January 31, 2012

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A HAUTE MINUTE with Project Runway All Stars' April Johnston

Another week has passed and thus another Project Runway All Star has been voted off the island. This week we saw the likes of Miranda Kerr and Diane von Furstenberg -- love love love love love her -- join the judging panel and present the contestants with this week's challenge: design a dress inspired by gelato! Yuuuuum! As expected, boom! There's an All Stars twist: the designers have to actually make a garment out of gelato.

Just kidding, of course they didn't. The twist? The designers had to create their Italian ice-cream inspired look in a mere 6 hours, the shortest challenge time in Project Runway history. Have your jaws dropped? Because the contestant's sure did.

As expected from the All Stars, many of the looks were strong; my favourites were by Anthony, Michael (the winner of the challenge), and Mondo. The bottom two came down to Kara's chocolate-and-cayenne pepper dress and April's blueberry creation. Sadly, a teary-eyed April Johnston was given the boot. Here's what she had to say about her experience on Project Runway All Stars, in a haute minute.

What is it about Project Runway that made you decide to return?

April: I think it was the amazing opportunity at hand, it was really something I couldn’t say no to. Just that second chance to go back and try to make it happen, to try to win. And that grand prize was so... seductive [laughs]. I really wanted it.

How has your personal design aesthetic changed since the first time you were on the show?

This time around doing All Stars, I wanted to dive into colour a bit more and show people that I could work with colour, but with the techniques that I do and with the time that goes into something that I make, it wasn’t realistic with All Stars. I just didn’t have the time to do it and it just overwhelmed me. So, it was a little bit different, it was faster, and I didn’t alter my aesthetic but I tried to show people that I could do some other things.

It seems like the timing gets more and more dramatic on every challenge. Do you think you had enough time to create something that really fit your aesthetic?

No, I don’t. I feel like I’m a great designer, but I’m just not a Project Runway designer, you know what I mean? I can not whip things up in 6 hours. I don’t have enough time to do what I do best, which is really fitted, tailored, mod, body-con stuff that takes a lot of time to piece together. There’s a lot of pieces in what I do. Project Runway is just not realistic with time constraints for what I do. It’s a good opportunity to get the gist of what I do out there, so hopefully people follow me after the show to see what my full potential is.

On that same note, do you think the show is realistic in terms of creating garments that are wearable and sell-able pieces?

It really comes down to what the designers are creating. Certain people were hot-gluing through the season and certainly no one is going to buy something that’s been hot-glued together. The thing with me was I never would use a glue gun unless it was on an unconventional challenge where you couldn’t sew certain things like metal and plastic, and I didn’t want to break any machines [laughs]. I never used a glue gun, so when I found out last night that Austin was gluing his dress together and stuff, it really made me feel bad because I actually sewed everything. Certain people will take shortcuts and other people choose not to, and that’s just the way the cookie crumbles, I guess.

April in the workroom.

Given the time constraint of this challenge, do you feel like construction should’ve played less of a role in the judges’ decision?

Yeah, I agree with [what you said about] the construction, it’s hard to put much emphasis on that because some people went through making something that literally had one seam up the front and one seam down the back. Then there’s people like me that did a corseted creation with layers. I mean, it’s really kind of like, “is it my fault for taking on something that complicated?” or is that person who did something with 2 seams and they got through... it’s just crazy.

Do you think that Kara should’ve gone home instead of you?

I don’t know what the judges’ reasoning was with Kara staying and with me going home, but it is what it is. I feel like we were equally in trouble, me and Kara, and they made their decision and it doesn’t really matter whether she deserved to go home over me, or if I deserved to go home. In my eyes, all I knew is that I was definitely going home. I knew it, I could just feel it, and that was their decision.

How much does the competition against the other contestants play in to Project Runway?

I’m a competitive person but I would never jeopardize my relationships with the other contestants and put them in a bad position, or be unsportsmanlike. I’m just not that type of person. I was there to do what I did and I wanted to play by the rules and play fair and do the best that I could. That’s all I could do and that’s all I did.

Did you like any of the designs on the runway? Aside from your own, was there anyone that stood out to you?

I thought Mondo’s was cool, and I also liked Mila’s. I think they both deserved to be in the top. I thought Anthony did a good job as well so I was surprised that he was in the bottom three.

What can we expect to see next from you?

I have a line called Mangled Courtesan and I do one of a kind work for clients, and I also have some other television appearances coming up. Hopefully things continue to expand and I gain some more clients.

April's blueberry gelato inspired dress: her last on Project Runway.

Project Runway All-Stars airs in Canada on Mondays at 10 pm ET/PT on Slice, and it airs on Thursday nights on Lifetime in the US. I'll be spending a haute minute with every contestant as they leave the show, so be sure to check in here every Tuesday! And, come back often, pretty please.

photos: courtesy of SliceTM



  1. Even though April got booted, she's still so young in her early 20s! And she's accomplished so much at a young age. I'm sure she'll grow and be an even better designer.
    My favorite designer is Mondo. I love his ideas, they're always so different and unexpected but appropriate and beautiful at the same time. I think he should have won rather than Gretchen!


  2. Great interview, I love Project Runway! Your blog is lovely, if you want to take a look at mine it’s at http://grassettagillie.blogspot.com, if you’d like we should follow each other! :)

    xo Gillie

  3. Hi there,
    We love the blog posts you write about fashion. We’d be pleased to have you join our blogger outreach program on these and related topics. If you’d be interested, please contact Robyn Landau, robyn.landau@citizenrelations.com

    Best regards,
    Robyn on behalf of P&G