It don't mean a thing, if it ain't got that bling: Season 5's flashy, fourth place designer happily defends his opulent designs, their high price tags, and Kenley
Designer Jerell Scott loves himself some bling, whether it’s jewel-encrusted breast cups on a dress or a ton of sequins. But that passion ultimately sent him home last night. In part 1 of the Project Runway season 5 finale, the judges cited him for creating a wedding gown — and an accompanying bridesmaid dress — that were just too adorned and opulent. How’s he feeling about it? Read on for his thoughts on that, Kenley’s outburst last week, and where you can buy his newest designs in just a few weeks.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: It has been a little while since the episode was filmed, but how are you feeling now about how everything went down?
JERELL SCOTT: I’m totally fine with everything that went down. I really loved my wedding dress, and I thought my bridesmaid’s dress was very appropriate for my wedding dress. I think for me to be able to go out on a note that I’m proud of made it a lot easier for me, and now I can see the bigger picture. I was able to go there and do what I set out to do. I showed at Bryant Park, and I showed in every episode, and the world is familiar with my work, which was the ultimate objective.
I saw the show at Bryant Park, and it was great — that’s such a huge accomplishment. So, Heidi told you before it started that you had to create a wedding dress for that collection too. Did you start with that? What was your process like?
The way that I design is that I don’t sketch anything first. I gather the materials and then let them inspire the pieces, and then one leads to the other.
So you literally go and buy a bunch of fabrics that you like?
Yes. I’m not a minimalist designer by any means, as you can see. [Laughs]
Yeah, you like your baubles and jewels. Would that be something you start with? You find a jewel or something that you like and then build a look around that?
Honestly, when I shop, I just find the materials that are appealing to me. So, I shopped in New York, I shopped in L.A., I put $8,000 worth of stuff on the table, and I said, ”Okay, well, I’ll use this snakeskin and this.” I’ll start draping, and one piece will inspire the next, like ”Oh, this is cool.” To be quite honest, the wedding dress was the third piece. I love my wedding dress, love love love love love it. So I’m totally fine with leaving. Honestly, fashion is so subjective anyway. It’s all a matter of personal opinion. And nobody can please everybody. Not everybody wants to wear Calvin Klein, not everyone wants to wear Prada. Everyone has their own aesthetic. I think for me, I like opulence and s—.
NEXT PAGE: ”You wear one of my pieces, it’s like a conversation piece. People will come up to you, and you will get complimented.”
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Are you going to stick with doing women’s wear?
JERELL SCOTT: I actually started doing men’s wear. Now I’m going to be gravitating more towards women’s wear, because that’s what people are more familiar with now, with me.
And who are those women who’ll wear your designs? Are they young?
Well, my clothes are very expressive. I really design clothes to help people express who they are. You wear one of my pieces, it’s like a conversation piece. People will come up to you, and you will get complimented. And I think that when you get complimented, you feel better about yourself. And when you’re buying dresses at this price…you’re certainly going to get that with my work.
So, to go back to the wedding dress. At the show, when that came down, everyone was kind of staring at the breast cups that slouched out. Explain that. It almost seemed like it wasn’t done, you know what I mean?
Oh, it was certainly done. God, that dress took forever. I wanted to make something that would be kind of rich and luxurious, yet kind of organic. I didn’t want anything that felt too structured. But I mean, with a strapless dress, the thing weighs like 20 pounds, in order for something like that to technically work — there was a lot of construction in that garment.
Yeah, it had to stay up somehow. How did it stay up?
It was like a totally bone bustier up there that was supporting that. I loved it. It’s not to everyone’s taste — not everyone wants the jeweled cups, but most people do. I’ve done a lot of stuff for Saudi royalty, and I like opulence. It’s not for every woman, they’re not gonna be running out to the bank or picking up the kids in this. But for me, especially a wedding dress, that’s a woman’s fantasy moment. If there’s ever an appropriate time to wear jeweled cups, it’s that day.
In your Bryant Park show, you didn’t put the branch of orchids in her hair. Why not?
Actually, I liked my flowers. I was originally going to have orchids in the hair throughout the whole collection. But when I wasn’t in the top three, I kind of got second pickings at the models. I love most of the girls I got, but a lot of them had really short hair, so I ended up going with this sort of androgynous coif, and there was no need for orchids in a boy cut. I was going to do this whole ’40s wave thing, and if I had done that, you would have seen the orchids in the final look. But because I opted to completely not even do hair, it didn’t really work.
And Kenley does all the stuff in the hair anyway, so you wouldn’t want to do that.
Yeah, I wasn’t going to have any pigeon wings in there!
NEXT PAGE: Scott talks about Kenley’s improved attitude
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Speaking of Kenley, from the way they cut the episode, it seemed like she came back with a better attitude. Was that the case?
JERELL SCOTT: You know, I have to say yes. What most people don’t understand is how difficult the process was. We were burned out and tired. Honestly, you really are defending your life. So I can understand some people handle it in different ways. I can totally see why she was defensive, and I think people were too quick to say, ”How could she just snap on Heidi?” But you really are defending your life. Someone’s gonna go home, somebody’s dreams are going to be crushed. So what I think happened was she had time to look at herself, and I have to say, she really took the high road coming in and wasting no time to apologize and say, ”Hey, let’s get through this last thing. This is our last time together, let’s have fun with it and enjoy it.” And who wants drama? That’s not what we’re there for. This isn’t I Love New York; we’re not sitting in a hot tub getting drunk. We’re here to show the world what we do.
So, you saw Korto’s, Leanne’s, and Kenley’s lines. Which did you like best?
For me, I think that they just did such a great job casting this. Especially when they got down to the four of us, we all have such different points of view; it was really exciting to see what people could do when they had some time. Not that 45 days is a lot of time, but some time to actually work on it. So I can’t really pick a favorite, I love them all and I respect them all as designers. They were all amazing.
What was your favorite challenge?
I really loved my New York nightlife dress; I think that was really overlooked. And the collaboration between me and Stella for Brooke Shields, I really loved that. But all my collaborations were really fun, I really like working with other people. Honestly, I really am a very live-in-the-moment kind of guy.
NEXT PAGE: Scott’s upcoming line will set you back a few grand
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Do you think going forward you would partner with someone to design?
JERELL SCOTT: I will plan with a partner with the proper backing.
Ha! Always a good idea to partner with money. Where are we going to see you next?
I am currently working on a women’s wear collection that will be sold at H. Lorenzo, and it’ll be in stores Nov. 5.
Wow, that was quick.
Oh yeah, I don’t waste time! And they’re all going to be one-of-a-kind pieces; prices are going to be kind of high. On the low end, $1,000, and up to $3,000.
Wow, that’s pretty high.
Right. But when you see how much work, you’re sitting there hand-making every single thing, how opulent my stuff is. Again, I want to get somewhere I can offer my stuff at lower prices, but in order to do that and make it feasible for me, I need the backing so I can do larger numbers and so on. So it’s a matter of finding that and proper management and agents and all that.
And you’re working on all that right now?
Oh, yeah. Feverishly.
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