'Project Runway' exit Q&A: Daniel Feld
Season 5's sixth cast-off reflects on whether it's best to please the judges or your picky drag queen client, dishes on the confusing advice he got from Tim, and shares his plans with fellow auf-ee Wesley
Drag queens always like sequins, color, and ridiculous amounts of fabulousness, right? Well…Daniel Feld, who was booted from Project Runway last night for designing a Flamenco-inspired, orange and yellow ruffly frock that the judges said wasn’t draggy enough, would disagree. He blames his ousting on his queen/model, who went by the cheeky name of Annida Greenkard and gave him strict specifics about what she would and wouldn’t wear. But is Daniel’s chatter just a blame game? Should he have silenced his queen and executed his vision? Read on below — where he also talks about why the contestants don’t like Kenley, his loss of steam, and the line he’s designing with former season 5 contestant and current boyfriend Wesley Nault — and decide for yourself.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How are you feeling after watching last night’s episode? Does it make you mad that you went home?
DANIEL FELD: Everything is fine. You know, it’s a show, and I have to take it with a grain of salt. It’s been fun to watch.
Do you think Keith should have be sent home instead?
Um, no, I didn’t really put thought into that. No, I don’t think so.
Did you like his dress?
It wasn’t my style, but it’s definitely his interpretation.
NEXT PAGE: ”I don’t think it was bulls—, I just maybe wish I would have gone overboard with what I did.”
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I’m not really envisioning any of the designers wanting to design for drag queens, so do you think the challenge was kind of bulls—-?
DANIEL FELD: I don’t think it was bulls—, I just maybe wish I would have gone overboard with what I did. I think my drag queen wanted more subdued. She didn’t like sequins and certain colors and certain metallic fabrics. I just couldn’t go as overboard with what I wanted to do. I mean, it’s definitely a different challenge. I was excited about it initially, but you know, maybe it got the worst of me in the end because she was so picky.
We didn’t see that she was picky — and the judges didn’t either, at least from the way the episode was cut. She didn’t want it to be over-the-top?
I wanted to do a lamé and crystal-encrusted dress, and she was saying that she didn’t like things that sparkle too much. She didn’t like things that were too heavy on her. She only liked yellow and orange. She had all these little guidelines. She liked Versace and Oscar de la Renta. She doesn’t want to be like a circus freak show.
Do you wish you would have ignored that and done what you wanted?
Yeah, I do.
The judges said the dress wasn’t draggy enough and wasn’t fantasy enough. Do you think it had elements of drag style to it?
Yeah, you know, it was like a neon orange and yellow spandex, and you know, I don’t know what woman would go out in that after dinner.
Was Annida Greenkard happy with the final look?
Uhhh, ay carumba! I don’t know. I couldn’t read her at all. At times she seemed happy with it, and at times she seemed, you know, not too happy with it.
Well, she didn’t even work the runway, like, say, Hedda Lettuce. So that’s kind of a sign.
Yeah, she could have done a lot more with the ruffles and the movement and all that kind of stuff. I shouldn’t have listened to her!
What about drag in general? Do you like drag? Go to drag shows?
You know, I’ve been to a couple. There’s that restaurant — what’s it called? — Lucky Cheng’s, that has drag shows and certain performances. I worked in theater companies as well where I was doing more theatrical things for showgirls and whatnot. I definitely do have an experience with the feathers and glitter and sequins and crystals — all that stuff. I definitely should have used that to my advantage.
Tim consulted you and made suggestions. He said the top wasn’t enough, but you seemed to be adding a frilly part on top that wasn’t on the runway. Were you still just stuck on what Annida wanted? Or did you make some changes that viewers couldn’t see?
I was doing all these ruffles on top, yeah, and he and [special guest] Chris March told me… Chris knew Annida personally, and he said that she is more tame. She’s not as loud of a drag queen, and all the ruffles would be distracting, and the dress was so beautiful as it was for her. So I did take their advice. They actually told me to take off the ruffles. It was too much, so I took them off. I don’t remember how they showed it, but I ended up taking the ruffles off. Then on the runway — I don’t know if they showed it — but they asked why I didn’t put ruffles on the bust. Huh?
NEXT PAGE: Feld talks about what he was thinking when he designed that old-fashioned Olympics dress
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: The way they portrayed you on the show was that sometimes you seemed to ignore the challenge, especially with the Olympics assignment and last night. Do you think that’s fair? Or did you follow the instructions?
DANIEL FELD: Maybe. Maybe I shouldn’t have taken things as literally as I did. With the Olympics challenge, I mean, I guess I was like, what’s the purpose of taking us to a museum and showing us pictures of turn-of-the-century, 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, all these kind of old uniforms? So I definitely picked an inspiration from the 1940s, which was more dressy, when I probably would have done a better job without going to that museum. I felt like I had to reference some sort of decade.
Like, you should have used one for an inspiration?
Yeah, I think I was kind of confused. I think I would have easily done something more athletic, but I’m not even going there. I think I looked at things a little bit differently. I wish I didn’t dig into things so much. What’s the meaning of this? You know?
Sometimes overthinking things works against you.
I definitely overthink things, especially after the Olympics challenge. I kind of went a little downhill. My mentality changed a bit.
What happened? It does seem like you were a contender at first with the cup dress, and then you seemed to lose some steam.
Um, yeah, I think I just started getting a little bit disappointed. I definitely got scared after that Olympics challenge, and I definitely started playing it safe. Definitely, that motivation that I had going into the show with the cup dress — you know, just do something out there without a care — changed for me.
Just because of criticism?
Maybe, yeah. Even the challenges after the cup dress, with that gold dress that was draped and all, you know, it’s not getting recognized. I thought maybe I should play it safe for a little bit, especially with challenges that I felt uncertain with, you know?
Like last night’s challenge?
I kind of read too much into it. Like, do I want to make my client happy? Is that the most important thing when you’re doing something for a drag queen? What she feels comfortable in? Or should I make it something that I like? I wish she had a more open mind to what I had suggested before because she’s telling me that she doesn’t wear this and she doesn’t wear this, and it kind of freaks you out as a designer. It’s like, just go with the flow!
NEXT PAGE: Feld talks about Kenley’s giggles and ex-contestant and current boyfriend Wesley
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: There seemed to be an undercurrent about your taste level, and Kenley even laughed when it came up on the runway. What’s that all about? Are you friends with Kenley?
DANIEL FELD: Kenley had a really rough time with most of the contestants on the show. She would constantly feud with them, so I was always very protective of her. A lot of people would be like, ”Daniel, stay away from her.” But I just always backed her up and fought for her. On the runway, that was more of an endearing laugh because they edited out what she said after the judges were asking, ”What’s so funny?” She said, ”I just love him. He cracks me up.” They didn’t show that.
What was the other contestants’ beef with Kenley?
Kenley would constantly put down everyone’s work, and she would kind of talk to herself out loud in the workroom. She was like, ”If the judges don’t like this, they don’t understand fashion,” about her designs. She’d just laugh about everyone else’s designs around the room. They just thought she was kind of obnoxious.
So now to you and Wesley. Are you guys still together? And what’s going on with that line you two are doing?
Yeah, we’re still together. We’re trying to get investments for the line.
But have you started designing?
We’ve been coming up with ideas and picking fabrics and all that kind of stuff, but we definitely need to talk to someone with a business background before we put much more in.
What’s the aesthetic?
It’s definitely going to be kind of a bridge market — something that people can afford but that’s still high-end. Definitely want to appeal to department stores and have a really chic aesthetic.
That’s where we’ll find you next?
Definitely, send some investors along while you’re at it!