Saturday, January 28, 2006

Interview With Marla

Hi Laura- I will take the time to answer your questions now! Things are a bit more calm. I am in LA at the moment...

1. Have you been watching the show? Enjoying it? Do you watch with friends? Have a party?

Yes, I have been watching the show. It's not the same as being part of it and knowing what goes on behind the scenes. The aired show is such a small part of the experience. And the way it is edited definitely skews things. I think they take things about each one of us and turn us into characters, and manipulate us a bit. In the end, it is television. When I was on the show, I would get together with friends and organize parties around the show. Now I watch it with a few friends.

2. What was your favorite challenge? What was the most difficult?

My favorite challenge was the first one. I think I was more focused working in my own environment. Intimidation and self doubt had not set in yet. I usually get fabric first and then come up with an idea. On this challenge I actually knew what I wanted to create. It did not come out exactly how I wanted it to. I am planning to create my original idea. The dress has more fit to it. I think it will be very cool and sophisticated. I will need to hone my pattern making skills to get the fit I have in mind, but I am working on that!

3. What was the best thing about being on the show? The worst?

I think I really failed at the Nicky Hilton challenge. I don't feel great about a lot of what I created. Customers and friends have come into my store and pointed out so many things or ideas I could have used. I doubted myself a lot, which is so NOT how I am normally in my work. I am very intuitive and I make a lot of discoveries in the process of creating- the designs really unfold. I am pretty confident normally in my work. My clothes consistently sell in my market. I have done a variety of styles although I am mainly producing vintage inspired shirts. Production is such an effort and running a business takes so much of my energy away from being creative, that I have honed in on a few pieces that sell well. I am trying to add the hipper stuff to my business. I usually make things for myself that are cooler, but I don't always offer them to my customers. That is changing. By the way, I would not have liked the skating challenge- I think it would be hard to come up with something different. But I think the "Inspiration" challenge with Michael Kors sounded great- going around the city shooting things for inspiration. I am very visual. I may try that on my own.

The best thing about being on the show was being in the work room and doing the challenges and getting critiqued, even though it was not pleasant getting criticized. I know Santino attacked me for my attitude towards my "being self taught". Well, I realized that the challenges and the critiques are invaluable ways to grow, and that is what can happen in school. So I am trying to figure how to make the time to take some courses and still maintain my business.

5. Do you keep in touch with any of the other designers from the show?

I have spoken to Kara on the phone and seen her in NY a few times. I talk to Diana now and then. We went to see Emmett's new store location on Elizabeth St. It's a prime location! I popped in on John Wade at Marc Jacobs store, and I surprised Daniel Franco and stopped over to see him for a minute. I was shopping for fabric yesterday in LA and the owner told me 2 other guys from the show shop there, too- Nick and Santino. I thought it would be funny to run into them.

6. Do you think that you were fairly depicted on the show? Is it edited fairly?

I don't want to make any excuses for my performance on the show. I think I was fairly inhibited, which is so different from how I usually am and how I was in my audition interview. I remember Tim once said to me it seems like I was holding back and I think that was true. And whether you like my style or not, I sure didn't show it much! I do think they turn us into caricatures of ourselves. I think the editing is not always fair- I liked what Diana and I created, and our window was fun and we got lots of strong responses, but of course that was not shown because it would not support the outcome- our getting axed. So that is pretty crummy. I glanced at a blog yesterday and someone was saying that Tim said on his podcast that he begged me not to take my dossier to the store. I have zero recollection of that- he certainly never begged me. So if he did say that, I am wondering if Tim is cooking stuff up with the producers of the show to make things more meaty and fuel people's responses. If I had a total blackout of that incident, then I apologize to Tim.

7. What would you like the readers of BPR to know about Marla Duran?

I realize that I acted uncertain and doubted my particular style of designing in the midst of the PR process. I feel pretty confident in much of my work abilities. I think I have a great eye for detail and fabrics. Some of what I create is fun and wearable, and satisfies the needs of some great, accomplished women. Some of what I create is more hip. For example, I use unique new fabrics that I purchase at Premiere Vision, a fabric show in Paris I occasionally attend. I am comfortable with who I am. I set new goals for myself now and then. A goal I had was to be able to support myself and my son on my design business. I met that goal. My son is grown and now I have some freedom and flexibility to redirect myself in the marketplace. I hope I use the criticism that was given to me constructively!

Well, Marla is refreshingly humble isn't she? And NICE. I'll bet the younger designers could learn a few things from her. In fact, I'm sure that some of them did!

Thanks again, Marla.


Anonymous said...

Dear Marla,
Thank you for the heartfelt and honest comments. What you said about working so hard to make a business work that your creativity suffers hit home with me. I was lucky enough to go to architecture school and feel what it's like to have my creative side nurtured. However, in the real world taking the time to focus on creativity and inspirition seems a luxury I can't afford and many clients won't pay for. People looking for an idea of what it is really like to be a designer won't find much of it on PR. However, it is a fun game and I thought you played it well.

Posted by geekygirrl to Blogging Project Runway at 1/28/2006 07:36:08 AM

The Scarlett said...

I found Marla entering the Project Runway competition at her age very ambitious and inspiring. I also think it was enlightening for her to find that she still needed to hone her skills amongst a group of younger designers. She showed how we can always learn and broaden our skills. I think that she looked at designing with a fresh eye for having had this experience. I'm glad she tried!

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed reading Marla's comments. This may sound so Pollyanna-ish, but I don't think she has anything to be ashamed of. She's a successful woman who could have remained at home, doing what's comfortable, and instead she chose to challenge herself. (And PR is a grueling and public challenge.) To me, it's inspiring when people at any level of success, at any age, strive for more. I admire that. And I wish Marla the best as she moves forward.

Posted by Irene Done to Blogging Project Runway at 1/28/2006 08:19:53 AM

Anonymous said...

Hi Marla,
It's Mary Margaret(from austin, texas) and I knew one another from hotel showrooms in New York, and had several conversations about our clothing lines?
I was stunned to see you on Project Runway....I knew that I recognized you from somewhere.
Let me just say, you held your own. I was proud of your behavior, your composure, and your ability to take the criticizm.
You may have been in over your head when it came to the pattern making , because if I remember you were more into the fabrics as inspiration than the silhouettes. And after I see your store website, I see that is still your inspiration. Fabulous fabrics!
After 22 years in this business, I started teaching fashion design at the University of Texas and St. Edwards University in Austin, and am starting my own school next month. Ironically, I teach Flat Pattern. Come to Austin and I will teach you everything you need to know about draping and flat pattern, and then try out for the next P.R and knock em dead!!! Congratulations for your fearlessness. MMQ