At just 24 years old, recent design-school graduate Daniel Vosovic set a Project Runway record, winning five out of 11 design challenges. The shaggy-haired New Yorker handled the pressure of the competition's tight time constraints and tough judging process with surprising ease even with the added obstacle of having Santino as a roommate. He did, unfortunately, start showing signs of stress in last week's episode, when he, Santino and Chloe were on the home stretch of preparing their collections for Olympus Fashion Week. Daniel called us before the finale (airing tonight on Bravo at 10 pm/ET) to tell us how he was able to "make it work" week after week.
TVGuide.com: Why did you decide to go on the show?
Daniel Vosovic: [If I hadn't gone on the show] I thought people would know my name 10, 15 years down the road. Now people know my first and last name! And my design style and where I live and what city I work in. You just can't ask for a better opportunity.
TVGuide.com: Had you not made the show, what was your career plan?
Daniel: I probably would be where a lot of my friends and fellow graduates are: trying to sell myself to larger design houses, working as an assistant designer. Usually you work someplace for a year, move someplace else, and maybe in five or 10 years you'd be able to start your own small collection, if not work for a larger designer with bigger connections. It's very interesting to almost have skipped all that. I've already had people calling and e-mailing wanting to work for me. It's so much so fast.
TVGuide.com: From the get-go, who did you think your biggest competition would be?
Daniel: I knew from the beginning that Santino would be [one to beat], because of his personality, and because I knew that he was a creative person. It was very "wink-wink" with us, like, "I know you're good. You know I'm good. Let's be friends." It was really interesting how that worked out. I was so impressed with Nick. We were best friends from that first day, and when I saw his outfit, I was like, "S--t, he's good!"
TVGuide.com: Did your opinions change over the course of the series?
Daniel: Of course. With every challenge, it was interesting to see people's weaknesses as well as their strengths, and how they could deal with pressure and with molding themselves around a specific challenge. It's funny, because what people were applauded for in the first challenges almost became their downfall and what the judges got sick and tired of weeks later.
TVGuide.com: Is Santino as abrasive in real life as he seems on TV?
Daniel: We have a great friendship. We've compared stories of people loving and hating us. I'm great friends with Nick, John, Raymundo, Andrae, Chloe, Kara. We went through this together and a bond was formed regardless of our personalities, and you can only understand it if you've gone through it together.
TVGuide.com: Did you find yourself changing the way you designed to cater to the judges?
Daniel: The show makes it very difficult to keep your style, because you're always designing for someone or for a very specific thing. I didn't necessarily cater to the judges, but I did what I felt needed to be done for that challenge and did it the Daniel Vosovic way. Thank goodness the judges responded to that.
TVGuide.com: What was the hardest challenge for you?
Daniel: The hardest one for me was the first one [that we did at home before the competition]. I had just moved into a new apartment and graduated four days before coming on the show. I didn't have mannequins, so I used myself. It was so difficult, because my chest measurements were like 36 inches and my hips were 34 or 33 inches. I didn't even have a table the sewing machine was on the floor! We didn't have blinds and we didn't have mirrors, so I was trying to put it on and use my reflection in the window at night as a mirror. I was like, "Please, lord, don't let anyone see me right now!"
TVGuide.com: What was it like when you first went back home?
Daniel: I had such shell shock! I did not know who I was or what I was doing.
TVGuide.com: Was it hard to work on your collection without the strict time constraints?
Daniel: Having a time schedule always makes my life easier and having a deadline six months later was hard for me. I was excited for this. There was doubt, but you get that when you're working alone in an apartment for six months. I couldn't tell anyone what I was doing. It was a very trying time. No one is there to shake their head [and ask], "What are you thinking?"
TVGuide.com: What was Tim Gunn's problem with your final collection?
Daniel: Hello! Thank you! Six weeks before, he was loving it. What wasn't shown was the fact that he was doing that to everyone. The thing with [him asking to] see another outfit on [my model] Rebecca he also wanted to see three dresses on [Santino's model] Heather and he wanted to see [Chloe's model] Grace in four outfits. The thing is, a lot of my stuff was about the pairing together. A lot of my details come in silhouette and proportion, which is difficult to see on a hanger. I pay attention to the details my customer will notice when she's trying on my jacket, not necessarily what's going to slap you upside the face from 30 feet away. I designed a collection that is meant to be touched and felt. It's a very luxurious collection, and unfortunately a lot of that stuff doesn't speak on a 3-by-5 photograph on your computer screen!