Anthony Ryan Auld became the second winner in Project Runway: All Stars history in Thursday night’s episode of the Lifetime competition.
The 29-year-old designer from Baton Rouge, La., took the title over Emilio Sosa and Uli Herzner after the final challenge, which called for the trio to design a mini collection in just four days with a budget of $3,000.
Auld’s collection was titled “A Thin Line” and focused on the use of color-blocking and cutouts. The judges gave him heavy praise: Of the opening look in particular — a floor-length dress that combined a blue shirt-like bodice with a cutout back and black skirt — Isaac Mizrahi said he thought it was the best dress he’d ever seen on the show.
As the winner, Auld will have the chance to create a custom-branded capsule collection for Nine West and will be awarded a cash prize of $150,000, a sewing and embroidery studio provided by Brother Sewing and Embroidery, an all-expenses paid trip around the world to attend fashion weeks in cities such as Paris, London, Milan and Tokyo, courtesy of Laura Mercier, and a technology suite/office space from HP and Intel to bring the designer’s creativity to life.
He will also receive a fashion spread in Marie Claire magazine and a position with the publication as contributing editor for one year.
On Friday, Auld — who also is a testicular cancer survivor — talked to The Hollywood Reporter about what he learned for the show, what he plans to do with his winnings and what’s next.
The Hollywood Reporter: In last night’s episode, you said never expected to be in the final three. So were you shocked when Carolyn Murphy announced you as the winner?
Anthony Ryan Auld: Oh my god. Going into this, I had no expectations. I was seventh on my season. I was just gonna go back and show a little more of who I was and have a good old time and enjoy it. And so I never really thought about making it to the final three. I must say, I was absolutely blown away at making it to that point and them calling my name. It’s still something I’m trying to take in this morning. It was filmed last summer, but I’m in the moment now, and I’m kind of at a loss for words. I thought Uli’s collection was absolutely amazing; it really told a great story, and I thought she was going to take it home. So when they said me, it was just humbling and really I was excited to know that I would be able to continue to do this.
THR: You also were named fan favorite.
Auld: That just shows you, I just really have no concept of the support I have behind me. I need to thank them. This whole experience never really registered with me. People are like, oh my god, you’re the same person you were [on the show]. Well, why wouldn’t I be? It’s just crazy to think that I got that support all season.
THR: What are your plans for the money?
Auld: I’m going to be investing that money — like Mama said, always invest — with [fellow All Stars competitor] Joshua McKinley, actually. I really believe in what he does with tanks and how innovative he can be, and we’ll be working together more. This seed money will help him push his business. I really believe in him and the passion behind everything he does.
THR: Did Uli or Emilio have any parting words for you?
Auld: I really don’t remember at all. I don’t know if I really got to see them before we left. Of course they said congratulations and good look. Uli was probably more excited for me than Emilio was, but it all happened so quick. We literally left the following day.
THR: We didn’t get to see a lot of where you, Uli and Emilio found the inspiration for your collections. Can you explain where yours came from?
Auld: It was this whole idea of taking something so innocent and pure — it was really based off of Legos. What can I take from childhood that has meaning to me and is innocent? And coming back onto the show, I knew I wanted to show the judges a 180 of what I had done on my season. I knew that wasn’t working. The couture challenge inspired me in the sense of darkness. I wanted to take the idea of a girl burning Legos; she’s over with it and ready to set the whole place on fire. I used these great bright primary colors and created a custom print, this great graffiti print. It started out really dark and hard and moved into light notes in the end. It was really the idea of burning down and what you’re left with. It was very conceptual, but in the same sense taking something and twisting it.
THR: You mentioned in last night’s episode that you feel like you’ve really begun to find yourself as a designer. Do you think that’s partly because of Project Runway?
Auld: Of course, more so than the first time, it really helped me hone in on what I will continue to do and my aesthetic. I was always pretty confident in what I was doing, but from season nine, that got broken down and I had to look at it from a neutral standpoint. This really wasn’t working with some of the biggest names in fashion, so I needed to re-evaluate what I was doing.
THR: How do your two seasons compare?
Auld: Oh god, my season, it started off really well. Aesthetically, I was probably a little bit more quirky and more modern in there and trying to infuse too many elements. I was trying to represent the state I come from — Louisiana — in a positive light, and I was trying to infuse too much of Louisiana. … [On All Stars], I kept going and growing and evolving. This experience with All Stars really has set into motion more of who I am as a designer and my aesthetic.
THR: What about the judges?
Auld: I love all the judges; I love them all pretty equally around. I love Georgina [Chapman]; she remind me of Belle from Beauty and the Beast. She’s such a sweetheart. … The regular Project Runway focuses too much on the drama aspect. They’ve got teams coming out [the designers will compete in teams for every challenge in season 11]. As much as I would kill someone if they tried to put me in that situation, I smiled and smirked and thought it was genius. All Stars focuses more on the design aspect. I felt the judges were more concerned with what was in front of them on the runway and not necessary all the drama that went with it.
THR: So the teams edition doesn’t appeal to you?
Auld: How is that gonna work? Are they going to pick a team winner? It’s going to be exciting to watch. Of course the drama will unfold. If you look at past seasons, all the biggest drama came out of the teams challenges. So whoever thought of that was absolutely genius.
THR: Apart from investing in Joshua’s business, what else is next for you?
Auld: I’ll be showing at quite a few fashion weeks down south — NOLA, Birmingham — and then I’m going to California — El Paseo, Palm Springs. I’ll be showing my new collection. And working with Nine West on the capsule collection. I’ve never had anything manufactured; it’s all been customized. I’ve been out of school for three years, and two of hem were committed to Project Runway. I’m excited to be able to say, hey, you can get my dress here. I’ll also do six to nine months of research into manufacturing and design if and when I started my business. We all say we’re designers with our own label, but you really don’t have a label until you have the business aspect behind it, until you’re really manufacturing and selling somewhere. For my own sanity, I have to do a lot more digging. I’m also going to visit [fellow All Stars designer] Kayne [Gillaspie]. He’s got a few lines and is in something like 500 stores in the U.S. So I’m going to pick his brain to see what he did to get where he is.
THR: In your first season, you talked a lot about overcoming cancer. How’s your health today?
Auld: Everything’s good. It was something that was just out of the blue, but everything’s good, and I’m staying strong. It’s just one of those things that changes you to your core, but now I’m healthy as a horse.