So, you knew you were gay first and then the design, or the design first and then you were gay? Which comes first?
I think my sexuality. I knew I was gay when I was five years old.
So the fashion was the latent part... So, does the fact that you grew up in the Philippines, and you spent some time in Hawaii, both have a strong cultural influence, so do you think that influences your fashion?
I definitely think so. I lived in the Philippines for 17 years, and to be able to live that long in a country like the Philippines, a country that embraces color and patterns... the Filipinos, they're not the most fashion-forward people. They just kind of like wake up in the morning, grab whatever the hell they can grab out of their closet, and put some crazy-ass outfit together, and they feel great about it. People in the Philippines don't make fun of each other.
But, it's so weird, because coming to the United States, looking at how people dress back home in the Philippines, and even the Filipinos who live here in the United States, they still dress the way the way they dress back home in the Philippines, but they get made fun of a lot by other cultures.
I think we do tend to dress kind of crazy, out of control. There's this term in Hawaii called bok-bok (pronounced book-book), and it's mainly saved for Filipinos who dress out of control, with crazy patterns, crazy colors, and I think that has a lot to do with me as a fashion designer, my aesthetic as a fashion designer. I love color. I love patterns. I love to create texture on top of patterns. Just kind of making it... not overworked, but very eclectic. That's me.
And just to put the interview in context, we're doing this between the third and fourth episodes, so you're currently still on the show. But what was the experience when you finally got on the show? Was there something about it that you weren't prepared for? Or did you go in knowing what you were signing on to?
I knew how intense the experience was going to be. The fact that I don't have a lot of experience as a fashion designer... I can count on my fingers the amount of pieces I've sewn in my entire life... and for me to be able to not have that experience before going on the show, that made me nervous.
I said to myself, 'It's a big deal already to me to get on the show, and I don't even care if I'm the first one to go home.' That was my attitude toward the competition, and then I found myself being safe in the first challenge.
And then we go on to the second challenge, and I end up winning the second challenge, and I said to myself, 'Omigod, never in a million years would I ever would have thought of winning a challenge on Project Runway,' so I was very satisfied at that moment, I was like, 'Just send me home in the third challenge,' but I managed to survive that challenge.
It's kind of like this crazy journey that I went through, and I'm pretty sure the other 15 contestants feel the same way, because you never know what the judges feel, what's their mood during that day, you never know. Things can flip-flop around, in this roller coaster motion, and you just have to ride with it and go with the flow. It sucks, because you've only seen the third episode, but... yeah, you'll find out more. (laughs) I can't tell you what. Keep watching!