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Exclusive: 'Project Runway All Stars' winner Seth Aaron Henderson talks (Part 2)


By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 01/13/2014 

Seth Aaron Henderson was crowned the winner of Project Runway All Stars' third season during the finale broadcast of the Lifetime fashion design competition.

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Seth Aaron from Vancouver, WA, who previously won Project Runway's seventh season, was chosen as the winner of the competition by judges Georgina Chapman and Isaac Mizrahi as well as guest judges Zac Posen and Gayle King. He is the first Project Runway winner to ever win the show's All Stars spinoff.

Seth Aaron won with his mini collection entitled "Ole," which he unveiled on the runway inside The United Nations headquarters in New York. The designer's seven-piece collection, which he created and executed in only four days, was inspired by his Spanish heritage. Seth Aaron defeated runner-up Korto Momolu -- who also came in second place during Project Runway's fifth season -- and third-place finisher Elena Slivnyak -- who had finished Project Runway's tenth season in sixth place.

In an exclusive interview with Reality TV World on Friday, Seth Aaron talked about his Project Runway All Stars experience and victory. Below is the concluding portion of his interview. Click here to read the first half.

Reality TV World: The finale showed you saying you thought Elena was over her head because even she didn't even believe herself that she'd make it to the finale. And she clearly got stressed out and overwhelmed easily towards the end. Do you think Elena deserved to be in the finale, or would you kind of attribute her Final 3 position to luck or great timing in the competition or something?

Seth Aaron Henderson: Oh I really respect her work. I've done the show with her prior to that, and her portfolio is incredible, you know? Her work is phenomenal. So yeah, I felt she deserved to be there. On that side of it, it's like any of us who made it to the end deserved to be there. We're all good at what we do.

So when I said that she was over her head, I meant she was, (laughs) you know, she hadn't been there. She came to All Stars thinking, "God..." -- unconfident in her work. And it got better and better as the season went on. As the filming went on, she got more confident, more confident. But she still was like, "Sh-t man, I can't believe I'm here!" You know what I mean? (Laughs)

Because I mean, during her season, she didn't win a single challenge. She didn't -- she made it to sixth place. So, you know, it was just about, I guess, maturity and belief in yourself and your designs.

Reality TV World: You just mentioned Elena hadn't won a challenge during her season, but you were in a similar position this time around in that you didn't win one until the episode right before the All Stars finale. Could you talk about that a little bit? Did it take awhile for you to hit your stride or do you think you simply improved each week?

Seth Aaron Henderson: No, I mean, I wasn't worried about -- there's only one challenge that matters and that's the last one. That's the bottom line, and going there, I said, "I'm going to go there, I'm going to come out of the gates."

And Tim Gunn taught me, "Slow and steady wins the race." You come out and you just put everything you do in front of them every single challenge, what do you got to show them at the end? You're tired, you're worn out, you're out of ideas. You know what I mean?

So my strategy was to come -- Episode 1, show them what I am, go through the challenges, and make this collection at the end. So they asked me that in the interview room.

They were like, "Are you worried you haven't won anything?"

"No. (Laughs) I don't really care if I win the museum challenge as long as I make it to the next one."

Reality TV World: So it sounds like you never felt robbed by not winning a challenge?

Seth Aaron Henderson: Well, Episode 1, I did. (Laughs) Fair enough, fair enough. I should've won that. But I also look at it as, "Debbie Harry -- Elena's jacket was great, but Debbie Harry probably could rock that easier than mine."

Reality TV World: The judges were shown saying sometimes your work can look a little "cartooney," and Elena cracked a joke to cameras that your mini collection looked like a Spanish Halloween. How do you respond to that criticism, and is that something you've become aware of when designing now -- trying to avoid going in the cartoon direction?

Seth Aaron Henderson: No, I know exactly where I'm going when I do that. I do that intentionally. (Laughs) Yeah, that's just what I like to do. I pushed the envelope to that area -- cartooney, unwearable -- I do that intentionally.

I know exactly where that line is. Just for like the final collection, I knew exactly (laughs) what I was doing and how I was doing it right down to the glasses and chains. They didn't need to be there, but you know what? That pushed it just over the edge.

And you know, Isaac was like, "Ahh, the styling is a disaster!" And then Gayle King and Zac Posen disagreed with him, and she's all like, "I actually love it!" Half of them loved the styling and half of them didn't. That's just styling! But I pushed it there because that's me, you know?

