Labels: Project Runway, Project Runway All-Stars, Project Runway T Lo Interviews, T Lo Interviews, Uli Herzner
So flabbergasted were we at Uli's fate in the All-Star challenge that we did what we do best: used our connections to score an interview. See, we haven't actually spoken to Uli face to face since the time we shared a limo with her, Laura and Peter (and the hot Russian driver we still haven't forgotten) on the way to the opening of Malan's store. So we called up Laura the day after the All-Star challenge aired and we were all, "Get us Uli, bitch!" And she was all, "Yow! You homos are scary! Let me give her a call. She's on a shoot but I'll have her call you tonight! Just please, don't hurt my children!" And thus it came to pass.
Hi Uli, it's so nice to talk to you again, it’s been ages. What have you been doing since Season 3?
First of all, I was hiding for two years, I couldn’t take all the attention, I was pretty shy back then, and then a year ago I started coming out of my hole doing some appearances. I started doing a TV show called It’s Very Uli and it’s been running on Plum TV. Plus, if I wasn’t on a photo shoot working for other people as a stylist, I was making clothes basically every day.
So you've been working as a stylist?
Yes, that’s part of my income. I’ve been doing this for over ten years, you know, I like it a lot. I have no husband, no boyfriend, no nothing and my family is all in Germany. So that’s basically my family, the photographers, the models, it’s always the same group of people you work with shooting at different locations. So that’s it, I do styling and the rest of the time I design and I’m pretty happy with it.
You always told us you love your life in Miami.
I do love my life in Miami but people don’t take you very seriously if you are a designer out of Miami and I have a hard time to get things going in Miami. Things are much slower, you have to kick your ass every morning to get out of bed and do things.
Most people I know are very rich and they don’t have to work or they work at night at nightclubs and stuff. When you’re in New York you have such a different energy and I kind of miss that a little. I’m still thinking of moving to New York. I actually got a place there but it was during winter and I never really made it up there.
You’ve been selling your dresses in a couple of stores, right [Check "where to buy" on her site]?
Yes, mostly in Miami, Los Angeles and San Diego and also Dubai. Mostly places with high-end clients in a warm climate. You know, I make a lot of party, summer dresses, a lot of resort wear, that’s what I’ve been doing for the last three years.
How did you get to sell your clothes in Dubai?
My best friend moved to Dubai and I went there to visit her and I checked a couple of stores, including a store called Etoile, and that's where I sell my clothes. I thought since it is always hot in Dubai my clothes would fit perfectly in and there’s a lot of people with money to spend. See, when you do a small collection, you have to make it expensive, you need money to make an inexpensive collection and I don’t have money to go to China and have it produced. I don’t have the back-up you need for that.
You need money to make money.
Exactly, and people sometimes complain that things are expensive, but I make my clothes in Miami and in New York and I pay the people very well, I don’t buy fabrics in bulk from China, I always use great-quality fabrics usually from Europe. It usually costs me $200 just to make the piece, I sell it for $400 and the stores, of course, sell it from $900-1,200. It’s not like I’m getting rich selling these dresses. It ends up being expensive at the store, but that’s the way it is right now, I can’t help it.
Moving to the All-stars Challenge, were you excited when they contacted you and invited you to be part of the challenge?
I was very excited, but I almost couldn’t do it because of a styling job I had already scheduled and that’s pretty much what has happened in the last three years. The reason why you haven’t seen my face anywhere is because I’ve been busy working as a stylist, I could never attend anything or Fashion Week or anything. So, I was really happy that I could do this, show my face again.
How was shooting the All-Star Challenge? Was it fun?
The whole thing was so much fun and it comes across as if we don’t like each other, which is total BS, we all had so much fun with each other. There was really no bullying going on, they just made it look like there was.
They put comments in certain places where nobody had made that comment. We knew when the challenge was set that no one was going to get eliminated. OK, yes, one person was going to win, but we all got to show our pieces. That stress level wasn’t there, there was really no fighting. I mean, I was laughing my ass off the whole day with Santino. And I love Sweet P, there was really nothing going on between us, they just tried to instigate things. It looked like we didn’t have fun, but we had a blast.
