Written by | Ray Cornelius
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If you’re into fashion like I am, I’m sure you’ve been glued to Lifetime Network’s “Project Runway All-Stars” every Thursday night at 9pm. This extension of the hugely popular reality show, Project Runway, brings back some familiar faces and not so familiar judges to the Parsons work room to serve up some deliciously inspired fashion!
One designer in particular that seems to be a fan favorite is the no-non-sense, “tell it like it T-I-S,” Anthony L. Williams; whose southern charm and laugh out loud commentary is as colorful as the fashions he creates.
I caught up with the Atlanta-based designer, a few weeks ago to discuss life after his first season of Project Runway, his future plans and why he is not in a hurry to style celebrities!
RC: What’s the difference between the Project Runway All-Star (PRA) Anthony Williams versus Anthony L. Williams from Season 7?
ALW: I think I’m way more confident this time. To be perfectly honest with you, I think the first time that you go on Project Runway and you hear them say, “America’s next fashion designer” and you hear the words, “The opportunity of a lifetime,” there is so much pressure… in those statements that you become a prisoner, if you will, to those statements.
RC: You recently said in an interview that, “People will wear you out. They keep talking about what you are doing next. It’s never a celebration of now.” What did you mean by that?
ALW: I think that’s the society we live [in]. No one lives in the now. One of the things I’m always trying to teach people is that yesterday is gone, today is the now, and tomorrow is an assumption.
RC: Your first exposure to fashion was as a little boy attending church. What was it about the parishioners’ sense of style that inspired you to want a career in fashion design?
ALW: I don’t know if fashion design was my initial target. I think I just wanted to surround myself around things that were beautiful and glamorous and fashion just creates that opportunity. I think that the culture of the African-American church is to always wear your best and look your best. I just always thought that was an amazing thing, the hats and glamour of it all. Their fashion was not necessarily, something I would design but the inspiration definitely was there!
RC: Life for you after your first season on Project Runway has been quite busy. You were a style consultant for VH1’s show Single Ladies. How did that come about and what was it like working with Stacey Dash?
ALW: It was very interesting because I have never done that type of work before. When I came to the pilot I didn’t really know her [Dash] but we worked very well together. So when the taping actually started, there were some directional changes and they ended up calling me back specifically to work on Stacey’s wardrobe. One thing I can say about Stacey Dash is that she is disciplined and she is a work horse. She has an excellent work ethic which was very inspiring.
RC: Speaking of inspiration. Who are some of your favorite designers?
ALW: I love Oscar. I’m a huge fan of vintage Balenciaga. Valentino. Yves Saint Laurent.
RC: What celebrity would you like to style or exclusively design for? I’ve heard you mention, Jennifer Hudson. Are there any others?
ALW: Um, no! I’m not a celebrity person. I hope that doesn’t come across as ugly. But I have worked with enough celebrities. I would rather work with people who respect my talent and I respect theirs. One thing I know is that they will pay you if they respect you.
But I will say that I would like to work with Jennifer Hudson because I enjoy her humility. And I easily and readily, identify with her story.
RC: Ok, we’re going to play the name game. I’m going to say the name of a female celebrity and tell me the word that comes to mind in terms of her fashion sense:
ALW: OK (LOL)
ALW: Ellie Saab
RC: Janet Jackson
RC: Michelle Obama
RC: Tracee Ellis Ross
ALW: Sick! But in a good way
RC: What are some must have items for 2012?
ALW: I think that fit is always important. I think going forward “berry” colors like hot pink and fuchsia are going to really dominate in a very clever way as well as jewel tones. I also think gold accessories especially handbags with the gold hardware.
RC: What keeps you humble?
ALW: (LOL) they just came out with a movie about fashion designers. It’s called THE HELP! That’s what you are! I don’t care who you’re dressing or how fabulous you make this person. As long as you’re dressing them and sending them out before the people, you are ‘the help’. That’s what you are and there is nothing wrong with that.
RC: What’s next for Anthony L. Williams?
ALW: I don’t know. I am going to take some gambles with myself. I’m working on season two of Single Ladies. I’m also planning on a move to either New York City or Los Angeles.
RC: How does Anthony L. Williams define style?
ALW: I think style is your own personal perspective of how you see yourself and how you want to be portrayed to the public. You hear the designers like Michael Kors being referred to as style makers. But of who’s style? It’s their own style, just like Ray Cornelius is the author of his own style.