Project Runway Roundup: Joe Auf’d, says took the challenge too literally, calls Kenley disrespectful

By Jen Smith

Joe Faris isn’t your typical Project Runway designer. He isn’t loud, obnoxious, or confrontational. He mostly gets along with everyone and has a modern design aesthetic. Perhaps being understated isn’t the best way to get airtime on a TV show that revolves around drama, but Joe preferred to stand out based on his designs rather than his actions. Joe was Auf’d last night for his “young businesswoman power suit,” and Fancast got the chance to chat with the up-and-coming designer about what he did wrong, who he thinks should win, and his future in fashion.

How did you feel watching the show last night?

I was kind of cracking up the whole show. I was watching it with Chris March at Bravo studios. It was pretty funny… I enjoyed it. I think it was a really good episode.

Why was Chris March with you?

Well I was just at Bravo Studios and he was there.

I was actually going to ask you if you thought it was funny that the only challenge you won was the drag queen one featuring Chris.

Well yeah I was happy to win it. I came close on a few. To be honest, I’m really happy with my work on the show. I think I showed range. I took the approach of trying to show a lot of range as a designer rather than being stuck with one look or one thing like some of the other designers. So I was really happy about it.

When you were kicked off the show I got the feeling that they were basing on that one design rather than your designs throughout the entire show. Do you think that’s fair?

I didn’t get that sense. I’ve come close on a few of them; the Olympic one, the challenge the week before. Yeah, I didn’t think this challenge was a bad challenge. I did much less work on this last challenge and I got kicked off for it. I wasn’t that proud of what I did. It wasn’t the best. But it was a tough challenge for me, I have to admit.

Did you approach this challenge in the wrong way?

No, I approached it the same I had any of the other challenges… it was just that I knew that I couldn’t get Laura the daughter to agree with what her mother Janet wanted. I wasn’t getting any feedback from Laura. All of the direction was coming from Janet and I had tried to pull out as much as I could out of Laura but in the end the outfit was created at the direction of her mother. So I wasn’t crazy about the direction of the outfit. I tried to balance what I wanted versus what they wanted. In the end I think I had achieved what I set out to do. I know her mother loved it. She cried the minute Laura came out onto the runway. In the end Laura liked the outfit. The jacket I had issues with because of the construction. To be honest, I think I took the challenge too literally. I think they (the clients) did as well. It was taking a young woman and entering her into the business world. We just took the challenge too literally.

Kenley was being disrespectful and laughing at you while you were getting your judging. What did you think about that?

Kenley has really kind of harsh personality and for some of the other designers it was like nails on a chalkboard. And we all just kind of dealt with her. She just had a lack of respect for everybody. So it was just another example of that. She was very combative with Heidi and Tim and everybody and just had this disrespectful attitude. It didn’t really bother me but I think it was a poor reflection of her. You know, it was just Kenley being Kenley.

About the judges, do you think they were a little too harsh with their wording? Maybe a little too crude?

No, I felt the same way. Again, the biggest criticism was that it was I found every cliché. And yeah, I did. I’m a jean and leather jacket designer. I couldn’t tell you what a woman is wearing in the office to save my life. I don’t follow fashion on that level. I don’t make people over. This just wasn’t my challenge. So my idea of business attire was this suit. That’s what I served up basically. No I mean their criticism was right. Yeah when I look at women are really wearing, mine was a little dated, so I agreed with them. As much as it’s all great TV, the judges throughout the whole competition are professional. Michael Kors, Nina… I respect their point of view so I took that as an opportunity to grow as a designer.

Besides yourself, who do you think was kicked off the show too prematurely?

You know, there’s really nobody. I think the chips fell where they may. I think everything happens for a reason. I went home last night for a reason. If I had to say anyone, maybe Jerry. Being the first one going sucks because he didn’t get a chance to show who he was. But, hey, everybody’s got to go home. Being the first sucks. Otherwise, no… everything happens for a reason.

So you don’t think there’s anyone that’s still there that probably should have gone home a while ago?

Yes, I think Kenley continually doing the same thing… maybe she should have gone a few challenges ago. Then I think Suede as well. But what are you going to do? Their time is coming, so we’re going to have to see.

So the top three for you be excluding those two? Leanne, Jerell and Korto?

I certainly hope that’s the top three. If I had to predict, I’d like to see Korto win.

What is it about her style that makes you want to see her win?

I love what she does. I don’t think there’s been anybody like her on Project Runway before. She designs for real women and the real customer. I think she has a beautiful aesthetic, so I’d love to see her win.

They focused on your family last night and how much they meant to you. Is that why you wanted to do the show?

Yeah, that was my main motivation. What I said in my exit last night was the main goal. I’m at a point in my career where I’m working and making a living and providing for my family and I did this just as an opportunity to show young people to go and try new stuff. As you get older you only do things that you know you can do well. This was a great opportunity for me to challenge myself and broaden my horizons and my skill as a designer.

What’s next for you?

I’ve resumed my post as senior designer for Shott N.Y.C. and I’m working on their collection for January. And I will have a collection, the Joe Faris collection, ready for January as well. I’m continually designing and working and doing what I do.

What will your collection will look like?

Very much like I sent down the runway. Jeans, leather jackets, some corset tops, dresses in different variations. Those dresses fit really well and they’re very much like I would do… casual for a party, some men’s wear, denim and leather jackets. Not a huge collection, just 15 or 20 pieces.

Anything else you want to add?

This was an amazing experience! I loved the whole thing and had a great time.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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