Todd Oldham talks -- We interview the quirky designer and host of MTV's ''House of Style''

By Giselle Benatar
Updated February 05, 1993 at 05:00 AM EST

As TV sidekicks, glamorous supermodel Cindy Crawford and kitschy downtown designer Todd Oldham promise to be more mix than match, but that’s just the way MTV wants it. Last month, the street-smart Oldham, 31, became part of Crawford’s House of Style with ”Todd Time,” focusing on the offbeat nine times a year. Oldham’s designs have used everything from hammocks and wallpaper to secondhand art; clients include Susan Sarandon, Queen Latifah, and Vanessa Williams. Some questions for Oldham as he begins his TV career:

1. Why was your first show shot at a thrift shop? I buy all my shirts at thrift stores. This (points to his green-and-red plaid shirt) came from one. In a twisted way, thrift style is like couture, because the shops are full of one-of-a-kind items.

2. But you could certainly afford to shop anywhere. Four dollars is more my price. I still work for a living, honey.

3. Where did you get your sense of style? From my sisters, my mother — and my grandmother, who always had these big cocktail earrings on, even in a sweatshirt. And she taught me how to sew.

4. Do you remember your first sewing machine? It was from the ’30s — and it would always short out. I was constantly being electrocuted. I guess I was clearly meant to do this if I could put up with an electrocution sewing machine.

5. What’s the mission of ”Todd Time”? Hey, we’re not performing brain surgery here. We’re here to entertain — and, hopefully, to thrill.

6. What will future segments bring? We’re doing style in Hollywood with Debi Mazar, a New York girl who is far more glamorous than half the overdone women in L.A. I’m also doing a makeover with Rosie O’Donnell.

7. Besides thrift chic, what looks do you like? I like the same things I liked as a kid. I look at pictures of me when I was 2 and I have the same outfit on: khaki or corduroy pants, plaid or plain shirts. I look exactly the same — just a few more wrinkles and some gray hair.

8. Has becoming a TV personality changed what you watch on TV? I don’t watch networks at all anymore; I much prefer the strangeness of public access. It’s like a 24-hour Robert Altman movie.

9. Are there any drawbacks to being on TV? Glazed eyes and helmet hair. I plan to avoid both.

10. Did Cindy have any broadcast tips for you? She just told me to make sure not to let makeup give me a prominent mole.