Kelly Osbourne has the distinction of having served as a judge for every single American Project Runway incarnation since the first season kicked off in 2004. She’s also hosted several other entertainment and fashion programs, including Fashion Police, as well as designing her own line, “Stories by Kelly Osbourne”. After initially resisting returning to the series as a judge for the first season of Project Runway: Junior on Lifetime, she tells us she fell in love with the show’s hard-working, young designers, and even credits them as the inspiration behind rethinking the strategy for her own fashion line. Osbourne joined us by phone to discuss the season, (which returns with a new episode Thursday January 7 at 9/c), how it took her by surprise, and how Wednesday nights are now dedicated to Lady Gaga.
You’ve been involved with Project Runway in different incarnations for a several years now. How did you get involved in Project Runway: Junior and what appealed to you about taking part?
Well I can’t lie. At first I didn’t really want to. After leaving Fashion Police and the drama that ensued, I wanted to take a break and really figure out whether it was fashion TV that I wanted to continue doing. I’ve hosted Project Runway in the UK; I did it for two years. I’ve been a judge for every Project Runway show in this country. And when I really thought about it, at first I was nervous, because if the kids were bad, it would be really difficult to get through. But on the first day, I realized…on the very first day of work, working not only with the Harvey Weinstein group, but for Lifetime, it was such a different experience and it was so much fun and everyone was so nice. And then we saw the talent of the kids, and it gave me faith, and hope, and just filled me with joy that there were still people out there that want to work hard for what they want to be when they grow up. And that there are talented people and there are kids that don’t think that anything is owed to them. Every single week was like an emotional roller coaster for us, because we truly, truly love them. It’s hard for me to watch the show… A) Because I don’t like watching myself, but B) because I can’t stand going through it again because I love them all so much!
That leads us to our next question… Is there anything that’s taken you by surprise about being involved in the show?
What took me by surprise is how talented they are. I can’t express enough…their fashion history knowledge, the way that… I mean, if you’re into fashion and making your own clothes, you know certain things. Like you know where to place certain darts and hemlines. And their hemlines are so clean, they didn’t ripple, and just their knowledge of how to cut patterns and construct these garments is just unbelievable.
It’s so encouraging and it shows other young people—and adults—that if you want to do something, and you try hard enough, you can become anything. Our youngest contestant is 13!
That’s incredible. And she just had birthday and turned 14, didn’t she?
Yes, she did. We had quite a few birthday celebrations during the show, but I don’t want to give anything away.
Now that Season One is underway, is there anything you can tell us about what we can expect in the rest of the season? Anything you think might surprise viewers?
Well, I mean, we had Michelle Obama on our show. I mean, how…excuse my language, but…#$%*-ing cool, is that? One of the most busy women in the entire world. Behind every great man is an even greater woman. She’s a mother, on top of it as well. And for her to take the time out and for this beautiful cause [the Let Girls Learn initiative], to come on our show. I was just jealous that I didn’t get to meet her. But that was one of the coolest things ever to me. But I think that it really showed…in that episode it really showed…instead of doing a double-elimination, we ended up not letting…we saved two people so no one went home. And it was because…could you imagine the pressure of being so young, and doing what you’re doing already, and having the exact same rules as the adults have on Project Runway, and then have Michelle Obama…? We realized you can’t put too much pressure on them. It’s just like that and you can you really see how they all start to love each other, and learn from each other, and bond with each other, because these kids have never known anyone else like themselves before. The most beautiful experience I had on the entire show was the very first day I saw them all meet each other and realize that they’re not alone.
And Peytie has this incredible story of how all these kids started wearing shirts at school saying, “You can’t sit with us, you can’t sit with us.” So she made the shirt that said, “You can sit with me.” And that’s how she started making fashion because everyone started to buy them from her. And each one of them are individually beautiful and strong and stand up for what they believe in outside of…you know, their moralistic views outside of their talent in fashion. I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to top that.
I’m so excited for the next season.
And that kind of experience is so beautiful in fashion because you know that they’re usually bitchy in that world.
All of these young designers are so incredibly talented as you said, but without playing favorites, is there anyone that sticks out that you can expect to see great things coming from long term?
Every. Single. One of them has got a huge future in the fashion industry. I’m telling you.
Samantha’s aesthetic isn’t for everyone, but her androgyny in her design makes me so happy whenever I see anything that she’s done. She’s the queen of making mistakes that end up becoming new trends, if you know what I’m saying. She’s somebody that constantly changed my mind every single week.
Zach, I just…l live for. Mostly because of his leggings, because every week he had a different pair of incredible leggings.
You know, it’s hard…I can’t even tell you…as I’m going through in my head. No, I don’t [have a favorite].
That’s amazing. Great group.
We were really, really lucky.
Regarding your own design, you’re into your second “Chapter” of your Stories by Kelly Osbourne…
Yes, I might have had a change of heart, and it’s made me understand something that I wasn’t quite getting. And that was… My mission with my fashion line was to make fashion fair—affordable, useful, clothing—basics for everyone of every size. And I don’t change the price from 0 to 24 like most brands do. I want to take the shame out of shopping in retail. And plus sizes or zero sizes, I think it should just be fashion. But you can’t teach old dogs new tricks. So I realized through them that I’m going to have to start with a juniors line before I continue—which I’m not stopping—with my adult line. And it’s because of them that I’ve had this whole idea to reinvent it all. I truly do credit them for it.
Will that be Chapter Three?
Oh yes. Of course. I mean, I just finished my mood board for Chapter Three and they’re amazing! What I love doing about it is…first, I know that it’s a chapter, and I think about, “What’s the story of this chapter, and how does it relate to me and my life?” And so the textiles come from the tiles and the walls and the bath of the house I grew up in…or my tree that I sit on. We make our own and they’re so much fun. I mean, for the first year I, when we were pinning and changing and doing the fit model sessions, I had rug burns on my knees… I wore pants all summer. Because I was literally pinning and cutting and re-figuring out shapes so that…you know, as you have to change the placement of certain graphics as the size goes up or down to complement the shape of a woman’s physique. So I literally…I thought I was a baby again, crawling on the floor. You know, we do go with a taller model so that we can… We have three models, tall, medium height, and my height…which I call “pocket-sized”, because I’m five-foot-two, and everyone gives me a neck ache talking to them. So we try everything out on three different models, and we do a standard size, and I hate saying it, but plus size, but I truly had scabs all over my knees and my fingers were bleeding from where all the pins…I’ve accidentally pinned myself. I’ve got this one dress I’m actually staring at right now that’s covered in blood from where I accidentally stuck a needle through my finger.
So as much as they learnt from each other, we learnt from them on the show.
Thanks so much for your time. The only other thing we wanted to ask was if there was anything you’re currently watching or binge-ing…?
I’m obsessed with American Horror Story. And I’m sorry, you have to give credit where credit is due, but Lady Gaga is #$%*-ing amazing. She’s so good, I’m so obsessed, that my Wednesday night…she’s changed my Wednesday night. People know not to call me on a Wednesday.
Set your DVR for Project Runway: Junior, Thursdays at 9/8c on Lifetime.