By Andrew Moreno
Posted: December 2007
Although he is no longer a
contestant on Project Runway,
Steven Rosengard, decided to
spend a few moments with us. We
will miss his witty comments and dry
humor, but wish him all the best.
Moreno: Steven, Where did you
Rosengard: In the south suburbs of
Chicago, for most of the time.
Although for my father's job, we did
have to live in Waterloo and Omaha
for a few years here and there.
Moreno: What was your
Rosengard: To sum it up in one
Moreno: What was your favorite movie growing up?
Rosengard: I was hooked on E.T. like any other kid, but until I was in my early teens,
Amadeus was true addiction. While it was still in theaters, I would beg and whine and
plead to go and see it, "just one more time." Finally, I was put on rotation with any
cousin, aunt, sibling or neighbor who could handle seeing the movie again. The blood
dripping from Salieri's throat made me cringe and cover my eyes, but the music
combined with the costumes would just carry me away after that. Odd behavior for a
seven year old, no? But then in junior high, Gone With the Wind took over my life and I
wanted to see everyone in hoopskirts.
Moreno: What did you parents do?
Rosengard: My father worked in railroad marketing and logistics. My mother was a
homemaker most of the time, but from time-to-time, she took little odd jobs for fun.
Moreno: What was your first job?
Rosengard: It was bagging groceries for a couple of months before moving on to
working at a Jamaican chicken rotisserie restaurant.
Moreno: At what age did you encounter your interest in fashion?
Rosengard: I was probably 11 or so. We were on a house-hunting trip in Waterloo, and
my sister brought her classmate along to keep her company. This friend could draw
quite well and so I asked her to show me how to draw people. It took about an hour but
then I thought, "this isn't so hard. But now they need different clothes all the time." It
just so happened that we took a house next door to the town seamstress. I already had
a good collection of Barbie and Jem dolls to work with, so I took scraps from the
seamstress and started making miniature dresses.
Moreno: Why did you audition for Project Runway?
Rosengard: At first it was a friend prodding me, telling me I had to do it or that she'd
never talk to me again. Then a little time went by and I started to think about it, some
lines from A League of Their Own popped into my head. I think Marla Hooch's father is
telling her "you gotta go when things are gonna happen to ya. Nothing's gonna happen
to you here." Years of being a secretary stretched before me and I knew what would
happen if I did nothing. But I wanted to find out what would happen if I did something.
Moreno What was your reaction to finding out you had been casted on Project
Rosengard: The audition process is such a long one, that when the finalists are chosen,
it's rather easy to just say, "OK, but what else do I do have to do?" Since we weren't
allowed to tell anyone that we were selected, there wasn't any jumping up and down with
joy. It was rather a bit like taking a big breath to blow out your birthday candles and
having your mother tell you to go exhale quietly in a corner.
Moreno: What were you doing before Project Runway?
Rosengard: I was working at the Museum of Science & Industry as a Textile Preparator,
but there isn't enough work to do most of the time. I end up working on the budget a lot
and doing more administrative work.
Moreno: What distinguished you from the other contestants on the show?
Rosengard: I'm the only one from Chicago for starters, actually the only one to ever
make it on to the show from Chicago, I think. Second, I think that in every look I design,
I really stop and think, "Will my client see a photo of themselves in this dress 10 years
from now and still love it?"
Moreno: How would you describe your sense of humor?
Rosengard: Hahaha--my sense of humor runs the gammit. Sometimes I like just being a
total screwball and sometimes I'm more dry. But I'm sure if you asked Chris, he'd tell
you that I was just a twisted f---.
Moreno: When doing a custom ensemble for your clientele, what is the most
important aspect of the design process?
Rosengard: Delving into the personality. I need to know where my clients are coming
from: what they found pretty when they were little girls, what their mothers wore, etc.
For many clients, they can't just walk in the door and say that they want to look like
Vivien Leigh in Waterloo Bridge or Fay Dunaway in Network. I go through this process
to find out who they are stylistically and who they want to be going forward. I think that
clothes, much like a home, speak of aspirations and goals for the future.
Moreno: What does it mean for a designer to showcase their work at Olympus
Rosengard: I think for more established designers, it's just another expensive headache
that gives you a bit of a rush at the end, but for those of us who haven't shown in the
tents, it's a phenomenally expensive headache with a fantastic rush at the end. But in
all due seriousness, I think that it's what we all work for, year-in and year-out. If you can
show at Fashion Week, then the press will come, if the press comes and happens to
love you, your merchandise flies off the racks. To be successful, I think you have to be
part passionate artist and part businessman. You simply can't be one or the other
unless you have a great staff supporting you.
Moreno: What has been your reaction, thus far, to see your life being played
out on TV?
Rosengard: I thought it would weird me out more than it does. I'm the type who cringes
listening to a reminder voicemail I send myself, but somehow, this is like watching home
movies where I get to see dear friends again that I miss so much.
Moreno: How would you describe your fashion?
Rosengard: I describe it as unfettered, classic lines--essentially for women who aren't
comfortable walking into a room with feathers towering out of their hairdos. Maybe as I
get older, I'll take more to feathers. But somehow I doubt it.
Moreno: What turns you on?
Rosengard: How much room to you have to print this article?
Moreno: How do you define success?
Rosengard: Success is equal to happiness for me. To be happy, I would need all of my
emotional and financial needs met, but maybe always having one little thing just out of
reach, like being able to live in Paris in a lovely apartment and being in love, but not
having the money to buy the Camembert cheese you crave. I think having everything
you've ever wanted leads to boredom. Wanting more out of life is what keeps us all
Moreno: Do you have any hidden talents?
Rosengard: I don't know if it's a talent or just a fluke, but when I'm speaking Dutch, my
brain will automically fill in the French word if I don't know the Dutch word. If I don't know
the French word, it defaults to English.
Moreno: What’s the feeling of overnight celebrity? How does it feel to be
Rosengard: It's all kind of odd and sweet. I went to a party Saturday night and the
whole room went silent when the host opened the door for me. I thought, "ok, maybe
everyone's just sizing me up"--as most gay men and their hags will do, and then they'll
return to their conversations. But then when I got back from the coat room, it went dead
quiet again and I was introduced around the room. The whole experience just cracked
me up to no end. Instead feeling like a queen, I felt like the queen.
Moreno: What do you Google?
Rosengard: I'll Google anything and everything: if there's a dress at the V&A that I want
to get a better look at, family history, looking up a trick's or a boyfriend's criminal record.
Google's good for it all.
For more information on Steven Rosengard visit him HERE.
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enough of Project Runway, visit the Blogging Project Runway website.
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