Malan Breton, the second designer to be dismissed from ''Project Runway,'' discusses why his dress went wrong, his maternal issues, and how his voice drives women wild

By Jessica Shaw
July 21, 2006 at 12:00 PM EDT
Malan Breton: Clinton H. Wallace/ Photomundo/ Globe Photos
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No doubt plenty of you thought Heidi, Vera, Nina, and Tara were on crack last night for getting rid of the curiously accented Malan Breton instead of petulant Angela or wacko Vincent. Malan’s not thrilled about the outcome, but he’s happy to talk about his art, his mother, and why his voice causes women to disrobe.

Malan, I’m very surprised to be talking to you today. Were you shocked to be in the bottom two?

Thank you. You know, I was a little surprised. I did realize it was a pageant gown she needed and not a red-carpet gown. I think in the back of my head I had a sense maybe it wouldn’t go well for me.

When you saw Miss USA Tara Connor walk into the room, were you excited by the prospect of designing for her?

I was very naive to the pageant world. I had a Miss Teen New York walk in one of my fashion shows a couple of years ago. One of my really good friends was a Miss Oregon at one time. I was very naive to the whole concept of pageant dresses, except big shoulders and lots of rhinestones. I didn’t want to give her that. I really design art. It’s couture. It’s really high-end couture. I guess most people don’t understand that’s what it is.

Did you think Heidi and the rest of the judges just didn’t understand your dress?

I think it was very nice the comment that Heidi made, that the ruching was very pretty. I think if I had had more time, it would have been more balanced.

Of course, I don’t usually think of pageant dresses as the most beautiful examples of fashion.

I know, I know. My feeling is what they go for are really divine reproductions of what celebrities have already worn to events. When something new comes along, they don’t want to see that. They want to see the glamorous thing that Halle Berry already wore. Couture can be incredibly beautiful or incredibly artistic. It takes a true collector’s eye to appreciate it.

When you were working on your dress, were you aware of all the Vincent and Angela drama that was going on?

Everyone was aware. I think we were all really trying not to listen and put it out of our minds and focus on what we were doing. As a team, working with Katherine was absolutely amazing. It was all about making sure we had enough time to do certain things. When we saw Angela and Vincent, it was very interesting. It was Vincent’s baby. I don’t think he really wanted a partner, to be honest with you.

Were you upset on the runway when Katherine told Heidi you should go home?

I knew the design elements were my choices. The piece itself, from start to finish — some of it wasn’t quite finished — it was all my idea and my direction and whatnot. Katherine was able to bring qualities to it as well. For a moment I was a little shocked. Afterwards, I realized this isn’t her fault. This is totally my doing. It was a huge undertaking. I maybe bit off a bit more than I could chew.

Were there any designers on the show whose dresses excited you?

The one person I was really intrigued with was Laura. She, to me, epitomizes the sensibility of a woman being so secure in herself that she can walk out in the streets of New York in a brilliant dress and not be intimidated. What she creates is along those lines.

NEXT: Encouraging words from Mom

Karlie Kloss and Christian Siriano guide undiscovered designers through the harrowing rites of fashion.
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