We caught up with Tommy, who was called on the carpet by the Big T.H. for taking over a dress design challenge and attempting to complete it by himself, without much input - or support - from his team. Is it any surprise that the contestant who called his elimination a “travesty” would scornfully describe his teammate’s dress pattern as only being wearable by a household appliance? In this interview, Tommy shares his views of his teammates in the final challenge, his extensive (and impressive) background in fashion, and how Elizabeth really pulled off her winning dress.
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions, Tommy. First off, what was your strategy was coming into the game?
To make them all adore me and then shock them with style and talent! I also didn’t want to let them know I had half a brain, ‘cause look what happened when I showed I could sew for DAYS!!!
What did you hope to gain from being in this competition?
I wanted to gather information and learn more about the fashion industry from a mass production point of view, to supplement my already successful small couture atelier.
Since your background is in fashion design, you seemed pretty safe going into the Design a Dress challenge. When did you have an inkling that you might be in trouble?
From the moment I realized that Shauna was going to sleep thru it all, Jessica was going on a wild goose-chase for models, and Princess wasn't the best pattern -maker!
Do you think you would have survived if the group had chosen one of the other dresses to
Nope... I think my time was measured. As soon as those gals saw that I could shop for fabric, design, cut, and sew without sleeping for 24-plus hours, with little help from them, I exposed myself to their scrutiny, nit-picking, and accusations.
What did you change from Princess's pattern on the pink dress?
Princess only worked on the bottom half of the runway dress. I designed and cut the top portion, the back, criss-cross spaghetti staps, the lining, and crinoline. I added a full 6 inches to the top waistline, and a full 8 inches to the bottom hemline. ( 14 inches makes a huge difference, NO?) Princess also didn't know how to add shape into the sideseams without making "rudders", so I did that too. I also hand-sewed an invisible zipper into a sideseam. Without those changes and additions, the skirt portion would've only fit a toaster.
What did you think of the other team's final creations?
Red, white, and blue spandex? Cute for the U.S. SwimTeam, but NO!!! And the green poly-satin strapless trimmed in black heckle feathers with a feathered sack to match looked like something Minnie Pearl would wear to a ho-down. (And I do mean “ho”!) And Miss Liz' first dress was a lightning strike that couldn’t have happened without the help of two very talented and patient Jamaican seamstresses! ( Jamaican ladies SEW!)
This challenge seemed like it would be perfect for you, but it backfired. What kind of challenge would have showcased your talents best?
Putting me in a room with people of my own caliber and skill level would have been more interesting than this bunch of famewhores, charlatans, and lazy showboaters.
What did you think of Jessica's contribution to the task?
The supposed "beauty queen"? That girl was gone for 8 1/2 hours on the streets of Manhattan - where you and I know there are no hot women in New York - and came back with the most insecure girl who had never worn high heels a day in her life. Princess and I had to show that girl how to walk like a female! Jessica is sweet, but the runway is not her forte, nor is the make-up department.
You said that you were sure Tommy Hilfiger was thinking your elimination was "a travesty."
Don't you think he would have found a way to keep you, if that was what he thought?
Once your teammates start"player-hating" there's nothing Tommy could or would do. It's too much fun to watch on TV: a talented award winning designer/ teacher getting eaten alive by wannabes.... fetuses twenty years his junior.
What do you think about the emphasis on working as a team, but being judged as individuals?
You really think I was judged as an individual? I guess doing 97% of the project myself while Jessica, Princess, and Shauna slept on the floor in front of me, while Chris and Rob partied the night away, IS a bad reflection on me, and I should have been banished from this otherwise winning ensemble! PUH-LEEZE !!!
What is your ultimate goal - what would you like to be doing?
Finish this interview first, and then move to Belgium in a few years and live the most beautiful life EVER !!!
Was there anything else you wanted our readers to know about you and your experience on the
Well, as you know... I'm pompous, self-centered, prissy, and prone to volcanic hissy fits whilst wearing silver leather. I'm not funny, I'm TOO funny,I have NO IDEA who any celebrities are (other than myself). I have a Napoleonic complex and I'm addicted to the camera!
Despite all of these traits, I've been in a loving and committed relationship for twenty years, I've held a teaching position at the number one art school in the United States - the school of the Art Institute of Chicago, in the Fashion Design department for 11 years. In 2002, I was the first recipient of Marshall Field’s Distinction in Design Award. In 2003, Chicago Magazine voted me one of the top 20 Most Stylish Chicagoans. In 2005 I won The Fashion Groups International Style Breakers Movers and Shakers award. I'm also designing a new line of home furnishings for Ethan Allen furniture ( which will be sold nationwide). (Prissy I may be, but dumb? NO!)
My classes are booked for years in advance. My students LOVE me, as I've taken them on trips to Brussels, Antwerp, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Utrecht, Ghent, and Brugges in the Netherlands; and now on to Rio de Janiero,Brazil, and BuenosAires, Argentina simply to study fashion and art on a global scale with designers, artisans, gallery and museum curators.
I actually CAN knock out the most fierce cocktail dress this side of the Eiffel Tower,and I shall continue my ongoing search for purity and truth in Fashion and Style.
Thank you so much for the interview, and I hope to see more of your designs in the future!
The pleasure was all mine. Thank you !
Count me in for one of Tommy’s international fashion design classes! Many thanks to CBS for granting the interview.