This morning I had the privilege to interview Metro Detroit’s own, designer Joe Faris. The latest contestant to be bid Auf Wiedersehen by Project Runway, we chatted about his experience on the show, Project Runway’s influence, Bryant Park and his upcoming collection.
After being away from his family for 6 weeks, Joe didn’t have to wait long for the first episode of Project Runway to air; just 10 days. I asked him what it was like to watch that first show at home. “Surreal” he replied. “It’s similar to when you hear your voice on an answering machine. You know what your voice sounds like in your head, but until you hear the recording, you don’t know what everyone else hears.”
So were there any surprises when Joe saw himself on television for the first time?
“Yes, my nose.” Your nose? “Yes, it was BIG.”
Joe has an excellent sense of humor. I prefer to live in denial of what I would look like on camera. I couldn’t bear to see myself another, 10 pounds heaver.
Prior to the show airing, Joe commented that he might only watch the first episode. I was curious to know if he watched all the episodes and if there was anything said behind the scenes that may have bothered him.
Overall, he was pretty happy with the way he was portrayed. Some other unnamed contestants felt that they were “edited”, but his philosophy was if you said it, you said it. There’s no editing words into your mouth.
He did however, find Leanne’s comment “Why is Joe still here?” a little surprising because he felt that they were on friendly terms.
Speaking of editing, I asked Joe if he had any funny stories about his time on Project Runway. There seemed to be nothing more that the banter that we saw on the show, with the occasional teasing or jabs. He did say though, that there was certainly enough filmed material to put out what he called “box set” of extras. That could be interesting…
I was curious to know what sort of opinions Joe’s friends and family had when they watched the show with him. Several people told him that he should have won and that he did a great job. Others, didn’t hold any punches. Those folks pointed out where he may have made mistakes or what he should have done for better results. He said that he didn’t get much positive feedback when it came to the last challenge.
Viewers may be wondering why he struggled a little when it came to draping and sewing. After all, he did go to school at Parsons right?
Well, on a typical day, Joe uses a computer to create his designs, rather than a form. Re-discovering those those skills proved to be a bit of a challenge.
One of my favorite episodes was “What’s Your Sign” where contestants created a design based on either their astrological sign or their former contestant partner.
Remember my favorite Michael Kors “Pooping Fabric” comment?
During this challenge, contestants had the opportunity to meet with Heidi’s “favorite” NYC designers. During the four hours that the contestants met with prior Project Runway favorites, Joe seemed to connect with fellow Michigander Daniel Vosovic and Kara Janx. When asked about the others, Joe said he couldn’t believe how vulgar Jaye was. He wouldn’t be specific, but it seemed to make a lasting impression. And Christian was, well… Christian.
Moving on to Bryant Park, those of us who followed New York’s Fashion Week two weeks ago, discovered that six contestants were chosen to show their stuff at the famous venue. I asked Joe what it was like being apart of such a coveted experience. He told me that he was home for 10 days and then he was called back to the show to spend another 4 weeks working on his Fashion Week collection. “It was everything you would think it was. I was incredibly happy. That’s the prize.”
But what about that moment when you are standing on the runway, ready to introduce your collection? “It was nerve wracking.” He told me that he asked the producers “what do people say?” At which point the producers reassured him to speak from the heart.
Joe described his collection as representing “America, multi-cultural, motor cycle, and Rock & Roll”.
When speaking about his collection, Joe felt less pressure in his position (he knew he was already eliminated) to design for the judges. Had he been in the top three, he felt that he would have focused more on evening wear rather than leather.
Joe currently works as Senior Designer at Schott NYC and has worked with companies like Inkslingers where there has been a heavy focus on jeans, t-shirts and leather. I wanted to know, after competing in Project Runway, did he think that it may have a new influence on his work?
“Yes” was his answer. He customarily does not design dresses which have the need for draping. So, Project Runway sparked that interest somewhat.
While working on a collection for Schott NYC, he is also developing his own collection of approximately 20 pieces. When speaking about dresses, he felt comfort was key, “it should feel good, like a great pair of jeans.”
Well, I could sure use that.
The collection is due to launch in January.
To read more about Joe Faris and his work, go to redflyusa.com.
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