Today we have another great interview for you with one of the stars of this season of Project Runway- Gunnar Deatherage! If you have been watching from the beginning of season 10, you’ve probably had a myriad of emotions about Gunnar, ranging from, “Ah geez, what an attention hog!” to “Ah geez, he’s the sweetest guy ever, I want to hang out with him and I want to bring my mom!” (Last Thursday’s episode.) Well, if his stark contrast to Ven Budhu in customer relations last week wasn’t enough to win you over, these hilarious and insightful answers definitely will. He was such a joy to talk to on Friday morning after we were all on board the Ven-hating train. And Sewn students- pay special attention to his advice about learning how to sew!
Great show last night! You were so fabulous!
Thank you, the only one where I look nice!
We were just talking about that… Not that you don’t always look nice, but last night you were super likable. So we were just talking about how funny it is that they seem to focus on a different person each week to make look like a jerk.
Do you know how you are going to look in an episode while they are filming it, or you just don’t know at all until you see the episode?
It’s all kind of a mystery. The thing that you go there thinking is, “how do I wanna be portrayed?”… I really went on there and was myself. I really showed them all different sides of me. Can I be snarky and can I be witty? Absolutely. But I think that last night’s episode (Fix my Friend) was probably the most true to who I am. You know, I work in a salon at home and I have personal clients. I can’t be snarky and very competitive with them. So it really is about them and one of my favorite things to do is make people feel good about themselves… So I felt like that was the perfect challenge for me last night.
Some other people didn’t really know how to relate to the clients as well. Do you think there is a disconnect with that in people who are in school for high fashion?
This will come off snarky, but this is the way I feel. I think you can buy an education to learn how to sew. But I don’t think that you can buy an education to learn how to design, that has to come natural. I was the only one on there (this season) that never went to school for it, I was also the youngest one. And the difference between the people that are struggling to pay to go to school and I is that, I think that you don’t have to fake it and you don’t have to refer to a textbook. You have complete creative freedom. So that’s something I’m thankful for, that I didn’t go to school for it, because everything I learned and everything I make is another step in my journey. So some people just don’t know how to deal with people. And I feel like some people are very book smart and some people are very street smart and those true colors showed last night.
We are a community of sewers here at Sewn Studio, so as someone who is completely self-taught, What do you think were your best tools to learn the actual sewing stuff?
You know I think it’s a lot of trial and error. If you’re afraid to try new things, then you won’t make mistakes. I’ve made things that have just been s***. I mean, I’ll just be very honest- horrible things. And they may never see the light of day. But then out of that, I can always pull something that I can use on something else. Whether it’s seaming or whether it’s a certain way that I went about hemming it…. You’ve got to be able to look at the craft that you make and find something useful in it. And it’s not just about making a successful garment every time you know? You’ve got to have a nice amount of failure to have success.
You are from Louisville, KY, which is just right down the road from us here in Cincinnati. How do you think that influenced your designs on the show and you as a designer in general?
Everything down here is very conservative for the most part. There’s always room to play, but I think that we’re not as egotistical in the South… I feel like the bigger cities are always trying to out-do each other. I think that being from the South has helped me stay grounded. I think that it’s helped me get to know an average person, somebody that just wants to have their family, go to work, and enjoy the full experiences. I like the big picture, I really do, like if somebody stops to get a photo with me I’m excited about it and it makes me feel really good. But at the end of the day, I’m so normal. I live such a normal life. My family means the world to me, my friends mean the world to me. And I don’t at any point in time see me moving away from them. I think that this was just an experience for me, you know? Something that I can always have with me, but it’s not something that I think will define me. I think that’s something that living only in a small town can do for you.
So you were in the top 20 in season 9 and then got cut right before the competition started. What do you think you did differently in the past year to advance yourself and make yourself ready to be on the show this time?
I spent a lot of time last year worrying before I went, and second guessing myself, wondering if I was good enough. I think that my age really got to me, because 21 is not very old. You know, I only graduated high school like 5 years ago. And I’m up against people that have been doing this for years or people that went to school and I think I got intimidated last year, honestly. In that year that I came home, I was devastated obviously and I spent a lot of time just doing it for fun. You know, just making clothing for fun. I kind of found the joy in what I do and I had to grow a backbone. I had to be able to say, ‘you know what? I don’t wanna do that because I don’t think it’s me.’ And I think a lot of what I did this year was just personal growth, and I think that my designs developed from the personal growth.
I always love your personal style on the show. I so enjoy seeing what you’re wearing, like a great mix of super preppy with rocknroll thrown in there. Do you have fashionable men that you look up to with your style?
