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Project Runway: All Stars Mentor Joanna Coles Says “It’s Extremely Daunting”

January 04, 2012 11:07 PM by Ashley Lee

Sure, every contestant on Project Runway: All Stars has already been on the show before, but not everyone is reality television veteran. The All Star season’s contestants will be judged by designers Isaac Mizrahi and Georgina Chapman, hosted by model Angela Lindvall and mentored by Marie Claire Editor-in-Chief, Joanna Coles. What was it like for Coles to play the role of Tim Gunn on the show? “It’s extremely daunting,” she said. “I felt the enormous weight of Tim Gunn’s brilliance on my shoulders.”

Read more about her spontaneous catchphrase, her mentoring perspective and the drama between the designers that Coles was shocked to see!

Marie Claire Editor-in-Chief Joanna Coles chatted with HuffPost TV about taking on Tim Gunn’s esteemed mentorship role.

“What’s fun about this show for the viewer is they already know all the contestants,” she said. “But the other judges and I are new, and the presenter is new, so it’s like a reverse of the usual.”

Coles admits that her perspective and mentoring style is a much more commercial one than viewers may be used to in comparison to Tim Gunn. “If it’s sellable; if it’s going to represent you as a designer; if you are pushing yourself — because so many people stay in a safety zone and do the same thing week-in and week-out. My job is to get a sense of whether they can make it as a commercial designer,” she said. “If you want to be the next Michael Kors, you have to be able to be creative — which they all are — but you have to have an eye to commerce, too.”

Coles also spontaneously found herself with her own catchphrase: “Am I seriously the only woman in America who wears underwear?”

She explained, “Something I feel like I say every single episode is, ‘This is fantastic, but no one can wear underwear with it.’ …Often, the designers would send something down that’s completely backless, or they’d send something down for which you would need a lot of double-sided tape to ensure your breasts don’t make a sudden unwelcome appearance at an event.”

Coles was intimidated by “playing” Tim Gunn in the workroom. “I felt the enormous weight of Tim Gunn’s brilliance on my shoulders. It’s extremely daunting to be in the same workroom that he worked in. It’s even daunting to pick up the same pencil that he’s held. But Tim and I are good friends, and honestly, if I can be an acorn under his oak tree, I would be thrilled. I absorbed as much as I could by osmosis and put my own twist on it.”

She was also shocked by the drama of the show between the designers. ”What’s interesting is it’s completely unmanufactured. I never knew what I was walking into. I would go in about halfway through their working day to make sure they were on track, to make sure no one was falling off the edge. I was the 4 p.m. afternoon snack; your blood sugar has gone down and I come in to get you through the end of the project.”

Project Runway: All Stars premieres on Lifetime, tonight at 9pm. Check back here for episode previews and recaps all season long!

Will you be watching Project Runway: All Stars? Will Joanna Coles be able to mentor the seasoned contestants?

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Photo Credit: Michael Carpenter/WENN.com

Topics: Bravo Reality TV Shows, Project Runway, Running With Heels |

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