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When we received Bluefly'sinvitation to attend a Project Runway viewing party at Laura Bennett's loft, we confess, we were pretty excited—particularly when we read that this season's fountain of quips, Anthony L. Williams, would also be there. We wondered what it would be like to watch the finale with a couple of Project Runway alumni. Happily, and much to our surprise, we got more than just a couple...
There were Project Runway designers everywhere we looked. The first person we saw when we arrived was Season Two's Kara Janx, creator of one of the best decoy collections in Project Runway history, and also, it turns out, a big fan of Racked. Kara was chatting with Epperson, a rare bright spot from the Los Angeles season. Fellow Season Six designer Althea Harper, was also there, gorgeously towering over us. Althea is now living in New York and engaged to a doctor. Meanwhile, congregated in the kitchen, Season Three's Malan Breton, Season Five's Joe Faris and Season Four's Kevin Christiana chatted over sushi with one of our all time Runway favorites, Season Five's legendary queen of "leatha," Stella Zotis. Stella informed us that during her season, the sewing machines were "lousy," and not sturdy enough to handle leather, so afterwards, the producers consulted with her on what equipment they should bring in for future seasons.
More relevant to the finale itself, however, were the three designers who attended the party from this season. Joining Anthony were runaway Runway designer Maya Luz and finalist Seth Aaron Henderson. We were concerned that Seth Aaron's presence at the party implied that he hadn't won, until Laura Bennett pointed out that Lifetime probably wouldn't have flown his whole family to New York if he'd lost. Seth Aaron, A.K.A. "The Season Seven Winner," was very outgoing, and obviously quite popular with his fellow designers (unlike a certain female finalist, Mila Hermanovski, whose onscreen appearances engendered a few less than positive comments from the crowd). Seth Aaron was kind enough to answer some of the questions we'd been wondering about. He told us that this year, all the designers who made decoy collections were given the same amount of money and time to do their work as the three finalists. He also shared that the twenty two or twenty four looks he created (he couldn't remember exactly how many!) were not only all created within his budget, but that he even ended up with three hundred dollars leftover. Personally, we think he should have put the money towards some more expensive looking fabrics, but we didn't say that. The designer added that he was extremely careful about his expenses, "No flying around the country, no taking cabs." As for the specific designs from his final collection, when we told Seth Aaron that we wanted the yellow tartan coat, he informed us that we'd have to wait until he does his line with bluefly.com, because that coat now belongs to Heidi Klum. (As if being gorgeous, successful, and married to Seal weren't enough, she also has the coat!) Similarly, Faith Hill is now the owner of his white and black "floaty dress," which she raved about during the judging.
As for Seth Aaron's fellow Season Seven designers, Anthony was charming and hilarious, particularly during the show's judging, when he kept calling out to the screen in a Rocky Horror type manner. Maya was more reserved, but also friendly. She explained to us that despite conspiracy theories to the contrary, she really did leave the show because she wanted to gain more experience before showing a collection in the tents. Maya elaborated, "I didn't want to be a one hit wonder, just having one decoy collection at age twenty one."
We loved the enormous two story loft of our very gracious hostess, Laura. It was comfortable yet cool. Large casually designed empty spaces were punctuated with the occasional iconic pieces of furniture. We kept expecting to see one of Laura's son's skateboarding around their parents' Mackintosh chair. In honor of the finale, Laura had added a few special items to the decor; she pulled out some of the dresses from her own final collection. She displayed the glittery finery on mannequins in her kitchen, which we feared were perilously close to her the party's sushi and cupcakes. Luckily the garments remained unscathed. Also on hand were copies of Laura's new book, Didn't I feed You Yesterday? A Mother's Guide to Sanity in Stilettos.
Finally, one particularly interesting guest, also an author, but not a Project Runway designer, was the fashion publicist and star of Bravo's Kell on Earth, Kelly Cutrone. Despite the title of her show, Kelly was extremely friendly and engaged us with tales of her pre-fashion industry life.
All in all, watching Project Runway in a noisy room full of its former contestants isn't the best way to hear the show, but it's definitely the best way to watch it.