Pageant king Kayne, the latest ''Project Runway'' loser, tells Jessica Shaw that he wishes Roberto Cavalli was a judge instead of Nina Garcia

By Jessica Shaw
Updated September 14, 2006 at 12:00 PM EDT
Credit: Project Runway: Mark Abrahams
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The Elvis shirt. The lace-up gold bustier. The green garbage dress. Yes, Kayne Gillaspie had it coming when he finally got auf’d out of Project Runway‘s top five. We here at would have loved nothing more than to dish with Kayne for hours about the remaining contestants, but unfortunately he was in a van (how hideously un-glam!) with the other designers on their way to tape the reunion special. Still, he stayed on the call long enough to psychoanalyze Vincent, take down Nina, and to justify an outfit or two.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Kayne, I liked the front of your dress this week. Were you surprised the judges attacked it?

KAYNE GILLASPIE: Well, you know, I really loved my dress. The problem was, I obviously don’t know what the judges want. I just always thought I’m going to try to do what I like. I was a designer on a design show. I wanted to pull out the stops and do crazy, intricate, well-constructed garments every time. But I was like, okay, that’s not what they want. I was basically just trying to create a garment Heidi would love to wear that would get me through but that still had a little bit of Kayne in it.

I know you had that white string in the back. But which part of the ”black and white” instruction did you not understand?

It was just one of those things. I listened to Tim’s instructions: ”You have this much money, this much time.” You listen for the key words. I came out of it with the time requirement and the money requirement and the black/white-cocktail-dress requirement. In hindsight, I learned he said a cocktail outfit made with black and white fabric. I bought black fabric and was planning on getting white trim. My original idea was to do something crazy with a black and white print but I knew they were saying, ”Kayne, we’ve been asking you to edit.” And I saw Jeffrey was doing crazy prints. I thought I would just go for all black with a little hint of white. But I didn’t buy white fabric. I thought white trim would be fine.

And yet, other than Zac Posen, the judges still didn’t get it.

I think everyone liked it and appreciated that I had edited myself. When you get to that point, it’s the top five. Not to sound conceited, but we’re all pretty good. It really came down to the judges’ opinion of which one they liked better.

How does it feel to have a panel of judges repeatedly question your taste level?

After being in the fishbowl of the show, I started questioning my taste. Heidi, Michael Kors, and Nina questioning my taste level when I’m being a designer? That’s not a good thing. I started questioning, is this still for me? Then I thought, I have to be criticized. I’m very much more of a Bob Mackie than a Michael Kors. Roberto Cavalli doesn’t advertise in Elle Magazine for a reason. It’s not his audience. And that’s not my demographic. Nina could have been a little nicer. I’m from the South so I think she should have sugar-coated some things. But I don’t judge her on that. I do have talent. I know how to fit a woman’s body. If Roberto Cavalli were a judge, I might have done better. Maybe not.

Looking back on some of your outfits — the jet-setter Elvis shirt comes to mind — do you think you ever went too far?

Hell, no. That challenge was to make something for a hip jet-setter. I have not jet-setted internationally and I don’t know if I’m going to a corporate business meeting or a disco or a great concert. ”Jet-setty” could be interpreted in different ways. I guess the shirt was a little crazy, but my explanation was I could have thrown on a black blazer. With the pants I could have gone out dancing. Yes, my outfit was over the top. It was not Banana Republic. But my style will never be Banana Republic. It was like, how could I love an outfit so much and they hate it?

NEXT: The Nina, the Vincent, and Middle America

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