Auf’d Designer Stella on Life After Runway: I Want to Make Dresses Now

Auf’d Designer Stella on Life After Runway: I Want to Make Dresses Now
Barbara Nitke/Bravo

09/04/2008 AT 12:00 AM EDT

She came onto the show professing her love of leather -- sorry, "leathuh" -- fur and rock 'n' roll. And Stella B. Zotis left Project Runway on Wednesday with a more open mind as a designer. Perhaps it helped that her final challenge found the 42-year-old designer creating a look for Diane von Furtsenberg. And while she was auf'd for her pants, vest and cape combo, the designer, whose personality made her a fan favorite, said she's not giving up her signature style. Still, Zotis said, on the phone from New York, she is giving dressmaking a try. -- Brian Orloff

After watching the episode, what happened on the runway? Did the judges make the right choice?After seeing everybody's stuff on the runway and it being me and Joe in the bottom, I really don't understand why I was the one to go because my pants didn't fit that terribly ... I did three pieces in under nine hours. I understand the cape could have been shaped differently, but that could have been worked out through the process. But then when I looked at Joe's, his shirt was really crooked; the skirt really didn't match up at all. And who wears a mini in the '40s? I feel like I got slighted. I felt like it wasn't my time to go after seeing the show.

Given what you like to create, did you think the Diane von Furstenberg challenge would be especially tough?This was finally the most normal challenge -- and the challenge that designers go on shows like this to do, actually. Making stuff out of garbage bags or car seats or nonsense like that is not what a person who goes on this show looks forward to doing. I was a little nervous because Diane is a very big dressmaker. I was comfortable in my mind with what I wanted to make for Diane, and I was pleased to do it. Unfortunately somehow it didn't work itself out.

Did you get overwhelmed with the task? You seemed a little bit out of it in her showroom.I'm like that with everything I make because I think about it. I have an idea in my head, then I get another one and I have to commit to an idea. I was happy to be at the showroom. It was hard for me to pick out the fabrics. The rolls were very heavy. The other designers were going on like animals there. I love them all, but they are like beasts. I'm not like that. I'm like, "Easy does it. Everybody's going to get what they get." It's just always a challenge when you have other around you who are jumping on everything. I'm just too cool for that. I'm not going to do that.

Talk about your design aesthetic and how the show impacted it. What did you learn from being on Project Runway?I am not a designer who went to school and studied how to make dresses. I come from a background of who make garments. But my whole philosophy on sewing wasn't to make a pretty, pretty dress. I'm a lifestyle designer. I liked leather and I like fur, because that's the background I came from ... and that's what I know. The show has made me expand my ideas on what I want to make. And I do want to make dresses now. I have only grown. My aesthetic was what it was but now it's even more. It builds. I'm building.

Is Project Runway better for having you as a contestant?I do believe Project Runway has benefited from me being on there. People from my world don't go on shows like that. I feel like I gave a point of view across to whoever's watching that was somewhat different. It's different because of who I am as a person ... So of course it was good. People have never seen anyone like me on that show. Barbara Nitke/Bravo

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