Seth Aaron won with his mini collection entitled "Ole," which was a seven-piece collection he created and executed in only four days 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 first half of his interview. Check back with Reality TV World soon for the concluding portion.
Reality TV World: After all three of you presented your mini collections and heard feedback from the judges, what were you expecting to happen? Did you have a gut feeling you were going to win or were you thinking otherwise?
Seth Aaron Henderson: 100%. (Laughs) Not that the other two -- I mean, they were fantastic. Korto's collection was beautiful. They represented them well, but you know, my collection was in my head before I even left to go film the show. I said, "When I make it to the end, this is what I'm going to do. Regardless of what the challenge is, this is it."
And it happened to be our heritage -- the color pallette -- everything is my roots, and so it's just, that's what it was. I mean, the collection was designed IN the work room, you know, it just came from the gut. I didn't do sketches. I didn't do patterns. I just did it! That final collection, like I said, it was in my head before I ever left for New York.
Reality TV World: You were shown saying you thought Korto's collection was "beautiful, but not jaw-dropping." After observing her collection on the runway and listening to the judges, is that why you think she landed in the runner-up spot?
Seth Aaron Henderson: I shouldn't have said it wasn't jaw-dropping because, I mean, but we've seen it. We've seen it from her. I mean, we've seen -- with fashion, we're not inventing the wheel here. I'm sure I could pick every piece out of mine, and if I look back in the history books, I'm going to find someone who did it.
But [my collection] was different for me. It was very clean; It was very modern. Whereas Korto's was beautiful, but I've seen that work from her. And I mean, that was the goal of going to the show.
I said, "I'm going to come out of the gates showing who I am. Everybody already knows who I am, so I'm going to come out, I'm going to go through the season, and at the end, I'm going to give them something they haven't seen."
It has to make a statement. It has to -- it's a show! You can't make stuff where they can look back and say, "Oh, well we saw him do this last year," or, "We saw him do this three episodes ago." You can't do that. You have to give them something fresh and new that they can't deny.
And [third-season Project Runway winner Jeffrey Sebelia] helped me. He was like, "Honestly, I'm not just saying this because I'm helping you," but as he's looking around, he was like, "Dude, this is going to win." He was all like, "They can't deny this."
Reality TV World: You said in your final words that winning Project Runway All Stars will enable you to finally move to Los Angeles and start your business there. From what I understand, the finale already filmed last summer, so have you had a chance to move yet or is that the plan?
Seth Aaron Henderson: Yeah, we can't do anything crazy while it's airing because that gives away clues, right? We're moving in July. My design studio will be set up in downtown LA. My son graduates high school this year, so he's going to college in LA. First time around, I said, "Yeah, I want to move to LA." But [my son] was in school and it's just not the easiest thing to do. So this time, yeah, we are doing it! (Laughs)
Reality TV World: Before you competed on the All Stars show, how was life in the Northwest after winning the seventh season of Project Runway? Would you say you had found success as a designer?
Seth Aaron Henderson: Oh yeah. I did just fine. Actually, I think it was beneficial because suddenly, you're a big fish in a little pond (laughs) compared to like if I was in Manhattan. I mean, God, there's a billion great designers there. So yeah, it worked out in my favor, and I've been designing. That's what I do.
Now, All Stars is about the business. First time around, it's about showing people who you are because no one knew who you were. Now everybody knows that. All Stars isn't about coming back and saying, "Hey this is me." They already know that. All Stars is about coming back and saying, "How do I go to the next level?" And that's the retail end of it; That's the business end of it.
And I was at a point where, yeah, I do very well as a black-label designer. And my black label, I do custom orders for high-end clients, I do shows. But how do I reach everybody in the mass market?
You do that with QVC, and that launches today. It's on their site, my collection. And Monday at 7PM on the style show, I will be on live at QVC. So, "How do I make clothes affordable and for everybody" was how I viewed it, and that's the next level -- the mass market.
