Joanna Coles will be back for another season of “Project Runway All Stars,” but don’t expect her to stick around for much more than that. In a conference call with journalists, the fashionista talked about why her recent exit from Marie Claire makes it likely that she’ll be auf’ed — and she totally gets it.
As fans of the show know, judge Nina Garcia has been around since season one, and since she’s currently employed by Marie Claire, Coles’ exit to become editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan (which happened after this season of “Project Runway All Stars” was shot) would make her continuing as a mentor “a little weird.” “It might not be the right combination, and I’m sure the new editor will want to do ‘Project Runway,” she said. “‘Project Runway’ is so associated with Marie Claire, I don’t think that’s going to change… but never say never.”
What’s more likely than Coles sticking around is that she might set up shop somewhere else. “I’d love to see Cosmo involved in a television fashion show,” she said. “I think there’s room for a partnership there.”
Coles, who admits she’d be a “horrible designer,” says that this season’s returning all stars are very different than you might remember them being in their previous seasons. “They were all very upset they hadn’t won their season. They’ve come back having watched themselves and having understood where they went wrong, and they’re determined to focus less on the other people in the room… and more on their garments. There’s an incredible level of focus. The first time they were caught up in the relationships, this time they’re incredibly focused on the prize… it’s a life changing prize for any of those designers.” In addition to $150,000, the winner gets to create a capsule collection for Nine West, gets a sewing and embroidery studio, an all-expenses paid trip around the world to attend fashion weeks in Paris, London, Milan and Tokyo, a technology suite/office space and a fashion spread in Marie Claire along with a contributing editor position with the magazine for one year.
Coles admitted she was excited to see some of the designers back for a second attempt. “I was delighted to see Emilio Sosa back, I always thought he was good,” she said. “He was nominated for a Tony for ‘Porgy & Bess.’ I was excited to see Josh [McKinley] back. I always thought Ivy [Higa] didn’t come across as strongly as she could have done in her season, and [Laura] Kathleen, I always felt like she deserved another chance. I was very pleased to see Casanova. He and Ivy were incredibly surprised to see each there [because they’re friends] but hadn’t told one another. It’s a really good bunch of people, some have done very well [since the show]. Uli [Herzner] had three or four years of honing her technique and it was great to see her in the room.”
Asked to explain her approach to mentoring, Coles said she tried “to be flexible depending on what people need.” That seems to be pretty similar to what mentor Tim Gunn does on “Project Runway,” though Coles said there was at least one difference between herself and Gunn. “I had sex more recently than Tim,” she joked, referencing Gunn’s revelation that he hasn’t had sex in 29 years. Good to know, Joanna.