Christian and his ruffle-fest of a fashion line may have ruled the runway, but Jillian and Rami didn’t go without a fight. They were fierce, too — she with her wearable, armor-inspired clothes, and he with his decadent fashions and that stunning black-and-white strapless frock. So before you totally sign off Runway for another season (tragic!), check out what the two runners-up told EW about how they were portrayed throughout the season, Victoria Beckham, Christian’s diva attitude, dressing Heidi, and what they’re going to do now.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Have you come to terms with how it all played out?
JILLIAN LEWIS: It was really hard in the beginning. It was sad. If you ever really want to win something, you have to believe that you’re going to win. I was so embedded in that idea. Working on the line for such a long time — obsessively working on it for months and not really having much else in my life to think about — it was like a real kind of pop of the bubble for me. It was a strong blow, but that’s what it is to be in this fashion industry. I’ve gotten very used to it.
Viewers didn’t get to see much explanation from you about this, but you said that you were surprised about how things played out. How so?
For me, the way I saw it before we had the runway show, I only saw everybody’s work on the hangers on racks. When I saw Christian’s collection — I really appreciate what he does, I think he has a very interesting vision and it’s very dramatic and it’s fun to watch — but I thought he would have gotten himself into a little bit of trouble for taking it too far, taking it to such a fantasy level that it wouldn’t be identifiable for the judges. And for me, I always think in the past the winners have always been more sportswear, more realistic designers who have a place in the business as well as being inspiring designers. So I was surprised at the decision, actually, even though at the same time, I really think Christian deserved to win because he was the star of the show.
Out of the three lines, yours was the most wearable and accessible, but they seemed to favor fantasy. How did you reconcile what you thought the judges would want?
Well, you never can tell what mood the judges are going to be in. I always say this to people: The moment that you start saying, ”Well, I think the judges might want to see this…” or ”What if the judges, what if the judges…” then you’re an employee of the judges. I didn’t enter into the show to be an employee of everybody. The only way to play it right is to do what you believe in. I think Christian even did what he believed in, and I did what I believed in. Do I want to go really dramatic or stay wearable? If I can’t identify clothing, if I can’t think of a context for it to be worn, I can’t justify it. In fact, I did have one coat that was trailing with this long train, and I had a gown that I was thinking of. I just kept thinking, I can’t justify this. Who’s wearing a coat that has a train? And I don’t want to see anybody wearing a coat that has a train! Honestly! So I cut the thing right off.
Maybe it was because there wasn’t much other drama going on in the days leading up to the show, but the story of the finale was your model situation. Was it really that big of a deal?
I don’t think I was accurately portrayed, because I actually think I looked very weak. I allowed myself to admit the fact that it was not a big deal at all, and, like you just guessed, there wasn’t really that much else for them to put. It gets me when I think about the Tim visit and all the special moments that I thought I did have that were worth more air time — they really cut very short and they focus on things that are very, very unimportant. I’ve seen some things on the show, like, ”Oh, I wish they didn’t focus on me having trouble with the iron,” but I never got upset like this time. I was like, Okay, that’s enough! At the same time, when you put yourself into a reality TV show, you have to kind of just say, I’m a tool and they can do whatever they want, and I have to accept it.
The guest judge, of course, was Victoria Beckham. Do you feel you were at a disadvantage, considering that she’s kind of a couture fiend?
I don’t know, because Victoria Beckham also dresses scandalously sexy, and I can design scandalously sexy. Had I known she was the guest judge before I made the collection, and had I known that she would be thinking of it more in terms of what she’d want to wear, I think I definitely could have accomplished that, too. I would have had a more fair shot at winning. At first, I thought, What if they choose Kristen Dunst or somebody who would be more likely to wear what I make? Would I have won? Now that it’s all over and I have read the blogs with what Michael and Nina said, it sounds to me like Christian would have won anyway. When everybody is saying that Christian should have won, I don’t want to start blaming it on Victoria Beckham.
But still, you know what I mean…
You’re right: She said she wanted to wear everything that he makes and she told me she didn’t want to wear anything that I made. So, it kind of hurts. She has one point of view, and that’s hers.
Have you gotten any offers? Orders? What’s going on with your stuff?
I have tons of people contacting me asking me to make some custom design. I’m not much of a custom-design person. I’m more of a ready-to-wear person — make the collection and whoever likes it should buy it. I might take up a few of those custom orders that people have been requesting. I did make a second collection. It’s very much in the same personality and vibe of the collection I made for the Runway show, but it’s more colorful. The buyers happen to have been in Europe for the past few weeks. Hopefully by Monday they will be back and we will be having meetings with some people and see what happens.
NEXT PAGE: Rami on the judges criticizing his draping: ”It was used on the show to create controversy, and some people will eat it up and fall for it, and those who know better, know better. It’s that simple.”