Thursday, January 24, 2013


On the eve of Season 11 of Lifetime's Project Runway premiere I had the exciting privilege of speaking with contestant Amanda Valentine, who also happens to be my sister-in-law. And who happens to be awesome! And also happens to be very forthcoming, as this interview reveals.

Amanda was under a strict gag order from Lifetime not reveal any spoilers or plot points from the upcoming season, but it's pretty clear that I got right through that fashion firewall with my probing questions! I told Amanda that if she was uncomfortable with any of my questions, or if they were too revealing, she could use our interview safe word: "auf wiedersehen." Are you surprised to hear she never used it? Yes? Well, that's just how good I am. I am the Martin Bashir of Lifetime programming (Look out, Dance Moms!)

Anyway, in this hard hitting interview Amanda gives us the secrets of layering, alerts us to how many hot chicks are on the show, and reveals a surprising marriage!

Topher: Who is nicer: Tim Gunn or that grouchy lady from Marie Claire magazine?

Amanda: Um, Tim Gunn. But here's the thing. Surprise! I love Nina. She's so much nicer than she comes across on the show. I fell in love with her very quickly. (Note: Amanda is married to a man and so she doesn't really mean she "fell in love." It's just an expression in the fashion biz.)

Topher: So, what are some fashion trends for 40 year old men?

Amanda: Let me think about this. Seersucker everything! That's not true. I'm lying to you. I'm trying to make you look foolish. You know what I love? I long pause) I love layering. Layer hoodies under blazers! (She gave me a litany of things you could layer, but I can't type that fast.) Don't be afraid to layer! It looks smart.

Topher: Do you hate it when people on awards shows talk about "Old Hollywood Glamour?"
Amanda: Well, now that you mention it. It's not really Old Hollywood Glamour because they still do it. I mean, when a celebrity doesn't have a visual statement to make it's just easy to fall back on slicked back hair, red lips, and a slinky gown.
 (At this point in the interview we have to take a short break because Amanda claims that a "cat is molesting" her.)
Topher: Glad that's over. Next question. Did you watch Project Runway All-stars?

Amanda: You know? I didn't.

Topher: Maybe it's pointless to ask this. But do you think it's in Georgina Chapman's contract that she's introduced to the designers every week as "the beautiful Georgina Chapman?"

Amanda: Completely. Let it be known that her husband owns Lifetime television.

Topher: Ababababa-what?

Amanda: Harvey Weinstein!

Topher: vomit vomit vomit terror face vomit

Amanda: That's for real!
Topher: Ok. Moving on. Who do you hate on the show? Who should we love and hate?
Amanda: You will love Joe. You're going to hate Richard. I'm gonna say it.
Topher: Let's get personal. Do you remember how we met?

(Amanda clearly doesn't remember. She throws a few half hearted memories out, but I see right through it. I know a hawk from a handsaw! I'm no dummy. I remind her that we met when she was fourteen and I was visiting Lincoln, Nebraska. She had made me a poster.) 

Amanda: Did I draw a picture of Nebraska?
Topher: Yes! It said "Welcome to the Heartland."
Amanda: I'm sure I did. That's very me.
Topher: So we can prepare for it, what is the ugliest thing you will be making on the show?

Amanda: OK, let  me think. The ugliest thing I make is a frilly patterned dress. That's all I can say because I can't describe the challenge. It's so ugly.
Topher: How do you propose getting more straight men to watch Project Runway?

Amanda: There's some serious babes on this season. There's Brooklyn hipster babes, Brazilian sultry babes, Portland edgy babes....and there's me! And Heidi Klum wears very tight and sheer clothes.
Topher: Hm. Super sexist.
Amanda: Yep!
Topher: Can you wear white after Labor Day if it’s just underpants?

Amanda: No. You can’t wear underpants after Labor Day.

Topher: Whenever someone Skypes with a friend from home on Project Runway, it’s a huge clue that that person is going home that week. We all know it. Do the producers think we’re stupid?

Amanda: Well, see, that's hard for us to notice because they're filming everything. They're filming us from 6:30 in the morning to midnight. It's all how it's edited. Even now we don't know how it's going to be edited.
Topher: That's scary. How do you deal with the stress of that?
Amanda: I'm not dealing with it. Mostly I don't sleep. It's actually a little nerve-wracking. I'm trying to quickly develop a very thick skin. I've already cried three times about what strangers said about me on the internet. I will never trash talk the Kardashians again because I know how they feel.
(At this point we have to take another break because my kids are fighting super loud about "who took all the hot water.")
Topher: Sorry. Domestic drama. Do you ever run around Mood Fabrics all out of breath and exasperated because you can’t find the zippers and you’re running out of time? And maybe you don’t have enough money for all the yards of fabric you need? What does that feel like?
Amanda: One time I was at the register and time was up and I ran out of money. I had to borrow a bunch from other designers.

Topher: So that's a real thing?

Amanda: Yes! Tim said on Season Ten that nobody shared with each other. None of the designers shared. He loved us much more. We're all nice and buddies still, even thought there's going to be lots of trash talking on the show, I'm sure. (Amanda goes on to talk about how she's part of a clique of hot, mean girls. That story is way better in person. I'm not that great of a interviewer, you guys. All this typing and listening! No thanks.)

Topher: On a scale from 1-10, how interested would you be in seeing me do a lip-sync of Frank Ocean's "Thinkin' Bout You?"
Amanda: You know what? 8.5.

Topher: Thanks, Pandy! I'm already way ahead of you. So, any last words for our readers?

Amanda: I do it for you guys. I really do. I'm thinkin' bout you.

(at the conclusion of the interview, let the record show that my fourteen year old son Miles asked me "what's the name of your blog again?")

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