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Sounding Auf: A Quick Chat With Project Runway’s All-Star April Johnston

April Johnston.
April Johnston. Photo: Lifetime

Last night’s six-hour-long challenge didn’t end well for Project Runway’s April. The edgy young designer’s wispy purple minidress left the judges underwhelmed to say the least and, with some of the toughest criticism seen so far this season, she became the fourth designer eliminated from the all-star talent pool. But while blueberries led to her ousting (she had to design a dress inspired by the sorbet flavor), she’s got no sour grapes.

Everything seemed to go wrong for you on last night’s episode. Does that mean you saw your elimination coming? Do you hate gelato now?
Project Runway
is all about adapting; you have to make it work! And like I said last night on the show, there’s only so much I could do in six hours. Then it’s out of my hands. It’s all about whether [the judges] like my style or not. Last night was just a big mess and I feel like I really just fell on my face.  So I had that feeling … I’d not been in the top, but I’d been in the bottom already — I was seeing a pattern there, that they weren’t really seeing my aesthetic, or liking it. It’s sad to say, but I was expecting what was going to happen.

Does that make the “auf-ing” any easier?
Well, no! You just feel so weak and so helpless. I mean, I didn’t want to put that garbage out on the runway. It was embarrassing for me to be kicked off knowing that I’d shown an atrocious design. That’s like me going out and not doing the best… it was the best that I could do in that time constraint, but it’s not my best work, obviously.

You were the youngest All-Star designer. Was that something you were conscious of?
I didn’t feel young compared to the other designers at all. At times I actually felt older than them, a little bit more mature. I just feel like I’m an old soul, I guess.

You came across as pretty quiet, introspective even. Is that accurate?
I’m a fashion designer, but what a lot people don’t really get is that I’m very, very grounded. I like hunting, I like watching Swamp People, and I have country boils on the weekend, okay? I’m a really down-to-earth Southern girl, so being around these people is really a bit overwhelming for me. They were a little bit too theatrical for me; I feel like Mila was really the only person that I could get up in the morning with and go run on the treadmill and feel like, okay, she’s a normal person.

Is Mila someone that you’ll root for as the show continues?
Yes, absolutely. I appreciate Mila’s style, I think that she’s so clean-cut and modern, but with an edge.  She’s just a genius at what she does, and I think she’s a fashion-forward designer, which is what Project Runway is looking for. I feel like she deserves that title.

We haven’t seen much conflict in the work room. Was everyone focused on remaining professional?
Definitely. I think a lot of people just didn’t want to get back into drama again and just wanted to, like, put those disputes aside. Michael and I had our moments back in season eight, but we sorted everything out beforehand —  when we both returned a lot of people were like, “Aren’t you surprised to see Michael here? You guys don’t really get along, right?” I just said, “I don’t even want to get into it. We’re fine.” I’m a drama-free person, I’m not about to start to controversy and I think I lot of people were like that. I know Kenley didn’t want anybody to think of her the way they did when she was on season five.

How did you find this season’s new judging panel?
I thought that they were really professional. They offered great feedback, and I don’t disagree with their criticisms whatsoever. The comments were definitely appreciated on my end; everybody makes jokes and talks about everyone else’s work, so you can’t really get too up in arms about what people are saying. It’s not real.

And did you feel Joanna Coles did a good job replacing Tim Gunn?
Well, I love Tim Gunn. He was just amazing on my season, and I’ve kept in contact with him. But it was nice to meet Joanna because she’s so amazing at what she does. She’s very intelligent when it comes to fashion … and she said she liked my hair.

So you have kept in touch with Tim since season eight?
Tim has been a great contact and a good friend. He actually helped me place some of my clothes on a new ABC Family show, Jane By Design. The show’s characters will be wearing a couple of my designs. One of the dresses, I’ve dubbed it “the hurricane dress” because it’s created out of deconstructed curtains and all type of linens from abandoned hospitals —  [it’s] inspired by hurricane damage. It’s super beautiful. And then two other of my designs which have a similar shabby chic aesthetic will be appearing on, I believe, the seventh episode. Hopefully people can tune in and watch it!

What other projects are you working on?
I am working on my wedding right now. I’m getting married on March 9. I just completed my wedding dress — it’s a very nontraditional wedding, so it’s an all-black dress. The ceremony is going to be in a big cemetery in Savannah. It’s a beautiful place, but a really dark [type of] beauty and that’s kind of what my aesthetic is all about.

A black wedding dress?
Yes. An all-black wedding, in fact. Even the guests will be wearing black.

Have you become a bit of a bridezilla?
No, I’m not like that at all. I’ve already sent out invitations that had the year 2010 on them instead of 2012, but, you know, I’m not gonna get up in arms about it. It’s not worth it. No wedding ever goes perfect, right? And that’s just how I am. I like the idea of a little bit of imperfection.

Sounding Auf: A Chat With Runway All-Star April