and calluses and blisters all over my hands.
Q: What did you think of the judging? Were the judges fair?
A: Fair is a place where you go and have fun, a little park. We never know what they are looking for, but they are all experts in their field and have done this for a long time. Even if they ripped me apart, I did take what they said and internalized it. Sometimes you don’t want to hear it, but it helps you grow to the next level.
Q: Why did you start speaking in the third person?
A: I’m quirky and I’m fun. I’m very exuberant, from my style to how I speak to how I design. It’s meant to be fun and not serious at all. There are so many more big issues that we need to focus on — if I can make someone laugh by speaking in the third person, then I’m happy. It’s a quirky thing I do.
Q: What’s been the reaction to being on show?
A: Oh, my god. I just got back from [Washington] D.C. I was in Georgetown at Urban Outfitters and they almost had to close it because kids were mobbing me so much. It was wonderful. On the way home from the bar I went to, I was in a convertible, and kids came running out in the middle of the street trying to pull me out of the car. It’s humbling to get this response — people really love me. They love the fact that I came across as so friendly, as so nice and so genuine.