'Project Runway' exit interview: Ousted designer talks about surprise ejection and competitor's 'flailing disaster'
SPOILER ALERT: Below, we talk to the designer ousted on last night’s Project Runway. It was a surprising judging decision and the evictee talks all about his/her response and what he/she thought of the “hot mess” shown by a competitor. Stop reading now if you don’t want to know who said Auf Wiedersehen!
In one of the most controversial judging decisions in Project Runway history, Jesse LeNoir and his drop of silver puffiness got Auf‘ed over Emilio Sosa’s wretchedly unwearable washers-and-pink-cord bikini. We talked to the erstwhile Captain Jack Sparrow — he worked as an actor at Disney World in Orlando for two-and-a-half years — about his untimely elimination.
Image Credit: Barbara Nitke/Lifetime TelevisionENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I was pretty shocked to see you go home last night.
JESSE LENOIR: I wasn’t last night, but I definitely was when it happened.
You seemed pretty mad in your final on-camera interview.
It was and it wasn’t a big shock to me. I get [the judges’] comments and their critiques and I’m okay with being in the bottom, generally. I thought maybe a couple others could have been there too. But I don’t want to sit here and say I was the best of the worst, so I shouldn’t have gone home. To me, that’s just not a defense. I kind of knew as soon as Anthony got told he was safe that it was going to be me over Emilo. His track record and the way that they’ve treated him over the show — most likely they’re going to take me off instead of him, even though his was a flailing disaster.
It was hideous, one of the worst outfits in Runway history.
[Laughs] I was joking with my fiancée and she actually said, “I don’t even think a stripper would wear that.” It’s been described as a stripper outfit, but that might do it a little more justice than what it really was. I remembered that it was a hot mess, ’cause I was right next to him the whole time we were building these things, but when I watched it again on TV, it was that much clearer. Like, whoa, what happened with that?
What about Anthony’s dress? In a video on Lifetime.com, you say flat-out that he should have gone home over you.
My opinion … over time has shifted slightly. Where my brain was at at that time was: Janenane had just been sent home for something that [the judges called] boring and safe. And Anthony’s entire critique was that it was boring and safe. It’s not that I necessarily hated his look, I thought it was okay. What frustrated me the most out of that experience was, there wasn’t any way to know what the judges wanted or what they liked ’cause it changed so drastically so often. There was no rubric for how you were judged or what was more important or less important. I felt like I took a risk to a certain degree, and I put something out there that was kind of like a floating cloud with a body on top of it and then they went and riffed on everything that they could think of that was mean.
The judges called your design a Hershey Kiss, a Tin Man, a ballerina, and a dirty vacuum bag. How does it feel to listen to that when you’re standing under the hot lights and the cameras are rolling?
Honestly, the cameras and lights kept reminding me the whole time that it’s a television show and they’re just trying to get the best sound bite they can. The biggest thing that I wanted to scream over was that Seth Aaron sent down a Hershey’s Kiss Tin Man! Maybe I didn’t say it [on the show] because I was just in shock over the fact that I got ganged up on for his Hershey’s Kiss Tin Man. I wasn’t going to be able to speak up and change their opinion. I said my two cents and I defended my work and I’m proud of what I did.
You got kicked off, but you still got to show at Bryant Park. That’s not bad.
That was amazing. Going into the competition, I had a couple of goals: show at Fashion Week and don’t get kicked off in the first episode. So I got both of those goals! I was extremely happy with the collection I put out. I loved every piece of it.
What’s next? Are you going to juggle acting and fashion?
At this point, I’ve been very, very lopsided because I’m getting married next week and I’ve got seven bridesmaid’s dresses that I’m building. When I come home [from our honeymoon], it’s time to get a job, time to make some money. I’d love to work for Tom Ford or Thom Browne. I want to get in and learn the business ’cause I really don’t have that experience. And I’ll continue to pursue acting — I’d love to get an agent and maybe do red carpet commentary or things like that. I have a degree in acting. I learned how to do Shakespeare, so I don’t want to throw that away. Actors can do fashion lines, so in theory, a fashion designer should be able to be an actor.
Finally, who are you rooting for, now that you’re gone?
Well, knowing Emilio and Jonathan as roommates makes me root for them, naturally. They’re great guys and I want to see them be successful. I was the closest with them, so if I can’t be the one who’s there winning it, I would like it to be a good friend.