Here at Wetpaint Entertainment, we've been Project Runway fanatics since Season 1, so we love seeing old favorites return for All Stars.
We recently chatted with Project Runway: All Stars Season 2 winner Anthony Ryan Auld, and he dished on backstage stress, his favorite competitors, who should have stayed longer, and why he loves Joanna Coles.
Wetpaint Entertainment: First of all, congratulations on your win! Can you tell us a little bit more about how you came up with your line at the end and the thought process that went into that?
Anthony Ryan Auld: My collection was really inspired off of the last challenge. From that whole trip to Paris, I kind of got in a little bit of this dark place. Being in the top three — even being in the top four at that point, it becomes so stressful. I’ve never really been there and I didn’t really know how to take it. So that’s kind of where I just channeled all that negative energy and just pushed it out into that collection. It’s kind of odd because it’s just bright colors at the same time. It’s almost this idea of taking something so innocent like primary colors and putting a little bit of malice on them. So that’s kind of where that idea came from in a twisted way.
That’s a good way to channel the stress.
We thought, and the judges said this too, that all three final lines are really impressive. You don’t always have all three finalists make you go “Oh yeah, that’s amazing!” What were you thinking when you saw Emilio and Uli’s lines on the runway?
I loved Uli’s. I think she was really giving me some high fashion. It told a story which I like, but she really did have a great way of putting things together and creating this almost dream-like idea, and I really respected that. I think her collection really said something about who she is as an individual, and I really like that she kind of broke out of her mold. She had a lot of great separates. And I love her as a person, too.
I liked Emilio’s. I won’t say it was my favorite. I get where he was going with it. I do think that — I wasn’t crazy about the fabric choice but I really enjoyed what he could bring some a theatrical stand-point to anything. He’s really putting a show on, so to speak. Uli’s personally was my favorite over the two of them.
Can you tell us a little bit about the differences between regular Project Runway in your first season and coming back for All Stars? How was that experience different?
Going into Season 9, we really had no idea what we were getting into. This was uncharted water, on the seat of your pants. You really are just not prepared. And coming back for All Stars, we have a sense of how these challenges are introduced. You know the time schedules that it takes and the intensity that is. For me, Joshua, and Laura Kathleen from Season 9, we were already on our A-game because we’ve already gotten a dose of that recently. And also, number two, the prize was bigger. It kind of worked out because I was like, "Well I didn’t win Season 9, but I won PR All Stars and the prize is phenomenal."
With All Stars, you’re put against all these designers who’ve already been on the show so you’re thinking either everyone’s out for everyone … there’s a lot of differences. I know for me, coming in I was a little bit more prepared, and I was just prepared to have a lot more fun than I did on Season 9.
Having come off of Season 9 so recently, were you at all hesitant about doing it again so soon, or were you sure you wanted to?
There was probably a hot second where I was like, "What are you doing to yourself?" But I think in the end, you really can’t turn anything like that away. That second chance doesn’t come knockin’ every day, so of course I jumped on it. When they called me and asked me if I wanted to do it, I was like, “Are you sure you’re calling the right person?” ‘Cause for me, they had Bert Keeter to work with, they have Kimberly Goldson, they’ve got Viktor Luna who placed higher than me on my season. I placed basically 7th, so when they called me and were interested in working with me I was just kind of like…”Okay, sure, why not?” I can’t pass that up, it’s great exposure for any designer trying to break out, you know?
Were there any designers that you were particularly excited to see come back?
I was excited to see Uli. Peach, I was very excited to see her. She seemed like a sweet lady. I’d heard great things about her. Casanova was one of the interesting characters where I was like, this is either going to be really good and there’s going to be a lot of laughing in the workroom or he’s going to work my nerves But you know, I was still intrigued to see that he was there. But definitely Uli, who is probably one of my favorites who wasn’t from my season. Of course, Joshua McKinley, I was over the moon that me and him were there together.
What was the biggest surprise this season?
When Laura got eliminated. They didn’t show it and I didn’t really say anything but my mouth just opened to the floor. I did not think that that was her time to go. I think she should have made it a little bit further. She's a great designer. She's a little bit rough around the edges, but you gotta love her. Ivy should have gone way before someone like Laura.
A big difference between Project Runway and All Stars, at least from the audience’s point of view, is having Joanna Coles as a mentor instead of Tim Gunn. What were the differences in their mentoring styles?
That’s a good question. First, I have to say that Joanna Coles is probably one of the coolest people that I’ve met from this entire experience. She really gives it to you straight and I really admire that and I really look up to her in in that sense. When she comes around for critiques I’m really listening to what she has to say. Number one, she’s the editor of a major magazine, I mean, you just don’t pass that up. But you really get the idea that she is looking at what you’re making, it’s not so much about the drama that’s going on in the workroom or whatever the case may be. She’s looking at it from a neutral territory and really trying to make your mind think and I really did not get that on my season. Tim’s great and I love him to death as well, but sometimes I felt like I need a little bit of a push in positive energy and I felt like Joanna probably gave us that a little bit more than maybe Tim did. And that’s just me.
She does seem very focused, and she’s obviously coming at it from a different point of view.
Oh yeah. She took the time to really get to know each and every one of us. And I think that meant a lot, especially to me. And I was really drawn to her. I looked at what I was doing and what I was making, and then I told her this after the show was over, she was almost a little bit of my muse in a way. If you look at all the stuff that she wears they’re very clean and lines and simple and it’s got some great bold colors in there. I kind of — as an afterthought — “She could really wear a lot of this stuff.”
What was the hardest moment on the show?
They don’t have it on camera. There comes a point when we were making the final collections and I absolutely just lose it, from the stress, from being there, we were down to these final three designers. I feel like it really pushed me over the edge a little bit. Not in a bad way or anything, I had never really been in that situation before and I really didn’t feel like I was super prepared for it. You always want to try and be very confident going into something like this, but at the same time, I’ve always been pretty humble about any success that I’ve had. I just don’t think I was super prepared for making it that far or doing that well. I really went back into [the show] just to have a great time and to show the rest of the world a little bit more of who I am, and not necessarily make it all the way to the end. So I think the pressure kind of hit me at some point in the end when I was in that top three spot.
More generally, what was it like to just have cameras around you all of the time?
You really get used to it, honestly. I mean, there came a point where if we needed to change into something really quickly and none of us had to use the bathroom, we just started stripping, put on the clothes and go back to what we were doing. They kind of fade away after a little while, I think. It’s interesting, you’ve got someone in your face 24/7 but after a while if you’re really opening up to this creative process, the cameras just become another designer in the room, you know?
And so what’s next for you?
Right now I am working on a new fall/winter collection. I’m excited to meet with Nine West and work on a collection with them. I’ll be doing Birmingham Fashion Week and Nola Fashion Week. I’m really gonna try and capitalize, not only in New York or LA, but within other major cities and just bring to them who I am and see who’s interested in that. It’s been a fun ride and it’s gonna be an even longer one, the work hasn’t stopped here and I’m just gonna have to keep working. You know, I think I’m going to stay here in the south and really try and establish me and my brand here and grow out. I know it’s gonna be challenging but at the same time I’m ready for it.
For more from Anthony Ryan, follow him on Twitter @anthonyryanauld.
Rebecca Martin is an editor at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter @BeccaDMartin.