Reality TV World: It's funny because none of you were happy about the fact you had to make a seventh look out of scarves for the final runway show with only two days left, but it turned out the judges actually loved your dress -- like it was a favorite piece of anyone's collections. Did you initially worry that your dress wouldn't be well-received, and therefore, did it surprise you when you got raving reviews for it?
Seth Aaron Henderson: No, the dress was great! I wasn't worried about it at all. It's just, again, I already had my collection in my head, so now they throw in this print. My collection was about color blocking the collection -- not the pieces. So I did monochromatic in all the colors of Spain. So as soon as I saw this print, I'm like, "Crap!" And then I did the dress and I'm like, "Now it's a sore thumb."
So I dropped a look from my initial collection. I hadn't made it yet, thank God! I dropped it and I added that print to a top to that leather skirt so it wasn't the only printed piece in the collection.
Reality TV World: What type of ensemble did you drop?
Seth Aaron Henderson: Well, the leather skirt initially went with the lace suit. It was the bottom half to that top, so I moved that leather skirt over, created a top for it, made pants in 22 minutes for that suit, you know, it was another solid piece. I think I had -- I think it was white. It was white, actually. So I didn't make that piece. I just moved the skirt over, made a top, made bottoms for that, and it worked out.
Isaac commented on, "Yeah, you were smart to add that print in another spot in your collection otherwise there's just this weird-printed dress with a monochromatic collection." You know? Gayle King, actually, that was her favorite piece. She said, "Ugh, will you make that for me?! I want to wear that."
Reality TV World: It seemed like the only look in your mini collection that sparked questions or confusion was, I think they called it the fishnet ensemble. Looking back, do you stand by that design or would you have changed it knowing what you know now?
Seth Aaron Henderson: Oh yeah! That suit, actually, that leather skirt with the printed top, that was the skirt that went with that [lace] suit with the top. And you know, it was funny. On the runway, Zac said, "Boy, the suit, the pants are a little racy." He goes, "It would be great if you had that leather skirt with it."
And I go, "That was with it but we had to add the seventh look, so I moved the skirt, added a top." And he goes, "Oh, well that makes sense!" And I said, "I wanted to represent modern Spanish culture." In Spain, lace is huge, and so that was my interpretation of a modern lace. It was a laser-cut fabric to give the illusion of lace, but it really wasn't lace. It was a modern take on it.
Reality TV World: When you were announced the winner, the fan poll of whether or not they believe the judges made the right decision about your victory popped up on the screen. It appeared that almost 80% of people who voted thought the judges got it wrong. Did that surprise you, what are your thoughts about that, and why do you think there's such a difference of opinion between the public and the judges?
Seth Aaron Henderson: Well I mean, you know, I disagree with the judges a lot. I watch every episode. That's an opinion. Going up to the finals though, on different sites and Twitter and all that, I mean, the majority of them said I would win. So I mean, I don't know! It just goes back and forth, back and forth. I mean, everybody's got their favorites during [the show] and I don't know.
Reality TV World: From your standpoint, who were you most worried about all season long? Who did you see as being your toughest competition? It seemed like a couple contestants thought sixth-season Project Runway winner Irina Shabayeva would be the person to beat earlier on in the season?
Seth Aaron Henderson: Honestly, when I showed up and saw the cast, every single one of them. There wasn't any like, "Oh, I'm not worried about them." In the regular season, that's what you look at. After the first episode of my Season 7, three quarters of the cast, I was like, "Oh, I'm not even worried about them." There were a couple.
And actually, the couple that I was worried about were [Emilio Sosa], [Mila Hermanovski] and [Jay Nicolas Sario]. (Laughs) And they ended up in the end, right!? I was like, "That's my competition."
Showing up to All Stars, I mean, I know all their work and what they're capable of. I mean, there wasn't one person that I said I'm not going to worry about. I mean, you know, we show up as designers -- established designers -- with mutual respect, and you know, no one's an underdog here.
Above is the first half of Seth Aaron's exclusive interview with Reality TV World. Check back with us soon for the concluding portion.