Bradley Baumkirchner, the latest ''Project Runway'' cast-off, tells Jessica Shaw about his doomed Cher outfit, feeling overwhelmed, and saying no to drugs

By Jessica Shaw
Updated August 10, 2006 at 12:00 PM EDT
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Would Cher have wanted to wear Bradley Baumkirchner’s losing design of white tassled pants and belly-showing silver top? We don’t know about that one, but we know Baumkirchner was one of the more oddly captivating (or just odd?) contestants on Project Runway. Baumkirchner called EW from Los Angeles to discuss what went wrong, how Cher factors into his future, and to settle, once and for all, if he is a squid with no ocean.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Bradley, you seemed a little shell-shocked when you saw your model picked Cher. Not a fan?

BRADLEY BAUMKIRCHNER: Immediately I was like, ”Yeah. Okay. This isn’t who I thought you would have picked.” But it was just like, ”Okay. This is Cher. Let’s do this.” I was okay with it. It was kind of a shock. I mean, why did she pick Cher?

I don’t really know, but you could have gone a little crazy with the design, considering all those insane Bob Mackie dresses Cher wore back in the day.

First of all, I don’t know that much about her, which didn’t help. I have my own likes and dislikes. I have my own aesthetic direction. It’s always a challenge designing in someone else’s world.

How does one not know about Cher?

I don’t really follow pop culture. I’m really focused on what I do and things outside of that I really ignore. I’m really bad with actors’ names — terribly bad with names in general. And I don’t really read People magazine. I don’t watch very much TV at all.

Was there another icon you wish your model had chosen?

I wasn’t thinking like that. The challenge was set. I wasn’t caught up in that dilemma. Maybe a little bit. Farrah Fawcett. Alison had Farrah Fawcett. Maybe that would have been a little bit easier for me. But I’m glad I got Cher. Even though she got me booted.

Do you think the judges were unfairly harsh on you, especially considering Vincent’s weird Holly Hobbie dress?

The judges are a very diverse group. Vera Wang has a totally different aesthetic than Michael Kors. That contributes to the varying aspects in the judging.

And yet they all seemed to really love your dog-owner outfit a couple of weeks back that you seemed to make on the way to the runway.

I watching the show when it was on with some friends. I relived it — going home that night and thinking I was totally screwed: ”I’m not going to show anything tomorrow.” But that was a magical moment. I just started playing with what I had. It literally just took its form and came to life in front of me. I loved it. It was a simplistic but creative look.

You seemed to be kind of overwhelmed at times. Was that just the editing, or did it feel that way?

The whole show is overwhelming. I had no idea how rigorous it was going to be. I understand they have two gazillion people working on it, and people don’t have time to sit back and have a cup of coffee too much. But it was stressful. People have no idea what it was like being on there.

Were you able to decompress and talk about things with anyone when you got back to the apartment?

My roommate was Robert, and I talked to him a lot. The lights would be out and it would be totally dark, and we would be chatting. What a great guy. Super sweet, intelligent, reflective, helpful. And funny!

You probably had the driest sense of humor on the show, saying things like ”If I shave my beard and leave my mustache, maybe Bonnie will like me better” last week. Did people get you?

I’ve been receiving e-mails upon e-mails about that comment. People think that comment was real. I’m like, ”It’s not real, man. That was a total joke.” I guess my humor is really particular. You worry about those things being televised. After the show you don’t even remember what you said. At the beginning I was like, ”Are people going to get me?” But no, I don’t feel like a squid with no ocean. I don’t walk through my day feeling like that. Some people are just dumb.

Do you feel like you were inaccurately portrayed?

The editors could tell a lot of different stories. I had this realization of ”Wow. I’m in these people’s hands.” They could take a snip here and a snip there, and I’m a whole different person. I was trying to be really mindful of that.

How did you take it when Keith got kicked off the show?

I think it affected everyone — some stronger than others. Keith is Keith. When someone is caught cheating, I don’t think anyone could feel good about that. You’re there to have a good time. It’s a great experience, and you’ve been picked out of this whole field of people. Of course everyone wants to do their best. But when someone goes out of the boundaries, it’s like, ”Come on. What are you doing?” And then he ran off the set. I don’t know. It’s just disappointing. To see someone go that extreme. To want it so badly it makes you question, How far are you willing to go? That’s something I’ve been thinking about too. I was watching Letterman when I was in New York. People put in so much energy to get on TV.

I was reading a lot of the message boards and most people assumed your mellowness and speech style was a result of much pot smoking off camera. Care to comment?

That is not true. I don’t smoke dope. You think I’d get anything done if I smoked dope?

Your current label is called Mountains, Rivers, and Peacocks. How is that going for you?

I’m ready for a new name. I actually have a whole new name picked out and a new label and a new direction I’ve been gravitating towards. I have to trademark it. Right now I’m really up in the air [as to] what my next step is. I’m definitely sketching and making more stuff and contacting people. I’d love to get hooked up with a great fashion house.

On your website you say your clothing is for ”dreamers, lovers, loners, thinkers, and the occasional tea drinker.” Cher might fit in there?

It’s true. You could add coffee drinkers in there too. What I like to do is particular. It’s not Juicy. Now that the show is over, it would be great to get together with Cher and collaborate on something. Wouldn’t that be a gas?

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