I read Details magazine a lot. But if I’m going to be extremely honest about where the majority of my fashion sense comes from, I Goodwill shop like it’s my job! I love to thrift shop. And then I’ll come home and tailor things to me. You know if I think people are gonna take a second look at whether it’s bad or good, I’ll normally wear it. I’m normally not afraid to express any personal style. I love the way David Beckham dresses. He kind of has this nice touch of indie with that kind of prep in there. For a long time, I loved Adam Lambert and I think I’ve taken a small bit of him. I think it’s all these people and all these different outfits that I’ve seen over time and kind of idolized over time, I kind of try to throw elements of them in here and there.
Last night you talked about missing your family and your brother. Do you think that’s the hardest thing about being in that high pressure situation for so long or is it getting along with the designers, or just the pressure to be creative constantly? What is the hardest part?
Well the whole thing is hard, but I think the hardest thing is having to trust your judgment. Because, yes you’re with other designers, but you don’t trust them because they’re competing against you. So every time that you make something (at home) and you get your friends or your families second opinion on them, you’ve got that little bit of help and comfort in having their assistance. And then you don’t have that there. So you’ve got to be very thoughtful on how you do things. You’ve got to manage your time and you can’t worry about things. Because if you were to take into consideration runway day while you’re trying to sew, then it’s not pure thought or pure creativity because you’re spending so much time worrying. And it’s gonna show in the work.
I mean I could probably go into every detail of what is the most stressful part, because at different points in time, everything is the most stressful part. We filmed over the summer, over fourth of July. My best friend, my grandmother, and my mother’s birthday are all on the fourth of July. So it was extremely hard for me to be away from family then. But at the same time, I knew that if I were home with them, they would want nothing more than for me to be where I was.
What kind of stuff goes on back at the apartments when the cameras aren’t on? Is everybody having a big slumber party or are you too tired to do anything at all?
It’s definitely not a slumber party, I’ll let you know that! You know by the time we’re done filming one day, you’re so drained that you just wanna sleep. Because you know that the next day is gonna be just as vicious. Every day there is you know, dog eat dog, and there’s no break whatsoever. So everything you do is just… You’ve gotta take time to sleep and time to rest your mind so that you’re prepared for the next day.
Which judge do you think you gained the most from in their critiques and the advice they gave you?
I mean, I’m hard headed, I didn’t wanna listen to anything they told me, I’ll be very honest. Because I really don’t care what they think about it, they’re just three normal people off the street that do things in fashion. Fashion is art and it’s very subjective, so I didn’t really mind. However, I love Heidi Klum. We have a really strange, fun relationship and I really enjoy her.
We are on episode 6 this season and there have already been 2 group challenges. It was really interesting watching you in those because the first one you won, and the second one you were in the bottom. So what do you think is the secret to surviving those group challenges that everybody hates?
I think that you have to think outside of the challenge. Because it’s not as much about what your sewing sometimes. I mean it’s always about what you’re sewing, but there are so many more elements added in to that. When I go into group challenges, I kind of assess the situation. Like with Kooan, I knew that if we went with Kooan’s vision for any challenge, that they wouldn’t enjoy it… I kind of had to wrangle him in, but it paid off. And then with my second group challenge, I knew that Christopher and I are not really fans of each other. I knew that Ven did not really like me, and I knew Nathan kind of rode that fence. The only person on that team that I had, I think, on my side would have been Fabio. I just knew that if I were to fight the system and be a b****, that if we were in the bottom and I were to go in front of them that I would be the bitch of team five and everyone would throw me under the bus. I also knew that if we won and they asked who should go home I would still be thrown under the bus. So would I rather be on good terms with the team and go under the bus or would I rather be the b**** and go under the bus? I would have rather have been in good terms.
You brought up you and Christopher. It seems like they kind of made this big focus on how you guys were rivals, and then nothing came of it. Did you just start steering clear of each other, or become friends or what?
I don’t think we became friends… You can’t spend too much time fighting with somebody, it’s gonna take a lot of energy out of your day. I think that we have very strong personalities, the both of us, and I think maybe other personalities started to shine through and drew our attention away from it a little bit.
Well obviously, the show is still going on and we can’t talk about how it turns out for you, but either way, what comes next for you?
You know, I don’t know! I mean I like fashion, I really do, but I’m 22 and I kind of want to be 22 for a while. I wanna do what other people my age are doing. You know, I’m always doing something, I’m very work oriented. I’ve been this way since high school, I always work two jobs at a time and then pursue fashion on top of that. I wanna spend some time in my relationship, because that obviously takes a hit from the attention and from my time. I kind of just wanna be free for a while. I love interior design, I think I’ll play around with interior design for a while. But you know, fashion’s always close to home so I know that I will always have something to do with it. I just know right now, it’s time to just enjoy life rather than work thru it.
…I saw you guys’ Bingo cards this morning, that made me laugh on the way to work! I laugh a lot in general, and they show me laughing a lot, so that’s the appropriate bingo spot to have on there.
And we definitely hope to be hearing that laughter right thru the end of the season. Thanks again to Gunnar for talking with us, and we’ll be back Thursday with this week’s bingo cards!