Is seems that just personally you're always changing. You have short hair, it's dyed, you've got a mohawk, you're rocking a ponytail...
Yeah! (laughs) I love it...
I was surprised when you shaved your head into a mohawk on the show, because on a reality show I thought that would mess them up with editing and everything...
Oh yeah. Trust me, I got approval to cut my hair by the night producer, who didn't tell the daytime producer, and they freaked out when they saw me the next morning. But I told them I got approval and, yeah, they do back and do interviews. Michael Costello cut his hair without telling anyone one night, and he got reamed for it. I was like, 'Girl, you've got to ask them...' People couldn't even shave. Like people who had all that facial hair in the beginning couldn't even shave until they got approval, because they had to make sure we were caught up on interviews and all that. Yeah, it's a totally different world.
I watched your extended judging online from the finale, but it seemed like on the show that aired, they just sort of jumped right to the Mondo/Gretchen stuff, and it was just 'Oh, yeah, Andy, thanks a lot, see you...' and I was like, that's it?!
Yeah, I watched that, and I was like, I guess I can go home now, and I was with so many people watching the finale at an event, and it was just 'Well, that's kind of anticlimactic...' (laughs)
Did you respect the criticism you got? Do you think you reined things in? Like, there was no Chinese lantern sleeves or things we saw from you in the past. Was that intentional?
Honestly, with Fashion Week, and what the collection was, and this is probably the case for all three of us... but I can really only speak for myself, but I think it was the result of our current emotional and physical state at the time, and our state of mind, and for example, I moved when I came home to work on the collection.
I moved my entire workspace, so I think anyone that's creative understands that, if you move a workspace, it takes time for it to really feel like your workspace. And there were a lot of complications with my move, as well. That's why it narrowed my time down to two weeks.
And, at the same time, I was waiting for materials to come in, so I think what I did is a reflection of what I wanted to do, but with the constraints of time and the situation at hand, where maybe I didn't get to do exactly what I dreamed of at the beginning. But at the end of the day, it's got to happen, so you pull something together.
And I know if people heard me say that, they might be pretty snobby and say 'This is your chance of a lifetime and why would you do anything to screw it up?' But no one knows exactly what we went through unless they were there.
I think we did get some glimpse that there was an emotional component, like the one challenge where your mother showed up, you were surprised how much it affected your ability to focus on the challenge. It seemed to bring too much reality into this vacuum that you were in.
Yeah, and at that point, I wasn't emotionally where I should have been to compete. And I'm really glad the judges kept me, obviously. But I'm really thankful they gave me that second chance. And some weeks, they were really really harsh, and some weeks they wanted to understand, and I think they understood by doing that to us, they remembered that we are human and sometimes a lot of people forget that.
I was also interested, because there is a lot of Asian influence in your design... but it didn't seem like there was any Hawaiian influence? I don't know if that's fair to say?
Well, there wasn't any Hawaiian influence as far as Hawaiian culture. But for me, the Hawaiian influence is understanding there should be a lightness to it, because there are no seasons here. So, I wanted to do spring and summer.
I would have loved to do a 30-piece collection. That way, I could have really executed the story that I wanted to tell, where 10 pieces is very minimal. I think if I mixed my 10 pieces with other pieces to make a 30-piece collection, I would have been able to tell that story exactly the way I wanted to tell it. And all the gowns I wanted give you, and all the Laos pieces I wanted to do, but that wasn't the case and I didn't have that time.
Or the energy. I was so burnt out. Like today, I woke up at noon, and it was my first day ever sleeping in, because it's been go-go-go since April, and my body has just been pushing and pushing and pushing, and yesterday was the first day spent entirely at home.
But as far as being influenced by Hawaii, I'm not particularly influenced by Hawaiian culture at the moment, but I am exposed by the things I'm exposed to by being here, which is a lot of culture.
There are so many different cultures that come together in Hawaii, and there are a lot of Asian cultures in Hawaii. My work studio is in Chinatown, and there are so many people who come to Hawaii from so many different countries for a better life. That's why my family moved here and immigrated here, and it's a beautiful beautiful place to call home.
And I think the beauty of it is there are so many different types of people and a diversity in culture and food. It's just enriching to be here, since there are so many people with so many stories. I love talk to people who moved here and hearing how they end up here.