‘Project Runway’ judge Georgina Chapman talks dumped contestants and crazy designs

12.12.12 6 years ago

As one of the judges on “Project Runway All Stars,” Marchesa founder Georgina Chapman gets a chance to encourage and (sometimes) humble aspiring designers. Pregnant with her second child, she probably also appreciates the opportunity to sit down for a few hours. During a conference call with journalists, Chapman (who is married to “Project Runway” executive producer Harvey Weinstein) discussed why she decided to take on the show, why she’s a fan, and why she signed up for her own special, “Project Runway Spotlight: Marchesa” (airs Thurs. Dec. 20 at 10:00 p.m.)

Why sign on as a permanent judge on “Project Runway All Stars”?

Well, I was incredibly flattered and very excited too. I’d been a judge on “Project Runway” before and really loved the experience. It’s great to get out of my everyday environment… I really, really enjoy it, and there’s so much talent, as we’ve seen. This season, there’s a very, very high standard.

How long do you and the other judges discuss who’s going home? 

It’s a whole day’s shoot, so we really do talk about it in depth… We do really care about our designers, and we form quite a bond with them. It’s not a flippant decision, and it’s very hard sometimes, so we give it the time it needs.

Have you watched every season of “Project Runway” prior to joining the show?

I think I probably have. I’m such a huge fan of the show and my stepkids are, too. I’m always in awe. It’s such a good show. It never becomes old hat to me. It’s fun for me to watch the other shows as well, because when I’m a judge I don’t get to see the backstage drama… it’s quite fun to watch something afresh and have no idea what’s coming.

Do you have any designers that you’d like to see return for “All Stars”?

I haven’t thought about that!

How is your pregnancy going? Do you know the gender of your baby?

Great, so I’m very lucky. Perfect so far. Feel good, feel very good. I’m very lucky I have easy pregnancies. Knock on wood. [Regarding the gender,] I don’t know; we haven’t decided [what we’re doing] yet. 

Have there been any designs you’d wear this season?

This season, I thought there was a lot of very wearable clothing. Quite a lot, actually. I think some of the best is yet to come so I can’t give it away. This week is actually one of my favorites. One of the dresses this week, [there are] a couple this week I would wear, even though they’re unconventional. 

Which one of the designers this season do you think would be a good children’s wear designer?

Maybe Uli, because she has that sense of whimsy that would be great. I’m thinking girls, because I have a girl, and she would make really cute baby clothes.

What’s the difference to you between this season and last season, which was your first judging full-time? Does the process get familiar?

First season, it was new for all of us, and this time around we’d done it before. But what amazed me is it felt completely fresh and new. It’s not we’re going to do the same thing again. When you’re dealing with creatives, you’re always in for surprises. We always look forward to coming in and judging these shows. I couldn’t say which ones we love more.

Do you think you’d ever design  children’s line?

I would love to one day, but don’t know if that will be anytime soon. 

How does being pregnant impact your designing?

It’s funny, because I sometimes feel my most creative when I’m pregnant, since I’m creating at the same time. I keep going and the show much go on. Some days you’re more tired than you might otherwise be. I love tapping into that energy, because that’s what my whole physical being is about at this time.

What was the biggest difference between doing “Project Runway” and your own documentary?

It was quite different. I felt like the contestants; I had a lot more sympathy. You’re tired and you’re working, and you become unaware that they’re there after a while. I think they did a great job and I’m really happy with it. 

Any thought of doing a series about your life?

Oh my goodness, I just hope my life wouldn’t be that dramatic. I like to think I’m too boring for that. 

Were there any surprises for you in the finished product? Will we see celebrities?

Not really, because I lived it. There was nothing filmed I didn’t know about. When I saw it later, I was on to the next thing as it were. It was interesting seeing it as a fly on the wall looking at your life, it’s a strange thing to step back and see your life in the mirror like that. [As far as celebrities], yes, there are. There are people talking about the dresses, people who’ve worn the dresses, editors talking about Marchesa; you get a glimpse into a charity show we did and awards season and what goes into making a dress.

In judging “Project Runway,” is it difficult to avoid picking or eliminating designs based on your own taste?

I don’t need to compare it to my own work, because everyone has their own aesthetic, and that’s what I love about being a judge, being exposed to different aesthetics. I think your own taste always comes into it, but I can like something even though I would never design something or wear it. It’s hard; if I don’t like something aesthetically it’s hard to get my head around and say it’s a great piece.

Is there anyone you’d like to have guest judge on the show?

She’s passed, but I would have loved [fashion icon] Isabella Blow. 

Do you think Emilio, who has a background as a costume designer, is at a disadvantage this season?

I trained as a costume designer, so it’s always worked for me. Did I have to learn on the job a bit more? True, but sometimes that gives you a fresher eye. 

Do you have a favorite challenge for this season?

I really do love the upcoming challenge this week because it’s a little unconventional, and people have to push themselves to be more creative.

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