It's true. In April of 2008, Tim Gunn told me that I am a fabulous costume designer. Then he rejected me from Season five of Project Runway. It was still a really spectacular day. People are always impressed when I tell them that I auditioned for the show, regardless of the fact that I didn't make it on. I realized that a few weeks back I promised to tell you all the story of how I auditioned, so I'm finally making good on that promise. I hope it's not a let down, especially since I just shared the best part! Anyway, here's the play-by-play, which I hope you find entertaining, if you not useful for those of you aspiring fashion designers who may decide to audition sometime yourselves.
Anyway, it was a cold April day- I remember wearing one of my favorite fall outfits- a cute, cowl neck jersey print dress with black tights and my old stand-bys, the black leather knee-high boots. I remember that I specifically decided not to wear a dress I'd made for lots of reasons. The most deciding of which was the three hour drive to New York that I needed to make and let's be honest, I wanted to be comfortable. The audition was at the W Hotel in Times Square. I came prepared- I had the 25-plus page application I'd downloaded, printed out and painstakingly filled out. It is a loooooong application that I doubt anyone ever bothered to read. Along with my application, I had three samples of my work as well as my portfolio.
The line outside the W wasn't too long, which I found a little worrisome because I'll be honest, if I'm going into any kind of competition, I want to be intimidated. I want to feel like I'm up against the best. I'm not sure if it was because it was the 2nd day of auditions and most people came the 1st day, but seeing only 25 people outside bothered me. Of course I found out later there were a lot more queued up inside. The others in line with me were very friendly, we all chatted, mostly to size each other up. A handful of production assistants, very stylish production assistants, I might add, walked up and down our line, asking to see our samples and portfolios and quizzing us on our experience and background. The tended to swoop in unexpectedly rather than go systematically down the line. Anyway, as I neared the front of the line, I was taken out and told to stand with a sign that had a number on it. They snapped a polaroid, stapled it to my application and told me to go back and stand in line.
A little while later, I was interviewed by a woman who writes for Blogging Project Runway. I could tell right away she wasn't impressed, so I didn't get my hopes up about being featured on the blog that day. Shortly after that, one of the stylish PA's asked to see the samples of the woman in line in front of me. She unfortunately did not have any. No pictures of her work, either- only sketches. Well, apparently that wasn't enough. The PA sent her packing. Told her to come back with samples or at least photographs. I remember thinking, "Ouch! Denied!" It made me a tad nervous, but I got over it quickly.
Finally, after what seemed like hours, my group was sent inside. We took the elevator up to the designated floor and were told to hang our sample on the specified garment rack. I was also told to wait until my number was called. Once called, I was to go into the next room where I would be outfitted with a microphone. Then, and this is the second most memorable part, the PA told me that under no circumstances whatsoever was I to repeat anything that went on in the audition. If I was put through I was to tell NO ONE. Complete and utter confidentiality is what they require. She was so serious about it all and I get that. They want to be the ones to announce the new cast without the new cast blabbing all over town before the production company gets a chance, right? Also, under no circumstances was I to move from the "X" taped on the floor. I was to stand there and only there unless explicitly instructed to do otherwise by one of the panel judges.
OH! I almost forgot to mention this! Do you guys remember Stella? The one that always sewed with "leatha?" She was totally in line in front of me- about 3 people ahead. I remember thinking to myself, "She looks made for TV." I was never that impressed with her work on the show, but I'm sure she has her niche of clients who love what she does.
Anyway, moving on. When my number was called, everything went as the PA described. I was outfitted with a microphone, they tested it to make sure it was working and before I knew it, I was standing in a room with a panel of four judges plus a small audience that I can only assume consisted of production staff. I have no idea who else was on the panel- all I saw was TIM GUNN!!! I just about died. I remember seeing a woman from Elle magazine, but I don't remember her name. The other two? I can't even picture their faces. I remember being careful to stand on the "X" as instructed by the oh-so-serious PA. Before I knew it, Tim Gunn was asking to see my portfolio. As he flipped through it, I told a super lame story about how I'd had a nightmare about the audition. I wanted to break the ice and be memorable, but I'm sure I was just another face in the crowd. As I finished my story, Tim asked me what I did and why I was there. I said, "I'm currently a costume designer." And he said, "And I can see from your portfolio that you're a fabulous one." He asked about my experience in fashion outside of costume design, of which I have none. I was honest. He and the lady from Elle both agreed that I didn't have the fashion background necessary for the show and told me they wouldn't put me through as a result. THEN... and here's another shining moment, Tim Gunn said, "Renee, if you were to put together a cohesive collection that is current, 2009 and fashion forward, I'd be very interested in seeing it." I almost died! How cool is that? I tend to think that Tim Gunn is not someone who says things lightly. I'm sure if he was not interested in seeing my potential, he never would have made that remark. He would have just thanked me for coming and sent me on my way. Right?
That was it. After being rejected, I left the W, met up with some friends and had a fabulous day in the city. Who could ask for anything more? Well, I guess I could have asked to actually make it onto the show, right? To be honest, after watching Season five, I was tempted to send Tim a "Thank You" note, thanking him for NOT casting me with all those talentless crazies. If I am ever going to be on PR, I want it to be on a great season, not one with the likes of Kenley and Blaine.
What about all of you? Have any of you ever auditioned for Project Runway? Or any reality TV show? I'd love to hear about it!
Hmmm... I wonder if publishing this blog post is a violation of the confidentiality agreement I signed when I auditioned? It's two seasons later, so I'm thinking... no.