What has 'Project
Runway' done for your career?
It's definitely opened a lot more doors for me. It's incredible to have
the response that I have now when I meet people in the industry -- whether
it's fashion or photography or celebrities I come across living here in
L.A. I run into a couple every day, and before I can even say anything
to them, they're like, "Oh my God, can you make a dress for me? Or
can we work on something together?" So it's as if the whole world
knows me now, they know me as being a talented creative designer with
a personality, and all the right people are calling me. It's just been
Was it surprising
that all these celebrities watched the show?
I'm really in awe of the power of television. I knew what I was getting
into with the competition, but in a lot of ways, I was taking risks myself
because I was already a professional working fashion designer. I've been
doing it since I was 17. And I've just been behind the scenes doing it
for other people. After doing a show like 'Project Runway,' its
a whole new hemisphere. Whatever salary caps that I had before and whatever
glass ceiling was there is crushed. People know what they're going to
get if they include me in something that theyre working on. I've
got more on my plate than I can handle right now. So it's all about taking
it one day at a time and not getting too overwhelmed by all of it. At
this point in my career, I could die of encouragement.
Do you come across
the same way in real life as you do on the show? Or were you more amped
on the show?
I always say that any edit is a lie. Anytime you cut the film, anytime
you don't let a complete thought flow the way that it was, you're essentially
telling the viewer a white lie. So I'm excited about seeing the DVD and
seeing the bonus footage. I think a lot of people will have any eye-opening
experience once they've seen it and realize it's not that I'm an a**hole.
It's that I'm honest. And it's not that I'm an egomaniac; it's that I'm
passionate. And it's also a competition.
Will you be involved
in season three?
Yes. Ill be featured on the first episode of season three. Theyve
done some "Where are they now?" pieces. I was also involved
in the casting process, which was a change, being on the other side of
the table. I feel like not only can I come up with concepts and technically
execute them, I can recognize talent. I saw a lot of designers who were
not ready to be on the show, but there were a handful I knew were going
to do great. And Im excited to see how they are going to do on the
Did you see any
Santinos in the bunch?
No, theres only one Santino! There are a handful of really talented
people. I feel like a lot of other real designers, who are working in
the industry, saw me on the show and saw what I cultivated for myself.
And they were like, "Why didnt I think of that? Why didn't
I do that?" To be a designer in this era you not only need to be
creative and have a point of view thats unique, but you also need
to be a personality. You need people to subscribe to everything. You need
to eat, breathe and sh*t Santino. (Laughs) I dont speak about myself
in the third person by saying that. By Santino, I mean the name of my
What are you doing
My dance card is full of custom gowns and dresses.
Like you did for
SuChin Pak at the 2006 MTV Movie Awards?
Right, I also went to the MTV movie awards. MTV was amazing to me. We
did a small mini-documentary about making the dress for SuChin and then
being at the movie awards and meeting all the actors and actresses there.
Some of the most amazing people are there like Christina Aguilera and
Jessica Simpson. And then there are people I idolize like Will Ferrell
and John C. Reilly, who were like, "Santino! Santino! We like how
you made those clothes out of plants and sh*t!" And, you know, they
are in their full uniforms for their movie 'Talladega Nights.' And they
had watched every episode. It's amazing.
If you could go
back in time and give yourself advice, how far would you go back, and
what would that advice be?
That's a deep question, man. A lot of times, I say I don't regret anything
and that I'd never want to go back. It would probably be along the lines
of what I already subscribe to, which is that it doesn't matter what other
people think of you. It's about being happy with yourself at the end of
the day. If there was ever a point in my life where I was confused about
things or confused about the way people saw me, that's probably the advice
I would give to myself as well as anyone. Its not about anyone else
Along those lines
is there anything on the show you wish you could take back? Anything you
said or did?
I stick by everything, even the crassest remarks that I made. If you had
heard what I was making those remarks to, I think most people who get
it would definitely understand why I said it. A lot of times, you saw
me making comments about something that the viewer didnt get to
see. And had you seen the whole scenario, I think most people who are
intelligent, down to earth and well rounded would get it. Theres
no doubt about it, I have the best fans from the show. Something within
my character and talent resonated with all the right people. Theres
something to be said for that. That makes me feel really good. There are
still plenty of people who think Im an evil person and think Im
a bad guy, and let them think that. The bottom line is thats the
farthest thing from the truth.
What are some of
your current favorite TV shows?
I get a chance to watch TV very rarely, but my favorite TV to watch is
either how-to kind of shows or shows like 'Inside the Actors Studio'
or 'A&E Biography.' Things that are about real people. My life is
better than fiction right now, and it has been even before the show. I
do love the 'The Office' and 'My Name Is Earl.'
I grew up in the '80s. 'The Cosby Show' was huge, 'Family Ties' was huge
with Justine Bateman being a fashion designer on that show and Lisa Bonet
being a fashion icon of the '80s, as well as creating a Gordon Gartrell
knock-off shirt for her brother.
Not the Cosby sweater
(Laughs) Well, yeah the Cosby sweater ... wow!
It was an icon.
Yes. That's incredible. You know, in another 10 or 12 years I might be
designing a version of the Cosby sweater if I feel it's appropriate to
bring back. Things are definitely circular.