Project Runway All Stars' Mondo: I Wanted to Strangle Myself
After tears and some intense therapy, Mondo Guerra took home the crown on Project Runway All Stars' finale, beating out fellow finalists Austin Scarlett and Michael Costello.
Project Runway All Stars recap: Who won?
Guerra was the odds-on favorite to win considering he was the runner-up on Season 8 and had consistently won on All Stars. But during Part 1 of the finale, some fans were turned off by what they saw as a whiny attitude: Mondo complained, snapped at competitors and kept to himself more than usual. With all the pressures of competition and everyone becoming cranky, one would be tempted to take it out on a rival. Who did Guerra want to strangle the most?
"I think probably myself," he tells TVGuide.com. "I was always wanting to give up and I didn't know where that was coming from because I'm not a quitter. I was just under so much pressure, especially coming off of Season 8, or at least that's from the fans' point of view. I was really trying to win things for the fans.
"It was definitely a competition, one where I had my highs and my lows," he admits. "The viewers saw that and they were very opinionated. I think they understand that people have their good days and their bad days. It is called reality TV for a reason. I feel OK with showing some more of who I am and what goes into my process."
Check out what else Mondo had to say about his celebratory ensemble, pilgrim fashions and his surprising Facebook fans:
Finally! Justice has been served! Have you heard similar reactions that your win in All Stars makes up for being a runner-up in Season 8, which you totally should have won?
Mondo Guerra: People have kind of forgotten that they were upset about Season 8. I think people were really just excited about the collection and it overshadowed all the disappointment and negativity around the runner-up position on Season 8. It feels good that people are looking forward to the future and not to the past. I like to live my life that way.
What are you wearing right now? Did you have a special celebratory outfit?
Guerra: Yeah. I'm in my underwear and one of my Mondo t-shirts right now on my couch. [Laughs] That's my celebratory outfit all the time: a pair of underwear and a t-shirt. Remember in Season 8 when we did the Resort Challenge? I didn't really know what resort wear was. I was like, "Resort wear for me is walking around in my living room in a pair of underwear." I'm in my resort wear right now.
Will you be having a party with your friends and family now that they know you're the winner?
Guerra: I think secretly my mom is probably planning something. I think maybe my assistant is planning something too, or rather, he should be. [Laughs] I'm sure very soon I'll have dinner with my parents, go to their house and my mom will cook. It's tradition. I'm in a Mexican family, and that's how we celebrate. And tomorrow I'll be having dinner with Ivy and Casanova who were here last night for the show. Ivy was so cute last night. They all came up to the stage and said something about me. Ivy actually broke down and cried. It was amazing.
The therapy worked! Can you explain how much more grueling this season was?
Guerra: It was just so hard. I went there with some emotional baggage and I think I touched on that in the show. It was harder because when you get there, you're stuck. You don't have a connection to your family, you don't get newspapers so it was really grueling. And the challenges were designed to really push and test us. Not only that, but everybody who was cast on the show is an amazing designer with a huge amount of talent and integrity. It was intimidating because we've all been there before so everybody brought their A-game.
Georgina Chapman was a really strong Team Mondo supporter, especially in the finale. Did she share any special words with you as a mentor or judge?
Guerra: I was in a really low place in the competition and I couldn't get out of this funk and I wanted to give up. Georgina came in and was having a little mentoring session with Austin, Michael and myself. She has these maternal instincts that just really resonate with somebody like me. She said, "I've been there. I've been in dark places and had to go there several times to design for a collection. It's OK to revisit places." When she said that, that meant a lot to me because that gave me inspiration again because I forgot where I turn to in order to pull that inspiration. I usually pull from memories, from my childhood, from my family and from the church. It gave me a wake-up call and was a reminder of if you know who you are, you can accomplish this.
In that finale runway show, I loved the tweed suit with the Rorschach t-shirt. Is there one of your designs from that collection that meant the most to you?
Guerra: I think I liked my fitted Rorschach-inpsired dress just because I was really able to be really creative and create my own textile, which I love to do. That one meant a lot to me. That was the last one that I cut. I needed a fifth look and I got finished. I was really rushing.
Is that Mondo Rorschach textile something you'll take forward as a motif?
Guerra: Yeah I think we have plans to cut it and sell it on my website: Love Mondo Trasho.
What kind of person do you want to design for going forward?
Guerra: I think I want to design for people who want to explore a different side of themselves. I think people often talk about fashion in such a conservative way. I think it's allowed to have fun with your clothes. So I think anyone who loves fashion or might not take risks [should] go out and buy the clothes and celebrate themselves.
If you could design for any celebrity, who would you love to see your designs on?
Guerra: Austin Scarlett. He would totally do it.
Since you're on Facebook and Twitter, you're getting immediate feedback from the fans. What's the best or funniest thing you've heard from them?
Guerra: I've gotten a few marriage proposals on Facebook, which I think is kind of strange. And then I look at my friends on my fan page on Facebook. You know what's funny? There are some porn stars that follow me. I'm like, "Wow, they watch reality TV?" You don't imagine guys like that following somebody like me.
If you had to collaborate with any Project Runway designer, who would it be and why?
Guerra: Uh, hello? It would be Michael Costello.
Of course! It seemed that you guys had a great friendship from the show. Do you two still talk?
Guerra: We're best friends. We talk on the phone probably every other day and we text nonstop. We've been through it together, we did Season 8 together. Our friendship was really built on respect for each other and then it was built on respect for each other's design work. But more than anything, it's just really about love. I just love the guy, adore him. He's such a cool guy and amazing designer.
That's so great to hear because so much of reality TV focuses on drama and backstabbing.
Guerra: That was really tough. I think you saw in Part 1 of the season finale and again in Part 2 that it's tough to be in the competition and be so close to somebody but still wanting to win. You want the best for them too. It could get a little intimidating.
What's the worst fashion decision you made for yourself growing up?
Guerra: Well, I'm not going to talk about the worst one. I'll talk about the best thing. I was very fashion-forward in kindergarten. I remember on Thanksgiving we were having a lunch in our class, and you had to wear black pants and a white shirt. I made myself a collar and a little pilgrim hat out of black construction paper. I was really into it.
In kindergarten you were already designing pilgrim fashion. Will that be the theme of your next collection?
Guerra: Yes, pilgrim fashion realness. [Laughs] Don't give me any ideas. I'm sure I could work it out somehow. Pilgrim-inspired dresses. You will be wearing it too!
Are you happy that Mondo won?