‘Project Runway’ Winner Seth Aaron Henderson Launches QVC Line, Shares His One Fashion Pet Peeve
Celebuzz: First of all, congratulations on your unprecedented double win on Project Runway and All Stars. How does it feel right now?
Seth Aaron Henderson: Well, let’s go through it. It feels right. I knew I would be here, I just didn’t know how long it would take or how I’d get there, but this something that I envisioned since I was a kid. So, it feels amazing and I’m grateful for the opportunities that I have. But they’re not given to me. (Laughs) You definitely work for them.
CB: Oh, you definitely earned it on All Stars, and now you have your QVC line. Can you tell me about some of the inspirations behind it?
SAH: I really wanted to introduce me to the clients, but keep it in the real world. It has all the details, it has the design, it has the textiles. That’s one thing I said we’re not gonna have, we’re not gonna have cheap textiles and we’re not gonna sacrifice design, ‘cause that’s what it’s about. So what I’m doing is I’m taking my tailoring and my upper-end label design and making it affordable. You find a lot of luxury details in designer clothes, but not so much in mass market. My goal is to bring all those elements together for this QVC line.
CB: Do you have any favorite pieces from your collection?
SAH: All of them (laughs). Working with my manufacturer and QVC – we’re a three-way partnership – we all work together to make sure it’s right. So I’m really satisfied with the entire collection. I have my basics, and then I have my statement pieces. They’re meant to go together, mix together, but they’re also made to incorporate in your current wardrobe. I wanted to make it universal.
CB: What would you say the story is for this line?
SAH: There were actually a few different ideas when I first went into it. I listen to music, that’s my number one inspiration. The story to this is, I was thinking of this modern-day woman that loves what she does, has a little rebellion but it’s not out there or cat lady (laughs.) You know what I mean, crazy. She knows who she is. She has a little bit of kickass in her.
SAH: Always. I’m about growing as a designer, and you learn that with experience. And being mentored by Tim Gunn, who still today is a friend of mine, and if I have a question, I’ll ask him. Or Michael Kors, for example. And now I have Isaac Mizrahi and Georgina Chapman. It’s taking their experiences, and I always ask for criticism. So I always ask my family – my daughter, my wife…it’s really helpful. Or they’ll leave notes for me when I’m not there. And I go back and I reevaluate. I always take their opinion seriously.
CB: And speaking of growth, in All Stars, I think the judges noted that there was a ton of growth that was really evident in your final collection. How do you think your personal style has evolved since you were first on Project Runway to now?
SAH: I think in a design world, maturity. You know, in the beginning, it was “This is me, this is what I love to do.” That’s one thing, but where do you go from there? Design’s about innovation, and revamping yourself constantly. At that stage in design, I was really in the raw, punk rock mode, and now I’m more of the modern sophistication. I still have a little bit of rebellion in there, but it’s definitely developed into a tasteful design.
SAH: I’ve just caught clips, because I’ve been traveling all week, and my launch of this label was Monday, so I wasn’t able to attend shows Friday, Saturday. So when I get home tomorrow, I’m going to sit down and go through them all. And I always enjoy that. I won’t comment on that now, because I haven’t seen everything.
CB: So you haven’t been able to see the Project Runway show?
SAH: No, I was invited to go Friday, and I was traveling that day. I couldn’t be there. I don’t know the results. I said “I don’t wanna know the results!” I always opt out, even though I’m involved in the show. Because I wanna watch it like everyone else, and I wanna be surprised. I have no clue. I don’t want to.
CB: Now let’s talk about your time on Project Runway. As someone who’s won twice, do you have any tips for future contestants?
SAH: You have to be open-minded – you have to take criticism well. And if you’re gonna try out, which I always encourage – I did, several times – if you get on the show, you need to go there and you need to know who you are, and what you’re about, and you need to stick to that. Don’t be such a blockhead when Tim or the other judges really give their opinion. Some designers are all like, “Well screw you, this is who I am.” Well guess what, and you’re probably gonna go home. So, I would encourage that: listen to what they say. And not necessarily change what you do, but try to grow upon what you do.
CB: I read that you actually help with the casting of the show, so you help cast new contestants. Well, I have a hypothetical: if you could cast a celebrity judge for the show, who would it be?
SAH: (Laughs) Not a designer. I always enjoy the designers as judges…I always love the designers. But just, say, a movie or music celebrity. I would have to say Alan Cumming. (Raises arms) Yessss!
SAH: He’s fantastic, he’s great. I don’t know what it is, I just like the characters he plays, and I just like his shows. Alan Cumming rules! He’s very witty, and I like that.
CB: Now, another hypothetical: if you could create any challenge for the contestants on Project Runway, what would it be?
SAH: I have one that would really jack them up (laughs). All of us can design on the show. But not a lot of people can design and execute in twelve hours. But then again, a lot of designers don’t really know how to finish clothes properly. So I would call it the “Inside Out Challenge.” And I would instruct it like this: “Design a perfectly beautiful garment. You will be judged on it on all aspects.” Leave that clue. So at the end of it, I would have it walk the runway, then I’d say, “Now here’s the twist, you’re gonna go back and you’re gonna turn it inside out and have them walk again.” See who knows how to finish that garment right. Because a lot of them, just safety pins – they don’t even finish sewing that stuff.
CB: That’s a pretty diabolical one. Now since we are Celebuzz, I wanted to ask if there are any celebrities who you think have the best style, and possibly the worst style.
Gwyneth Paltrow has a really good stylist. She always looks put-together. Lately, Jennifer Lawrence has a great stylist, she always looks great. As far as guys go, it’s very classic when it comes to awards shows – black tux, blah blah blah – that’s why I enjoy Alan Cumming, because he’ll wear a plaid suit…and at the same time look so dapper and appropriate. As far as worst goes, I think everybody has their bad moments. It’s hit and miss, and a lot of that has to do with not necessarily the celebrity, but their stylist.
CB: And if you have any piece of fashion advice that you live by, what would that be?
SAH: Don’t wear short pants to the theater! It’s so America, man. Just lazy. There’s appropriate wear for all occasions. Some people need to dress appropriately, that’s my pet peeve. Cargo, khaki pants to go to a nice restaurant – it’s just not cool.
CB: If there’s one word you could use to describe your life right now, what would it be?
SAH: Chaos! (Laughs) Even though with everything going on, it’s less chaotic than it used to be, because there’s direction and it’s all set. I would say one word right now would be – there’s many words. I would say, “Awesomer.” “Suitable.” Everything’s just in a good spot right now.
This Q&A has been edited and condensed
The SA by Seth Aaron collection will be presented by the designer himself on QVC on Monday, September 15 at 3AM PT and 4PM PT.