Reality TV World: Going back to Isaac making that "styling disaster" comment, how important do you think styling actually is in the Project Runway franchise? I know you just clarified how the judges were split down the middle over whether they liked the styling of your collection, but obviously Isaac said he pretty much hated it and you still won the season. So how important could it be?

Seth Aaron Henderson: Well, because that's his personal opinion, "I don't like the styling." Gayle loved the styling. It's just a different point of view. But it still was my point of view and that's why I won. It was clear it was mine. It might not be everybody's favorite, but they couldn't deny that it was the winner, you know?

Reality TV World: In their description of you as a designer, Lifetime said your pieces are inspired by New Wave, Punk and '80s Goth music. Could you sum up for me how that came about? Where did that inspiration come from?

Seth Aaron Henderson: That's how I design. I don't design off objects. I design off of memories and emotion. So when I'm in my studio, I have music playing, and the song I'm listening to -- or the vibe I'm listening to -- I'm thinking about, "Who is that man or woman singing about? What is that person wearing? Who are they? Where are they going? What do they look like? What kind of dog do they have?" That inspires my design.

I don't look at a bowl of fruit and say, "Oh, I'm going to make a bowl of fruit," you know what I mean? That doesn't inspire me at all. That's a bowl of fruit! What inspires me is the emotion in your head going. So all of my designs I do off of music, because then I can create my own world.

That's why some of the things -- some of the challenges, they're all like, "This is your inspiration..."

"Okay, well, that's not really inspiring me." (Laughs)

It's an emotion for me.

Reality TV World: How helpful was Zanna Roberts Rassi throughout the season and could you compare her on All Stars to previously being mentored by Tim Gunn on the regular Project Runway? How were they different in that role?

Seth Aaron Henderson: Well I've known Zanna for three years. I actually worked with her on casting, you know, I do the casting for the current season. So I know her; I work with her. She knows my work and I thought she was like, "Hey, this is new for me. I'm going to do my best."

And so, she knows what she's doing, but she has to get comfortable with that role. So her and I kind of went back and forth, because we know each other, you know? It was like, she'd say this, and then I'd be like, "You're crazy!" But I listened and I did respect her opinion, but it is an opinion. Everybody has one. Take the best of that opinion and use it to your advantage.

Reality TV World: In the show before the finale, Korto and Christopher Palu were given an extra challenge before the elimination in which they each had one hour to put a look together using three previous designs they had already created -- a "remix look..."

Seth Aaron Henderson: Out of those two, I liked Christopher's the best. But on that note, Korto's was the most transformed. So it was 50/50 for me when I saw the outfits. I was like, I thought Chris' was really well done and polished, but he took two halves and put them together. Whereas Korto, she completely transformed it, so that was more creative.

Reality TV World: Did you think that was a fair way to eliminate one of them from the competition? It became very obvious to viewers that one hour to create a new look is nearly impossible for designers.

Seth Aaron Henderson: Well the fact that Korto did what she did in an hour, that was impressive! I mean, she really transformed it into a whole new outfit, and that's why she won.

But I mean, Christopher's, I didn't think Christopher's was bad. I really liked the look, but you know, I could say, "Okay, it's this outfit and this outfit that was put together," whereas [Korto's], I was like, "Where does that come from?" (Laughs) It was totally different.

Reality TV World: How do you think you would have done if you had to take part in that quick pop challenge? Any idea what you might have created?

Seth Aaron Henderson: Ugh, (laughs) yeah, I don't know! I hadn't thought about that actually. Yeah, I don't know what I would have done, honestly, because they got to pick two outfits. I don't know which ones I would've picked or what I would've done. I would've picked the ones with the most fabric because then you have more options.

Reality TV World: Which part of the prize package were you most excited about winning? It's funny because when I interviewed Dom Streater, the winner of Project Runway's twelfth season, she said the vacation because she wanted to travel and couldn't wait to relax.

Seth Aaron Henderson: Oh yeah, no, I never relax. So, for me, it was the title. That was my No. 1 thing. I went there to win twice and be the first one to do it. Secondly, the partnership with QVC. For me, that was why I went there, and to go to the next level, the next market. That, for me, was a huge deal... The collection is already done and on their shelves.

Above is the concluding portion of Seth Aaron's exclusive interview with Reality TV World. Click here to read the first half.



(Photo credit Lifetime)


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