LONG before you heard about it, we heard straight from the clotheshorse's mouth that Laura was going to be judging one of the challenges. "Does this mean I'm going to be in one of those 'Judging the Judges' posts?" she asked in an email. "No," we replied, "But it does mean you're sitting your ass down for an interview." And so we did.
So, what was like being a judge this time as opposed to a contestant?
Oh my god, it’s so much easier being a judge but it’s kind of sad because on the judges’ side of the runway everyone is so casual and ‘Hi!’ Gossiping and all that kind of shit. In the chairs, on the other side you know how they feel. You know that to them it’s like a life changing thing.
But I was still gossiping and stuff. All Heidi cared about was her macrobiotic salad from Angelica Kitchen. "Is it here yet?’ ‘Is my salad here yet?"
So, was it difficult making a decision knowing that you were going to send someone home?
No, because in the end, I don’t know much about the personalities, I just went based on clothing, and I went based on the clothing on that challenge right there in front of me.
You don’t see any sort of portfolio on them? You don’t see any of their past work?
So, you’re basically judging based on what you see right there in front of you?
Right, so the guest judge only sees what's there and you see it for the first time when it walks out on the runway, just like it looks on television.
And no music…
No music. The music gets patched in after.
And what did you think of the work in general?
It was great. First of all, they told me that it was the best work of the season yet. And second of all, it was one of those challenges that tend to push designers the same way our recycling challenge did; when you’re forced to use materials that you’re not comfortable with. That’s when the best and the worst are going to rise.
It’s definitely easier being a judge than it is being a contestant.
Because you don’t feel the pressure. It’s not like a life changing thing that’s happening to you at the moment. You’re not putting your heart out there for everyone to love or crush, you have no idea which one is going to be. It’s easier than I thought it would be. There really are clear, for me personally, there really were clear winners and losers and the things that were wrong I completely understood what the problem was and had no problem sort of verbalizing it. And the things that were right I was able to say, it looks great because… I really found that I was able to express the reason behind my particular feelings about the clothing.
Have you been watching the show?
Yes. I’m a big fan.
Who’s your favorite?
I like Korto. I think she’s very talented and I understand that as reality television her personality is not one of those that…what I’ve seen of her work on the season, I think it’s very her but there’s variety in it. I think her volume and silhouette is something sort of unique. I really like her work. I think that she’s so quiet; she doesn’t make good reality television.
Not like Stella.
No, not like Stella.
Did you get any reactions from the designers when they saw that you’re going to be one of the judges?
They were pretty shell shocked sitting there in the chairs, I mean, you could tell by then that they were tired; after a few challenges you really start to get worn down and nervous.
And when was that shot?
I was there at noon and it did start shortly after I arrived. They probably got to the workroom at seven or eight and by one their garment was on the runway.
And you’re pleased with the winner and the loser?
Oh, absolutely. For me, it was clearly between Korto and Leanne. They both had beautiful garments. Leanne, you could tell that she was so nervous the whole time she was on the runway. She knew she took a risk and when you take a risk it can go either way. It looked amazing but just as easily someone could’ve said ‘that makes her hips look huge’ but she placed it in such a way that it almost looked like huge hip bones as opposed to huge hip fat. It was a risk and when you take a risk, it pays off. You can’t beat that. Korto’s coat was beautiful, so for me, it was very close between the two of them but because of the risk factor in Leanne’s we gave it to her.
It’s interesting that you said Korto is your favorite designer but you still voted for Leanne at the end, as the winner. That’s good judging.
I was basing it on what was in front of me. And you have to remember that when I was judging I hadn’t seen all her work. I only saw the work that was on the runway that day.
It was a toss-up. If the other judges had leaned one way or the other I would’ve been happy to give it to either one of them. Now as far as loser, it was very clear to me which of the two was lower.
We were surprised that Stella was on the bottom. You’d think that kind of challenge that...
Right. You just gave her leather. Use the leather. It didn’t have that rock-and-roll thing going on, she tried to do something more elegant she shouldn’t have but I hope that she sticks out and makes it farther.
Based on what was on that runway, there was no doubt that Keith's was the clear loser. Now that I’ve seen the season, I’m at peace with my vote. I remember Keith kept claiming ‘but I’m cutting edge’. He did something that looked very Mallware, looked very everyday Mall. There was no clear idea. I’ll try this here, I’ll try that there. There was no overall concept or idea.
Blayne had an idea, he just executed it strangely. As a matter of fact, he made this move and he did it in a weak way that you couldn’t tell if it was a mistake or if it was a deliberate move.
What was the deal with that "Excuse me?" you threw at Keith?
Editing. At some point I said "Excuse me" because he mumbled so much I couldn't hear what he was saying but they edited it to look like I was arguing with him.
So, how did it feel to be back at Parsons?
Everyone was nice. It wasn’t scary. I didn’t have some sort of post-traumatic stress syndrome or anything like that. Michael Kors is always very chatty, very nice to me and he always compliments me. He said “I talked about you the other day. I said you were my favorite.” And Tim Gunn is always nice. Tim Gunn complimented me on sort of the constructive qualities of my criticism and how I was able to use appropriate language to talk about the designs.
Many of our readers thought they picked you to be the judge because of the recycling challenge and although you haven’t won that challenge, everybody remembers your dress.
I was called as the judge at eleven asking me if I could be there at twelve because Nina wasn’t feeling well. It wasn’t like "Oh, Laura, she’s so fabulous; we have to have her back." The truth is that I live ten blocks from Parsons and I could be there on short notice. And Fern stepped in for Nina the next day.
What was Rachel Zoe like?
She had a person doing her hair the whole time. I think her critique was OK. She knows about clothes.
She doesn’t know how to dress people.
She does if they’re going to a 70s party.
All her clients dress exactly like her.
That would be like if I tried to be a stylist. I would dress everybody in a black dress. This is why I would never be a stylist. I would have all these mini Lauras.
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