We noticed that you wearing beautiful necklaces throughout the challenge and one of them looked like a piece from Korto's collection.
Yes, the purple one was Korto's, the other ones were mine. I'm also designing jewelry like the ones you saw me wearing on the show.
Were you surprised when they added the restaurant twist?
I was shocked because sometimes I tend to be an airhead. I kind of forgot they do things like that, but yeah, I was shocked. I was happily shocked because I wasn’t quite done with my look and I was hoping for something unconventional. In the back of my head I was always thinking "OK, what are they going to come up with this time?" There’s always the car challenge, the grocery store…you know, make clothes out of something you wouldn’t normally do.
Your collection was gorgeous. It was nice to see a different side of Uli with no use of prints. What made you decide to drop prints altogether?
When I went back, I felt that if was going to have a chance of winning, I could not do something with prints again. Well, turned out I didn’t win anyway, they didn’t really say anything negative about my collection, as a matter of fact, they said nothing about what I actually made, they only talked about what I didn’t make, but I swear, I’m so sure that if I had made anything with prints I would have been ripped apart.
Three years later I have evolved, yes, I still use prints, but now I use a lot of solid fabrics for my designs, more sophisticated things, stuff that you can wear for a longer period of time, you get more use out of it.
Everything was really beautiful. We love all the details in every piece. We felt it showed growth from your part.
Thank you. You know, before, I have to admit I made the same freaking dress over and over again, you know, shorter, longer, but it was always the same dress in a different print and that made it look different and I was shocked that I made it until the end. The prints made all the impact. I made so many different things in the last three years and I wanted to show them all that; what I can make, what I’m actually into. Right now, I’m not even into prints that much. Right now, I’ve been making more sophisticated, detailed clothes.
First they tell you to get away from print and now they miss your prints.
When that came out of Heidi’s mouth I couldn’t not believe it, I said to myself, “Are you serious?” Actually you didn’t see it, but they all said the same thing, “Oh, we miss your prints, we love your prints,” “Where’s your Miami spirit?” I was like, “Are you guys kidding me? That’s what made me lose the prize the first time!"
They always mentioned my overuse of prints, and you know what, they were right. I watched the season again and they were right, I used too many prints, but that’s because at the time I was afraid to do something else. I also feel that I showed them at Bryant Park that I can do something else. Yes, most of my customers love my prints, but I do other things too. No, I was like on the floor when they basically told me I was at the bottom. I was devastated. I was like, ‘OK, maybe I lost all sense of fashion.” Yeah, I was floored. I didn’t want to stand there saying, “Oh, I’m so great.” But I really didn’t expect that. I thought that I’d be definitely at the top for sure.
Our favorite piece was the restaurant one. What did you use for that?
I used a fabric that was kind of like a net that was the curtain in a nude color and I used that as my base and then I cut hundreds of strips of stuff that I found, like the placemats, that silver fabric, double duct tape and I wove all these different thing through the net to create basically a fabric. It looks like one fabric, but that’s a combination of probably eight different things. At the bottom, I added a fringe that was hanging in the restaurant. Plus some of the fabric I had originally purchased at the store.
We thought for sure that you were going to be top four. We had no doubt. We could not believe when they sent you back in.
Thank you. I was really shocked. You know, first they make you and then they break you. I hope that doesn’t affect my sales [laughs]. A lot of people go by what the judges say. I don’t want to go out on the street and have someone stop me and say, “You should’ve used some print.” I don’t want to hear that [laughs].
So, what’s next for the German bombshell?
I’m going to continue doing my styling, I love it. Right now I’m on a beautiful lake in New Hampshire, with beautiful models. It’s something I do really well and really enjoy. When it comes to my designs, you know, I can’t really do it by myself. I gave up styling once to just focus on designing and it didn’t work.
I really need somebody to come and finance my collections because I’m a crappy business person, I have no business sense and until that happens I’m just going to keep it small and exclusive. I just got an offer to make Olympic ice-skating costumes, you know, stuff like that comes in every now and then and I do that and it’s exciting. I’m happy, I’m not rich, but I do what I love to do every day.
[Photos: Getty Images/myLifetime.com/Uli's Facebook Page]
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