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'Project Runway' exit interview: The third-place finisher talks getting the villain edit, plus 'Dancing With the Stars'!

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You know the drill, PopWatchers. SPOILER ALERT. SPOILER ALERT. Go ahead and move right along to the next post if you haven’t seen last night’s Project Runway season finale and don’t wish to be SPOILED.

After beating Jay Nicolas Sario for the third spot, Mila Hermanovski came in third place in the Bryant Park showdown for the season seven crown. Here, the contestant discusses her ice queen image, why Jay seems to hate her, and her glitter-fest job on Dancing with the Stars. Plus, a word about her new bangs!

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Mila, I have to admit, I was surprised you didn’t make second place. Were you?

MILA HERMANOVSKI: I was a little surprised, I have to say. On the one hand, it’s funny, when you’re fighting for that third spot, I did feel a little bit like an underdog. Like, why wasn’t I picked straight-up from the get-go? But at the same time, as I saw the other two collections and I felt more and more confident about what I was sending down the runway, I just felt really proud of it. So I was a little surprised that I got third place. But I cannot complain. I feel so grateful and so happy that I got to show, that my collection was televised.

One of the things the judges kept harping on all season was that you should use more color. Do you regret not using more color in the final collection? Could that have changed your standing?

If I could go back and change one thing, I would probably turn up the volume a little bit more on the collection and make it more of a runway show, maybe with styling and maybe I would have put one more piece of color in there. But for the most part, I stand behind what I did. My use of black and white is really who I am and that’s never gonna change, so every collection that I do in the future is going to be grounded in black and white. That’s my customer. It sells, it’s timeless, it always looks chic. I do like color, I just have very specific ways of using it.

Throughout the season, you seemed to struggle with this ice queen edit they gave you.

Yeah.

And not to mention designers like Jay bad-mouthing you on camera. Why do you think that happened?

I’ve given that a lot of thought, actually. It really bothered me. I don’t really know why Jay has it out for me so much, because even in subsequent interviews after the show was done, after I beat him for the finalist spot, he still continues to say nasty things about me. At the risk coming across as confident, like I’m being criticized for [laughs], I think maybe he’s threatened by me. I don’t know. Because in my eyes, from very early on, we had tension, we didn’t really speak to one another, and I think those types of things build and they get a lot worse than they probably are. But I thought that we patched things up. I think it’s a sign of maturity when you’re able to move on. I don’t know why he can’t move on.

Last night, he told Cerri she had bad teeth and thick legs — is that his real side?

That is his real side, I’m afraid. That was the bummer for me. It’s a fundamental personality thing — that’s why he rubbed me the wrong way from early on. He can’t separate a critique of his clothing, or any critique for that matter, from a personal attack, and he gets very, very defensive and all he knows is how to lash back and make it personal. There were times in the workroom when I would overhear him calling Brittany fat. And I’m like, “She is not fat! She’s a model — what are you talking about?” You don’t say stuff like that.

Let’s get back to you. What are your favorite and least favorite challenges this season?

I think my favorite would have to be a tie between the burlap and the museum challenge. And it’s funny, the burlap, I honestly didn’t know if I was going to pull it off because I was sewing Lorena into that dress and I was terrified. I loved that challenge of having to think outside the box. I also love the hardware store challenge.

Least favorite?

The least favorite would have to be, strangely, the Heidi red carpet. And I’ll tell you why: There was a lot going on and I was really kind of emotionally physically drained at that point. I felt like it was a little bit gratuitous — another gown challenge. I’m not really that huge into gowns. I’m more of a sportswear designer. I just wish that I had done something completely different. It’s kind of the one I look back on and I go, “Eh, I bombed that one.” My head just was not in it. I had a really hard time focusing.

You were close to Maya. How did you feel when she left?

That episode with the red carpet gown, that’s when she left. I was emotionally drained from that as well. I was devastated, I was shocked. I had thought, How fun would it be if Maya and I were in the top, if we were the finalists together? And then it was really weird when I was the last women standing. I just felt really lonely.

Seth Aaron seems like a fun, nice guy. You got along, right?

Mm-hm. Seth Aaron is such a big spaz, but I love him. We definitely bonded, especially during the shooting of the finale. I think he and I had a little bit of a crossover in our aesthetic. As funny as that sounds — our collections were vastly different — but there’d be times when we’d go to Mood and both come back with black-and-white striped fabric. I think we have a great mutual respect for what the other does. And just as a person, he’s great. He never judged me on the way I handled the competition the way some others did — the confidence versus the arrogance and that kind of thing.

I have to ask you: What do your bangs look like these days? Straight or to the side?

They’re to the side now.

I like them to the side.

Thank you! It’s funny because, you know, all it takes is seeing yourself on TV for a little while and you go, “Oh maybe I should change that! [Laughs] That’s maybe not the best look for me.” So I got home and I thought it might be a little more flattering to soften it up a little.

What are you up to now? Still working with costume department on Dancing with the Stars?

That’s right. I dress the judges and the host, Tom Bergeron. I was dressing Brooke Burke for a while and it was a little too much — two women in gowns and diamonds every week. It just wasn’t working out. I feel like it wasn’t fair to Carrie Ann [Inaba]. I just couldn’t give them the same amount of attention. But yeah, that’s a great little gig for me. It’s three days a week, which leaves the other four days to work on my collection, my line, which is my intent. I’m going full-force.

What’s the next step for you as a designer?

I’m going through the steps in terms of getting a line going. Of course I have nothing right now, because I’ve been doing Project Runway, but I’m building samples and I’m having a fundraiser fashion show next month in San Diego on May 19. I’m hoping that I can manage to show spring 2012 in New York.

Well, best of luck. And watch out for all those explosions of sequins and fringe on Dancing With the Stars.

I know, right? [Laughs] It’s so funny that I work with gowns and sequins and super spandex. But it’s a fun world, actually. It’s a diversion, which is a good thing. And wow, if you could catch a show live in person and sit in the audience, it’s pretty great. Those costumes are even more sparkly in person. The whole stage is sparkly! It’s blinding!

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