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''Runway'' exit Q&A: Carmen

This week’s ”Project Runway” cast-off tells us about designing for an ex-Giant, what was up with Ricky, and why you’ll never see her sweat(pants)

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Project Runway
Barbara Nitke

If you gotta get booted from Project Runway, making your exit after designing a conservative outfit for a (self-described) big-butted, huge-necked football player-turned-talk show correspondent is probably among the least harsh ways to go. At least, that’s what Carmen Webber, the model-designer, can keep telling herself after sending down a hideously unfinished ensemble for Tiki Barber during last night’s Runway.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Carmen, when you saw Tiki, did you all think this challenge was going to be a nightmare?
CARMEN WEBBER: We were all excited. All challenges are exciting. But we were also like, ”What the heck?!?” It was an intense challenge.

The thing that bugged me was that it seemed like the only clothing options were variations on a suit. Did you feel like you had any creative leeway?
Not really for Tiki Barber. If we were designing for a rock star or someone else, maybe. But when you have a client who says he’s conservative and these are his body needs, you can only do so much.

You must have been hating life that day.
We were hating the fact that it was so out of the realm of what everyone does. Kevin has had some experience with tailoring. Kit had some education in Italy. There were people who had the upper hand because of the experience they had. But it’s much easier to approach a challenge if it’s women’s wear. We all know women’s bodies better than men’s bodies.

After Tiki’s wife compared your top to a ”Member’s Only” jacket, did you know you were in trouble?
No, I was trying to go for a modern take on a Member’s Only jacket. In our initial meeting, his exact words were, ”I do these charity events for kids that I go to play soccer with them.” I was thinking something casual but not so casual would be great.

What was up with Tiki’s butt issues?
Being a black woman from black culture, having a big booty is not an issue. In Black-American culture and Latin culture and Italian culture, big booties are not an issue. He has an athlete’s body with a prominent booty. That shouldn’t be an issue. It’s not like he has one of those female bodies with big hips.

What might have saved you?
If I would have just finished that shirt I would have had a better chance of staying in. There’s not a lot of time and there wasn’t a lot of sleep going on. You can only do the best you can do under those circumstances. I have enough integrity to say I fell short on my image. In the design world, you would have time to rework your look.

NEXT PAGE: What went on with Ricky behind the scenes? Did Jack benefit from a shady move?

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Do you think the judges were accurate in their harsh critiques?
CARMEN WEBBER: I like what Michael Kors said. I really like what he brings to the plate. He knew it takes you anywhere from a week to two weeks to do a men’s suit.

It seemed like you and Ricky were hating each other this week. What went on that we didn’t see?
Basically, over the course of the time there we all had inside jokes. There was a particular time we were all together that this ridiculous song came on and it was funny. We couldn’t believe there was a lyric that said ”Don’t go home too soon.” I was trying to act in humor with what I said. Ricky, in this particular challenge, was really being nasty to everyone. When he said to the model ”I can’t talk to you right now,” we were all like, ”Why are you being mean to the model? He’s actually helping you sew buttons.” But he was being really nasty. Throughout the whole night, if I was in line for the iron he’d jump in front of me. When some people are under pressure they don’t have the grace not to take things out on other people.

Did you think it was shady that Jack used his pants to design Tiki’s outfit?
I think it was cool that Jack did what he had to do. If something is approved you can’t say anything. I think he did what he did to win.

It sounds like you don’t think he deserved to win.
He won because of the fabric choice more than the design. Fabric makes a winning outfit. It was just a shirt and slacks with just a little detail.

You always had a great outfit on while you were working, while some other people looked like disasters. Don’t you ever just want to sew in sweats?
You will never catch Carmen in sweatpants.