The Q&A

Putting on Her Walking Shoes

Footwear designer Bonnie Dominguez, the most recent ''Project Runway'' evictee, talks with Jessica Shaw about what went wrong with her last outfit and with rule-stretching Keith

THE PANT BULLY Bonnie's misguided trousers got spanked by judge Nina Garcia
Image credit: Bonnie Dominguez: Mark Abrahams
THE PANT BULLY Bonnie's misguided trousers got spanked by judge Nina Garcia

Poor Bonnie Dominguez. One misguided peach and brown concoction and the 31-year-old athletic-footwear designer had to pack up her sewing kit. Bonnie called EW a couple of hours before moving to San Francisco to discuss why her outfit wasn't as bad as Nina Garcia thought, why Keith should not have gone home, and why she wouldn't wear Angela's winning design.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Not to be all Tim Gunn or anything, but what happened there with your three-piece vision?
BONNIE DOMINGUEZ: It was a group challenge, so it always comes down to the team leaders, and I completely misinterpreted the dossier. I was thinking of the consumer as a conservative woman. I don't really go to Macy's. I think of them as more conservative.

Yeah, I don't exactly think couture when I think Macy's. Sometimes they lean a little more toward the tacky side of fashion.
Exactly. I didn't want to say that. Based on the information they gave me, I thought it was appropriate. The final garment looked almost exactly like the sketch.

And as much as I loved Keith's team's design, I thought there's no way those items would sell well at Macy's. There seemed to be a disconnect. They were designing for Barney's, and yet they almost won.
Yeah, H&M, Target, Barney's, I understand. It's a hip brand. In the dossier it said it was for women all over the United States. Obviously she's not a size 2. I was designing a look that would be appropriate for all women. I didn't think it was as terrible as Nina Garcia said. Obviously someone is delusional — me or Macy's.

Or Nina? Among the contestants, is there one judge you dread hearing from more than the others?
No, but the one I was really psyched about was Vera Wang. The minute she walked out there, I said, ''You know what? If I go home today, it'll be cool because I got to meet Vera Wang.'' She always gave constructive criticism. I'm a designer. I work in a corporate atmosphere. There's a difference between being constructive and just being nasty. Vera Wang always had well-thought-out things to say.

Who's just nasty then? Michael Kors?
No, sometimes Nina a little. She's like, ''Sometimes they have to accept they get criticism.'' It's like, it's a TV show! She's got really great style, but whatever mood she's in that day or that week affects her choice.

Were you all shocked that Angela, who's been mocked week after week, won the challenge?
The thing about Angela's team and Keith's team was they designed for themselves rather than listening to the dossier. Robert's team and my team were designing for the consumer. We obviously missed the mark, but I don't see women in the Midwest that are bigger bodied wearing a cropped jacket any time soon. I'm curvy. I would never wear a cropped jacket, and I'm young and funky.

What exactly did the dossier say?
It was a booklet, a brief. It was filled with imagery and verbiage about who the consumer was. All the images were very simple, easy-to-wear pieces you could mix and match. You could have worn our shirt as a dress. You could have reversed it. That was the whole pitch. Easy-to-wear pieces. I wasn't thinking super fashion forward. Nina was like, ''You're here to impress us.'' Maybe I wasn't thinking of the judges. I was thinking of the consumer. But [guest judge] Mehmet [Tangoren, head buyer for Macy's] thinks they sit next to Vera Wang. I'm like, I'm sorry. I went to Macy's the other day, and I went over to the INC section, and oh my God, they're completely delusional about who their consumer is.

Did you buy anything?
No, my husband needed boxers.

How much did it sting to go home before Angela and her deranged army of florettes?
I don't know if they showed it on the show, but after I got kicked off, I went back and said, ''I'm more talented than the rest of you,'' only jokingly. I know I'm talented. It doesn't take a show to prove to me I am. Regardless of what judging happened that day, I had fun. I would have loved to stay longer, but I loved the challenges I did. Even to get picked for the show after spending only two weeks putting my pieces together. To get back into fashion and learn I can sew after not doing it for 10 years!

Do you think maybe Bradley should have gone home since he made the most problematic piece, the brown pants?
Our group worked really well together as far as colors and how we presented the garment. We agreed on things. The sketch was the pant that every woman needs. When I thought about it, it should have been more fashion forward. When I was up on the runway, I was thinking about five million things I could have done. I directed Bradley, though. Yeah, Bradley has a funny way of working, and he's a bit not good about time management, but I'm not the one to sell someone out on the runway. I didn't go on the show to make myself look nasty.

Speaking of which, we must discuss Keith. Did you all know what happened before Tim Gunn called the meeting?
We knew that it had happened. I'm surprised they sent him home. I didn't think he was cheating. I thought he was talented. I thought the rules were you're not allowed to design your own outfit, and [during dog design week] Angela went up with the exact same thing she was wearing. Whether he comes across as arrogant or not, I don't know. But I was like, Why is everybody pointing the finger? He wasn't there in the room with a pattern book. Yeah, his stuff was simple, but it looked good.

Well, there was also the matter that he disappeared and went on the Internet.
Yeah, I understand for the integrity of the show they had to do it. If maybe the other designs weren't so upset, maybe they wouldn't have kicked him off. But most of the designers were pretty upset. It's unfortunate. Hopefully Keith is putting himself out there. He does have his line. People like his style, even if they don't like his personality.

Who do you think is going to win? And don't you dare say Vincent.
My favorites have to be Michael and Uli. I also really like Alison's design style. They're my top three as far as styles I would wear. All the blogs are so angry Michael isn't shown more. It's because he's so mellow. He's amazing, though. His designs are so thoughtful. They're so well made.

What's next for you?
I'm likely to be really busy. I'll still consult and design footwear, because it pays for my fabulous shoe collection that I need. Who knows? Maybe I'll start a fashion shoe line instead of a fashion apparel line.

I feel like I hardly got to know you on the show, Bonnie, and now you're off.
I guess I'm not that fun to watch. I come across as boring. I guess that's what the producers thought about my personality. I just didn't get a lot of airtime. My family's always like, ''Why aren't they showing you?'' But I just say, ''It's better to be on less than more and not to make a fool out of yourself.''

Originally posted Aug 03, 2006
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