We talk Project Runway with Henry Roth

August 13, 2009

We chat to fashion guru Henry Roth about his latest bridal collection, who will win “Project Runway” and how Aussie fashion compares to New York.

What are you up to at the moment?

“Well next week we are off to Melbourne to film the finale of the second season of “Project Runway”. I am also holding showings around the country for our spring/summer range and on top of that I have a trip planned straight after the Brisbane showing to go to Hong Kong to commence all the design work for New York bridal and bridesmaid collections. That’s first to third week of September. “

How do you keep up with it all?

“There is a lot going on but we are organised. The trick and magic is that it is a family business. I had a leg up in the fashion industry there is no doubt about it and I ask myself how any young Australian designer would be able to break through what I call the “fashion ceiling” without the leg up that I got. That’s why the family of “Project Runway Australia” is equivalent to my family helping me.”

What will it take to win this season’s “Project Runway”?

“I think that any winner is a combination of quite a few elements and it’s not anything that is not needed in the fashion world on a day-to-day basis. You have to have talent, be incredibly creative, you have to have a distinct signature, it needs to be a cohesive collection otherwise you are just creating pieces, you need tremendous tenacity and stamina, you need to be excellent in marketing, public relations and self promotion. And you need to be an expert when it comes to financial matters. It’s not just the creativity, at this point the judges are looking at how they present themselves and how they project themselves. Is it cohesive? Are the elements sellable? Do they have what it takes financially to run a business?”

It must inspire you…

“Yes, it’s a reminder that we all need to stay fresh and that every person in this world has something they can teach you! It absolutely keeps me on my toes. This collection has been extremely well received and I think that is testament to “Project Runway Australia”. If I don’t have my act together I am going to be eclipsed, seriously! Australians have fallen in love with it, what you get is what you see! It’s been such a great experience.”

How do you think up-and-coming Australian designer compare to those overseas?

“I have lived between Australia and New York for the last ten years and this season I have really been educated to the fact that we are equal to any designers in New York. The talent is amazing, the creativity is amazing and they can put a garment together and it works. The level of expertise and profession of an up-and-coming designer in Australia and New York is on par.”

It seems as though Australian designers have really taken off in the last ten years? Would you agree?

“Australia used to be known for sportswear and swim wear, which is very cliché but it’s the truth. Now you have people like Colette Dinnigan and Richard Tyler. These people are making their mark on New York and every step they take forward they help everyone else take a step forward too.
Julie from the first season is on her way to becoming a label and Brent is doing his own wholesale menswear designer collection. There is no “this could be the biggest opportunity of your life”, it is!”

What can we expect from you new line?

“Romance is back. Really traditional ball gowns with lots of tulle, soft organza and chiffon with soft pleating will be big. It’s almost angelic. Necklines are back, whether it’s halter, scooped or off-the-shoulder, which is a nice change for bridal since it has been all about strapless for the last few years. Volume has been reduced, women like a more soft and natural flow in their gowns now. Embellishment touches are back around the bust or at the top of the shoulder. White is a no-no. Hardly anyone looks good in pure white. We’re going from diamond white to moonlight to ivory to candlelight to champagne to cream. It’s very understated and romantic.”

Fashionistas can catch their favourite “Project Runway” episodes, weekly designs, highlights and previews on 3’s mobile TV the day after broadcast from 50c to $2 until September 1 when you can get them for free! Get commentary and critique available from last year’s finalist Leigh Buchanan at www.three.com.au/runway.

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