SPOILER ALERT! This post contains an interview with the winner of Project Runway season 10!
Throughout the 10th season of Project Runway, Dmitry Sholokhov won viewers over with his legendary quotables (“one-way monkey”) and his Severus Snape-like good looks. The former ballroom dancer didn’t begin the competition as the front-runner, but he consistently made elegant, and beautifully tailored architectural designs with clean, geometric details. In last night’s finale, judges Heidi Klum, Nina Garcia, and Michael Kors crowned Dmitry the champion after his Fashion Week collection beat out those of competitors Christopher Palu, Melissa Fleis, and Fabio Costa. Sholokhov took the time to chat with EW about his time on Project Runway and his plans for the future.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How do you feel now that the finale has aired and everyone knows you’re the winner?
DMITRY SHOLOKHOV: Well, I feel very happy. It’s like the second wave of excitement because I won a few weeks ago and it was kind of behind me, but now I can actually talk about it and I get so much mail and phone calls. It’s very exciting.
From recapping the show all season, I can tell you that you’re far and away our readers’ favorite designer, and that you should expect to receive some marriage proposals with your fan mail. Were you surprised how much viewers connected with you?
Definitely. I was pleasantly surprised. It made me happy. It’s so important to have fans when you’re a designer, and I like interacting with them.
You were definitely one of the funniest contestants in the interviews. Things you said, like “one-way monkey,” were hilarious.
I never really know where any of the phrases come from. [Laughs] They just come to my head. English is my second language, and it’s just what I say in the moment.
Did your background as a professional ballroom dancer inform your work as a designer in any way?
I don’t think it had anything to do with designs, but it taught me discipline and determination. Ballroom dancing is a sport, and you have to be on top of your game. I think that’s the biggest lesson I learned.
How were you able to stay so calm and collected during the challenges when everyone around you was freaking out?
You know, a lot of the drama was performance. A lot of people were trying to grab camera attention, but I was never into it. I was my work, not to be a comedian or anything like that. It’s great for reality TV, but I was focused on competition. I hate when people talk about nothing. I’m not into small-talk. [Laughs]
Now that you have an opportunity to sell your work, what kind of line are you planning?
I have in mind this ageless woman. She can be a young girl or a more mature woman. I just want to design those special pieces you can build your wardrobe with. I don’t follow the trends. It’s always modern, but at the same time, timeless. I want to make things you can dress up or down, depending on your mood.
A criticism you got from the judges was that your looks could come across as old because of the styling. Do you think designers need to think about older customers instead of being so youth-obsessed?
Definitely. First of all, there is nothing wrong to design for more mature people. That’s the customer that has the money to buy these things anyway. But it all depends on how you style your outfit — you can dress it up and dress it down. Most of the time I didn’t focus as much on the styling because there was no time whatsoever and you’re so limited because you made a couple of pieces and there’s only so much you can do with them. But there’s nothing wrong with designing for all different kinds of women.
How will your winnings help you launch your own line?
I didn’t get my prizes yet — I hope I will soon! First I have to pay some bills. Then I would definitely would like to start my own brand, but I need quite a few people to work with me. First of all, I need to find a business partner and find some investors. It’s very expensive and it’s not easy. With $100,000 it’s enough only to make a fashion show, and nothing else. There are lots of other things I need to accomplish, but the money obviously helps a lot!
What celebrity would you love to dress?
Good question. There are so many beautiful women and beautiful people out there. If I had to choose, I would choose Angelina Jolie — not just because she’s a big name but her sense of style. Most of the time she looks so effortless, so easy and natural. I would definitely like to work with Tilda Swinton. There are so many ladies that are inspiring.
Which judge did you find most helpful?
All the judges are great, and they’re so different. They all give you comments that are useful. For me personally it was Nina Garcia. She was always on the point. She knows what she’s talking about because she’s an editor, and she sees every show. She has a sharp eye, and she’s hard to please, so her comments very helpful.
Unfortunately, one of the most talked-about things about this season was Venn’s treatment of his full-figured “real” model. What did you think of that situation?
I think Venn, in the beginning of season, he definitely came across as one of the strongest designers. But he’s really a one-way monkey. [Laughs] He would do the same things over and over again. Even when people would tell him not to do it, he’d keep doing it. Just his personality — he was full of himself. The comments he would make to his customer were very unpleasant. He’s very talented but close-minded.
What was your favorite challenge?
The Rockettes challenge. We had the chance to experience Radio City Music Hall, and it’s such a legendary theater. It was empty just for us.
I thought you deserved to win that one over Christopher.
I loved Christopher’s as well. He deserved to win, even though I think it wasn’t very practical because you couldn’t see that great detail from the third row, but idea and execution were great.
Out of your fellow Runway designers, who would you want to work with again?
I think Fabio. First of all, he’s very unique and he’s not trying to be anyone else. He knows exactly who he is and he’s very authentic and very different. Also, he’s a genuinely good person.
I’m assuming not Elena, though.
Oh, not Elena. That girl, she would get into my bones.
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